A therapy dog is a specially trained animal that provides comfort and support to people who are dealing with a wide variety of challenges. Therapy dogs can help people who are struggling with physical or mental health issues, as well as those who are coping with difficult life circumstances.
Studies have shown that spending time with a therapy dog can lead to reductions in stress, anxiety, and depression. Therapy dogs can also provide much-needed companionship and emotional support.
In addition, therapy dogs can be a valuable resource for children and adults who have autism or other developmental disabilities.
Not all dogs are cut out for therapy work. All dogs have personalities, just like people. Moody, impatient, and distant dogs will not do!
Characteristics Of A Good Therapy Dog
While certain breeds are more predisposed to therapy work than others, here are some favorable traits when looking for a therapy dog.
Sensitive – They ought to be aware of patients’ requirements and know instinctively what is needed.
Always Calm – A good therapy dog needs to be thoroughly desensitized to external stimuli and has to have received plenty of socialization. You wouldn’t want a rowdy dog to jump on a recovering patient or get frightened by loud noises!
Stable Temperaments – Therapy dogs are typically perpetually happy-go-lucky and never impatient, bored, or cranky, even after working long hours at a facility.
Obedient – Like any working dog, a therapy dog must obey his handler at all times.
Clean – Therapy dogs often visit healthcare facilities that must be sterile. An overly shedding or drooling dog might not suit such environments.
Adore Attention – Therapy dogs typically get loads of attention from patients. After all, that’s what they are there for. A good therapy dog will thrive on attention and not get bored or impatient.
Best Therapy Dog Breeds
All breeds have a particular temperament that is entrenched in their DNA, though there are always exceptions to the rule. The best breeds that seem to be frequently top picks for therapy work are listed below.
Labrador Retriever – There is a reason why Labs are so popular. These friendly, loving dogs are the ideal size for hugs because of their medium-large size, however, it is important to train therapy Labs to refrain from jumping up because they also enjoy doing so.
Golden Retriever – Like their Lab counterparts, Golden Retrievers are adored worldwide for their gorgeous looks and winning personalities. They are known to be excellent with children and appropriate for all kinds of therapy work.
Yorkshire Terrier – Because of their portability and ability to go practically any place with their carers, Yorkies make excellent therapy dogs. Their antics and love for attention make them a real crowd-pleaser. They are also hypoallergenic.
Poodle – The hypoallergenic, intelligent Poodle will suit environments where shedding is not optional.
Pomeranian – These cute little floofs are a hot favorite with lap dog lovers. Small, compact, and cuddly, Poms are natural entertainers that will brighten up every room.
Therapy work isn’t easy for dogs. They have to potentially spend long hours at a location, constantly meet new people, and tolerate all kinds of attention from a wide range of people, including children that might be rough and pull on their coats.
The perfect therapy dog is the calmest, sweetest individual that will do all that, and more!