The 10 Best Therapy Dog Breeds

girl hospital hugs dogDogs and humans have an undeniably special connection. Their soft fur, wagging tails, and adorable faces are certain to lift our spirits. Not to mention, some dogs seem to be empathetic, showing us extra love or attention whenever we’re feeling down.

These qualities make dogs the perfect candidates to visit people who could use a little extra love. Of course, not every dog is going to be perfect for therapy work. If you’re interested in taking a dog to visit people in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and the like, then you’ll need a dog who is well-behaved and loves people.

In this article, we will be sharing everything you need to know about therapy dogs. We’ll explain exactly what a therapy dog is, what they do, and how they differ from other types of support animals. We’ll outline the qualifications a dog needs to do therapy work, and finally, we will discuss some of the best breeds for the job.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

The name “therapy dog” can be somewhat misleading. Some people think this kind of dog is meant to provide them with relief from a mental or physical disability, but that is not the case. Here, we will explain the difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs.

Service Dogs

Service dogs perform tasks that assist their handlers with their disabilities. Some of the most well-known service dogs are guide dogs for the blind, but there are many different types of service dogs that can aid with many different disabilities.

There are even psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) who are trained skills like deep pressure therapy in order to help handlers who suffer from mental disabilities. In that sense, they might be thought of as therapy dogs, but they are technically service dogs.

Service dogs are highly trained and are given special privileges such as being allowed in businesses and in airplane cabins. No other types of assistance dogs are allowed these privileges.

Emotional Support Animals

Emotional support animals (ESAs) can be any type of animal, but we’ll focus on dogs since that’s what this article is all about! Many people find comfort in dogs as companions, and that is exactly the purpose of an ESA.

Interacting with a dog on a daily basis and being able to enjoy their unconditional love can be very beneficial to those struggling with mental health disorders. This is why some doctors will prescribe patients an emotional support animal.

These dogs do not require any special training, nor do they need to perform any skills to be of help to their owners. Rather, their presence in itself typically provides comfort. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, emotional support animals are allowed to live with their owners for free, even in places that don’t allow pets; they also are exempt from breed and weight restrictions, and you cannot be charged any type of pet fee for living with them. Otherwise, they have no special privileges.

Therapy Dogs

The word “therapy” may lead you to believe that a therapy dog performs special skills that provide some type of therapy, but this isn’t the case. Instead, therapy dogs bring comfort to those in lonely or unfortunate situations.

For instance, a therapy dog might be brought to visit children in a hospital or elderly people in nursing homes. The children may be struggling with difficult health issues and being able to meet a dog often brightens their day.

Elderly people can suffer from loneliness, especially if they have diseases such as Alzheimer’s that cause them to forget their loved ones have visited. Even in less severe circumstances, therapy dogs bring happiness wherever they go. In fact, petting a dog for just ten minutes can help relieve stress.

There is also something known as animal-assisted therapy. This is when professional therapists bring animals into therapy sessions in order to help patients feel more comfortable. In some cases, patients are more forthcoming about their issues when in the presence of dogs.

However, these types of therapy dogs aren’t typically owned by private citizens. If you’re looking to help people with a therapy dog, you’ll likely be visiting different places with your dog, as we’ve previously described.



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