By Alexandra Seagal
While many different animals have been used in pet therapy, it’s hard to beat man’s best friend. Therapy dogs do a very important job – they can brighten up the day of a child recovering in hospital, comfort someone suffering from anxiety, and give affection and companionship to the elderly. Any dog can become a therapy dog, providing they have the right temperament, though some breeds tend to be better suited than others.
So, let’s find out which are the 7 top dog breeds used for therapy:
1. Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is not only the most popular dog breed in the US but is also commonly used as a therapy dog. This is in large part due to their gentle temperament and happy-go-lucky nature. Labs absolutely love to please you, so training them is usually a breeze. They tend to be very perceptive as well as affectionate, so they are great for people suffering from depression or anxiety disorders and can be used with kids and adults alike.
2. St Bernard
Don’t be fooled by their size – St Bernards are gentle giants, and oh-so-cuddleable. Children just love to play and nuzzle into their soft fur, and this dog is glad of the attention. Their patience and love of being around people make them a great candidate for use as a therapy dog. Who can resist smiling at the sheer size of this calm creature? For those who find larger dogs daunting, a smaller dog may be a better choice…
Pugs are good for people who can be intimidated by larger dogs because, well, they’re just plain cute! Not to mention that their sociable, playful nature is hugely entertaining and will have most people giggling in no time. Pugs often work with children and the elderly due to their small size, and their sunny demeanours usually mean they are well-matched to those with mood disorders.
As well as service dogs, Poodles are often used for therapy. This is no surprise, as they are one of the most intelligent and obedient dogs. These fluff balls are friendly and loving but not too excitable, so they have just the right energy for the job. Their mane of curls also makes them irresistible to pet and cuddle. The poodle’s calm nature make them a good match for people with autism, particularly children.
Greyhounds are quite the dark horse when it comes to therapy breeds, as most people don’t expect to see them in such a list. They are, however, incredibly calm, quiet, and affectionate dogs that can provide comfort to patients in a hospital or those in a retirement home setting. If you’re after a dog that rarely barks, Greyhounds are a good bet.
Little Poms have the whole package – they’re small, cute, fluffy, and affectionate. They have a tendency to bark, so they need to be trained to stay quiet and calm. They are usually used as therapy dogs with the elderly as they don’t need much play or exercise, and they’re happy to simply sit on someone’s lap and keep them company.
Beagles, when properly trained, can be wonderful therapy dogs. They are usually confident, bouncy, and always ready to play. They do tend to be somewhat stubborn, so they will need a firm handler. Beagles just love human contact. They tend to get on very well with children, but they also fit in well in retirement and nursing homes.
Therapy dogs provide comfort to people in hospitals, schools, disaster areas, nursing homes, and retirement homes. They also give affection to those with mood disorders and learning difficulties.