Which dog breeds make the best therapy dogs?
We all appreciate the love, fun, and sheer devotion puppies and dogs bring to our lives. Dogs truly are hooman’s best friend. Let’s look into what therapy dogs do and what qualities they need to be great at their job…
By Emily Roach, Paws in Work guest blogger.
What is a therapy dog?
A therapy dog essentially lives with a person who may have a physical condition or a mental condition such as autism. Therapy dogs go through special training to adapt to the lifestyles of individuals and help them through everyday situations which they may find difficult to navigate through alone. Therapy dogs can also visit groups of people, such as classes at school or care homes to bring cheer to their day.
Why do therapy dogs work?
Many studies have found that therapy dogs help reduce blood pressure and the stress hormone (cortisol) in humans whilst they’re interacting with them. Therapy dogs have been proven to give many people a new lease of life and integrate them back into society. Therapy dogs work wonders for humans, but this also gives humans something positive to focus their attention along with a new sense of responsibility. Looking after a therapy dog can help boost their confidence and perhaps encourage them to step outside their comfort zones in certain situations.
What makes a good therapy dog candidate?
Potential therapy dogs of course need to pass stringent training programmes to show they’re ready for their new homes. An ideal therapy dog will obtain the following qualities:
- A calm and caring personality
- Highly attuned to human emotions and body language
- Highly receptive to commands
- Calm when separated from their owner
- Obedient on the lead
- Doesn’t jump up at people
- Happy with strangers petting them
- Interacts well with other dogs – doesn’t become too protective
- Calm in busy environments
- Tolerant of being examined/groomed by someone other than their owner
What breeds make good therapy dogs?
The wonderful thing is that dogs of all shapes and sizes make great therapy dogs. Some of the most popular breeds of therapy dogs are:
- Golden retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German shepherd
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Border Collie
This is just some of the various popular therapy dog breeds; most dogs have the potential to become therapy dogs with the correct socialisation and training.
What is Puppy Therapy?
Puppy therapy sessions allow groups of people such as employees and students to interact with gorgeous litters of puppies. A cuddle from a puppy can instantly reduce stress and anxiety in humans; socialising with humans is also highly beneficial for puppies. These experiences perfectly equip puppies for the future as they are introduced to hundreds of people regularly during their crucial socialisation period. If puppies aren’t socialised properly during their first few weeks of life, they may develop negative associations with certain experiences, leading to future anxieties or behavioural problems.
Puppy therapy is a great team bonding exercise to help pull people away from their desks and take some time out to catch up with their peers. Additionally, puppy therapy opens the conversation amongst people about mental health. It’s a safe space for people to air their feelings, or they can just sit and enjoy the experience and listen to what others share. You can check out our puppy therapy service here.
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