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The Best Dog Breeds to Serve People with Autism

In our world today, dogs are indeed extremely useful. They become our best friends, accompanying us at home, giving us the extra love that we need, and also entertaining us one way or another. But dogs can be so much more valuable than that. They can also become service dogs, emotional support dogs, and/or therapy dogs.

They can provide support to the physically disabled people. They can also guide the blind and deaf while traversing outside their homes. Some even perform lifesaving tasks like monitoring the blood sugar level of diabetic people. They can even provide comfort to people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illnesses.

Best Dog Breeds For Autism

In particular, there are service dogs that can serve people with autism, especially autistic children. But many people wonder, from the many breeds of dogs, which ones are best suited to serve or accompany people with autism? Let’s find out the answer below.

The Role of Dogs on People with Autism

Before moving forward, let us first understand what autism service dogs can do. Basically, they can serve three things: become service dogs, emotional support dogs, and/or simply pet companions.

Being Service Dogs

Autism service dogs can specifically do physical support to children with autism. The following are some examples of the important tasks they can do:

  • Locating autistic children that tend to wander off on their own. Autistic children are very exploratory. They tend to wander off investigating and exploring new things. Autistic service dogs can use their powerful sense of smell to track down the location of their masters.
  • Preventing self-harm. Children with autism can sometimes exhibit self-harming behavior especially when they go into tantrums. Autistic service dogs can recognize these actions and prevent them from happening. For example, they can put their head in between the child’s arms and its face to prevent it from scratching itself.
  • Guarding autistic children. Autism service dogs can act as chaperones to people with autism. They will stick by their master’s side wherever it may go. They will keep him or her away from danger.

These tasks are extremely useful. However, for an autism service dog to expertly do these tasks, they must be trained well. Training is the challenging part of this. It can also be quite expensive. Nevertheless, it can be a lifesaver and thus very worth it.

Being Emotional Support Dogs

Autism service dogs can also provide emotional support to people with autism. They can give the love and comfort needed by people to calm down, erase their frustrations, and ease their anxieties. Though they require less intensive training than physical support dogs, they also need to be trained to become obedient and well-behaved. This will ensure that they will give their full support to their masters all the time.

Being Lovely Pet Companions

If a dog isn’t a physical support service dog or an emotional support dog, it does not mean that it will no longer become valuable to autistic children. Dogs can still become loyal pet companions to people with autism and they become a huge help.

In fact, a study conducted by Gretchen Carlisle investigated the social skills and attachment to dogs of children with autism spectrum disorder. She found out that children with autism were able to bond strongly with their pets and got their social skills improved.

This means that dogs as pets of people with autism can be a great stress reliever and can eliminate or prevent their problematic behavior.

The Characteristics of Good Autism Service Dogs

There are many different breeds of dogs. They differ in characteristics and qualities. Only a few of them possess the important characteristics that make for a good autism service dog. These characteristics are as follows:

Large Size and Stature

There are small breeds of dogs that can make for good companions to people with autism. However, in general, larger breeds are better suited to be one. Larger dog breeds can do full body hugs and snuggling. They are usually strong enough to pull, push, and prod autistic children without harming or upsetting them. With their high stature, they can also act as guards that give a sense of safety to autistic children.

Smart

Breeds of dogs that make for great autism service dogs are also smart. They are easier to train than other breeds of dogs. They are sharp and can maintain their stimulation and focus and thus, prevent them from developing destructive behavior.

Gentle

Of course, autism service dogs are gentle. They will treat autistic people with gentleness, causing no harm.

Friendly and Kind

Autism service dogs are also very friendly and kind. They love the company of people, especially when they become warm with each other. They can easily develop a strong bond with their masters, an advantage for people with autism.

What Are The Best Autism Service Dogs?

Now that you know the roles that autism service dogs do as well as their characteristics, let us now proceed to what we came here for – the best dog breeds of autism service dogs.

Golden Retriever

Golden retrievers are popular service dogs. They are capable of giving physical support, emotional support, and can even be loving pet companions. They are great for people with autism. They are also popular for reducing anxiety.

Golden retrievers can be easily trained primarily due to their temperament and personality. They can give autistic people some cozy hugs, making them feel loved and cared for. Perhaps the only problem with golden retrievers is when they go through their shedding cycles which may not be hypoallergenic. However, frequently brushing them may solve this.

Rottweiler

Rottweilers have a strong physical build. They are very assertive and loyal to their masters. They will do their best to get the affection and love from people. They also love physical contact, which is an advantage for people with autism. The maximum love, affection, and devotion that they can give can be achieved when they are given the best training and opportunities for exercise.

Boxer

Boxers are popular dogs for kids. In fact, they are regarded as one of the most suitable dog breeds for children. They can make for excellent companions for kids, especially those with autism spectrum disorder.

Boxers are loving, kind, sweet, patient, and playful. These qualities go against their intimidating look. They are so friendly even with strangers that they tend to get too jumpy at times. So, you might want to consider how to train a dog not to jump. And also, do consider obedience training for them if you want your boxer to become an excellent autism service dog.

Pit Bull

There is a popular misconception about pit bulls being too stubborn, aggressive, and violent. But these bad habits only happen when they are improperly trained. In fact, pit bulls are one of the best breeds of dogs for children, even those that are autistic.

Pit bulls are one of the friendliest dog breeds. They are also highly intelligent, adorable, and quite easy to train. Just make sure that if you get one as an autism service dog, it should be properly trained.

Labrador Retriever

Labrador retrievers are one of the best breeds to become autism service dogs. They love to please their owner and are so devoted to their masters. They are so smart, gentle, and are very easy to train. But they require a lot of exercise so they are best for families with fenced yards. If you want to own a Labrador retriever, it is best to get either the best wireless dog fences or the best electric dog fences.

Poodle

Poodles are usually the go to choice breed for people that need emotional support or therapy dogs. They make excellent companions to people with mental disorders including PTSD, depression, anxiety, and autism. They are so loving, affectionate, loyal, and intelligent. Because of these characteristics, they are very easy to train and can be made into an excellent autism service dog.

Take note that Goldendoodles, a mixed-breed of poodles and golden retrievers, as well as Labradoodles, a mixed-breed of poodles and Labrador retrievers, also make for amazing autism service dogs.

Beagle

Beagles are also popular dog breeds for children. They also make for good companions to children with autism. Compared to the other dog breeds we have mentioned in this list, beagles are smaller. However, they are still as gentle, loving, and energetic as the others.

The only problem with beagles is that they can be loud at times – barking all they want. They may also become too independent at times, making their training quite a bit challenging. But in those times, they just want to play and sniff scents that interest them.

Nevertheless, proper training of beagles can turn them into amazing autism service dogs.

Old English Sheepdog

Old English Sheepdogs are popular family dogs. They are also good option for kids with autism spectrum disorder. This dog breed in particular possess qualities that enable them to become good autism service dogs. These qualities include being smart, easy-going, protective, and loyal. They are also relatively easy to train.

One issue with Old English Sheepdogs is that they tend to shed off their coats constantly. Hence, they do not excel in the category of being hypoallergenic. However, this problem can be addressed through frequent brushing and regular grooming, thereby making their coats healthy.

Bernese Mountain Dog

The intelligence, gentle disposition, big size, loyalty, and friendliness of Bernese Mountain Dogs make them excellent candidates for autism service dogs. They love to please people. They are also very much affectionate and loving. They can develop a strong bond with children, even those with autism spectrum disorders.

The issue with this dog breed is that they tend to drool quite a lot, which might be irritating against some kids. They also shed a lot, leaving traces of their hair on your furniture and upholstery. But these issues can be addressed and setting them aside, Bernese Mountain Dogs make for great companions on people with autism.

Bull Terrier

Bull Terriers were once popular for being fighting dogs. This gave them the impression of being violent and aggressive. But in fact, they are one of the most affectionate and loving breeds of dogs. They are loving, caring, and people-oriented. They are also extremely intelligent and have high trainability.

Bull Terriers are also quite entertaining. They love it when they make people around them laugh. One reminder though for those of you who want to own Bull Terriers – make sure they get plenty of exercise so they can release all that energy they have. If bored, they can become destructive and you don’t want this kind of behavior.

Newfoundland

The Newfoundland is one of the biggest dog breeds not only in this list, but also in the world. Their size and their fluffiness make them a great choice for people with autism. Be wary of their size though as most of them exceed 100 pounds. Their long coats make them look even better.

Nevertheless, Newfoundland are pretty much gentle, caring, kind, affectionate, and loving. Hence, they can make for excellent autism service dogs, especially when trained the right way.

Great Dane

Great Danes are also big dogs. But they do like to snuggle, making them excellent dogs for autistic children. Apart from being big, Great Danes are also loyal, loving, and intelligent. They are also nurturing and protective. They can become great pets for people with autism.

Conclusion

Dogs have indeed been widely used in different areas – from just being loyal and loving pet companions at home to being used as physical and emotional support dogs. There are breeds that can be specifically trained to support people with mental disorders such as autism. The value that they can give far exceed the cost it takes to train them. Hence, if you want an autism service dog now, do consider the list of best breeds for autism service dogs above.

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Dr. Halime Bamsi

Halime holds several certificates and diplomas in Feline Care, Nutrition, Behaviour and First Aid. She remains busy throughout the day - mothering her two toddler sons, caring for her hubby, dealing with her Persian Kitten, and helping people with their cat-related-queries on PetsBeast.com

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