Best dog breeds for therapy dogs

Top Benefits Of Having A Therapy Dog (Pet Therapy!)

Why dogs are the best for well-being and stress?


Don’t you just love coming home each day to be greeted by your fur-ever friend wagging their tail with excitement to see you. But did you know that having a dog around can help manage stress?

Research has shown that being around a canine companion can have a calming effect on humans and help us control stress in two ways:

First, by increasing levels of oxytocin (the good feeling hormone).

Second, by reducing levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

I think the two of the best reasons to add a dog to any family, wouldn’t you agree!


What are Therapy Dogs?

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 or help children and adults in a Learning environment.

Any dog can become a therapy dog, providing they have the right temperament, though some breeds tend to be better suited than others.

Kids in Australia with a Therapy Dog

What are the different types of Therapy Dogs?

Support dogs are trained to assist people who have various disabilities to manage personal and other tasks. The popular term for these dogs in Australia is assistance dogs.

Guide dogs or seeing eye dogs are trained to help blind or visually impaired people get around safely and independently.

Therapy Dogs provides comfort, companionship and emotional support to children, individuals, and families, at home, schools, workplaces and living in facilities. Therapy Dogs can particularly support people who experience behavioural, emotional, developmental, and mental health conditions. physical disabilities, and Autism.

But which are the best therapy dog breeds? Let’s find out...

Best dog breeds for therapy dogs

7 top dog breeds used as Therapy Dogs:


1.Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is not only the most popular dog breed in Australia 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.

Labs are the most loyal emotional support, therapy, and service dogs you can ever get. The joyous, bright, and naturally gentle Labrador Retriever is positively infectious and serves big, sloppy kisses in abundance, regardless of your mood.

These pups have a strong desire to please and can flawlessly attune to your moods to share your best and lowest moments. You don’t have to worry about a straying Lab, because no other pup would rather always curl up by your side like a Lab.

2. St Bernard

Don’t be fooled by their size – St Bernard’s are gentle giants, and extremely cuddly. Children just love to play and nuzzle into their soft fur, and this dog is glad to have 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?

3. Pug

Pugs are good for people who can be intimidated by larger dogs because, they’re just sooo cute! Not to mention that there 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 demeanour usually mean they are well-matched to those with mood disorders.

Behind the grumpy-looking face lies a happy emotional support pug that gives the best hugs. Pugs have the funniest temperaments with the most positive thinking minds. Their intuitions intertwine with their innate desire to make people feel better.

These dogs are brilliant, friendly, and can diligently attune into your emotions and touch your place of positivity and happiness.

4. Poodle

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 and as a bonus are hypoallergenic.

The poodle’s calm nature makes them a good match for people with autism, particularly children.

5. Greyhound

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. They like nothing better than just to lay around all day and be with you.
If you’re after a dog that rarely barks, Greyhounds are a good bet.

6. Pomeranian

Little Poms have the whole package – they’re small, cute, fluffy, and affectionate. They do however tend 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.

7. Beagle

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.

Emotional Support Dogs

People with mental or emotional issues have begun using dogs as their mental support companions because such pets help them remain functional throughout the day. These pooches provide unconditional love, acceptance, comfort, and a sense of structure for people whose lives may have been turned upside-down by trauma.

The dogs help them deal with the hardships that might otherwise compromise their quality of life.

There’s no limit to the dog’s age or breed, although certain species have traits that make them more suitable for the role.

Which dog should you consider for emotional support? Here are some of the best choices.

Top 10 breads of dogs for emotional support:

1. Vizla
2. Labrador Retriever
3. Yorkshire Terrier.
4. Pug
5. Cavalier King Charles’ Spaniel
6. Brussels Griffon
7. Golden Retriever
8. Corgi
9. Irish Wolfhound
10. Chihuahua


Psychiatric Service Dogs Are More Than a Best Friend

Though it’s true that most pets provide their owners with companionship and can improve mental health, not all dogs can be psychiatric service dogs. To qualify as a psychiatric Service dog, a dog undergoes extensive skills training to perform a specific task that a person with a mental or emotional disorder cannot do for themselves. These dogs help their handlers live healthier and happier lives through their daily service. Psychiatric service dogs are more than pets and much more than a best-friend—they are lifesavers. 

Top 8 Psychiatric Service dogs:

2.Labrador Retriever.
3.German Shepherd.
4.Lhasa Apso.
7.Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.


Sleep Support Dogs

Emotional support dogs can come through for individuals who tend to have trouble sleeping and flashbacks like those battling issues like PTSD or complex PTSD. Sharing a bed and cuddling an emotional support dog can help provide a sense of security and safety at night and improve sleep quality in return.
These dogs can nudge, whine, and try to cuddle up closer whenever you experience flashbacks and nightmares. They redirect and soothe you after experiencing the undesired emotional arousal from your experience.

Here are seven dog breeds that make good support animals for people living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Top 8 Psychiatric Service Dogs:

1.Golden Retriever.
2.Labrador Retriever.
3.Lhasa Apso.
4.Doberman Pinscher.
5.Standard Poodle.
7.Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.


Emotion Support Dog

An emotional support dog can also help you recognise and regulate your feelings whenever you feel engulfed, overwhelmed, or angry.

For example, the canine may whimper or pace back and forth when it senses your anger or voice increase. This helps you calm down through self-soothing techniques or grounding strategies.

What breed of dog is best for anxiety, depression, and emotional regulation?

Baby with dog for Emotion and Support

8 small emotional support dog breeds for anxiety and depression:

1.Chihuahua (long-haired or short-haired)
2.Poodle: Toy, Miniature, and Standard.
3.Cavalier King Charles’ Spaniel.
5. Pug.
7.Yorkshire Terriers (“Yorkies”)
8.Bichon Frise.

Can I train my dog as a therapy dog?

Any breed can become a therapy dog if they are raised and trained effectively however there are certain breeds that tend to be more commonly seen in therapy settings; Labrador; the gentle and calm demeanour of a Labrador means that they just have to take the top spot.


Young girl cuddling with her dog. Great emotional support animals.

Why dogs are the best for therapy? Conclusion.

Therapy dogs provide comfort to people in all settings such as homes, hospitals, schools, disaster areas, nursing homes, and retirement homes. They also give affection to those with mood disorders and learning difficulties.

Any breed can train to work as a therapy dog, but some are used more commonly than others. Labradors are a top choice for therapy dog due to their gentle natures. For those who are a little dog shy, a smaller breed like a Pug, Pomeranian, or a Beagle would make a good match.

Farmer Pete's recommends rewarding therapy dogs with a diverse range of dog treats or if you know someone who's pet dog needs extra love a great sample gift box will please every dog type!

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