There are many studies that show that dogs can be very beneficial to children with autism. Dogs can offer a calming presence that is completely non-judgemental and non-threatening. Some studies even show that autistic children owning a dog show more social behaviors, including talking, looking at faces, making contact, and even offering to share or even comfort. Therapy dogs can be trained to interrupt dysfunctional behaviors, protect a vulnerable child, and are adept at reading emotions and providing reassurance.
There are many things to consider before adding a new furry friend to your family, including the financial commitment and the time to properly train and care for your dog. Not all dogs make good protectors, and some breeds are better at providing affection and assistance than others. Here are the top 8 dog breeds recommended for autistic children.
The Labrador Retriever has been the most pawpular dog in America for the last 27 years, and the most common type of service dog. This is for good reason! The ultimate family dog, labs are calm and eager to please. Not only are they consistently cheerful, but they show excellent commitment and focus. They truly shine when working with depression and anxiety disorders.
Many people are intimidated by Staffordshire Bull Terriers because of their strength and their look, while experts would agree that they can actually be pawrific guides and protectors. These dogs are only dangerous if they’ve been abused or trained to fight, but in a safe, loving home, they are docile, trustworthy, and loyal.
Labradoodles are a crossbreed between Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, meaning they’re smaller than a lab and have a fluffy, hypoallergenic coat. These dogs are rising in popularity, so make sure you do your research to end up with a healthy, non-shedding Labradoodle. These intelligent doggos even have a specific reputation as great autism therapy dogs.
Newfoundlands will forever be known as “nanny dogs” because of Nanna from Peter Pan. They have a sweet temperament and love spending time with children. They’re regularly used as therapy dogs for mood disorders and autism. Newfoundlands are one of the largest dog breeds, so be sure you have plenty of space, and be prepared for some fur and drool.
Golden Retrievers are often a top choice for service dogs of any variety, and have been associated with therapy the longest. They consistently have a happy-go-lucky attitude, are highly perceptive, and have an uncanny ability to read emotions. They’re also extremely intelligent and easy to train. These pups can grow pretty big, so be sure you have the space for regular exercise.