There are lots of reasons you may have considered getting an assistance dog. Autism, PTSD, anxiety disorder, clinical depression or several other mental or physical health conditions. An assistance dog provides a therapeutic companion to help with tasks or just to keep you calm and secure. They are really good at assisting people emotionally and socially but can also help with daily chores. This may include fetching your medication, loading the washing machine or bringing you items you need. Some dogs can even help you to get dressed. They can help people with physical, emotional, social and economic functioning.
An assistance dog isn’t the answer to all your issues, and you will need to continue with other help and forms of treatment. However, they do have a massive impact on the lives of those they work with. Adding so much joy and benefit.
If you have considered all aspects of owning an assistance dog and decided this is the right choice for you, then there are lots of breeds which you can choose from.
The most common is the Golden or Labrador retriever. This is a medium to large size dog with strong intelligence and a sense of loyalty. They have a calm nature and are very easy to train. Golden retrievers make excellent dogs for children with autism as they are patient and loving.
Have you seen the film, Beethoven? If so you may be a little concerned about welcoming a Saint Bernard into your home. However, this breed is incredibly gentle considering their size. You will need plenty of space if you choose a Saint Bernard, but they are a sweet and patient dog that will be gentle and loyal to their companion.
Sticking with super large size dogs, the Newfoundland is another incredibly friendly and easy to train canine. They have been nicknamed ‘the gentle giant’ and have a very high level of intelligence. They are also very calm and are a natural guardian. If you are looking for a service dog that will also make you feel protected, then this is an excellent breed for you. Bear in mind the size of the breed, you will need a spacious home and a large garden.
If you believe an assistance dog is right for your family, but you are worried about allergies, then you may be interested in the Labradoodle. This fabulous breed is a cross between a Labrador and a poodle. They are a prevalent choice for children as they are unique looking and are very patient. Labradoodles have a high level of intelligence, so can be trained to take on a variety of challenging tasks.
The Poodle is another good choice if allergies are a concern. This dog is highly intelligent and very loyal. They are also fabulous looking pets that children will grow very close to due to their quiet temperament.
What could be better for an assistance dog than the German Shepherd? Used for years by our police and armed forces, the German Shepherd is incredibly faithful to its human companion. They are naturally protective and exceedingly trainable. As well as being highly intelligent, the breed is incredibly gentle. They are an excellent choice of autism assistance dog, and his personality will make him a brilliant therapy too.
Size may be an issue if you live in a small home or an apartment. This makes the Beagle a great choice. The breed is incredibly friendly and will mix well with members of the family but also with strangers. They are naturally playful, so an excellent choice for children. If your child is a little nervous of dogs, the Beagle’s loving personality and small size could be a great option for your family. They are more challenging to train than many other service dogs because they have an instinct to follow a scent. However, with the right training program, this could be a valuable asset in your assistance dog.
One dog that has had a lot of bad press is the Pit Bull. This muscular looking hound has a highly protective nature and has been referred to as the nanny dog. While you may not feel confident about having a pit bull in your home, you have little to worry about. Once trained, you will have one of the most loyal and loving breeds who will master any task that is asked.
Spaniels are a well-known working dog. They are highly attuned with their owners and will make that person the centre of attention. They have an acute sense of smell which is a useful attribute in an assistance dog. Their loyalty ensures they will always have eyes on their family and will be ready to go to work at any time. This breed is very energetic, which makes them a great companion for younger children. Ready to play or focus on the task in hand.
Some breeds are highly dedicated to their owners. The German Shorthaired Pointer is a great example. Known for needing a lot of exercise people often overlook the breed as an assistance dog, however, it is their intelligence that needs to be utilised. Pointers are incredibly loyal and make a deep and lasting connection with their owners. They are also one of the most gentle breeds on this list. A pointer will provide lots of laughter because they have an almost human-like personality, but they will also give a feeling of security due to their need to be close with their family.
Most dog breeds have the potential to be an assistance dog, it is even possible to retrain your current pet and teach them how to take on multiple tasks which could assist you at home. It is imperative to choose the right companion from the start as these dogs develop a deep bond with their companion. If you choose the wrong breed for you, then you may end up causing distress to both the dog and your loved one.
When you start on your journey to choosing an assistance dog, you should try to find some breeders who will let you spend time with their dogs. Make sure you take your time and see and talk to other owners who can let you know all the pros and cons of the breed. It is also essential to consider the financial implications of owning an assistance dog. Some charities will provide your family with an assistance dog. However, the waiting lists are incredibly long, and you won’t be guaranteed the breed you want.
You can purchase your own dog and take it to a specialist trainer, this is an expensive and lengthy process. It can be beneficial, though, as you can be involved heavily in the training program and really tailor it to your personal needs. On top of this, there are lots of other costs to consider, such as feeding and any future vet bills.
An assistance dog can be a life-changing investment for the whole family, it can also help people suffering from a medical condition to find some independence. Giving you peace of mind as you watch them take on the next stages of their life.
They say a dog is man’s best friend and this really is true of an assistance dog. Once you find the right companion for you, you will feel like your family is complete and you will have an incredibly loyal, intelligent and faithful friend to share your life with.
This is a contributed post and therefore may not reflect the views and opinions of this blog or its author.