Have you ever been victim to the feelings of overwhelming stress and anxiety? Have you ever had one of THOSE days where nothing can seem to cheer you up? Well, a common solution to all of those problems may come in a very fluffy and adorable package! Studies have shown that therapy dogs have many positive effects on their caretakers. These benefits not only include aid in relief of stress or anxiety, but overall emotional support and pure, unconditional love as well. If one has the means to support it, then a therapy dog may be a very plausible solution to a human needing emotional support, as well as a welcome addition to the family!
What makes a good therapy dog?
Many breeds that lend themselves to being an excellent therapy dog, have very affectionate and loyal personalities, enjoy being cuddled, and are usually great with children and company. Some other aspects to look for in a therapy dog breed include patience and a very calm temperament. To each their own, therapy dogs should fit the needs and preferences of their owner.
Therapy dogs differ from service dogs, in that their training will be more based upon the owners needs, rather than a structured training and certification required for service dogs. Therapy animals have different restrictions than service dogs, and are not allowed in public spaces unless noted. Therapy pets are also known as ESA’s, or emotional support animals.
Now the question arises: what therapy dog breed fits my lifestyle the best? Read on, to discover the traits of 3 popular breeds, including the Labrador Retriever, the Poodle, and the Newfoundland.
The Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is the most common therapy dog breed across the United States. A very versatile companion, the Retriever is relatively easy to train. The main reason that this breed of canine is so popular among those who experience stress and anxiety, is because of their affectionate and focused personality. Labrador Retrievers are also well known for their acceptance towards visitors and friendliness with other pets and children. Although retrievers are adaptable, they often don’t fare well with small apartment living due to their energetic tendencies and medium-sized average. Male Labrador Retrievers can grow to be around 24 inches tall, weighing in between 65-80 pounds, while the weight of female Retrievers ranges from 50-70 pounds while standing around 22 inches in height.
The Poodle is renowned across the globe for its excellent intelligence and perky attitude. This breed serves as superb therapy dogs because of their hypoallergenic coat, affectionate personality, and adaptability to different environments. Although, their intelligence does become an inconvenience at times, with the dog refusing to do repetitive tasks unless bribed by treats. Poodles regularly come in three sizes, Toy, which weigh 4-5 pounds while being 9-11 inches tall, Miniature, which weigh 10-15 pounds and stand from 11-14 inches in height, and Standard, which weigh in from 45-60 pounds while being 18-24 inches tall depending on the gender.
The Newfoundland Dog
The Newfoundland Dog (Newfie) is a welcome addition to any home that has the means to support it. Truly a gigantic teddy bear, this big dog is a gentle giant. Very friendly, affectionate, and protective, the Newfie is a great fit for those in large houses/areas who struggle with stress and anxiety. This breed of dog is not a good fit for anywhere with very limited space and play area. A big, patient softie, the Newfoundland Dog (depending on gender) ranges from 63-75 inches in height, and can weigh anywhere between 100-150 pounds.
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Written by blog contributor Kael Laselva