Therapy dogs are trained to offer support and comfort in hospitals, nursing homes and similar facilities, although they can visit private homes too. Their role is different from a service canine or emotional-support dog. They’re used to help people struggling with various conditions including anxiety, dementia, high blood pressure or PTSD.
What makes the best therapy dog?
Therapy dogs have great obedience skills, adapt to new environments easily and can quickly detect changes in someone’s behaviour or surroundings. They’re the most gentle, calm and friendliest pooches in the canine world and dog lists. They can master any trick, from the simple “leave it” to more advanced routines.
Best therapy dogs:
1) Golden Retriever
The beloved Golden Retriever is an awesome companion you’ll often find in hospitals or retirement homes providing comfort and support. They are one of the most intelligent and gentle dog breeds. And if you’ve ever tried to teach a Golden Retriever a command or two, you know how quickly they learn to perform almost any trick under the sun. These are big pooches with big hearts and a huge love for people, so with the right training they can make one of the best therapy dogs out there, especially when physical support is needed.
2) German Shepherd
The German Shephard is another gorgeous big dog breed that can be trained to provide support to vulnerable people. You might see them work more often as trusted partners in police departments, but they can do just as well when emotional comfort is needed. They are bright, protective and extremely aware of their environment which means they can pick up subtle changes and act quickly based on their training in guiding and listening.
3) French Bulldog
French Bulldogs often love nothing more than to be petted. Many have an easy-going personality that is nicely complemented by their ability to fit into any place. Add to this their skill to notice changes in their human friends’ personality or behaviour and there’s no wonder why with the right training, they can feature among the best breeds for therapy dog jobs.
4) Bichon Frise
Another popular therapy dog breed is the charming Bichon Frise. Once they receive the proper training, these little dogs will fit anywhere they’re needed: care homes, hospitals, schools or hospices. Their usually playful, gentle temperament can make them a joy to be around in a therapy setting. The added bonus is that this dog breed doesn’t even shed.
5) Yorkshire Terrier
Adept at reading people and loving to be in their presence, the Yorkshire Terrier will do anything to make their human happy. Therefore, they can become really excellent therapy dogs with the right training. Their diminutive size means they’re usually easy to handle and fit into any scenario. Yorkshire Terriers are often trained to give medicine, or alert services in the case of a medical emergency by pushing a button.
The intuitive Pomeranian is an awesome companion. They look like a ball of fluff created for endless hugs and have a gentle, affectionate personality. But they’re also playful and fun little fellows, ready to bring a smile to anyone’s face. This is an especially joyful companion for bed-bound patients, so no wonder they make such incredible therapy dogs.
Beagles love to be the stars in any room they find themselves in. The bigger the room and the more people, the better. For this reason, they do wonders when their support is needed by groups of people. Schools and care homes are the top venues where their skills are most needed. However, Beagles are known for having a mind of their own and not always obeying commands. So, if you see one working as a therapy dog, know they’re a really special pooch.
8) Labrador Retriever
Although often trained for other purposes, Labrador Retrievers have all the qualities of great therapy dogs. They learn quickly, can master obedience skills easily and are some of the friendliest pets out there. Plenty of reasons why you’ll see them working as service dogs and emotional-support dogs as well as therapy dogs.
Extremely trainable and clever in picking up emotions, the Poodle is another top-of-the-list contender for therapy dog jobs. This is a breed that comes in different sizes, so no matter the setting or the job, chances are a Poodle is always ready to take on the task. This is another breed that doesn’t shed, making them even more of a favourite.
Portable, adaptable and super-friendly, the Maltese will sit in your lap for hours. They love human attention and can be easily trained to obey a wide range of commands. Their sweet nature and gentle personality make them the perfect companion for people who can’t move easily.
Whether they’re needed in hospitals, schools or disaster areas, these little fellows will do a great job offering that much-needed comfort.
Next, learn more about all the different types of service dogs and the amazing jobs they do every day.