For some people, therapy dogs provide much more than just companionship. They provide emotional support and affection to those who are experiencing ongoing bouts of anxiety, stress and illness and can prove to be invaluable in places such as hospices, care homes, hospitals and in the home of those with special requirements. Therapy using therapy dogs will vary depending on the individual requirements of the patient.
The breed of dog will also vary depending on the individual, although there are breeds that are much better suited to being therapy dogs than others. A high energy dog that finds the urge to run, jump and bounce all over the place would not make for a great therapy dog. While the energy may be amusing for the first few minutes, it will eventually lead to further stress and anxiety of the user.
As a rule of thumb, the larger the dog the better it will be for the use of therapy, however, due to some patients lack of space in their accommodation, smaller breeds are becoming a popular choice too. If a dog is a people pleaser then it will make for an ideal therapy dog. When talking about people pleasing, we are referring to dogs that have a desire to please through actions and commands. A great example of some larger breed people pleasing dogs are Beagles, King Charles Spaniels, Border collies, Pugs and Irish setters. While each breed is unique in appearance, the character is very similar across the board.
These breeds make for excellent therapy dogs as they have the perfect energy requirements to fulfil a user’s needs, they also have friendly, happy and caring natures that make them appear to genuinely have concern for the patient. Finding a perfect match can be hard, but for most, the attention and love a dog shows to the user helps alleviate stress and anxiety and helps them build a more positive and forward thinking state of mind.
Beagles make an excellent therapy dog due to their inquisitive character and naturally happy and excitable temperament. They also aim to please and are never happier than when they are out with their master exploring the great outdoors and learning new commands. Their size and stature also make them ideal as they are at the smaller end of the medium breed size. Beagles are also friendly towards strangers and other dogs and it is rare to find a bad tempered beagle.
As touched upon earlier, some smaller breeds are being looked at as therapy dogs. Their small size and stature make them ideal for apartments, studios and condos and their reduced energy requirements make them ideally suited for older patients. When talking about small breeds, the best ones for therapy are Yorkshire Terriers, smaller Beagles, Teacup Pugs, Daschunds, Bichon Frise and Toy Poodles. As most small breeds such as Chihuahuas and jack Russells tend to be quite snappy and yappy, they don’t always make the best therapy dogs.
But much like the patients, every dog is individual and unique and may prove to make for an excellent candidate for therapy purposes. The main thing is that the breed is not aggressive and is matched well to the patient’s requirements.