There are few things that calm the nerves and boost spirits as unconditional affection and safety offered by a loyal dog.
While you could be a good friend to any breed of dog (or combination of), some are dogs better suited to lessening anxiety over other breeds. We’ll try to assist you below by introducing a few breeds that could benefit your mental well-being and reduce any anxiety issues you may be facing.
Best Dogs for Anxiety: Key Takeaways
- Dogs are usually very beneficial in reducing the stress level of the owners. There is a myriad of reasons why they’re ideally suited to offer this service, such as the inexplicably loving and physical contact they offer.
- While every dog can ease its owners’ anxiety, the best four-footers possess a few traits. This is a reference to an easy, calm manner and also an affectionate disposition.
- Every dog breed can ease anxiety. However, certain breeds are better at this task than others. This includes breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, dogs with poodles, Great Danes, and other breeds.
Watch Spot Soothe: How Dogs Reduce Anxiety in Humans
Before you can identify the most effective breeds to reduce anxiety, it’s important to know why dogs can do this to reduce anxiety in the first place.
In a nutshell, the word is hormones.
According to a study from 2012 released in Frontiers of Psychology, human-animal interactions are believed to trigger the Oxytocin system. Oxytocin helps regulate the process of social bonding. This is why babies’ eyes fill the new mom with joy. And as it turns out, it’s also the reason why a smile from your dog brings you fuzzy and warm feelings.
It’s not only a one-sided relationship: as discovered by the results of a separate research study, puppies’ oxytocin levels increase when you’re awed by the dog, so while your puppy makes you feel happy, you make it feel better too.
But hormones aren’t only the primary reason why dogs aid in reducing anxiety. They do this by other means too:
- Physical contact feels good-Simple physical contact can ease anxiety (and it’s not just limited to humans, other animals combat stress by touching too). Certain breeds are particularly successful when it comes to this since they are constantly in physical contact with their owners.
- Unconditional Love-Unlike even your close family and friends, dogs lack the capacity or ability to be judged. Your dog will be within your midst while you reveal your most private secrets or act in ways that you wouldn’t do in front of humans. You’re totally at liberty to be yourself with your dog.
- A sense of security: Some dogs can make their owners feel more secure (thereby decreasing their owner’s anxiety levels) due to the dog’s intimidating look or the tendency to bark when confronted by strangers or make strange sounds.
However, despite the mountains of evidence supporting it, dogs are not an effective weapon to fight anxiety and stress.
Many studies have revealed that dogs can provide substantial emotional benefits to their owners. Some studies have concluded that traditional methods for managing pain and stress are likely to work similarly.
Do you have a desire to meditate and sing soothing songs as you think about your perfect location, or do you wish to rub the belly of a dog while it kisses your face?
This is what I was thinking.
What Personality Traits To Look For In Anxiety-Lowering Dogs
Evidently, certain breeds are more effective in decreasing anxiety than other breeds. This is true both at the breed and individual levels.
The dogs that bark constantly and yip, run at full speed around your home, or exhibit hyper-needy personalities could result in greater anxiety than they can allay. They might even have the reverse result. These behaviors will not ease your nervousness or prevent an anxiety attack.
Therefore, it is essential to become familiar with some of the characteristics associated with anxiety-lowering dogs to assist you in choosing an appropriate one.
The majority of the time, the most soothing dogs and the most effective dogs for anxiety are those that are:
Be aware that intelligence isn’t mentioned above. In fact, highly intelligent dogs could cause problems for pet owners. After all, it’s not required to be an expert to be a constant companion and lavish you with unconditional affection.
Naturally, displaying these traits isn’t enough. The majority of certified anxiety therapy dogs have to go through some basic training programs like The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test and demonstrate the ability to behave positively. Be aware of your pet’s requirements for care.
There are plenty of factors to think about when you are looking for a pet to ease your anxiety, including the mentioned factors.
There’s another aspect to consider when choosing a four-footer the amount of attention your dog needs.
Simply put, certain breeds of breeds have a reputation for being “high maintenance” and require a lot of attention. They are a great pet for owners who suffer from anxiety; however, they are not the best choice for all.
Most of the time, dog owners suffering from anxiety are best served by choosing an easy-care dog breed with moderate exercise requirements and only minimal grooming requirements.
A Therapy Dog in Action: Seeing What Support Dogs Do
Are you curious about what life is like for a dog who is battling anxiety? Check out this video that follows a therapy dog, Fraiser, during one of his typical days.
Small Dogs Vs. Large Dogs For Anxiety: Which Are Best?
One of the most important things to think about when deciding on the dog that will ease your anxiety is the size. Certain individuals may find the size of a dog can help lower their anxiety levels, whereas others may find that a smaller dog is more suitable.
Naturally, neither is superior to either; you have to choose the best one that meets your requirements, desires, and preferences.
But, it’s important to keep the following in mind while choosing your option:
- If you’re planning to bring your dog along wherever you go, it is possible that a small breed would be the best choice-Small dogs are simple to transport around in bags. And they can be sat on your lap with ease and are generally accepted at more places than large breeds are. Very well-behaved large dogs could be perfect for constant interaction, but the process is more challenging.
- If you’re an animal lover or gal, you might be awed by the opportunities for snuggling all over your body that large dogs provide-Snuggling up with large dogs on the couch is extremely relaxing, and some large dogs can be more than happy to “spoon” with you during nap time.
- In the event that your fear stems from worries about your personal security, a large dog could be the most suitable choice to help you. Few people who have ulterior motives will choose to attack a person with dogs – they’ll typically seek out a more palatable victim who is not with a dog. The majority of pet owners find that many ” scary-looking dogs” are actually large softies who are great at making their owners feel secure without ever posing a real threat.
- In case financial issues have been causing anxiety for you, it is recommended to go for a smaller dog because they’re typically less expensive to care for. Bigger dogs need larger toys, more food, larger crates, and stronger leashes. Each adds to the cost of ownership. There’s even a chance that vet care is higher for larger dogs than smaller pets in general.
- They owned an animal before or aren’t familiar with dogs, and it is recommended to start with a smaller animal. Smaller dogs are a lot more manageable and easier to manage than larger breeds. They are also less difficult to return to their homes when you find out that you’re not cut out to become a pet parent.
- Do you consider peace and quiet crucial to stop your anxiety from escalating or anxiety attacks? If so, then you might find that an enormous dog is the best option. There are many instances, but generally speaking, small dogs are likely to be more vocal and excitable than larger dogs.
14 Best Dogs For Anxiety: Anxiety-Battling Breeds
Each dog is a unique animal, and there is no guarantee. However, the following breeds are usually considered among the most effective dogs for anxiety. They are specially suited to reduce stress and provide peace.
Best Large Dogs For Anxiety: Big & Mighty!
The popular and huge emotional support dogs can be very comforting when you are stressed.
Standard Poodles are great companions for people who need to reduce stress, and their clean coats are what make them an ideal breed that is a welcome addition to homes that have allergic sufferers. Standard poodles are extremely intelligent, friendly, and possess positive attitudes, which cannot be avoided from rubbing off on their owners.
1. Labrador Retrievers
Labrador retrievers are perfectly suited for numerous purposes, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they excel in therapy settings as well.
A few dogs are as affectionate as Labs in the same way, and even fewer are as gentle. They tend to be great with children, the elderly, the disabled even strangers. They are a well-liked breed to work within service.
2. Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are very similar to Labs in many ways and are adept at eliciting smiles and soothing nervous nerves. According to the UKC defines them as calm, patient, and sociable – characteristics that are evident to anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting one.
As with many of the dogs featured on the list above, these dogs could frequently get through this Canine Good Citizen Test with some training and prove how wonderful their four-legged companions can be.
3. The Great Pyrenees
They are described by the AKC as “calm, patient, and smart” by the AKC. The great Pyrenees are loved dogs and are excellent for reducing anxiety.
It is important to remember that these are large dogs, and you need space to accommodate them. Females are typically around 85 pounds, whereas males weigh 100 pounds or more.
4. Great Dane
Great Danes are calm, confident, tranquil dogs that are ideal for anxious pet owners. However, you must ensure that you’re ready to welcome this huge animal into your home. Large males can be close to three feet above an angle.
However, for those who aren’t scared of their massive dimensions, Danes provide a type of love and companionship that few other breeds can provide.
Greyhounds are extremely sensitive dogs that are adept at recognizing their owner’s feelings. They also enjoy cuddling on their sofas with their pet owners, which makes them an excellent option for those looking to have a lot of contact with their pets.
Be aware that retired greyhounds can be available for adoption; however, they are often afflicted, bearing emotional wounds. Thus, although they are great companions for certain owners, those with high anxiety levels tend to be better off adopting a new greyhound puppy instead.
6. American Pit Bull Terrier
This suggestion may surprise those who aren’t used to pitties, but people who are familiar with pitties won’t be in the least bit shocking.
Pibbles (as humans usually refer to them) are usually affectionate and loving dogs that love to give out kisses and cuddles. They’re also confident, outgoing, and affectionate, which makes them perfect for those who require an ESA.
However, they can pose some issues (as every breed does). Pit bulls can be chewers who require practically indestructible chew toys and require lots of stimulation to keep them from becoming bored (which can cause them to chew your things).
Pibbles are also known for their high energy levels, which means they’re not the ideal option for life in an apartment unless you plan to go on a daily park task.
Best Small Dogs For Anxiety: Tiny & Terrific!
The pint-sized dogs are excellent companion animals to comfort those suffering from anxiety.
Remember to keep the needs of your mind on top of everything else, including the amount of stimulation for their brains to the health issues they are often afflicted with, prior to making your decision.
Pugs may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, those who decide to take the plunge and give them a shot are rewarded with a plethora of entertainment and love.
The Canadian Kennel Club defines their style as “human-like,” which may be why it’s so simple to connect with these tiny affectionate dogs (but the fact that they’re big-hearted certainly will not harm).
2. Yorkshire Terriers
Yorkshire terriers (often referred to as Yorkies) are known to be very close with their owners and follow them as often as they can. They’re actually happier when they lavish affection and love on their owner.
While Yorkies may be smaller than the average dog but they possess a rough-and-tumble persona, which the AKC calls “tomboyish.”
Pomeranians are perfect for those looking for a dog who would rather be at your side all day long and shower you with love (and some fun). Most Pomeranians are happy to accompany you wherever they go. Nonetheless, you might want to get a pet bag of some kind because these tiny dogs and gals are incredibly small.
It’s important to get social with your dog early and frequently since they’re sometimes afraid of children and strangers. This could make them anxious.
However, they’re pretty sharp, and they aren’t afflicted with the problems with training that smaller dogs have.
4. Bichon Frise
If you’re looking for some more smiles in your life, a Bichon frise might be just what your doctor wanted.
They are among the most friendly breeds of dogs and typically greet anyone they meet with their big puppy eyes and curly tail. But they’d prefer to be with their puppy parent rather than elsewhere.
Bichon frises are also intelligent as well as easy to handle, meaning they’re not likely to cause numerous issues. They will require some extensive grooming, and you’ll have to make room for frequent visits to the groomer within your budget. They don’t, however, shed a lot. Thus, allergy sufferers may need to give them additional attention.
5. Pembroke Welsh Corgi
A Pembroke Welsh corgi is one of the most loving pets one could ask for. They’re often used for therapy purposes.
Pembroke Welsh corgis (and to a lesser degree, their bigger cousins, corgis from the Cardigan corgis) are extremely friendly to all people (and children), but they can be sensitive to other pets.
Corgis are clever and easy to train, but they can be very active small dogs, so they’re not the best choice for those living in tiny apartments weighing around 30 pounds. They’d be as small dogs; rather, they’re not big enough to carry around in a bag or even sit on your lap as Pomeranians or Yorkies are able to.
6. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cavalier King Charles spaniels were designed for lap dog purposes, and they are adamant about nothing more than sitting in the lap of dad or mom all day long. They could be the best option for pet owners who desire a steady, calm affection from their pets.
But that doesn’t mean they’re sparkling – the spaniels retain the swagger and vigor that typifies their birds-flushing predecessors.
They make excellent pets for dog owners who are just beginning their journey. They’ve never met a single pet or person they did not like. They’re also intelligent and simple to train and need a little cleaning to maintain their gorgeous coats looking their best.
If you’re looking for a pet that is loving and gentle but also full of energy and vigor, it’s smart to think about one of the Havanese.
Sometimes, they are referred to as “Velcro dogs,” thanks due to their desire to be close to their owners whenever possible. They are ideal for owners suffering from anxiety. They will also profit from the endless amounts of affection they give to their family members.
But, you’ll need to be okay with your dog being a part of the family also since the Havanese is an outgoing social butterfly. They generally behave well when walking alongside you. But, this makes them excellent companions or therapy dogs for owners who require continuous support.
Where to Find a Good Dog For Anxiety
It is possible to find a suitable dog to ease your anxieties in all usual ways. Rescues typically have a broad variety of mixed-breed dogs, while breeders and retail stores typically provide purebred breeds.
Consider the idea of adopting an older pet, especially if you are adopting your first pet. Young puppies require lots of time, effort, and patience than dogs of adulthood and could increase your stress levels in the opposite direction.
Adult dogs at rescues are usually housebroken and have been through at the very least a small amount in obedience classes. Senior breeds aren’t as well-known as puppies; however, they’re still full of love and affection and are generally more laid-back than their younger peers.
It is advisable to research the breeder or the organization you plan to establish a relationship with.
Emotional Support Dogs vs. The Stress-Reducing Benefits of Canines
Anyone can gain from adding a new pet to the family. Pets (well-trained pets in any case) provide various health benefits, among them, foremost, the capacity to lower stress levels.
However, there’s a distinct difference between a typical pet and a dog capable of becoming an actual emotional-support animal. While many rescue dogs can be trained as therapists, the top support dogs aren’t built on trees. So, it is important to be specific about what you want when selecting a dog.
In the simplest sense, you’ll want to select a dog with incredible obedience and is able to be able to pass the Canine Good Citizenship Test mentioned in the previous paragraph. Of course, you’ll need to pick a dog with that you have a connection – if you do not get along like old pals, the bond could be ruined right from the beginning.
The Difference Between Service, Support, and Therapy Dogs
You’ve decided that a dog might be the ideal pet to manage your anxiety. What are you going to do?
The answer is contingent on the goals you have set.
The regulations, laws, and procedures for working with assistance animals are a confusing web that is difficult to understand. However, terminology matters, and there is a distinction between a therapy animal, an emotional support dog, and an animal that is a service.
It is important to be aware of the distinctions between these kinds of companions to choose the one that best suits your requirements.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, a Service animal is “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.”
Guide dogs that guide their blind owner around are the best illustration of a service dog; however, some Service dog breeds can be trained to track the blood sugar levels of their owners or alert their deaf owners to dangers or complete similar duties.
Yes, you can have an anxiety-related service dog, but only if the dog is trained to complete certain tasks to help ease your anxiety.
Service dogs typically receive extensive training (which could take several years to complete). They’re usually allowed to go wherever the owner goes because they are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They are allowed to join you at the buffet, and they can even lie in your hospital bed, and they’ll earn miles traveling around the globe with you.
It’s not necessary to have certification for service dogs. In fact, you can teach a service dog how to complete the required tasks on your own. Also, while your service dog has to have the training, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to be obligated to have him trained by professionals.
In reality, people who work for “covered entities” cannot even request your dog’s proof of training. Legally (at least, as I’m able to tell from reading the DOJ publication cited above – I’m not a lawyer), they are able to ask two questions (paraphrased to make it easier):
- Do you require a dog due to a disability?
- What task has the dog been conditioned to do?
Therapy dogs are typically specially trained to provide loving care and affection to patients in schools, hospitals, or retirement communities, among other areas where people frequently feel anxious or stressed. They also are commonly employed in the aftermath of trauma to aid survivors in feeling more at ease.
Although service canines and other emotional animals are typically employed to offer their owners help or support, Therapy dogs are typically employed to aid in helping others to feel better.
Since they’re not required to be astonished, therapy animals don’t require the same kind of specialized training that service dogs need. They just need to be well-behaved, calm, and comfortable receiving attention and love from many different people.
Therapy dogs aren’t covered under the ADA and are not legally allowed to accompany you on an airplane, and landlords aren’t obliged to provide special accommodations for them.
In general, therapy dogs are considered pets. But some companies are open to them, but it varies depending on the location.
Therapy dogs don’t need to be licensed; however, paperwork proving the training of a therapy dog is likely to increase the likelihood that schools, businesses, and other places will allow your dog in.
Emotional Support Dogs
Support dogs for emotional issues provide handicapped owners with comfort and help. They do not need to be taught to perform certain duties; they simply help their owners be more comfortable through their role as the dog (or cat or ferret or hippopotamus; technically, any animal is an emotional animal).
Support dogs for emotional issues have more legal protections than therapy dogs; however, they don’t receive the same legal protections as service dogs do.
For instance, airlines must permit your service dog to accompany you on your fight or flight, and your landlord is required to provide special arrangements for your pet, too. But, you aren’t able to bring your emotional support dog within private companies unless the proprietor voluntarily lets you do so.
Animals that support your emotional well-being don’t need to be registered; however, you can find organizations that can register the emotional animal you support should you wish to have some documentation to show your pet’s importance.
To transport your dog on a trip or make your landlord agree to let your dog live at home with you, it’s best to require an official letter from your vet or psychologist.
Note that the dogs listed above require an identification badge or vest that identifies them as working animals. It’s still an unwise idea to dress your dog in an official pet service vest if you don’t mind him wearing an outfit. This could help ease the tensions in social settings that may occur when dogs are brought to public areas.
A Word of Caution (and Karma)
In the past couple of years, a variety of stories have surfaced in the media that involve individuals who are trying to make use of laws that protect animals that provide emotional assistance (and other animals).
They do not have a genuine requirement for pet support most of the time. They’re just trying to navigate the system so that they can bring their pet along on a trip without having to go through the hurdles that pet owners typically have to.
Don’t be the person or gal.
The accommodation of animals on a plane isn’t an easy task for airlines and often causes many stress levels for other passengers on the plane.
Although most people are sure to be sympathetic to those who require assistance from a companion animal, a few people will be tolerant of those who play around with the rules for no reason.
Pushing those boundaries can only create more difficulties for those with handicaps to get around with their aid dog. Don’t try it.
If you’re planning to take your pet during your travels and have a valid need for the emotional assistance your dog can provide, you’ll need to get a letter from your counselor or your doctor.
You’ll need to get in touch with the carrier and confirm that your dog is in line with the dimensions that carriers have (some carriers also have restrictions on species. However, we’re speaking about dog breeds here).
Where Can I Get a Service, Emotional Support, or Therapy Dog?
If you’re looking for an animal that will love you and reduce your blood pressure when stressed, you can go to your local shelter or browse through breeder ads.
Choose either of these breeds mentioned above (or one of the combinations If you opt for the shelter option). It’s likely that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how your new pet can help you unwind.
However, if you want to get a service dog, you’ll likely need to connect with an organization in your area that offers training courses or sells dogs that have had training. Since you’ll need to talk with an organization in your local area, you’ll want to start Googling and look at what you can find.
But, you could also begin with an AKC because they provide an accreditation program and other sources.
Don’t Forget to Factor in the Challenges of Pet Ownership.
While they’re wonderful, they can also pose problems for their owners. The majority of people who are well-suited for dog ownership can handle these difficulties quickly enough, but for some, dogs can cause greater stress than they can ease.
As an example, you’ll have to ensure that your dog is fed on a consistent schedule and allow him frequent restroom breaks throughout the day. This can cause additional stress for people who work long shifts or juggle other obligations that require them to stay away from home.
If you own an active and large breed, you’ll need to be prepared to take long regular walks with your pet.
There’s also the need to take on the huge costs of the ownership of a dog. Alongside the daily costs for food, treats, and other luxuries, you’ll need to have the funds to cover all necessary vet expenses.
Even the healthiest dogs need regular vaccinations as well as regular checkups and regular cleaning of teeth.
The Best Dogs for Anxiety: FAQ
We’ve covered everything you must learn about dogs to treat anxiety, but we’ll go over some of the most frequently asked concerns people ask in case you didn’t get the answers in the previous article.
What dog is the best for those who have anxiety?
In the end, you’ll have to consider your personality and the type of anxiety, the type of care you’re able to offer, and the kind of assistance you’d like from your dog prior to making your decision. Certain breeds (including the ones mentioned above) generally make suitable, but it’s always going to remain an individual choice.
Can dogs actually help with anxiety?
In certain situations, there are instances where dogs can significantly lessen their owners’ anxiety. However, this is not a guarantee; in certain situations, dogs can increase the anxiety level of their owners. The trick to success is to find a breed as well as a specific dog that fits perfectly with your lifestyle and meets your specific desires.
Are emotional animals have to wear the vest?
There is no need to wear a vest. Emotional support animals don’t have a vest or any other clothes that identify them as emotional support animals. It is usually beneficial to equip an emotional animal with the aid of a vest in order to convey to people that he’s more than simply an animal.
Can Animals that can help you feel emotionally be with you everywhere?
No! Although emotional support animals have access to more areas than standard pet dogs, they are not given free access to public spaces as service dogs are.
Do small dogs help with anxiety?
Small dogs are beneficial for pet owners suffering from anxiety. It is all dependent on what you’re seeking from your pet. A lot of people believe that small dogs fit the bill perfectly, but others prefer the characteristics of larger breeds.
Be aware that each pet is a unique animal, and even the most nervous Chihuahua can help ease your anxiety. You need to reflect your own personality and the pet’s personality.
Are you able to lessen your anxiety levels through the purchase of an animal? Which breed did you select, and how have they resulted for you? Tell us by leaving a comment below.