Top 8 Psychiatric Service Dog Breeds
Humans have used dogs throughout history to help them with all kinds of life’s hardships. Whether it’s helping to gather sheep, pull sleds through thick snow, or protect the home, dogs have been at humanity’s side throughout the millennia.
Dogs are a human’s best friend, but it takes a special kind of dog to become a service dog. Service dogs are exceptionally well-trained dogs that perform tasks for a person with a physical or mental disability. For example, a service dog can help guide people with vision problems or detect impending seizures in someone with epilepsy. Becoming a service dog requires an intelligent, well-behaved, and attentive temperament.
As remarkable as service dogs are, a psychiatric service dog (PSD) is exceptional. Psychiatric service dogs, which are trained to assist people with mental illnesses, are in a league of their own. For these dogs to perform their tasks well, their temperament and focus must be exceptional.
Psychiatric service dogs help to keep children with behavioral concerns from running away or wandering into danger. For people who struggle with self-injurious behaviors, psychiatric service dogs can assist in preventing them from hurting themselves. In the case of psychiatric service dogs, these canines not only have to be attentive, but they must also have the ability to act on a task without taking direction. This level of independence calls for the most intelligent — and perceptive — dogs.
Top 8 Psychiatric Service Dog Breeds
Although any dog can receive training as a service dog, it’s important to choose a dog with the right temperament, intelligence, and reliability. The following list is the nine best dog breeds for psychiatric dogs.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labradors are notoriously friendly, and they bond quickly with their owners. Their temperament is calm, confident, and friendly. Labrador Retrievers are known for being attentive and quick to respond. These dogs are classic service dogs, well-known for their high level of intelligence and alertness. Though hardworking, Labrador Retrievers are also easy-going and patient, qualities essential in psychiatric service dogs.
2. Doberman Pinscher
Dobermans have a reputation for being guard dogs because of their stature and strength. However, Dobermans also make effective psychiatric service dogs. They’re eager to please and alert to their environment, enabling them to spot and halt impending mental health crises. Because they’re protective by nature, they bond very tightly with their owners and can intervene gently in cases of self-injury.
3. American Boxer
American Boxers are sturdy and robust dogs built with compact muscle. They may appear more fitting as guard dogs, but these dogs also have a soft side. Their size allows them to intervene gently in mental health crises without hurting their owner. Protective, attuned to human behaviors, and loyal, American Boxers make ideal psychiatric service dogs.
Much more than a pretty face, Poodles are intelligent and highly trainable. Most Poodles have a peaceful temperament and aren’t prone to developing anxious traits. They’re also eager to please and highly perceptive, enabling them to notice psychological triggers and intervene.
Labradoodles are known for being attentive to their owner and eager to please. Very attuned to their owner’s emotions, they can respond and react to prevent unsafe situations. Labradoodles have high levels of intelligence and can adapt quickly to different environments. Laidback and calm, Labradoodles make an excellent choice as a psychiatric service dogs.
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6. Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers add sunshine to anyone’s day. These dogs are sharp and quick to respond. Although Golden Retrievers seem more fun-loving than hard-working, they’re very task-oriented and want to please. Golden Retrievers are also quick to learn and respond well to positive reinforcement. With their intelligence and obedience, Golden Retrievers are great psychiatric service dog candidates.
7. German Shepherd
German Shepherds, known for being courageous and sharp, are often utilized as police or military canines. These qualities make them ideal for law enforcement and useful as psychiatric service dogs. Their willingness to assist, observe nature, and obey can help in any mental health situation. It’s their loyalty, stable temperament, and gentle soul, however, that make German Shepherds superior psychiatric service dogs.
8. Border Collie
Border Collies are a herding breed, and their desire to look after their “flock” make them watchful and focused psychiatric service dogs. They are quick to intervene without becoming anxious and are naturally intuitive. Collies also function well in family environments because of their collaborative and affectionate nature. During downtime, Border Collies are also silly and love to snuggle, perfect for psychiatric disorders who require a little boost in mood.
A Psychiatric Service Dog Is More than a Pet
Although pets, in general, may benefit the mental health of those they live with and emotional support animals (ESA) also provide comfort and companionship to people with mental health or emotional disorders, psychiatric service dogs go the extra mile to provide a task for their owners that, at a given time, might even save their life.
Whether it’s keeping an autistic child from straying or reminding a person with depression to take their medication, psychiatric service dogs enable people with psychiatric disorders to experience a better life. Like dogs have always done for humans, psychiatric service dogs help humans overcome life’s hardships.