Which Dog Breeds are the Best for Deep Pressure Therapy
Maybe you’ve noticed the proliferation of “weighted blankets” and wondered what they were and if they work. Weighted blankets are scientifically proven to be effective at reducing the symptoms of mental and emotional disorders. Some blankets weigh up to 20 pounds. The pressure placed on the body is known as deep pressure therapy (DPT). It provides comfort, security, and focus in adults and children struggling with disorders like anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism.
Service dogs can also provide deep pressure therapy to offer the same calming benefits. International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) recognizes how service dogs can give their owners deep pressure for a calming effect. When a person experiences symptoms of their disorder, a medium or large service dog can lay on their abdomen or chest, generating the same effect of a weighted blanket.
7 Best Dog Breeds for Deep Pressure Therapy
Of course, not any dog breed will provide that same sense of comfort. A toy breed may not have the sufficient weight necessary to impact a person’s mental or emotional health.
Apart from a dog’s good temperament, it’s important to find the right-sized service dog for deep pressure therapy to get the most effective results.
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The following are seven dog breeds that are ideal for deep pressure therapy:
1. Golden Retriever
The Golden Retriever lands on many “best” service dog lists for a good reason. This breed is intelligent, gentle, patient, and good-natured. Children and adults with autism enjoy their happy-go-lucky personalities. They also have the right temperament and emotional intuitiveness to work with mentally or emotionally distressed individuals. Golden Retrievers are the right size and gentleness to function well during deep pressure therapy.
2. Labrador Retriever
Autism Service Dogs of America recommends Labrador Retrievers for children and adults with autism. These dogs are the right size for deep pressure therapy and have an inherent calmness to their disposition. The Labrador Retriever is also the number one most popular dog breed in the US because they are exceptional family dogs and easy to train.
The mild-mannered Collie is well-known for its loyalty and intelligence. Sharp and quick, Collies are eager to please and easy to train. Although they’re energetic and playful, they’re also attentive and obedient, making them great for children with autism or ADHD. Their fluffy appearance makes them look lightweight, but a male can grow as large as 75 pounds—the right size for deep pressure therapy on an older child or small adult.
Part Poodle and part Labrador (hence the name), the Labradoodle is allergy-friendly and doesn’t shed as much hair as other dogs. They are, however, still part Labrador, so people with sensitive allergies may react to Labradoodles. The Labradoodle comes from two very intelligent breeds and is highly trainable. Because they also come in many sizes, finding the right-sized Labradoodle for deep pressure therapy is easy.
Hugging a cushiony, furry Samoyed is like cuddling with a large teddy bear, which is why this dog is ideal for deep pressure therapy. Samoyed’s can grow up to 65 pounds, but most of that weight consists of shaggy white fur! Samoyeds are also obedient and pick up on emotions well, making them great as psychiatric service dogs for deep pressure purposes. One thing to note is that these dogs are very energetic and need frequent grooming, but it’s well worth it to have a life-sized teddy bear to hold.
6. Great Pyrenees
The Great Pyrenees are very large dogs, upwards of 100 pounds. However, they’re on this list for two significant reasons: First, they’re gentle giants. They’re excellent at keeping calm and following orders. Non-aggressive and not prone to act out, the Great Pyrenees can provide a calm sanctuary for deep pressure therapy. Secondly, this breed is intelligent and quick to pick up tasks, so training shouldn’t be a problem. Just be aware that this is a large breed and their deep pressure therapy is suitable for adolescents and adults only.
7. Bernese Mountain Dogs
As the Great Pyrenees, underneath the giant Bernese Mountain Dog is a gentle soul. Weighing up to 115 pounds, these dogs are ideal deep pressure therapy dogs for adults. They’re friendly with most people, adjust well to new environments, and don’t rattle very easily. These dogs are eager to please and enjoy helping people, making them ideal for people with autism, PTSD, or ADHD.
Before you get a service dog for deep pressure therapy, consult with your licensed healthcare provider. They can guide you in finding the right-sized service dog for deep pressure therapy. Also, there may be health contraindications that can be dangerous when using deep pressure therapy. A service dog needs to be trained to quickly remove themselves from a person if an emergency develops. Keep in mind that most dogs don’t typically enjoy being hugged or lying on a person for long periods, which is why a service dog used for DPT requires training and a calm temperament. Finding and training the right service dog for you is about the needs and safety of you and the service dog you choose.
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