The number of adults and children with special needs or suffering from anxiety or stress seems to be increasing every day. The use of Service and Therapy Dogs to help is also growing.
Therapy and Service Dogs can offer support, comfort and companionship to seniors, hospitals, universities, schools and even those suffering from some forms of anxiety or special needs Some senior residences have visits daily from therapy dogs who give the residents a little taste of unconditional love, even when they may longer feel a connection with the outside world. In hospitals, we have seen dogs provide relief and distraction for patients awaiting treatments or away from their families and friends.
Gizmo the WonderDoglet
One of the most committed and active small Therapy Dogs we know is our Best Fren Gizmo the 3.5 lb WonderDoglet.
Children with special needs can feel emotional support and a boost in their confidence when spending time with a pet. We have several stories of Autism Service Dogs changing lives of families. Therapy Dogs have been known to make inroads with youth at risk. University campus visits are becoming more popular, helping to relieve stress during exam periods. Even our first responders, social workers, and psychiatrists may need a Therapy Dog’s support and love during times of crisis.
We have been to the library filming with our little best Fren Gizmo and seen firsthand the amazing effect he has on children, helping them read out loud. He is also a qualified emergency response dog.
Gizmo’s gorgeous girlfriend Zoe The Therapy Dog is also a pint-sized rescue miracle worker featured in our Dogs Make a Difference TV episode. She works with Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale, Inc..
10 small breed dogs making a big difference:
A great companion dog, the chihuahua is a wonderfully proud alert, lively and adventurous little dog. The small size of the Chihuahua makes it an ideal therapy dog. Loyal, they often bond with one owner in the family. They come in a variety of colours and can be either long or short coated. Because they are so tiny, they can easily be lifted onto hospital beds. They may also be good at doing tricks and entertaining like our talented friend Buster who visits seniors each weekend. Our Chi friend Piranha Banana is also a US therapy dog.
Elegant. Proud. Clever. Poodles are impressive dogs who boast a top position on the smartest breeds list. Behind the blue ribbon wins, impressive hairdos, and prancing feet, you’ll find an affectionate, loyal and cuddly breed with an ancient history and many talents. Poodles can also be well-suited for people who suffer from allergies.
Poodles are popular therapy dogs in schools because of their friendly and family oriented character. With their various sizes of toy, miniature, medium and standard, the poodle’s combination of brains and beauty excels in obedience and trick training and can make it an ideal therapy dog whatever its size.
During World War II, a friend of an injured corporal in the United States Navy brought the soldier a Yorkshire terrier puppy named Smokey. The pup had such incredible effect on the morale of both the corporal and the other injured soldiers in the ward that the doctor, Dr. Charles Mayo of the famed Mayo Clinic, began to take Smokey on his rounds. Smokey reportedly became one of the first-ever official therapy dogs.
Yorkshire terriers, also known as Yorkies, are easy to transport, and they love interacting with people. Despite their small size, these pooches are brave and love to investigate their surroundings. Their big personalities and energetic nature make them perfect therapy dogs as they can be easily lifted onto hospital beds, onto laps and even put under an airplane seat in an airline approved carrier so your unconditional love and support can always be by your side.
We featured Lucy, the Smallest Working Dog in our dogs make a difference TV episode and also Bella the Service Dog whose owner is hearing impaired.
Corgis are a favourite dog breed of the English Monarchy but aren’t just for royalty. They can make excellent therapy dogs. A member of the herding group, corgis are usually an even-tempered, smart and affectionate breed. These short and sturdy dogs are known for both their obedience and friendly attitude. Corgis can make excellent companion dogs for people in nursing homes or with disabilities.
They can be known to sense things even before you do and as such are empathetic dogs whose loyalty and affection can be so therapeutic when their owner is sad, grieving, lonely or ill. A great family dog, they still must be watched and trained as their herding instincts may come into play around young children.
French Bulldogs love to cuddle with their human friends in need of companionship. These usually non-confrontational, affectionate and even-tempered dogs were selectively bred from larger bulldogs to make lap dogs. During the Industrial Revolution, the dogs were introduced to France and soon gained popularity with Americans. In the late 1800s, they became known as French Bulldogs.
French bulldogs are known for their muscular frames, heavy bone structures and smooth coats. They have short faces and bat-like ears. Due to their compact size and affable attitude, French bulldogs, also known as Frenchies, make excellent therapy dogs. Just remember that snort and snurgle isn’t necessarily your partner, Frenchies tend to make the most hilarious noises and put smiles on everyones faces. Aria recently adopted little Beau and he sure makes us smile.
The majestic King Charles Spaniel, named after King Charles II of Britain, was bred to be a loyal companion dog. For hundreds of years, paintings of aristocrats have featured depictions of King Charles Spaniels lounging on the laps of their noble owners. Times haven’t changed much, have they? These centuries of companionship have given the King Charles spaniel lots of practice in providing snuggles and comfort. They love to interact with people and their warm temperament and obedient nature makes them the perfect therapy dog. Although King Charles Spaniels seem to be excellent for people of all ages, their calm and sweet nature makes them work particularly well with children and the elderly. Due to their small size, King Charles Spaniels easily can visit children and those bedridden or wheelchair-bound. Their sweet and friendly temperament can also provide comfort to those suffering from emotional problems or mental health issues.
Although King Charles Spaniels seem to be excellent for people of all ages, their calm and sweet nature makes them work particularly well with children and the elderly. Due to their small size, King Charles Spaniels easily can visit children and those bedridden or wheelchair-bound. Their sweet and friendly temperament can also provide comfort to those suffering from emotional problems or mental health issues.
The Bichon Frise was bred to be a companion dog. Originating in the Mediterranean, Bichon Frises accompanied sailors on sea voyages and soon became popular lap dogs for nobility in France, Italy and Spain. Because of their warm disposition and affectionate nature, Bichon Frises can make great therapy dogs. They have increasingly become popular as assistance dogs for people with hearing impediments because they are usually steadfast and easily trainable. Because they do not shed, they also work well as therapy dogs for people who suffer from allergies. These energetic little dogs will appeal to even those who are most unsure of dogs.
Dachshunds were first bred in Germany in the 1600s to root out and kill badgers. A fearless breed with a great sense of smell and a friendly personality, the Dachshund, a German word for “badger dog,” comes in three coat varieties: smooth, wirehaired and longhaired. Known for their elongated, low bodies and short legs, dachshunds are affectionately nicknamed hot dogs or wiener dogs.
Dachshunds work well with children, and their small size makes them easy to lift for wheelchair-bound or bedridden patients. Due to their affectionate and playful personalities, dachshunds can be especially helpful to people suffering from epilepsy, depression, autism and anxiety disorders. Blind Rescue dog Arthur is an amazing example to children with disabilities and special needs as he does not let the fact that he can not see stop him for a second. It’s OK to be different.
Our little friends Gussie and Muttley Cyrus also do amazing work in the US.
As you all know, I have Kilo the Pug and he makes me laugh every day and almost smothers me with affection (pugs and kisses).
Pugs often are described as a lot of dog in a small space. These sturdy, compact dogs are affectionately known as the clowns of the canine world because they have exaggerated features, a great sense of humour and like to show off. Originally bred to be a lap dog, the Pug thrives on human companionship. Pugs make you feel like you are the most important person in the world because, to them, you are! The loyalty of a Pug is something everyone should experience.
You might as well be a celebrity as they always greet you at the door on your arrival home with huge enthusiasm. They follow you around and seem to hang on your every word and action. A Pug’s owner is the center of the universe and he will never let you forget it. They are not only playful and charismatic but also loving and devoted. Pugs are natural people pleasers and usually get along well with both the young and old. Pugs work may work particularly well with children suffering from autism and other neurodevelopment disorders and as reading buddies. They may also help improve mood.
The Therapy Pugs Sailor and Scarlet nod off and snore which relaxes and entertains young readers no end. See more on Sailor and Scarlett.
After winning the crown at the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, one of the world’s most prestigious dog competitions, Uno the beagle decided to be more than just a handsome face; he completed training to become a certified therapy dog. Uno now spends time visiting people in hospitals, schools and nursing homes to brighten up their days. As a breed, beagles can make excellent therapy dogs. Because they enjoy being around other dogs and new people, beagles are perfectly can be suited to be therapy dogs. Their friendly and curious nature helps them interact well with children and adults alike. But remember, they are hounds and as such, they do love to wander, smelling the sites of their surroundings so keeping them on leash outside is a really good idea.
Special Mention: Chopper The Biker Dog
We also want to give a special shout out to our pal Chopper the Boston Terrier Therapy Dog. He is an amazing talent who visits hospitals and schools and makes a huge difference in the life of many.
Let’s face it, your dog doesn’t have to be on this list to make you feel better!
Many dogs of all sizes and breeds, mixes and rescues have the capacity to do this. Please share your story, your pics, your feelings with us. We love to hear from you and we love to learn more about these amazing dogs and the gifts they can give.