Service dog breeds for autism are trained to provide security and companionship to their handlers. Most of the time, they are assigned to children with autism as a guide dog that keeps a child from running or having anxiety attacks. These pooches are trained to detect harmful behavior while providing a calming influence. However, many agencies that provide these dogs don’t consider the fact that most children won’t always be on the lead. So before we proceed with further information, it’s important to get a tethering vest for your child and the dog.
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|Goldbug 2-in-1 Safety Harness|
|Safety 1st Child Harness|
Dogs for autism are more of a companion canine. Commonly, affectionate breeds are chosen for the job so children will have a sense of security. Also, the dog can be the current family pet that can be trained for the job.
Companion dogs for autism are said to improve the child’s behavior, let him open up to the world around him, and instill the value of sharing. It’s been proven time and again that dogs can make wonders to kids, specifically those who have special needs.
Choosing the best dog breeds for autism
Not all breeds are suited to become a companion for children with autism. Just like picking a guard dog, medical assistance dog, and other canine pals, you need to consider the behavior, temperament, and intelligence of the breed. Most importantly, the pooch should be very kid-friendly and tolerant of children’s behavior.
Here are some of the best breeds for autism:
Goldies are loving, affectionate, and has a heart of gold. These are just one of the reasons why they are favorite family pets. Golden Retrievers are very gentle too and highly intelligent for many service tasks. Even if they are a large breed, they also have a big heart for kids. Goldies are playful, protective, and loyal companion.
Based on their history, Goldies aren’t aggressive but they tend to shed a little more than other breeds. Still, their physical stimulation abilities and strength can be used to impede harmful behavior.
A cousin of the Goldie, Labs are popular as service dogs for kids with autism. They are extremely loyal and friendly plus they are always eager to please their owners. Take note, though, that Labs can have intense separation anxiety if left alone. This is a good thing, especially if you want a doggo that won’t leave your kid’s side.
Experts say that it’s best to opt for a male Lab for the job instead of a female. Also, remember that Labs vary in size so always check what suits your child.
Highly intelligent, gentle, playful, and loyal – Poodles are service dogs extraordinaire. They are naturally protective but not aggressive, and for kids with allergies, this hypoallergenic breed is definitely a catch.
You can also opt for Labradoodles and Goldendoodles which are mixed breeds between these first three doggos. These mixed breeds have the spirit of a Lab or Goldie but with the hypoallergenic coat of a standard Poodle.
If your kid is playful and active, a Beagle is the perfect service dog to match his or her energy. This breed is a yappy one, often seen bolting and playing. However, they need intense training to control their urge to follow a scent.
Remember that Beagles are small dogs and it may be hard to control a child from running away or bolting in jest.
The gentle giants might look intimidating, but their love for kids is something you can’t contest. They are intelligent, very gentle, and well-behaved which makes them a perfect fit for kids with autism.
The good thing about this large doggo is they are playful but not rowdy. It would surely give a sense of security and a smile to your kid’s face.
One caveat: they are notorious for drooling and shedding. Unless you’re willing to take the challenge, you should consider other breeds.
Here are more of the best breeds for kids with autism:
The role of the service dog
Mainly, service dog breeds for autism are tasked to become solid companions of their kid handlers. This means they will accompany them in public and at home. The happiness, security, friendship, and courage they bring have invaluable contributions to the development of a child with autism. In the event of an emotional breakdown, they are the first responders to pacify the child and encourage calmness.
Dogs for autism are trained to provide security to the involved child. Kids can be a handful sometimes, often described as “Houdini” by their parents since they can escape even with multiple locks. However, it’s important that your doggo won’t be an accomplice to the crime!
So why get a service dog for your child with autism? Here are some of the proven benefits:
The service dogs would bond and live with the child, thus picking up their unique scent. This is used to track the child in case s/he goes missing. These pooches can be trained for search and rescue side by side with the parents and authorities. Such a thing is important since kids with autism tend to wander or elope.
Experts have found that children with autism have a higher sensory input that if uncontrolled can lead to agitation and breaking down. Some of the possible triggers are repetitive behavior like spinning a coin, sifting sand, or tapping feet. Service dogs can intervene with this and help the child divert his or her attention off the sensory stimuli.
Sometimes, the agitation can bring in self-harm. It’s very important to have someone to respond in case the parent or guardian isn’t around.
Kids with autism are known to wander, run, and elope if exposed to an outdoor environment. This could be distressing for the parents. With this, service dogs are trained to practice tethering – the child wears a vest with a leash connected to the dog. If the child tries to run or wander, the service dog breeds for autism will pin its body to the ground to prevent the kid from escaping.
Take note that there’s a primary leash that the parent should hold at all times. This will prevent the chance of both the dog and the child darting off.
🐕Interrupting repetitive and triggering behavior
Kids with autism tend to do repetitive behavior that can cause agitation or self-harm. Some examples are continuous flapping of the hands toward the face, shouting repetitive phrases, and more. Also, parents noticed that a simple act of placing a hand on their kid’s arm can interrupt such behavior. With this, dogs are trained to paw and nudge to interrupt the behavior.
Still, dogs don’t have a high level of intelligence same as humans. They can’t always stop kids from engaging in a harmful environment.
Benefits of dogs for autism
There’s no doubt that service dogs can change the life of your child and you as the parent. Aside from making sure that your child has an emotional, mental, and physical support, you can also have peace of mind as the parent of a special needs child.
Here are some of the benefits of having this doggo around:
🐕Better sleep hygiene
Children with autism are observed to sleep better when they are dozing with their service dog. The tactile support and sense of security make this possible. Dogs also snuggle with their handler which provides comfort while the kid sleeps.
Children with autism are aloof of social engagements. A service dog can help them open up and mingle with other people. Since the child feels a sense of security, s/he will experience development on speaking and communicating.
By letting your child in charge of brushing the service dog breeds for autism or even giving it a bath, they can have something to be responsible for. This builds their confidence as they feel that they are part of something very important. It’s the first step to teaching them more life skills.
For kids who are consistently experiencing meltdowns in public, a service dog will be their bosom buddy. By altering the trigger or giving the sense of company, the child will be reassured of his surroundings.
Parents have to take it one step at a time for their child with special needs. With this, a service dog can help them expose the child to different environments. More and more families can visit places with the help of service dogs.
Q & A about dogs for autism
How much will it cost to have a service dog for autism?
-Depending on the provider, this can range from $10,000 up to $40,000 depending on the skills that you need the dog to be trained for. Although the cost is exorbitant, many agencies provide assistance and fundraisers to shoulder the price.
How long will it take before we can get the dog?
-Some service dogs are current family pets trained to perform tasks. If you’re getting a dog, the process may take weeks to months depending on the breed and availability of service dogs.
Is there a special requirement I need to fulfill as a parent?
Parents and guardians are usually required to finish a seminar hosted by the service dog provider. In this intensive training, the agency will discuss the fundamentals of owning a service dog and other related information.
Is my child fit for a service dog?
This will be determined by the agency providing the service dog. Usually, they will read cues on how your child interacts with animals and its possible impact on their development. It may take time as the agency needs to see how the bond will unfold.
Is my child old enough for a dog?
This is a common question of parents, regardless if they have a child with autism or not. There’s no certain rule for the age since the child won’t be the independent handler. It’s you, the parent or guardian, who will be trained for such a task.
Why tethering vests are important
Harness and tethers link the dog to your child. It’s a crucial accessory so the kid won’t dart off when you’re not looking. Here are two of the best options:
Goldbug 2-in-1 Safety Harness
If your toddler with autism hates the idea of wearing a tether, it will help to get this giraffe animal backpack harness. It looks like a fun backpack but it has a leash that you can connect to the dog. Your child can play with it too if not used as a tether. There’s even a small storage pocket where s/he can keep candies and stuff.
This has easy-lock buckles and a 3-feet tether tail that can connect to the dog without impeding your kid’s movements. This comes in giraffe, monkey, and puppy plush.
Safety 1st Child Harness
Indeed, it’s safety first with Safety 1st’s Child Harness. Unlike the backpack-style tether, this one is a simple strap vest that will keep your kiddie close by. It comes with a swivel pivot clip that prevents tangling and discomfort.
It has a large, industrial-grade Velcro lock at the back which is difficult to get done. It’s a plus point if you want something you child can’t get off. Your child can pull without the Velcro going undone. The tether leash is also long enough for comfortable mobility without too much distance from the dog.
Aside from the service dog breeds for autism, you should also consider the accessories your child needs for optimal safety. Do you have experience with service dogs? Let us know below!