It is easy to choose a dog when we are just choosing a pet to bring into our homes and love. Choosing the right dog becomes slightly more difficult when you are faced with the task of making it a service dog.
Service dogs are trained to handle a variety of medical issues. Medical service animals can detect seizures, act as a seeing-eye dog for the blind and are trained for a medical alert. Emotional support animals can help their owners handle anxiety, depression, PTSD and more. Both types of service dogs require the proper training and hold certificates that allow them to journey with their human to places that don’t regularly allow pets.
First Steps to a Service Animal
The first thing you need to do when you are considering having an emotional support service animal is to be properly trained. You can find training in most cities and even online. Once you get your training certificate, you can start the search for your new companion.
Companies like American Service Pets help you bridge the gap between rental leases and travel arrangements that specify no pets, and your medical need to have a four-legged friend.
Choosing the Best Breed
The most important part of the entire process of having a service dog join your family is selecting the right kind of dog. Many breeds can make great service animals. Below are the top 5 breeds to consider when selecting a service dog.
1. Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers, commonly referred to as labs, are the most popular dog breed for service animals. These dogs range in size from medium to large. They are the top breed for three reasons: they are obedient, they are loyal, and they have a calm demeanor. While every dog is a product of its raising, these dogs are typically the ones you can walk right up to and pet without fear.
2. Golder Retriever
Golden Retrievers are similar in size to the Labrador and almost equally as popular. These gentle giants are known for their friendly nature and trainability. They love to play and are fiercely loyal, making them a great companion.
3. German Sheppard
While most people consider German Sheppards to be police dogs, they can also make great service dogs. Their strength alone puts them in a league of their own. Extremely intelligent and obedient, they adapt to their setting relatively quickly and develop a strong bond with their human. This bond allows them to protect them at all times, making them a great service companion.
Poodles are excellent emotional support dogs. They can be found in three sizes: standard, miniature, and toy. Since they are used for emotional support more than medical help, choosing the size comes down to personal preference, not strength and ability. The poodle is exceptionally faithful and very trainable.
5. Mixed Breed
While many service dogs are purebred, you can’t discredit the mixed breed. Dogs like Labradoodles and Goldendoodles make excellent service animals. They pull the best traits from both of the animals, so these dogs usually have a very gentle disposition. They are ideal for families with children who need a service animal as they easily enjoy the entire family, not just the handler.
More than Just Breed
While those breeds are the most common type of service animals, the truth is any breed can be used as a service animal. It is much more important to base your decision off of the characteristics of the animal itself.
Temperament – Even the best breeds have dogs that would never be good service dogs. The temperament of each individual dog needs to be looked at before you make your decision. Your service animal should be calm and relaxed, not overly hyper and definitely not mean. This is the most crucial characteristic of the dog.
Just like people sometimes don’t jive with each other, the same can be true for dogs. Sometimes even the best breed just doesn’t fit with your lifestyle. It is crucial to find the best dog to ensure you have the best connection and service animal experience.
Size – Size is an important consideration when choosing your animal. Emotional support dogs can be any size, but you may need to consider a giant animal for your medical support companion. Larger dogs will also cost more as they eat more and will generally cost more to maintain.
Energy – Puppies are going to have endless energy. While it is good to adopt a puppy for a medical service companion, especially with children, if you are looking for an emotional support dog, a puppy may not always be the best fit. They are going to require walks and playing. Someone with deep depression may not have the energy to handle that at first.
When selecting the best breed for your service animal, it is also important to look at each dog’s individual characteristics before making your decision.
Any dog can be a good service dog if they have the right temperament, intelligence level, and was properly trained.