Have you felt depressed or anxious lately? Or maybe you’ve been feeling unlike yourself for a while and are wondering what you might be able to do? There’s no doubt that you’ve heard that animals can help, but you probably don’t know all about the best emotional support dog breeds. So which dogs work best? Is there a best breed? I’ve taken the time to do all the research for you. After my long battle with anxiety, an emotional support dog was just what I needed. My guy helped me, so I’m sure you’ll find a furry friend to help you too!
Table of Contents
- How Dogs Can Help With Depression & Anxiety
- What Studies Have Found
- Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting A Dog For Emotional Support
- Are you comfortable with animals?
- Will having a pet cause more worry?
- Is your depression too intense?
- Can you afford a pet?
- Best Dog Breeds Great For Emotional Support
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Jack Russell Terrier
- French Bulldog
- English Bulldog
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier
How Dogs Can Help With Depression & Anxiety
As pet owners, we sometimes underestimate how dogs can help us when we’re feeling down or out of sorts. Just a paw, a bark, or some fluffy comfort can make us feel so much better. How exactly do dogs help with our mental health though?
Dogs love us no matter what. As someone with anxiety, I know how important that is. Dogs never judge us no matter what we say, and they can pull us out of our own negativity by accepting us completely no matter what we might think of ourselves. Even if we’re having a bad day, they’re right there by our side.
Keep Us Connected
We can often feel alone and sad when we’re by ourselves, but dogs promote a continuing connection. This is partially because dogs have a pack mentality, and often adopt you into their pack.
Alter Our Behavior
After you’ve had a bad day and you’re feeling down, all it takes it your dog to turn your mood around. I could be having the worst day and just petting my dog helps me slow down and be calm again. Dogs don’t even have to be certified emotional support animals to help us!
Dogs are great when it comes to distracting us from our thoughts. They need us to pet them, give them nourishment, or just to play around! Their love and attention makes it hard for us to ruminate for a while.
Research actually shows that touch works positively on our minds, lowering blood pressure and helping our immune systems. Petting our dogs then can actually lower blood pressure and heart rate while boosting serotonin and dopamine.
Responsibility promotes mental health by building our self esteem. Just caring for a dog helps us see that we’re capable, and brings structure and motivation to our day and our actions as well. You can’t stay in bed all day or stay out all night when you’ve got a pup that needs you!
Just by being around, dogs can often calm our panic. They force us to consider them rather than whatever’s making us panic. Dogs can even be trained to use some passive methods to stop strangers from approaching suddenly too, even during a panic attack.
What Studies Have Found
Science is on your side when it comes to getting an emotional support dog! Of course we know that dogs lift our mood and change our attitude, but even health problems like these are helped:
– Depression is less likely in dog owners
– People with dogs have lower blood pressure
– Those with hypertension have significantly reduced blood pressure
– Increases levels of serotonin and dopamine
– Lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
– Heart attack patients with dogs tend to survive longer
– Owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits if they have a dog
Questions To Ask Yourself Before Getting A Dog For Emotional Support
Of course dogs can be a great help for those of us dealing with anxiety and depression, but we shouldn’t just pick up a dog on a whim. There are some important questions we’ve got to keep in mind before we grab a puppy from the shelter.
Are you comfortable with animals?
If you’ve never had a pet, it’s not likely you’ll be able to just adjust to one now. Never having one makes us less likely to be comforted by them.
Will having a pet cause more worry?
You shouldn’t get a dog if you’ll just be worrying about them dying or about you not caring for them properly. It won’t help either if the responsibility of caring for a pet just makes you more anxious.
Is your depression too intense?
Taking care of a pet is a lot of hard work, like caring for a child. If your depression is so severe that you can’t care for an animal, you shouldn’t get one. It’s probably best your getting professional help rather then a dog if your depression is so bad.
Can you afford a pet?
It’s true that pets can be expensive, so be sure you can afford to give your dog shots, food, water, and anything else they might need. A dog can cost almost as much as $1800 in the first year.
Best Dog Breeds Great For Emotional Support
Now that you’ve considered everything when it comes to getting an emotional support breed, let’s take a look at the best types out there to help you fight your mental illness.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These little guys love to cuddle, are very affectionate, easy to train, and great with kids too. Be aware that they have heart problems a lot though, and do require lots of brushing. Be sure you can fully commit!
We all have seen Labradors, so it’s no surprise that they’re a great support breed. They’re sweet and great to hug. They’re very loyal too, eager to please, and easy to train. They also love to be outside, which means you’ve got to get out sometimes too!
Poodles are adorable, active, and love being around their owner. They have great people pleasing traits and are very smart. Poodles are even hypoallergenic, great at adapting, and live longer than most breeds. They do need lots of grooming though.
Just like the Labrador, the Golden Retriever is well behaved, playful, and athletic. They love to swim, walk, and fetch when they’re not shedding everywhere.
These little guys are seriously cute, with lots of intelligence that helps them form strong bonds with us. They’re loyal, loving, and easy to train. On top of that, the terrier’s size makes them great if you live in a small apartment or don’t have a huge outdoor space.
Jack Russell Terrier
Smaller dogs like the Jack Russell Terriers are really helpful since they’re loyal and energetic. Even if they are used more for hunting, they love to have fun with you and are always encouraging their owners to play.
Maybe you haven’t heard the name of this breed before, but you’ve no doubt seen these lovable dogs around. Viszla’s like being near their owners and are passionate when it comes to self care. Not only that, but they’re not predisposed to serious medical complications and are really smart. You will need space outdoors for them to play though.
How could we forget about the adorable pug? These little guys are actually very positive when it comes to attitude, and love to be around us. Just be careful with hot temperatures and possible breathing problems.
Just like the pug, French Bulldogs are small enough to be with you all the time! They provide lots of love and comfort since they always want to be around you. They’re also low maintenance and easy to care for.
English Bulldogs are kind of like a pug and terrier put together. They adapt fast, are quiet, and don’t require a lot of effort on your part, so they’ll stay right by your side.
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Last but not least is the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who are small but have lots of energy. These little guys are great with kids and have an easy level of care, so you’ll get all the happiness without as much work as some other breeds!