Few things calm nerves and lift spirits like the unconditional love, attention and security provided by a good dog.
But while you can probably bond with any dog breed (or combination thereof), some are dogs are better suited for reducing anxiety than others.
Watch Spot Soothe: How Dogs Reduce Anxiety in Humans
Before identifying the best breeds for reducing anxiety, it is important to understand why dogs have this ability in the first place.
In a word: hormones.
According to a 2012 study, published in Frontiers of Psychology, human-animal interactions are thought to activate the oxytocin system. Oxytocin helps regulate the social bonding process. It is the reason that a baby’s gaze fills a new mother with joy; and, it turns out, it’s also the reason a loving look from your pup gives you warm and fuzzy feelings.
And this isn’t a one-sided interaction: As determined by a different 2012 study, your puppy’s oxytocin levels also rise when you are affectionate with him. So, while your puppy is making you feel good, you are making him feel good too.
But hormones aren’t the only reason that dogs help reduce anxiety. They accomplish the task in other ways too:
Physical Contact Feels Good. Simple physical contact helps to ease anxiety (and this isn’t limited to humans – other animals fight stress with touch too). Some breeds are particularly effective in this regard, as they tend to remain in nearly constant physical contact with their owners.
Unconditional Adoration. Unlike even your closest friends and family, dogs lack the capacity or willingness to judge. Your dog will remain firmly in your corner while you confess your darkest secrets or behave in ways you’d never do in front of other humans. You are completely free to be you when in the company of your pup.
Sense of Security. Some dogs make their owners feel safer, either by virtue of the dog’s intimidating appearance or propensity to bark at strangers and strange noises.
However, despite the mountain of supporting evidence, dogs are not a magic bullet in the fight against stress and anxiety.
While many studies have found that dogs are capable of providing significant emotional benefits for their humans, some studies have found that conventional stress-and pain-management techniques probably perform equally well.
But come on, do you want to meditate and chant soothing words while thinking about your happy place, or do you want to scratch a dog’s belly while he licks your face?
That’s what I thought.
What Personality Traits To Look For In Anxiety-Lowering Dogs
Obviously, some dogs are more effective at reducing your anxiety than others are. This is true at both the breed level and the individual level.
Dogs that constantly bark and yip, run full speed through your house or have hyper-needy personalities may lead to more anxiety than they allay. Accordingly, it is important to familiarize yourself with some of the personality traits associated with good anxiety-lowering dogs to help you select a good one.
Generally speaking, the most soothing dog breeds and the best dogs for anxiety are canines who are:
Note that intelligence is not listed above; in fact, highly intelligent dogs can cause headaches for some owners. After all, it doesn’t take a genius to follow you around and shower you in unconditional love.
Of course displaying these qualities alone isn’t enough – most official anxiety therapy dogs need to undergo some basic training programs, such as the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test, and demonstrate good behavior skills.
7 Best Dogs For Anxiety: Anxiety-Battling Breeds
While every dog is an individual and there are no guarantees, the following breeds are generally considered some of the best dogs for anxiety – these canines are especially well-suited for reducing stress and providing comfort.
Pugs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but those who give them a chance will be rewarded by ridiculous amounts of love and entertainment.
The Canadian Kennel Club describes their expression as “human-like,” which may be part of the reason it is so easy to bond with these little lovers (but they’re big hearts certainly don’t hurt).
2. Yorkshire Terriers
Yorkshire Terriers (Yorkies) tend to bond very strongly with their owners and shadow them whenever possible. In fact, they’re at their happiest when they are lavishing love and affection upon their person. Although Yorkies are on the small side, they have a rough-and-tumble personality that the AKC describes as “tomboyish.”
3. Standard Poodles
Standard poodles make great companions for those in need of stress reduction, and their tidy coats make them a breed welcome in homes with allergy sufferers. Standard poodles are very smart, friendly and have an optimistic demeanor, which can’t help but rub off on their owners.
4. Labrador Retrievers
Labrador retrievers are well-suited for so many different purposes that is should come as no surprise that they also excel in a therapy context. Few dogs are as loving as labs, and even fewer are as gentle; they are typically wonderful with children, the elderly, handicapped individuals and even strangers.
5. Golden Retrievers
Golden retrievers are quite similar to labs in many respects, and they are equally well-suited for eliciting smiles and soothing frazzled nerves. The UKC characterizes them as calm, compliant and compatible – traits which are utterly obvious to anyone who’s ever met one.
Like many of the dogs on this list, they can often pass the Canine Good Citizen Test with a little training, proving just how great these four-legged furry pals can be.
6. Great Pyrenees
Described as “calm, patient and smart” by the AKC, Great Pyrenees are affectionate dogs who are wonderful for reducing anxiety.
These are big dogs, so you must have enough space for them – females often weigh about 85 pounds, while males tip the scales at about 100 pounds.
7. Great Danes
Great Danes are calm, confident dogs that are great for reducing anxiety. But you better be sure you are ready to welcome such a big critter to your family – large males may stand nearly 3 feet high at the shoulder.
Nevertheless, Danes provide a type of affection and companionship few other breeds can provide.
Where to Find a Good Dog For Anxiety
You can find a good dog to help curb your anxiety through all the typical avenues. Rescues often have a wide selection of mixed-breed dogs, while breeders and retailers typically offer purebred varieties.
Give some thought to adopting an older dog if this is your first pet. Young puppies require much more time, effort and patience than adult dogs do, which may move your stress level in the wrong direction.
Adult dogs available at rescues are often house broken and many have received at least a minimal amount of obedience training. Senior dogs aren’t as popular as puppies, but they still have boundless amounts of love to give and are often more laid back than their younger counterparts.
In all cases, it is wise to do your homework on the charity or breeder with whom you intend to do business.
Don’t Forget to Factor in the Challenges of Pet Ownership
As wonderful as they are, dogs also present challenges to their owners. Most people well suited for dog ownership learn to cope with these challenges easily enough, but for others, dogs may bring more stress than they resolve.
For example, you will need to walk and feed your dog on a semi-regular schedule, which may lead to additional stress for those who work long hours or have other responsibilities keeping them away from the house for long periods of time.
If you have a large or active breed, you’ll have to be willing to take long, frequent walks with your pooch.
You will also have to shoulder the considerable financial burdens associated with dog ownership. In addition to the weekly expenses of food, treats and incidentals, you’ll have to be ready to cover any necessary veterinary bills. Even the healthiest of dogs require periodic immunizations, checkups, and regular teeth cleanings.
Written by Ben Team.
Read the original article here: www.k9ofmine.com