Emotional support animals, specifically emotional support dogs, can greatly impact the lives of their owners. Emotional support dogs are specially trained to help their owners with a variety of different disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, and even mental disabilities. Like service dogs that assist people, such as a seeing-eye dog or a psychiatric dog (a dog that helps prevent psychotic episodes), emotional support dogs will help a person live their everyday life.
Emotional support dogs are great for people of all ages but can be especially great for seniors. Unfortunately, it’s very common for seniors to experience mental and emotional issues as they age. These issues can come from losing a significant other, experiencing a traumatic event, or being diagnosed with a hard-to-manage illness.
If you or a loved one are considering looking into getting an emotional support animal, it’s important to know what kind of breed is best for you and your needs.
What Is the Best Emotional Support Dog Breed for the Elderly?
If you or a loved one think that you could benefit from an emotional support dog, reach out to a doctor to see if this is an option that will be beneficial to you. If you are worried about whether or not the place you are living allows pets, don’t worry; if your dog is registered as an emotional support animal, you shouldn’t run into any issues with management. In fact, a retirement community in PA welcomes emotional support animals because of the positive benefits they have on their owners.
Below are the best emotional support dogs for seniors.
Labrador Retrievers are arguably one of the most affectionate dog breeds out there, and in addition to their affectionate nature, they are typically very lively and energetic. These traits will help a senior who is dealing with mental or emotional issues because they will help in heightening their mood.
In addition to improving the mood of their owners by simply being themselves, labs are also extremely smart and gentle. Labs’ intelligence will be able to make training easy and will make their job of being an emotional support animal easy.
Another extremely smart dog breed, poodles are able to be trained to do a variety of different things, including being an emotional support animal for the elderly. Poodles are very gentle and calmer than most other large breeds, making them a good choice for seniors that may not be able to move around easily.
Poodles also are great at adapting to new environments so they will be able to go wherever the senior needs to go depending on his or her living situation.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
These dogs were actually bred to be companions to humans, so it’s in their nature to be good emotional support animals. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are docile in nature and enjoy hours of affection and attention; a great option for retired people that may be dealing with emotional issues such as anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
Adding to their outstanding emotional support benefits, these dogs are small, weighing under 25 pounds, so are easy for older people to care for, especially those that have a hard time walking or getting up and down.
Like labs, Golden Retrievers are intelligent and extremely affectionate. Besides shedding a lot, golden retrievers have almost no negative traits and are known to be social and comforting when need be. This dog breed is ideal for seniors that may have emotional issues and are living alone; this is because golden retrievers require a fair amount of attention.
Golden Retrievers are typically fairly active so if you are a senior that has back, knee, or joint issues, it would be best to consider adopting a different dog breed for your emotional support pet, perhaps a Yorkshire Terrier.
These are perhaps the most common emotional support animals for seniors because of their size and character traits. Though many small dogs seem to be needy, craving attention or to be played with 24/7, Yorkshire Terriers are known for just wanting affection and to sit on one’s lap. These little dogs are great emotional support pets because they are known to form strong bonds with their owners, helping them deal with issues such as depression.
Similarly, Yorkshire Terriers are very loyal, trainable, and can live in small spaces such as apartments or townhomes.
Choose the Dog Breed That is Right For You
In addition to this post, make sure to do proper research as you search for the right emotional support dog for you and your needs. Dogs can and will make life easier for those that are struggling with mental and emotional issues in their senior years, it’s important to find the breed that will do this for you.
About the Author
Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.