Anxiety in small doses is healthy, helping you to stay alert and to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
When anxiety is persistent, though, you need ways to manage the symptoms or it can be become troublesome in all areas of your life.
According to Anxiety.org, pets can help with the management of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), heightened anxiety disorders, and emotional distress.
To this end, we’ll be highlighting some of the best dogs for anxiety if you need some canine comfort.
Dogs have been companion animals and therapy aids for centuries now. The best breeds for people suffering from anxiety enable their owners to feel calmer, more confident, and more capable of navigating stressful situations.
Canines can help humans in a number of ways when it comes to mental health, and there are several categories to consider, including:
- Service dogs
- Therapy dogs
- Emotional support dogs
- Companion dogs
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These are highly trained dogs recognized by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).
As well as providing robust emotional support, a service dog will also perform a function their unable cannot manage.
These dogs are legally permitted to go everywhere with their owner.
These dogs are also rigorously trained and certified, but they are seldom utilized full-time like service dogs. Instead, therapy dogs deliver social-emotional benefits to a range of people, including senior living home residents, hospital patients, and students.
Therapy don’t enjoy the same privileges or legal access as service dogs, though.
Emotional support dogs
Some psychiatrists prescribe emotional support dogs to patients suffering from anxiety or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
Emotional support dogs (ESAs) are not trained or certified, and there is no legal requirement for this. That said, landlord are not legally entitled to discriminate against emotional support dogs, as they are protected under the FFHA (Federal Fair Housing Act).
Also, you can typically take your emotional support animal onto a plane or into a public business as long as you have a supporting note from a medical professional.
As a sidebar, emotional support animals can be of any species, not just dogs. Cats and horses also work well as ESAs.
Although companion dogs also provide emotional support, they do not enjoy legal access to the same places as service, therapy, or emotional support animals.
Now, there are some general pointers to consider if you want the most suitable dog for emotional support. These include:
- Size: If you’re looking for an anti-anxiety dog you can take literally anywhere with you, smaller breeds are much more convenient in this regard
- Temperament: Look for calmer breeds with lower prey drives. These dogs shouldn’t bark excessively, and they shouldn’t run off at the sight of a bird or squirrel either. Calmer breeds should readily adapt to your lifestyle
- Energy levels: If you find vigorous exercise keeps your anxiety levels down, look for a dog filled with energy. Conversely, if you prefer staying in, look for a lapdog or any breed content to spend time indoors and with minimal exercise requirements
- Ease of training: Ideally, dogs used to provide support for anxiety will be easy to train, retain commands, and respond obediently when called. Get a stubborn or willful breed and you could end up inducing more anxiety than you soothe
- Grooming: If you find the thought and the expense of regular trips to the groomers induces anxiety, look for a low-maintenance breed that needs nothing beyond a weekly brushing
Now, a quick note before we explore some dogs ideally suited for those with anxiety. All dogs have distinct personalities, so focusing purely on breed is not the only strategy you could take. Having said that, if you stick with any of these 15 dogs below, you’re getting a canine that’s known for its soothing presence, is very eager to please, and also pretty low maintenance.
Dive in and see if any of these dogs take your fancy.
15 Best Dogs for Anxiety
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Bichon Frise
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Border Collie
- Great Dane
- Great Pyrenees
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Standard Poodle
The Havanese is also known as the Velcro dog for the way it sticks to its owner’s side. If you’re suffering from anxiety and in need of some love and affection, you’ll get bundles of this from a Havanese.
This breed is renowned for showering everyone with affection, not just its owner, so be prepared to share you pup around.
Smart and well-behaved with reasonably high energy levels, this breed makes for a wonderful companion dog or therapy dog for anyone requiring constant support.
2) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Originally bred as lapdogs, cavalier King Charles spaniels are quite happy to cuddle and chill or the day. This works well if you’re looking for a dog to keep you company indoors.
Ideal pets for first-time owners, spaniels are energetic and brave while also remarkably relaxed.
Super-smart and very trainable, you won’t need to bother with much grooming, despite the luxuriant look of that trademark coat.
3) Pembroke Welsh Corgi
One of the most devoted and affectionate breeds you’ll find, the Pembroke Welsh corgi is frequently used in a therapy setting.
Along with cardigan corgis – these are the larger cousins of the Pembroke Welsh variety – these dogs are kid-friendly, although they can be slightly wary of other dogs.
Whip-smart and easily trainable, these pups are filled with energy, so they don’t make a great choice if you like staying in or live in a smaller apartment.
This breed is fairly small but still weighs around 30 pounds, so you won’t easily slip one of these dogs in your bag like a traditional lapdog.
4) Bichon Frise
The Bichon Frise is a sweet and striking dog that’s sure to put a smile on your face if you’re feeling anxious.
Friendly to everyone they encounter, this breed is among the most sociable in the world.
Despite effusively greeting strangers, the Bichon Frise is never happier than when he’s by his owner’s side.
Smart and very easy to train, you’ll be drawn to those deep puppy eyes and that ever-wagging tail.
The drawback of this breed is the significant amount of grooming required to keep them looking at their best. They don’t shed heavily, though. While the Bichon Frise makes a wonderful anxiety dog, it’s not such a smart choice if you have anyone in your home with allergies or sensitivities.
If you want a canine sidekick to stay by your side all day long while livening up your life and giving you plenty of affection, you can’t go wrong with a Pomeranian.
These dogs have such tiny legs that it’s well worth investing in a dog carrier sling.
Since these dogs can be wary of kids and strangers, you need to take care of socializing your Pomeranian from a young age. Take care of this and you shouldn’t have any serious issues with training your new anxiety dog.
6) Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkshire terriers will bond strongly with their owners. If you bring a Yorkie home, you can expect him to follow you around like a second shadow.
This is a small breed, but one with plenty of personality and the desire to play around ingrained.
If you want a constant companion to put a smile on your face even when you’re feeling stressed, you can’t go wrong with a Yorkie.
Pugs tend to polarize opinion, but they make wonderful companion dogs for anyone struggling with anxiety disorder.
These dogs have an expression that seems almost humanlike, and this might be one of the reasons it seems so easy to bond with pugs.
Entertaining and characteristic additions to any home, consider a pug as part of your anxiety management plan.
8) Border Collie
The border collie is an enduringly popular breed the world over.
These dogs have very gentle temperaments married to fun-loving natures. They are also remarkably intelligent, often known as the world’s most intelligent dog breed.
Energetic and showing a mischievous streak, border collies don’t always make a sensible choice for inexperienced pet parents.
Even though you won’t find this breed on many lists of dogs recommended for anxiety, we understand that anxiety comes in many different forms. If you feel this dog’s vibrant personality would help you feel better and less anxious, why not investigate border collies in more depth?
Super-sensitive dogs, greyhounds will pick up on your emotions and help you through tough emotional patches. They are never happier than when they’re snuggled up with you on the couch. If you crave physical contact with pets, this breed make a smart choice.
Although you often find retired greyhounds at animal shelters, these dogs often carry heavy emotional baggage. While this doesn’t rule them out as pets for the right owners, if you have high anxiety levels then you would better advised to adopt a greyhound puppy.
10) Great Dane
Huge, calm, and exuding confidence from every pore, the Great Dane works very effectively for reducing anxiety. It’s hard to feel scared or anxious with this beast by your side.
Despite those intimidating looks – Great Danes work well as guard dogs – this breed offers companionship and affection that few other breeds can rival.
11) Great Pyrenees
The American Kennel Club describes the Great Pyrenees as “calm, patient, and smart”.
Very affectionate dogs, this breed fits neatly into households with family members suffering from anxiety.
If you are considering one of these furballs, make sure you have the space to accommodate as they weigh up to 100 pounds.
12) Golden Retriever
Golden retrievers are calm and passive dogs sure to raise a smile wherever they go.
Compliant and very easy to train, they make a great choice for inexperienced owners.
13) Labrador Retriever
The labrador retriever is a multipurpose dog that helps to ease anxiety, and works effectively in a therapeutic context.
Gentle and loving, this breed is kid-friendly and receptive to strangers, too.
14) Standard Poodle
There are many different types of poodle, and the standard poodle is ideal if you need to keep your stress and anxiety levels down with some canine assistance.
Their tidy coats don’t shed much, so this dog fits in neatly to households with allergy sufferers.
One of the longest-living dogs, the chihuahua is packed with character despite weighing less than 6 pounds.
Small enough to snuggle up in bed or pop in your bag, these fun-filled little dogs will follow you from room to room craving attention, ideal if you need to calm down and destress.
If you decide to bring one of these lapdogs home, make sure you get the right dog food for chihuahuas.
Given their long projected lifespans, you should conduct full and extensive research before deciding to being a chi home: in the best scenario, this little fellow could be with you for fifteen years or more!
If you pitched up here at BarkVA today with no idea about which dogs make great service dogs or therapy dogs, and which breeds might help if you suffer from anxiety.
Don’t feel constrained by breeds when you’re looking for a dog capable of providing emotional support. Look closely into the temperament and personality of the specific pup in question, and be sure to take your time rather than rushing in and ending up with the wrong furball for your needs.