5 Dogs That Are Ideal Companions for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Have doctors recently identified ASD symptoms in your child? In that case, you’re probably looking for ways to make life easier for your toddler.
They’ll thrive only if you provide personalized schedules, consistent safety, guidance, and exceptional assistance every day. However, it might be physically impossible for you to stay with your child 24/7.
That’s why you should adopt or buy a companion dog for their safety and to enhance their socialization skills. This dog will be your child’s best friend and help them overcome fear. They can also reduce family stress and offer sensory support. But you need to find the right dog breed so that your child fosters a positive connection with the pooch.
In this blog, we’ll list five dog breeds suitable for a household with an autistic child.
#1. Golden Retriever
Star is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever and an ‘employee’ at Sunflower Early Education Center. Within the first few weeks of joining, this little munchkin motivated many autistic children to foster their social skills. With unconditional love and obedience, the dog motivates them to build their communication skills.
The innately happy-go-lucky and outgoing personalities of Golden Retrievers make them the perfect companions. When trained properly, this intelligent breed can perceive emotions and act accordingly when around a child with ASD.
Moreover, these dogs are patient and loyal to their human families. Hence, they’ll be gentle around children with ASD and calmly cater to the child’s needs.
Labradoodles are a crossbreed dog with a mix of two of the best personalities. They have the gentleness of a Labrador and the attentive nature of Poodles. Hence, this playful breed is popular among families with ASD children.
According to Golden Xpress Labradoodles, labradoodle puppies for sale at shelters are usually trained and have an energetic personality. Hence, they can help enhance social skills and reduce anxiety among children with ASD by creating a strong companionship.
They generally have less fur and won’t shed as much. Therefore, if your child has respiratory sensitivities, you can easily choose this allergy-friendly dog.
#3. German Shepherds
You might find it shocking, but the fact that ‘German Shepherds are aggressive’ is a myth. But these intelligent dogs can become very protective of your family and kids if you train them well.
In 2022, a family’s German Shepherd named Tank saved their 6-year-old child from being attacked by another canine. Their loyalty truly has no bounds.
These smart canines are usually focused when given a task. If you command them to look after your autistic child’s safety, they won’t leave even when provoked with food or toys. That’s because the breed has a strong ability to remain focused on the given duty. They can also assist your child in performing difficult day-to-day tasks.
#4. Saint Bernard
A Saint Bernard can reach up to 30 inches in height. Hence, most parents think that this powerfully built dog’s size could be intimidating for their child with ASD. But if you’ve watched the 1992 movie Beethoven, you probably think otherwise.
These dogs are nothing but gentle giants with big hearts. Their exceptionally patient nature makes them the perfect companion for children with autism.
They are smart and well-behaved when trained properly and disciplined. A Saint Bernard can also help your kid with small tasks throughout the day.
#5. Bernese Mountain Dog
The Bernese Mountain Dog ranked #22 among the most popular canine breeds. Their personality traits and size make them the perfect family dog. But would they be good for your child with autism?
Yes, this dog breed has an affectionate and calm personality. Their intelligence and easy trainability make them loyal companions for children with ASD.
Your child will have emotional support, sensory regulation, and physical comfort with a Bernese Mountain Dog. Moreover, their sensitive nature allows them to become extra affectionate towards children.
Types of Dogs You Shouldn’t Get If Your Child Has Autism
As you know, autism is invisible. That’s why you’ll need breeds that can stay calm, understand emotions well, and match your lifestyle. That’s why you should avoid getting dogs that are:
- Aggressive: Smaller breeds tend to be more aggressive and especially dangerous to children. Chihuahuas, Beagles, Dachshunds, etc., might bite a child with ASD because of their behavior.
- Loud: Most kids with autism have sound sensitivity. That’s why you shouldn’t get a breed that barks incessantly. Examples include breeds like the Pomeranian, Siberian Husky, Yorkshire Terrier, etc.
- High-Energy: These dogs are smart, but their temperament won’t match your child’s physical or emotional needs. Examples include Weimaraners, Australian Cattle Dogs, Vizslas, etc. Thankfully, you can train them to control their hyperactivity when they’re around your kid.
You should consider your child’s physical and emotional sensitivities before finding a good match. For example, you shouldn’t get dogs that shed or drool a lot if your child with ASD has allergies. Moreover, remember to consult a doctor to understand whether your kid needs a companion, therapy, or service animal.
Sometimes, autistic children might have difficulty connecting with a dog. Hence, you should ask yourself questions about the responsibilities you’ll have towards the pooch. Choose a breed with a manageable size and the ability to stay sociable or calm around your kid.
Overall, your child won’t struggle with communication or feel lonely once you’ve got a companion dog suitable for their ASD. They’ll offer love in a non-judgemental way and won’t consider the child’s behavior to be strange.
In conclusion, a dog can improve the overall well-being of your autistic child. However, you should choose an intelligent breed that understands your kid’s needs and is easy to train.
As mentioned in the blog, you can get a Golden Retriever, a Saint Bernard, a German Shepherd, a Bernese Mountain Dog, or a Labradoodle. Their loyal, calm, protective, and understanding personalities will help your child live a normal life.
This companionship will positively affect their mental health, leading to better life experiences. Your child will indeed have a confidence boost that will reduce anxiety and help improve their social skills.