As a parent or relative of someone with autism, watching them struggling through daily tasks can be extremely uncomfortable. Thanks to the increasing awareness of what life is like on the autistic spectrum, however, there are now many tools and techniques that can help overcome the struggles. Nowadays autism therapy dogs are well and truly on the map and we are here to explain why Poodles are great as autism therapy dogs and just how they help. First of all, you need to understand the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs.
What Is an Autism Therapy Dog?
Animal-assisted therapy is popular across the US and offers emotional support to anyone with mental or physical illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and individuals with autism. An autism therapy dog is a specially trained dog that can assist autistic individuals on an emotional level. The changes in emotions often have a ripple effect that results in physical changes as well. Every person is different and will have varying results after having an autism therapy dog introduced into their lives, but in general, people have experienced remarkable changes. However, not all breeds of man’s best friend are suitable for becoming an autism therapy dog, but a particularly favored breed is Poodles. It’s important to note that therapy dogs, assistant dogs, and service dogs are all different. Though similar, therapy Dogs and other therapy animals are mostly trained to assist emotionally (children with ASD) whereas service dogs assistance dogs have the skills to help those with physical disabilities (deafness, blindness).
Why Are Poodles Ideal as Autism Therapy Dogs?
For of all, Poodles have the characteristic of being extremely obedient which is a necessary skill for an autism therapy dog to have. Because of this trait, these trained dogs are generally much easier to train than other dog breeds. What takes some dogs a good few months to learn, can take Poodles half the time. Despite what many people think, Poodles are much more than just show dogs. They are one of the top breeds when it comes to intelligence and the love to please their human friends—especially through social interaction. All of these natural tenancies make Poodles highly trainable. Of course, there are other qualities that dogs need to possess in order to become an autism therapy dog like having a good temperament around children. Luckily, Poodles don’t struggle in this area as they love to play and are great as family dogs, which is great news for children with autism.
How Can a Poodle Help Those with Autism?
Autism therapy dogs provide a wealth of benefits to the owner, and although they are there to provide support in an emotional way, this change also encourages improvement physically. Sometimes, just with the autism therapy Poodle being present, the autistic individual can become more motivated. Part of an autism therapy dog’s training is to sense negative behavior and help them to overcome it by transferring the attention to themselves. The same goes for meltdowns. In this situation, autism therapy dogs lean on the autistic individual and will lick them, which provides comfort and calms them down, especially frustrated autistic children. Often, people with autism suffer extreme bouts of anxiety. When this happens, doctors and experts recommend that applying pressure actually helps to relieve anxiety. Part of an autism therapy dog’s training is to identify anxiety and lie over the top of the person helping to keep them grounded. The same technique is sometimes used when sleeping becomes an issue.
The Benefits That Are Seen from an Autism Therapy Poodle
One of the biggest reported benefits from having an autism therapy Poodle is the increase in speech that’s seen in those that are nonverbal or even mute. Over time, the presence of a therapy dog has been known to encourage individuals to become more verbal. When a specially trained dog becomes part of everyday life for those with autism, the dog can boost confidence. Poodles adore exercise and activities, and when they are trained as a therapy dog, nothing changes. Often, they encourage people to engage in activities, getting more exercise, and playing with others.
Getting an Autism Therapy Poodle
If you are expecting to obtain an autism therapy Poodle, then you may want to take a look at a few necessary items that you will need to get. Below we have identified our top three picks of autism therapy dog equipment to help give you a better idea of what is required.
Just like assistance and service dogs, it’s essential for the public to know that the Poodle is specially trained. The best way to do this is to equip the dog with a Therapy Dog Harness. This one includes removable reflective strips on the sides for security as well as one located around the neck. All straps are adjustable making it easy to use and comfortable for the dog. Some key benefits include:
- Strong nylon handle on the top for easy control
- The underside is made from neoprene which eliminates rubbing while providing strength
- A heavy-duty D-ring to attach a leash
- Reflective strips for safety
An autism therapy Poodle will still need its daily exercise. Some autistic individuals don’t really like being that active, and while this can change when in the company of an autistic therapy dog, it will still take some time. The IFetch Mini Automatic Ball Launcher is ideal for those who aren’t quite ready to fully immerse in doggy playtime.
- Launches the ball between 10 and 30 feet
- Easy-to-use buttons to control the distance
- Streamlined plastic design that helps the device to run silently
Just like how a special harness is needed, a leash with the words Therapy Dog printed on it is also a good idea. The Therapy Dog Blue Padded Dog Leash is perfect for informing people of your extra talented dog. The padded handle provides comfort as well as ease of use.
- Durable material makes it hard wearing
- Extra strong stitching
- Padded handle for comfort
Acquiring an autism therapy Poodle for a child with autism or another individual can quite literally change lives for the better. The autistic individual will excel, becoming happier and more relaxed, while their loved ones watch as they gain some independence and develop bonds and friendships. They may not be considered the ultimate service dog, but an autism therapy dog’s duties are extremely important.