8 Tips to Help You Find the Right Autism Service Dog
Choosing an autism service dog is an investment in your child’s future. A canine companion can help your child navigate stressful situations and prevent harmful wandering, so it’s essential to be choosy. While therapy dogs mainly provide emotional support, service dogs must meet strict behavioral standards. Follow these tips to find a dog with the perfect characteristics to assist your child.
8. Look for a Calm Temperament
Service dogs have to stay focused in hectic environments, such as schools and parks. Reacting spontaneously to other people and animals may upset your child, so the ideal dog must exhibit calm, predictable behavior and respond obediently to commands.
7. Choose by Breed
Breed doesn’t determine a service dog’s suitability, and some families are able to train their existing pet if the dog displays the appropriate traits. However, common service dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles.
6. Observe Interactions
Choose a dog that doesn’t respond aggressively when your child hugs it too roughly or pulls its tail. A service dog shouldn’t even growl or expose its teeth threateningly toward your child. Observe how your child reacts to the dog, especially if the child is calmer.
5. Involve the Whole Family
A service dog becomes a part of your family, so choose a companion that interacts warmly with the entire household and any regular caregivers. You can even consider training the dog yourself under a professional’s guidance to make sure your family builds strong bonds with the canine.
4. Consider Health
Training a service dog takes considerable time and investment, and you want your child to keep the same companion as long as possible. Try to find dogs that are in good health and have a long projected life span, since serious illnesses, mobility issues, or vision impairment can sideline your companion.
3. Assess Size and Coat
Choose a service dog that is large enough to stay firm and prevent your child from wandering. If a family member or caregiver suffers from allergies, look for dog breeds with short to medium coats and minimal shedding.
2. Check Off-Leash Behavior
Make sure you observe how a potential companion behaves off its leash, as your child may be attached to them. The service dog has to consistently display desirable behavior and react comfortingly, not erratically, when your child has an episode.
1. Decide Where to Get Your Dog
Some owners prefer to rescue and train a dog from a shelter, while others value the bonding experience of starting with a puppy who will be professionally trained to be a service dog. The choice is personal, and every scenario requires time and commitment.