The 3 Small Dog Breeds That Rock As Mental Health Service Animals

  • 12/02/2018
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mhsa.jpgOften when we think of service animals, we may imagine some giant dogs that we’ve seen working in the military and alongside our police forces, especially German Shepherds. But, there’s also those enormous Saint Bernards helping to rescue stranded hikers, injured skiers and people trapped by an avalanche. Let’s not forget the many Retrievers, Labradors, Collies and other bigger breeds we’ve seen assisting the disabled.

But when it comes to helping people with painful emotional problems, often overwhelming mental conditions and other health problems, size doesn’t really matter. People may not realise that many smaller breeds are more than capable of getting the job done when it comes to dealing with these types of often debilitating medical dilemmas.

Sometimes these companion canines are referred to as “therapy animals” since they can soothe those with anxiety and help to lift the spirits of people suffering from depression. Other dogs have had such a unique bond with their owners that is so significant, it allows them to predict the onset of seizures or other catastrophic medical events.

So let’s take a look at why some of these pint-sized pups are often trained to assist people who could be suffering from mental health issues:

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#1 - The Bichon Frise

This small dog breed packs an enormous punch in both a cuteness factor and as a great best friend. This may be memorable to those who follow dog shows since back in 2001, a little prince named J.R. won the Best in Show award at the  Westminster Classic. He was the first of his breed and by doing so, won the hearts of millions also seen in this adorable video. Originally bred to be a companion, they make an excellent choice since they’re highly intelligent, super happy-go-lucky and assist people who are looking for an easily trained, lovable, best friend to help them through dark times.

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#2 - The Pug

Some people think these bulging-eyed bulldogs have a face only a mother could love, while others find them absolutely adorable. Because of their short snouts (known as a brachycephalic breed), they could have difficulty breathing and also tend to snore. They also grunt a great deal or huff-and-puff as a sign of affection, especially when they get excited. This can really help those seeking a connection with these little critters when they have trouble having a relationship with people. It can give a human master a sense of belonging and friendship through this show of audible affection from an animal.

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#3 - Shih Tzu

For many centuries, these little furballs have been tied closely to ancient Asian royalty. These elite canines were also bred specifically to be lap dogs. Through this type of close, personal connection, the majority in their breed (along with many terriers and other small dogs) seem to have a “one-owner” type of a relationship with their human. For those suffering from anxiety and/or depression, this behaviour, albeit it could seem overly-clingy to an outsider, this type of tight, close, personal connection can be priceless for someone who feels isolated and alone.

ALL OF THE ABOVE

It’s not to say that other, smaller and lovable animals can’t provide this same type of assistance, but this goes to show what some of them are capable of offering to their human counterparts. Because of this unique connection, some of these animals can detect cancer, the onset of unsafe blood sugar levels, heart arrhythmia, signs of a possible stroke and have even been known to diagnose cancer long before modern medicine has detected this dangerous disease.

When it comes right down to it, often service dogs only need to follow a set of certain commands to be of tremendous value and aid to their owners. But the bond they provide to their masters can’t be equalled when it comes to offering people unconditional love, acceptance, peace of mind and overall better health.

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