A dog’s presence often calms those of us without autism, but for a child with autism, he offers something we can not, which is the ability to calm a child who is in sensory overload, simply by being there for him. Dogs can model for children how to be calm and relax. They offer a distraction as well, which sometimes is what your child might need. Are there certain dogs that are better for children with autism than others? The answer is yes and no. Really, any dog (when trained well) can do this for your child, but here are some breeds that stand out as the best dogs for kids with autism.
Bulldog: this is a very even-tempered breed, making him a great choice for children. They do very well with children and the things children can do with him. The Bulldog seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to the needs of kids and protecting them. If your child is having an episode, your dog might even sense one coming on and be close to the child, in an attempt to distract or simply help in calming him down.
Lab: This is a breed that just generally good natured. They train easy as well, so get your child involved in the training, let him lead some training sessions. Also sending your child outside to throw a ball back and forth can keep him focused on one task and once again bond with his new friend.
Newfoundland: A gentle giant, (who does require some grooming!) he will be a great friend for your child with autism. My sister-in-law has 2 and she also has a child with autism. Sitting with their dog and petting him is calming for him. Their dogs seem to know when he needs him as well.
Golden Retriever: This breed tops many lists of favorites! There is something special that happens with children and dogs, especially Goldens. Give your child responsibilities when it comes to your dog, allowing him to groom him and bond. He is gentle by nature and has a love for children, as he sees them as sort of ‘pack mates’. Your Golden will guard your child as well, making sure he does not harm himself in any way.
Dogs are able to handle the child who might have an outburst, or has funny body language, the dog simply just does not care. You can also train your dog specifically to the needs of your child, if you choose to do so. However that is another conversation.
Do you have any experience with dogs and children with autism? Any opinions on the best dogs for kids with autism?