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Why Choose an Emotional Support Dog

Emotional Support Dog

“Happiness is a warm puppy,” said the late cartoonist Charles Schulz, who may or may not have realized the scientific accuracy of that statement. Bonding with a furry friend for even a short period of time can, in fact, stimulate the production of serotonin, along with prolactin and oxytocin, promoting feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Cute, cuddly, and an excellent anti-depressant? No wonder emotional support dogs are a popular choice for many seniors. 

As we age, isolation is the single biggest threat to our mental health. Kids leave town, the old neighborhood changes, or a loving spouse passes away, and the days can loom long and lonely. Research shows that dynamic social connections are vital to a senior’s physical and mental health - a key reason more and more are flooding to active adult communities. An emotional support dog is the extra bonus that makes coming home after happy hour or a favorite class something to look forward to.

Beyond reducing stress and lowering blood pressure, a dog will keep you rooted in the present. They don’t worry about the future or the past. They express joy in the here and now, an attitude that tends to rub off on people.

And let’s not ignore the physical benefits that come with caring for a dog. Studies show that seniors with dogs walk farther and faster than their dog-less peers. Clearly, this is a lifestyle choice that supports your heart - literally and figuratively.

When choosing an emotional support dog, be sure to carefully consider breed, size, temperament, and most importantly, age. The last thing you need is a puppy that requires constant care. Older dogs that are calm and well behaved make great companions for older humans.

Check out these top ten best dogs for seniors.

1. Pug

Adaptable, charming and eager to please, pugs are affectionate and playful and do not require a lot of exercise. They do tend to shed quite a bit, especially in warmer climates.

2. Schnauzer

Schnauzers are energetic, playful and trainable and though good with children, they can have strong guarding instincts. They come in a variety of sizes, including miniature, which makes them a great choice for limited space. Keep in mind they have a medium energy level, so playtime will keep you moving.

3. Cocker Spaniel

With their even temperament, cocker spaniels are a popular breed. They can weigh up to about 20 pounds, and do tend to be energetic. They also require a bit more grooming than some of the other options.

4. Chihuahua

What chihuahuas lack in size, they make up for in personality. They love being showered with affection but can become protective. With that being said, they may take a bit of training to deal with children. They are active, but so small they can get adequate exercise by playing indoors.

5. Boston Terrier

Boston terriers have it all. The right size, temperament, minimal grooming requirements, and love for their owners. Happy go lucky and playful, they will be delighted to do whatever you are doing.

6. Shih Tzu

Despite their tendency to bark, shih tzus are friendly and playful. They are bred to be companions and enjoy indoor playtime, daily walks, and sitting on their owner’s lap. Warning: That long gorgeous coat doesn’t comb itself.

7. Beagle

Beagles are great for fitness-minded folks who like a good walk. They are loyal, friendly, and playful. Although they do shed, with regular brushing, their coat is easy to care for.

8. Poodle

From tiny to large, poodles come in a size for everyone. Their hypo-allergenic coats are a plus, as is their adaptability. Smart, and easily trained, poodles are the 7th most popular breed overall.

9. Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkies are small, adaptable, and usually get enough exercise with a daily walk. Their long hair requires extra grooming, but your reward is a pet that is intelligent, loyal, and lively.

10. Pomeranian

Small, lightweight, and easy to handle, Pomeranians love attention and brushing. They are energetic but don’t require a lot of exercise. They are adorable and slightly noisier than some other breeds.

Whether you live alone, are dealing with a chronic illness, or just miss the kids, emotional support dogs can be life-changing and life-extending, fostering feelings of love and connection. One little ball of furry fun can make a big impact on your health and happiness.

When I look into the eyes of an animal I do not see an animal. I see a living being. I see a friend. I feel a soul.

- AD. Williams