A little over a year and a half ago we started considering getting an emotional support dog for our son with anxiety. We noticed that he gravitated towards our friends and family’s dogs and there was a big change for the good in his demeanor whenever a dog was around. He calmed down faster, he wasn’t as agitated and was really just happier. We ended up spending 6 months searching for the right dog. We spoke to a special needs support worker and our son’s Occupational Therapist and they all agreed that a dog could only help him.
As we didn’t need the dog to perform any special services other than being her lovable self, we had a few more options from which to choose. Our oldest and youngest sons have allergies so the dog had to be as hypoallergenic as possible. We looked at so many different breeds but in the end, we chose a Miniature Schnauzer; the breed was big enough to run and play but small enough to take in the SUV on trips. Even though our puppy didn’t grow as big as we were told she would, she definitely has a BIG personality and has ended up being super lovable and a lot of fun.
This is Lizzie, while she technically belongs to my middle son, she benefits our whole family.
15 Benefits of an Emotional Support Dog
- A dog shows unconditional love for her kids. A dog doesn’t hold grudges and always wants to play or go for a walk. The kids can tell her anything and she loves them anyway.
- She has taught them to be kind and gentle. My kids don’t always remember to be gentle with people and animals smaller than themselves, and Lizzie helps them practice their kindness.
- She calms them down when they are having a bad day. Lizzie comes running whenever the kids cry or scream and snuggles with them. Just the act of petting her helps calm them down.
- She provides deep pressure for my children that thrive on that.
- She has helped them learn to be responsible. A dog needs fresh food and water several times a day. My kids under my, supervision, of course, have learned to put another’s needs above their own.
- A dog gets them out of the house so they are getting fresh air and exercising every day.
- She has taught them to be patient and persevere when they are trying to teach her manners or a new trick.
- She teaches them to put others first.
- A dog teaches them to be creative, finding new and fun ways to interact.
- She is thrilled to see them every single time. Her reaction is the same whether she has seen them minutes or hours earlier. It makes the kids feel so special.
- She is relaxing. Lizzie is happy just laying with her head on the kids’ laps while they watch a movie or read a book.
- She is a fun playmate. Lizzie loves to play, even when no one else wants to play she will happily play with the kids.
- She has helped my son regulate his sleep patterns, she teaches him to go to sleep when he is supposed to and wake up when he is supposed to.
- She has taught them to be compassionate.
- A dog never lets them down. People do, but not pets.
It’s been nearly a year since Lizzie joined our family and we have seen a big change in M. He is definitely happier and less angry, he has been more willing to try something new, and he has been more willing to meet new people when she is around. Lizzie is also quite an anxious dog, so it has been good for M to not concentrate on his own anxieties, while he comforts her.
For us, a dog was the perfect choice for our family, but any pet can be an emotional support for your special needs child.