Best Dogs for Autism Assistance

July 2, 2024

Discover the best dogs for autism - loyal companions who bring comfort, support, and improved social interaction. Find your perfect match now!

Dogs for Autism

When it comes to autism, dogs can play a significant role in providing support and companionship. The benefits of dog ownership for individuals with autism are well-documented. In fact, a study found that dog ownership improved the well-being of many autistic adults and even assisted suicide prevention strategies in this high-risk group, with 16.7% of participants reporting that their dogs prevented them from taking their own lives.

Benefits of Dog Ownership

For individuals with autism, owning a dog can have numerous benefits. Dogs offer unconditional love and companionship, which can be especially meaningful for those who struggle with social interactions. Interacting with dogs has been shown to reduce anxiety, promote emotional well-being, and increase engagement with others. Autistic individuals often smile more when they are around animals, indicating a positive impact on their overall mood and well-being.

Research has also indicated that children with autism may benefit from interacting with dogs as they provide unconditional, nonjudgmental love and companionship. These interactions can potentially lead to improved social skills in children with autism, fostering a sense of connection and empathy. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing found that nearly two-thirds of families with children with autism owned a dog, with 94% reporting that their child bonded strongly with the pet.

Service Dog Options

For individuals with autism who require more specialized assistance, service dogs can be an invaluable resource. These highly trained dogs are specifically trained to assist individuals with autism in various ways, such as preventing or interrupting tantrums, improving sleep behaviors, preventing elopement behavior, and providing a calming and comforting presence. Research has shown that service dogs can provide psychological, social, and physiological benefits for children and adolescents with autism.

Service dogs can also have a positive impact on sleep behaviors in children with autism. Having a service dog has been associated with better sleep initiation and duration, as well as reduced sleep anxiety and co-sleeping behaviors. These dogs can provide a sense of security and stability, helping individuals with autism establish a comforting routine and improve their overall sleep patterns.

When considering a service dog, it's important to note that there are different types of service dogs available for individuals with autism. Some service dogs are trained to provide specific tasks, while others offer more general support and companionship. It's essential to consult with a reputable service dog organization to determine the best service dog option based on individual needs and requirements.

In summary, dogs can be wonderful companions and provide numerous benefits for individuals with autism. Whether through the general companionship of a pet dog or the specialized assistance of a service dog, these furry friends can offer emotional support, improve social interaction and communication, and enhance overall well-being for individuals with autism.

Highland Canine Training, LLC

Highland Canine Training, LLC is a reputable organization that specializes in providing reliable and affordable service dogs for individuals affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. They offer customized service dogs that are trained to meet the specific needs of children and adults with autism.

Customized Service Dogs

Highland Canine Training, LLC understands that each individual with autism has unique requirements, and their service dogs are tailored to address those specific needs. These highly trained dogs can assist with a range of tasks, including sensory support, interrupting self-harming behaviors, social interaction facilitation, and more. The dogs undergo extensive training to ensure they are equipped to provide the necessary assistance to individuals with autism.

Cost and Application Process

One of the notable aspects of Highland Canine Training, LLC is their affordability. The average cost of their service dogs, including autism assistance dogs, is $15,900. This cost includes the initial set of customized equipment, such as leashes, service vest or harness, and more, making their service dogs highly affordable.

Moreover, Highland Canine Training, LLC does not require families to fundraise for the cost of their autism assistance dog or service dog. At the end of the training, the dog belongs to the family without any retained ownership rights. This ensures that families can fully embrace and integrate the service dog into their lives without any financial burdens or restrictions.

The application process with Highland Canine Training, LLC is straightforward and free. Families can submit an application without any application fees. Once the application is accepted, the waiting list for scheduling the delivery of an autism assistance dog or service dog is currently 18-24 months. This waiting period allows the organization to carefully match the right dog with the specific needs of the individual with autism.

Additionally, Highland Canine Training, LLC provides a one-year health guarantee on the dogs they select and train. They also offer free phone and email consultations for as long as the dog is owned. This level of support ensures that families have ongoing guidance and assistance in maintaining the well-being and effectiveness of their service dog.

Highland Canine Training, LLC is committed to providing top-quality service dogs to individuals with autism, catering to their unique needs and ensuring affordability. Through their comprehensive application process and customized training programs, they empower families to find the perfect companion to assist in navigating the challenges associated with autism.

Best Dog Breeds for Autism

When it comes to choosing a dog for a child with autism, certain breeds are known for their suitability and positive impact on individuals with autism. Here are some of the best dog breeds for autism:

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are a top choice for families with autistic children due to their happy-go-lucky personality, eagerness to please their owners, and ability to be trained as emotional support or therapy dogs.

Their friendly nature and patience make them wonderful companions for individuals on the autism spectrum. Golden Retrievers are known for their ability to provide comfort and emotional support, helping to reduce anxiety and stress.

Labradoodles or Goldendoodles

Labradoodles or Goldendoodles are excellent options for families with children with autism who have respiratory sensitivities. These hybrid breeds are a cross between Labrador Retrievers and Poodles, and they are known for being allergy-friendly and having minimal shedding. Labradoodles and Goldendoodles can be trained as therapy dogs and can provide emotional support to children with autism.


Collies have been bred to be highly aware of human emotions, making them a good choice for families considering a dog for a child on the autism spectrum. They are naturally playful but remain attentive to their owners, ensuring that they do not wander off. Collies are known for their loyalty and gentle nature, making them great companions for children with autism.


Poodles are intelligent, obedient, and hypoallergenic, making them a suitable choice for families with members who suffer from allergies. They are also empathetic and have the ability to sense negative emotions, making them ideal emotional support dogs for children with autism. Poodles can be trained as therapy dogs and provide comfort and companionship to individuals on the autism spectrum.

German Shepherds

German Shepherds are highly trainable, intelligent, and loyal, making them suitable as both companion and service dogs for children with autism. They possess a strong work ethic and excel in various tasks, including mobility assistance, guidance, and psychiatric support. German Shepherds can be trained to perform specific tasks that cater to the unique needs of individuals with autism, providing both practical assistance and emotional support.

When choosing a dog breed for a child with autism, it is essential to consider the specific needs and preferences of the child, as well as the temperament and characteristics of the breed. Proper training and socialization are key to ensure a successful and harmonious relationship between the child and their furry companion.

Role of Dogs in Autism Therapy

Dogs play a significant role in autism therapy, providing emotional support, comfort, and assisting with various animal-assisted therapies. Their presence can have a profound impact on individuals with autism, helping them cope with anxiety, engage more fully with others, and develop communication skills.

Emotional Support and Comfort

Pets, including dogs, have been shown to be beneficial for individuals with autism, providing emotional support and comfort. Autistic individuals often experience reduced anxiety and increased emotional well-being when they are around animals. Dogs, in particular, have a unique ability to form strong bonds with their owners and offer unconditional love and companionship.

For autistic individuals, the presence of a dog can provide a sense of security and stability. Dogs are often attuned to their owner's emotions and can provide comfort during times of distress or overwhelm. Their calming presence can help regulate emotions and promote a sense of calmness and relaxation.

Animal-Assisted Therapies

Animal-assisted therapies have been widely used as a complementary approach in treating autism. Therapeutic animals, of various species, have shown to be calming and help individuals become more emotionally and intellectually available for therapy. Animal-assisted play therapy, for example, has demonstrated significant improvements in social communication skills among children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) compared to those not receiving this type of therapy.

Hippotherapy, also known as therapeutic horseback riding, has shown positive effects on social understanding, use of spoken language, and a reduction in irritability behavior in individuals with autism. Equine-assisted activities have also been extensively studied and have shown positive results in improving social skills in children and adolescents with ASD.

Overall, dogs and other animals provide a unique therapeutic experience for individuals with autism. Their presence can promote emotional well-being, enhance social interactions, improve communication skills, and contribute to the overall quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum.

Dogs for Good Program

Dogs for Good is an organization dedicated to providing assistance dogs for individuals with various needs, including autism. Their program offers a range of services and support to help families find the perfect companion for their loved ones with autism.

Autism Assistance Dogs

The Autism Assistance Dogs provided by Dogs for Good are specially trained to support children with autism in various ways. These dogs serve as a calming presence, helping to regulate walking speed and responding to unsafe behaviors like bolting, which are common in many autistic children. They can also provide calming effects through deep pressure and be part of a strategy to interrupt repetitive behaviors.

The training and support provided by Dogs for Good are extensive. Each autism assistance dog undergoes a high level of socialization and training, lasting nearly two years, before being partnered with a family. This preparation ensures that the dogs can cope with various environments and public places they may be asked to visit as assistance dogs.

Training and Support

Training an autism assistance dog partnership requires significant resources. It costs over £21,000 to train and support a partnership throughout the dog's lifetime. Dogs for Good currently places around ten autism assistance dogs per year, supporting fifty partnerships with aftercare and ongoing support. This demonstrates the commitment of Dogs for Good to provide ongoing assistance and guidance to families with their autism assistance dogs.

Family Dog Service

In addition to their autism assistance dog program, Dogs for Good also offers the Family Dog service. Developed in 2010, this service aims to assist families who have a child with autism. The Family Dog service provides workshops to help families source, select, handle, and train a well-trained pet dog to bring significant benefits to the family, even if an assistance dog is not needed. This service recognizes the positive impact that dogs can have on families and provides support in making the right choice for their specific circumstances.

The high demand for Dogs for Good's autism assistance dog service is evident from the over 2,000 inquiries they received last year from people seeking assistance for their family members with autism. This indicates the importance and value that families place on the support provided by Dogs for Good in improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.

Impact of Dogs on Children with Autism

Dogs have been found to have a positive impact on children with autism, particularly in terms of behavioral improvements and social interaction and communication. Interactions with dogs can provide numerous benefits for children with autism, enhancing their overall well-being and quality of life.

Behavioral Improvements

Research studies have shown that pets, including dogs, can lead to significant gains in social and communication areas for autistic children. In a large study, it was found that pets contributed to improvements in social and communication skills, such as "offering to share" and "offering comfort" [2]. The effects were most significant when the child was old enough to recognize the arrival of the pet.

Having a service dog can also have a positive impact on a child's behavior. Service dogs can prevent or interrupt tantrums, improve sleep behaviors, and act as a calming and comforting presence. Research has shown that having a service dog is associated with better sleep initiation and duration, as well as reduced sleep anxiety/co-sleeping. However, there was no significant relationship between having a service dog and other behavioral aspects such as withdrawal, negative emotionality, hyperactivity, irritability, and lethargy.

Social Interaction and Communication

Interacting with dogs can significantly improve social interaction and communication skills in children with autism. Animal-assisted play therapy, which involves interactions with animals, has shown promising results in enhancing social communication skills compared to children who did not receive this type of therapy. Dogs provide unconditional love and nonjudgmental companionship, which can help children with autism develop their social skills.

In a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, it was found that nearly two-thirds of families with children with autism owned dogs, and 94% reported a strong bond between their child and the pet. Even families without dogs mentioned that their child enjoyed interacting with dogs. Dogs can provide a source of companionship and emotional support for children with autism, helping them feel more connected and engaged with the world around them.

Overall, dogs play a valuable role in improving the behavior and social interaction of children with autism. Their presence can have a profound impact on the emotional well-being and development of children, fostering a sense of companionship and support. As a result, dogs are often considered cherished companions and valuable members of the family for those with autism.


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