Service dogs help children with autism by interrupting undesirable or self-harming behaviour, alerting parents to problems, calming children who have mood swings and retrieving runaways, according to Wilderwood Service Dogs. Service dogs have been known to help mute children talk, and they put parents' minds at rest about the safety of their children. According to Autism Service Dogs of America, autism service dogs are usually golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers or a mix of the two, although non-traditional breeds such as the Newfoundland are also used.
Golden retrievers are easily trainable dogs that love people and strive to please. Their easy-going, happy nature and their intelligence make them popular as service dogs for children with autism. Golden retrievers are high-energy dogs that require exercise and jobs to remain happy and well-balanced, and helping children with autism satisfies their need to work.
The Labrador retriever is a loyal, affectionate and intelligent dog. Its love for its family make it a good breed for service work. The Labrador loves to learn and has a reliable temperament. Early socialisation and obedience training can make a Lab a helpful member of the family of a child with autism.
According to the Psychiatric Service Dog Society, large-breed dogs such as Newfoundlands are able to provide deep pressure therapy to a child with autism. Applying deep pressure to a child's body provides a calming sensation. The Newfoundland also has good social skills, intelligence and guardian instincts. These traits, together with its obedient nature, make the Newfoundland a good choice for children with autism.