The connection between humans and dogs is undeniable. The selfless love and devotion that a dog will offer its human is not seen in any other relationship, whether animal or human.
This connection is what makes dogs the perfect animal for service. Of course, some dog breeds are more suited to the task than others.
The best service dog breeds can be easily trained to help their humans with a variety of tasks or even warn them of danger. By sensing seizures coming on or noting the blood sugar drop of a diabetic owner, service dogs can save lives.
About 500,000 service dogs provide services for Americans all across the country. From companions for the elderly to seeing-eye dogs for the blind, they have many roles they can fill.
Let’s look closer at one of the friendliest service dog breeds you can find — the Cocker Spaniel.
Important Characteristics of a Service Dog
Service dogs are tested on an individual basis to see if they have the necessary traits to perform. Not every dog makes a good service dog. Not even every dog of a certain breed makes a good service dog.
However, most service dogs do share some basic characteristics. For example, service dogs need to be able to go out in public and stay calm in a variety of situations. Some dogs react strongly to crowds or being touched by strangers. Service dogs need to be friendly and comfortable with groups of strange people.
Some service dogs require only minimal training. Emotional support dogs will provide companionship for their owner and simply need to be friendly and well-behaved.
Others require extensive training and have a job they must do. These include:
- PTSD service dog
- Seeing-eye dogs
- Hearing-impaired dogs
- Seizure-alert dogs
- Search and rescue
- Physical assistance
A dog can be adequate for one type of service, but not another. For example, while all dogs have a good sense of smell, bloodhounds are often used in search and rescue because they are particularly adept at ignoring other smells and honing in on their target.
Additionally, some breeds are more versatile than others. Cocker Spaniels can be suited to a variety of tasks as service dogs. Let’s look at the traits that make them so ideal.
1. A Social Breed
Cocker Spaniels love people. While they can be quite energetic, they are very affectionate and get along with everyone from children to the elderly.
Because of their need for interaction, they won’t do well being left alone for long periods of time. However, this love of attention makes them perfect for an elderly person seeking companionship or a person with epilepsy who needs a constant companion to watch out for them.
2. Sweet and Loving
Along with their love of being around people, they are very gentle and loving. They have a calming presence and love to be stroked and pet.
Caressing an animal can cause a release of oxytocin in the body, the intimacy chemical. This is the same chemical that is released when you give a loved one a warm hug or when a mother breastfeeds her child. Basically, it gives you the warm fuzzies inside.
Cocker Spaniels are very intelligent. Combine that with their desire to please people, and they are generally quite easy to train.
Service dogs need to be able to handle a variety of tasks and remember many different commands. Cocker Spaniels generally have no trouble with this.
4. Not Aggressive
As you might guess from the previous traits, Cocker Spaniels are not known for being aggressive, either with humans or other dogs. While this doesn’t make them particularly good watchdogs, it does make them an excellent candidate for a service dog.
You don’t want to be calmly walking down the street and suddenly have your arm yanked off when your service dog spots another dog and charges.
5. Calming Personality
Some individual Cocker Spaniels can be a little high-strung. However, those dogs are generally not chosen as service dogs.
In general, Cocker Spaniels put people at ease. Their happy, affectionate little presence gives people a sense of calmness and tranquility. This is perfect for people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression or a number of other mental health disorders.
While you don’t want a service dog to be overly energetic, having some energy is a good thing. People who struggle with mental health issues like depression often have a hard time getting out of the house.
An energetic companion who always wants to go for a walk outside can help energize a person with depression. Once outdoors, the positive effects of being outside and getting a little exercise will help get their mind back in a better place.
As a medium-sized dog, Cocker Spaniels are easy to take everywhere. They easily fit on buses or in taxis, which is important as many people who need service animals don’t drive.
They also don’t take up a ton of space in the home and can live in apartments. Of course, they need to be taken outside each day to burn off a little energy, but that little push is often what their owner needs anyway.
The Cocker Spaniel: One of the Best Service Dog Breeds
There you have it. Seven reasons why Cocker Spaniels are one of the best service dog breeds. Their loving, affectionate, energetic personalities are perfect for those struggling with their mental health. Want to learn more about Cocker Spaniels? Don’t hesitate to check out more of our blog posts! We are posting new content all the time about these delightful little companions.