Best Pet Dog for a Child with Autism - What's Your Advice?

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A reader writes:

My boyfriend's son, Zach, has ADD & Autism. We are looking to get him a dog. I was wondering if you had any idea on what type of dog would be best for a child with Autism? He is 12 years old & could definitely help care for it!
I'm not an expert in this area, but others have had a good deal of experience and can offer advice. Here's what About.com readers have suggested so far:
Sandy says:

golden retrievers are known to be good dogs with kids and my sister’s two have always been good with my son. but my son cant stand furry dogs. we have a mixed breed, Shih Tzu and weiner and this little dog fit the bill for not alot of fur.

Sherri says:

You may want to consider breeds of dogs that have hair vs fur….less people are allergic to this type of animal…there are also breeds with no fur at all.

Those breeds may be more “acceptable” in say a school setting.Unfortunately, it may be more challenging to find people that will train them as therapy dogs,golden retrievers being the dog of choice for trainers. It’s the individual dogs perosnality that seems to be key though.

Cathy Knoll says:

Most of the folks with autism I know have adapted best to “outside” dogs rather than dogs who stay in the house all day and sleep on their beds. The outside dogs are a friend to greet them when they come home from school, to fetch a ball and run around, to go for walks on a leash around the block or in the park, and generally be a buddy.

If Zach hasn’t been around dogs in the past, you might want to visit friends or something to let him see if he likes dogs and to let him learn his preferences. Does he prefer frisky or calm? Can he tolerate barking and tail wagging? Does he have allergies to dogs? Does he want a lap-sitter or a ball-chaser? Does he understand the critical nature of daily care of a pet? If he wants to play with his dog outside, do you have a fenced yard?

Can you advise Brenda? Which pet dogs are the best option for a child with autism?

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