Therapy Dogs For People With Borderline Personality Disorder

For people with borderline personality disorder, contact with dogs can be very therapeutic. It can help them gain social self-confidence that they might otherwise struggle with.
Therapy dogs for people with borderline personality disorder

Read on to find out more about therapy dogs for people with borderline personality disorder. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to feel empty inside. It usually stems from dysfunctional childhood experiences.

When they tell you their life story, you notice many recurring themes. They talk about absent parenting, emotional neglect and lack of physical care among other things. So how can pets get into the picture?

The environment is not the only factor in developing borderline personality disorder. Genetics play a significant role as well. Patients with BPD feel lost and devastated, as if drowning in their desperation.

Their fear of possibly being abandoned is so strong that they resort to self-destruction. This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy, because since they are afraid that people will leave them, they push them away as they love.

It is important to keep in mind that patients with BPD are extremely sensitive and feel a deep emotional pain if someone opposes them or frustrates them.

On the other hand, dogs or other pets never judge or leave anyone. This allows patients with BPD to attach to them as a way to receive love without risking being hurt.

Woman with forehead against dog's forehead shows the importance of therapy dogs for people with borderline

The reasons for the effect of therapy dogs for people with borderline

Emotional validation

No matter what may happen in human relationships, animals are not able to make others feel as if their feelings are not valid. Emotional disability is when one denies that the feelings a person feels are real or valid.

As a rule, people with BPD have this problem with their family and close friends. Some basic examples are saying things like “You can not be thirsty, you just drank” or “I do not understand why you cry all the time, if you have everything you need”.

Dogs never do this, which is why they make patients with BPD feel completely accepted and validated.

Dogs do not judge

Pets cannot judge their owners. They lack language to express that kind of emotion and they do not have the cultural and social beliefs that people have. These beliefs, stereotypes and prejudices are often responsible for the way we judge people.

Patients with BPD experience unbearable emotional pain when someone judges them. This makes it extremely difficult for them to maintain relationships. Dogs and other pets can make patients with BPD feel calm. Their relationships without judgments can make them feel like they belong.


Dogs are great company for patients with BPD. No matter what you go through, how much you cry and how unstable you feel, dogs will stay by your side. This kind of camaraderie is exactly what patients with BPD sometimes need to be able to find balance. In a way, dogs help their owners regulate their emotions.

Unconditional love from therapy dogs to people with borderline personality disorder

Dogs love you without expecting anything in return. Because so many patients with BPD suffer from low self-esteem, having a dog can make them feel more confident. Much of their problematic behavior stems from a need for love, care, and understanding. 

The problem is that their behavior often produces the opposite effect. In this context, a dog can provide the unconditional love that patients with BPD need, even if they have problems they are struggling with.

Woman with dog on sofa sitting and crying

Disadvantages of therapy dogs for people with borderline personality disorder

While it is clear that patients with BPD can build special and healthy bonds with dogs, there are some disadvantages to these conditions. Sometimes dogs become a form of cushion for their emotions, acting as an emotional patch.

This is because their relationship with dogs covers dysfunctional and painful emotions. This is fine to start with because patients with BPD regulate their emotions and feel more emotionally stable. The problem is that the patient can become overly dependent on his dog.

They may even end up shutting off in front of other people and depending on the pet to fulfill all of their emotional needs.

Maximize the benefits

For the above reasons, it is important to find a balance to be sure that the dogs are therapeutic and do not make the situation worse. The idea is to maximize the benefits that a pet provides without becoming emotionally dependent on them. 

Patients with BPD should also try to develop relationships with the people around them. They should be willing to feel frustrated sometimes. They will also have to accept the fact that they will be criticized at some point, and learn to deal with it.

Another disadvantage of therapy dogs for people with borderline personality disorder is that dogs tend to die long before humans. This can cause a serious crisis and lead to self-harm, impulsivity, aggression, intense dysphoria, etc.

In conclusion, therapy dogs for people with borderline personality disorder are good in moderate amounts, as with so much else. Although patients with BPD may benefit from the company of an animal, special precautions will need to be taken to ensure that the relationship does not become toxic and a poor substitute for proper handling of emotions.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button