|Image Source: Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash
How and Why You Might Certify Your Dog as an ESA
Emotional support animals are great for a variety of reasons, but what are the steps to take to qualify your own dog as an emotional support animal? At first glance, it might seem like an impossible task to accomplish. The process itself might be completely unfamiliar and overwhelming, and you also have to ask yourself if an ESA is right for you at all. Emotional support animals come with plenty of benefits, but there are also some risks to assess as well. Let’s take a closer look at how to determine if an ESA is the right move for you and the benefits of having one as a pet.
How You Certify Your Dog as an ESA
If you want to certify your dog as an emotional support animal, there are a few steps you need to take. Many believe service dogs and emotional support animals are the same but they aren’t. Contrary to popular belief, emotional support animals don’t need any sort of specialized training to qualify.
First and foremost, you need to determine if you need an emotional support animal. This is information your mental health provider will need to know so you can move onto the next step. Once you’ve determined your eligibility, you can then request a letter from your provider that includes the reasoning the emotional support animal is needed, with the signature and on the letterhead of your mental health professional, and the letter needs to be dated. This letter allows you to bring your dog into areas that regular household pets aren’t allowed.
ESAs and Traveling
One of the big issues people with anxiety face is difficulty going out in public along with traveling in general. Large spaces and crowds are often a trigger for those who suffer from the disorder and this can lead to a decrease in exercise simply because getting out of the house becomes overwhelming. Lack of exercise causes a multitude of issues with our health, and surprisingly, having an ESA is a great way to incorporate more exercise and activity into your life. Taking your emotional support animal on walks and helping them get exercise also allows you to get out and breathe some fresh air right along with them. Even short walks have plenty of health benefits and your ESA will be delighted with the time outside.
If you’re traveling abroad or long distances, both you and your ESA are going to struggle to stay healthy. Traveling outside of your normal comfort zones is a pretty big stress inducer, and this just means that you both need to find ways to stay active on your journey. If you’re on a plane, take your well-behaved pup for a quick walk around the seats of the plane. Having an ESA at your side who needs exercise is a perfect way to keep active while traveling.
It’s important to keep in mind that emotional support animals don’t qualify for special privileges when flying so it’s important to keep other methods of transportation in mind. A road trip can be a great way to get out of your house with your family, but taking an RV can really take the fun up a notch. One of the biggest advantages of traveling in a recreational vehicle is the flexibility it offers.
Many hotels aren’t pet-friendly, but with an RV there’s no need to stay in a hotel. There are plenty of campgrounds located across the United States that have loads of amenities and offer great places for you and your emotional support animal to get some exercise. Being able to give your furry friend some room to run will only make your trip more fun for everyone involved.
Is an ESA Right For You?
No matter what the reasoning is behind certifying your dog as an emotional support animal, just like with everything else, it’s important to do your research. Assess whether your dog is easy to train or whether or not that’s going to be something they struggle with. Just like humans, no two dogs are the same and some breeds are much easier to train than others. Keep in mind that regardless of whether or not they’re easy to train, it’s important that you, as the trainer, keep your cool and remain patient.
Some of the most popular emotional support dog breeds are Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Labradors, who are also the best service dogs, and for good reason. While, yes, these are typically larger breeds, they often have calm temperaments that make them great for a few reasons. For one, they’re wonderful options to take out in public when they’re properly trained. They also provide comfort with their size as many owners feel protected when they’re around.
No matter what you decide, emotional support animals are a big help in many areas and are becoming widely accepted. If you think your lifestyle is one that would be a good fit for an emotional support animal, take the proper steps to certify your dog and reap the benefits.