Dogs are one of the most friendly, fun, and lively creatures, no wonder they make a perfect emotional support animal. Emotional support animals are not specially trained animals like service animals but they still have a lot to offer and that is one of the reasons why they are highly preferred and recommended to patients who have certain health conditions or mental illness.
But are emotional support dogs any different from regular dogs? Well, not really. But they are comparatively more equipped with resources that can help you in situations where your regular dog may not know what to do.
Does an Emotional Support Dog Need Training?
The answer is actually yes as well as no. No, an emotional support dog does not necessarily need any special training just to provide you emotional support unless of course your health condition asks for a specific treatment that a dog with no training may not be able to offer.
But emotional support animals do require basic training. For any animal to qualify as an emotional support animal, they need to be calm, active, easy to handle, and well-behaved in all situations. This is something normally every dog should be trained for but in the case of an emotional support animal, the basic training, to avoid nuisance in public, is relatively more important than one thinks.
Can You Train Your Dog to Be an ESA?
Yes, you can train your dog to be an emotional support animal. Unlike service animals, emotional support animals don’t require professional training. Though you can always get them trained professionally, it is not necessary. One can easily train their dog to be their emotional support animal. It is better than getting a new emotional support animal as you are already emotionally attached to your own dog and this can be helpful as they would have already known you. However, training a dog after a certain age is pretty difficult so keep that in mind.
If you believe your dog is trained enough to qualify as an emotional support dog, you will be required to register your dog as your emotional support animal so that you can take it with you in places like restaurants and flights. Moreover, if you live in a place that has a no pet policy, you will need an ESA letter to keep your dog with yourself. You can easily apply for the ESA letter at my ESA doctor.
What Training Does an ESA Require?
So the basic training that an emotional support dog requires includes obedience training, understanding and responding to different commands, and deep pressure therapy, if your health condition includes stress, anxiety, or mental instability in certain situations.
In obedience training, the dog is trained to obey the owner’s direct orders. For instance, stop, leave, come, go, eat, are some commands that the dog should obey almost instantly.
Under command, basic common commands like sit, stand, hold, stay, down, and heel are some commands that dogs are trained for.
Other than this, dogs are often trained to listen to the commands of the owner despite distractions and distance. So, even if the owner is at a distance and the dog is surrounded with distractions, he should go to the owner as soon as the owner calls it.
These are basic training that even a regular dog should be trained with, for better behavior in public as well as at home.
Other than this, deep pressure therapy is somewhat technical or say, advanced training. It is important if your health condition includes stress, anxiety, ADHD, depression, autism etc. as an emotional support dog that is trained to offer deep pressure therapy, they will be able to provide you the support and care you will need in the situation.
How to Train an Emotional Support Dog?
As already mentioned, training a dog after a certain age can be pretty difficult, it is recommended to start when they are little. If you are getting a dog specifically for emotional support, a dog of around 1 year will probably be the best choice as they are comparatively easier to train than old dogs as well as puppies. For obedience and social behavior, you can even start training a puppy.
Start slow and make your commands as positive as possible. A dog may not understand what you are saying but your body language will tell them they did something wrong. And instead of not doing that again, there is a chance they may learn to not do that same thing in your presence. So, instead of training what not to do, teach them what to do. That will be easy and effective for both you and your dog.
Make training a part of the routine. Practice commanding your dog at least twice or thrice everyday so they get used to it.
Socialize your dog to ensure they behave appropriately in public. Take them out for walks, interact with new people, introduce them to other pets. Your emotional support dog needs to behave appropriately not just with other people but animals as well. They need to be calm and laid back. Even if they are active they shouldn’t jump on other people or bark unnecessarily.
Lastly, potty training your dog is as important as any other training.
How to Register Your Dog as an Emotional Support Animal?
Okay, let’s first make this very clear for everyone, there is no specific registration or certification process for animals to qualify as emotional support animals. A lot of people assume they are supposed to get their dogs or animals registered but that fortunately is not the case.
Yes, you need a document that states your dog is an emotional support animal and that document is nothing but an ESA letter. You can get an ESA letter from a licensed doctor or professional who deals with mental health conditions primarily. Your therapist can provide you with an ESA letter.
If you don’t have a therapist or for some reason they cannot give you the letter, you can reach out to my ESA doctor, they are licensed and have been working with patients like you.
photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/KFqosh9fuDo
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