5 Things You Need to Know Before Picking an Emotional Support Dog
As every dog owner knows very well, having a dog around the house comes with a lot of perks. These benefits may vary from getting to do exercise regularly, to all the love and loyalty we could ever want. However, some mental, emotional, or physical conditions may necessitate the presence of dogs for people to function in their daily lives. These dogs, known as emotional support animals, provide people of all ages emotional support and comfort to make them feel that they can deal with challenges.
We want to be very clear: this blog is about dogs who have been specifically trained to be a legitimate emotional support or therapy animal. ESAs should only be given to those who need them and should never have their title abused so the owner can reap the rewards.
In this blog, we will go over five things you need to know before you adopt an emotional support dog or train your pup to become one.
1. They Can Help You With Your Mental Health
The fact that therapy dogs and emotional support dogs reduce feelings such as loneliness, isolation, stress, anxiety, and unhappiness in many hard situations, such as in therapy, a hospital, at home, or in triggering events. The dog is trained to provide a level of comfort and notice symptoms of mental health disorders before the owner acts on them.
Additionally, well-known psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, was one of the professionals that used pets in their therapy session. Nowadays, doctors recommend emotional support dogs to patients including those that suffer from PTSD, mild severe anxiety, agoraphobia, depression, general anxiety disorder, or social shyness.
2. They Can Help You With Your Emotional Health
Mental and emotional health are often tied together due to the symptoms of mental health disorders. However, ESAs are trained to handle both issues, depending on what their owner needs. They are there to help you remain calm and comforted in times of hardship, and help you successfully cope with stressful interactions and scenarios.
For example, a trip to the grocery store may set you on edge due to all of the people, the tight spaces, or sensory overload from colors, lights, and smells. An emotional support dog will help you stay grounded during your shopping trip so you can get what you need without feeling overcome with negative emotions.
3. They Can Help You With Your Physical Health
When people's major life activities such as caring for themselves, walking, seeing, or hearing get limited by a physical disability; they may need comfort that an emotional support dog can provide to function in their daily lives. In some cases, a service dog may be more appropriate for more severe physical disabilities, while an emotional support dog can help comfort the owner during times of pain and discomfort, as well as encourage them to get active to stretch out and strengthen their aching joints.
Of course, your emotional support dog needs to be taken care of in terms of his/her physical health.
No dog can be their best self if they're not healthy and an ESA will not be able to perform their duties to help you physically if they can't walk either. Keep an eye on their health and protect their joints - just like they protect yours.
CCL issues are some of the most common injuries faced by all dog breeds and sizes. Knees are sensitive, complex joints, and rigorous activity or poor health can set them up for injury. Just like in humans, a knee injury will require support! If your dog has been diagnosed with, or you believe they may be suffering from a CCL injury, dog CCL braces provide the support to their joint necessary to prevent further harm.
4. Your Choice Matters!
Choosing the right emotional support dog is critical. When you consider picking an emotional support dog, you should think about certain things. Will you be able to afford to have an emotional support dog? This does not only include the investment, for example. You should take the vet services and food into consideration.
Will it suit your lifestyle? Having a dog is like having a child. They need good care, and they should not stay alone for long periods.
Which one would be better, a puppy or a grown dog? Do you want to give the necessary time to train her/him? If you want to maintain a calm and quiet life, a puppy may not be the right choice for you. If you're physically unable to train the dog, then understand the cost of hiring a professional trainer - after all, ESAs are not regular household pets!
5. Emotional Support Dogs Are Not Service Dogs!
Emotional support animals - dogs or not - are not service animals. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines service animals as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities." A service dog may be a guide dog or psychiatric service dog and a person who has a service dog has the right to access public places such as restaurants or shopping malls while emotional support dogs can not accompany their humans into these places. A service dog can be an emotional support animal, but an ESA is not a service dog.
They do not come with the same exemptions as service animals and the owner needs to respect the laws and regulations set in place. For example, airlines and restaurants can turn away ESAs (depending on species and breed for airlines under the Air Carrier Access Act), but they have to accommodate service dogs. This does not undermine the necessity of your ESA, but you should always be aware of where you can and cannot go with them.
Finally, to have an ESA, a doctor, therapist, or mental health expert must write a letter describing what disability or psychological problem an individual has and why they're recommending an ESA as an intervention. This letter is your ESA's regulation, and should be kept on you at all times when you're out with your dog to avoid awkward situations.
That's it! We hope this blog helps you decide if an emotional support dog is right for you.