Things You Need to Know About Emotional Support Dogs
Word; Dogs. Synonym; a little friend to its favorite hooman to whom it provides love, affection, comfort, joy, and a thousand more beautiful feelings put into words, and the never-lasting loyal companionship.
Nothing makes you happier and eager to go home after a very stressful day at work and when you are aware that your little friend is waiting for you eagerly, longing for your presence, waiting to shower you with affectionate licks and kisses and get their fair share of pettings from their favorite human. The love, care, and bond between the dog and its owner are indefinable. The nature of the dog-owner relationship has an impact on the lives of both. Where a dog feels secure, wanted, and loved by its favorite people, owners feel relieved, encouraged, and comforted. In conclusion, owners adore their pets and vice versa.
You ask a dog owner what they love about being a proud dog mom or dad, and they will tell you an endless list of things they can do with their new companion, the goods they always experience, and the bads that can always happen. Dog owners are aware of the benefits of keeping dogs as pets, from keeping themselves physically active through regular exercise and walking regimes to committing into a loyal and faithful relationship. But in some cases, where individuals lack proper mental presence and going through emotional situations, their dogs’ presence is crucial for them to function well. Pets can help to reduce anxiety, stress and provide emotional support to their owners to help them deal with daily life challenges. These pets are called Emotional Support Animals.
What Are Emotional Support Dogs?
The emotional bond between the dogs and their owners can not be expressed in words. Although all dogs, regardless of their breed, provide emotional support to their owners, to be legally certified as an Emotional Support Dog, your pet needs to be prescribed by the mental health professionals 一 a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a therapist.
Emotional support dogs provide comfort, affection, and warmth through their companionship and therefore can help ease an individual with existing anxiety and panic disorders. These dogs can be of any kind, breed, or size. They all will do the work for their owners, regardless of their physical characteristics.
You might be thinking, “Isn’t this what service dogs do? What makes ESAs different from service or therapy dogs?”
Service dogs and ESAs are far different from each other, where service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks for physically impaired individuals, and are legally permitted to accompany them mostly everywhere; ESAs do not hold the same accommodations as service dogs. Emotional support dogs are not trained to do tasks like psychiatric service dogs or therapy dogs. Their role is to provide emotional comfort and support to individuals with mental problems.
Registration for Emotional Support Dogs
Many dog owners might get this wrong notion of registering their dogs as Emotional Support Animals through which they can enjoy all the legal rights of being an ESA owner. However, the pattern for ‘registering’ your dogs as ESAs is far different.
There is no such thing as ESAs registration or certification. Companies and sites that are selling these ideas of registration are fraudulent and only want to get their hands on your money. Do not be fooled by them!
All you need is an ESA letter from mental health professionals in order to get your dogs officially become Emotional Support Dogs or often called Companion Dogs.
How to Get An Emotional Support Dog?
There is no procedure for adopting an Emotional Support Dog. Any dog of whichever breed can be an ESA, even the one you already have. And if you do not own one, you can pay a visit to a local shelter house and adopt a beautiful dog of your choice.
We have already made it clear that, unlike service and therapy dogs, Emotional Support Dogs do not require any training. However, you can still train your beloved pet for basic manners and alarm it through teaching tips in times when you feel your panic attacks or anxiety episodes building up. Other than that, your dog does not need any special training. The bond that you both share and the companionship, let alone, will help you calm down in such situations.
Individuals with the following mental disabilities can qualify for Emotional Support Dogs;
- Social Phobia
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Phobias and fears
There are no rules that state that only certain breeds can be an ESA. Any breed of dog is eligible to become an Emotional Support Dog. However, if you want a perfect companion, we suggest looking for a dog that is easily manageable, low-maintenance, and has a calm temperament. For example, if you live in a small place, small breeds of dogs are the best for you. If you are a busy individual with not much time in your hands, lazy breeds of dogs might be the ones for you. If you are an individual with existing anxiety issues, hyperactive dog breeds might not be the ones for you.
Borderline; look for dogs that may affect you, and we mean sensitively.
Dogs Breeds That Prove to be The Best ESAs
For dogs to qualify as Emotional Support Dogs, they need to be incredibly patient and gentle, provide comfort, and be particularly observant. If a dog possesses such qualities, it is a perfect fit for an ESA.
Here are some of the dog breeds that you should consider before adopting an Emotional Support Dog.
- Golden Retriever
Golden Retrievers are most popular in the United States. They are loved by many animal and pet owners because they have proven to be the best Emotional Support Dogs and family dogs. They have a calm and lovely temperament. Often playful and friendly with strangers, have a great sense of humor, and easy to train. Their patient and comforting demeanor make them the perfect ESA.
- Labrador Retriever
Labradors are a perfect match for an Emotional Support Dog. In addition to that, they are perfect therapy and service dogs as well. Labs are easy-going, gentle, and friendly beings. They are the best companions to those who have a mental illness. They are great play buddies and have a strong desire to comfort everyone around them. If you are an active individual, Labradors are the best choice for you because they are naturally very sporty and will be your jog-buddy.
- Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhounds, though have a short lifespan but have proven to be the best Emotional Support Dogs. However, their short lifespan might leave a negative impact on their owners after their sad departures. Other than that, Wolfhounds are natural protectors, and their first instinct is to provide comfort to their owners in a distressing situation. They are naturally very sensitive canine-beings and often seek comfort from their owners also.
- German Shepherd
Other than being a perfect watch-dog, German Shepherds are excellent family dogs as well. Their loving and playful personality provides comfort and a certain level of warmth to their owners, and that is how they are also the best Emotional Support Dogs. This dog breed is naturally very eager and curious to learn new things, which can benefit the owners in training these dogs however they please.
- Standard Poodles
Poodles are very smart, friendly, and loveable canines. Their calm and comforting demeanor makes them perfect for reducing stress and anxiety disorders in individuals with mental illness. Apart from that, they are low-maintenance and do not require frequent grooming sessions.
- The Great Pyrenees
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), Pyrenees are described as “Calm, Patient, and Smart.”
The Pyrenees are affectionate Emotional Support Dogs that have proven to reduce stress and anxiety in most of their owners. However, as gentle as they are, their size might be a problem for you. The Pyrenees are gentle-giants, and if you have much space, welcoming Great Pyrenees will be the right choice.
Havanese are sometimes called ‘The Velcro Dogs’ because of their strong desire to be near their owners 24/7. This dog breed is gentle, loving, and playful. If you want a small ball of fluff with a lovely yet dorky personality, Havanese is the one for you!
Moreover, their lovely personality helps to minimize stress levels in individuals with anxiety and other mental illnesses. Most emotional support dog owners suggest Havanese to potential dog owners.
Corgis are one of the most affectionate and active dogs one could ever want. They are easy to train, energetic, and incredibly friendly with strangers as well. Their lovely and friendly nature makes them suitable for owners of every age. However, they are active dog breeds, and that is why they do not qualify as ESAs often. But if you love physical activities, enjoy going out, and own a big house, Corgis might be the one for you.
- Yorkshire Terriers
Yorkshire Terriers are the happiest dog breeds that love to show affection and shower their owners with kisses whenever they see an opportunity. They tend to have a very strong bond with their owners, make a great family dog, and overall exhibit playful vibes. Their friendly natures make them a perfect Emotional Support Dog.
- Great Danes
The best characteristic of the Great Danes is their calm and confident personality. They give justice to their second name; Gentle-giants with their large physique and gentle attitudes. Although it can be challenging to welcome a large dog into your house, they provide great affection and companionship to mentally unstable individuals.
Besides that, they can be further trained in any manner. Great Danes are smart, intelligent, and make a perfect watch-dog.
Easy Tricks to Train and Teach Your Dog to Become an Emotional Support Dog
The only thing that differentiates an Emotional Support Dog from a service or therapy dog is the lack of training. Where service dogs are trained to help physically impaired individuals by doing every-day tasks for them, similarly, Emotional Support Dogs complete their tasks by providing comfort to mentally impaired individuals. There are no pieces of training for Emotional Support Dogs but, you can still teach them how to act in such situations when you need the comfort of a companion the most.
According to the Adolescent Psychopharmacology Study, DPT — Deep Pressure Therapy helps to calm anxiety episodes and panic attacks in individuals with mental disorders. Teaching your dog to pressure press the chest area or any part of the body helps to reduce the duration of such situations and makes it much easier to bear. However, the weight of your dog is an important factor in such training.
If you own a small dog, train it to lie on your chest while faking the symptoms of the situation you always go through. This way, your dog will be aware of your condition whenever a new episode starts to begin.
And as for bigger dogs, teach them to softly paw your chest area or slightly press their heads to your lap, feet, or wherever you feel comfortable. Here are some ways you can teach DPT to your dogs;
- Paw Up and Off Command
If your dog does not enjoy being on the sofa, you might have to lure him with treats to get him on it. When your dog jumps on the sofa, move the treat to the back of the sofa slowly while commanding ‘Paws Up’ each time it tries to reach the treat. When your dog gets the message, reward him with treats.
Similarly, teach your dog ‘Paws Off’ next, the same way you taught paws up but this time in reverse. Reward your dog every time it does as you have asked.
Next step: Practice.
- Laying Down or Sitting on Sofa
To train your dog DPT, make your small dog lie vertically on the sofa with you, its head next to yours, and paws on your shoulder. For a bigger dog, make his paws press to your lap or make him lay his head on your legs.
To make this work, use the Paws up and Paws off command to make your dog properly lean his weight on you in order to nail the DPT technique correctly. If your dog catches up with you, reward him with treats every time. However, you will need loads of practice for your dog to properly grasp this technique.
- Mimic The Signs of Anxiety Attacks
Once your dog has finally mastered up the above-mentioned tricks, start mimicking your signs of panic attacks or anxiety you usually face in a stressful situation. By mimicking the symptoms in a calm and composed state while rewarding your dog in the mean-time, he will learn what to do once you hit your first episode in front of him.
Emotional support dogs comfort their owners in such stressful situations in a calm manner. They help their owners to bear the situation a bit easier than how they are used to dealing with it alone. ESAs offer valuable emotional and mental support by either making them available for petting or cuddling sessions. Either way, their help and support are critical in such situations for owners who go through such happenings often.