Animals provide a number of therapeutic benefits for people, from improving their moods to alleviating anxiety. You don't, however, necessarily need to purchase a specially trained emotional support animal (ESA); you can train your dog to be an ESA and receive all of the same benefits. Making your dog an emotional support animal may actually be easier than most people think it is. Keep reading to learn what you need to do to make your dog an ESA.
Learn What an Emotional Support Animal Is
Emotional support animals are animals that provide comfort and support to people with emotional or mental needs and disabilities. An ESA can be any species of animal, but dogs are among the most common. According to federal law, these animals do not need to have any kind of specialized training. However, they must be well-behaved while in public and around other people. ESAs must be under the handler's control at all times, too.
Qualify for and Obtain an ESA Letter
Because there is no unique training for emotional support dogs, any pet with the right temperament can qualify as an emotional support animal. To get your current dog recognized as an emotional support animal, you will need to obtain an ESA letter. This is a letter from a mental health professional that states that your dog provides you with the support you need to lead a normal life. ESA letters must also be written on the mental health professional's letterhead, have their signature, and be dated no later than a year from the ESA approval. We've partnered with and highly recommend Chilhowee Psychological Services (CPS). CPS is the original and most trusted and referred online provider of ESA prescription letters in the United States, equipped with an extensive network of experienced licensed therapists across the nation who specialize in ESA assessments. You can also talk to your doctor to learn more about what you need to do to qualify for an ESA letter. This letter is absolutely essential if you currently/plan to live in an apartment that does not allow pets, or you need to travel with your emotional support dog.
Train Your Dog
Though there is no special training for support dogs, you will need to make sure your dog behaves at all times. Your pups must be friendly and social toward people and other animals anytime you are in public. If your dog does not currently have these skills, it is a good idea to seek help from a professional dog trainer. They can help your dog to stop their inappropriate behavior like excessive barking, jumping on people, and being generally badly behaved. Take some time to find the best dog trainer in your area. Try to find one who has trained emotional support animals in the past and has a proven track record for success. For recommendations, talk to your vet, mental health professional, and other dog owners that you are friendly with.
Register Your Dog
Though it is not a legal requirement, registering your dog as an emotional support animal can provide a few benefits. It adds legitimacy to your ESA, makes them look official, and helps to eliminate any confrontation that you may get when in public with your pet. Register an ESA dog to make life a little bit easier.
To learn more about emotional support animals and to register your dog, contact us at the National Service Animal Registry.