Anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Millions of people suffer from severe anxiety every year. Thankfully, we've recently discovered that trained service dogs can provide a lot of comfort and relief for those who experience regular anxiety or panic attacks. If you believe that you can benefit from having an emotional support dog to help ease your anxiety, you've come to the right place! Below is a brief step-by-step guide to help you choose and train your emotional support dog and receive a registered emotional support dog letter.
#1 Choosing the Right Dog for You
You may be a lover of all dog breeds, but there are particular breeds out there that are better fit for comfort and support. It'll all come down to a dog's temperament, which is basically a combination of his personality, instinctual behavior, and natural ability to follow instructions. This means that you may want to avoid breeds that are more aggressive or hyper. Experts recommend looking for dogs that are social, alert, focused, and don't become easily startled. When you meet a new puppy, you'll most likely know right away if it's the right service dog for you!
#2 Begin the Bonding Process
It's important for you and your dog to get to know each other while he's still a youthful pup! He needs to understand your behavior and personality just as much as you need to understand his. When you start to bond, you can begin to lay the groundwork for his job, which is to detect your rising anxiety levels. The more time you spend together, the more he'll start to understand this and be able to detect the difference between your relaxed state and your anxious state.
#3 Begin Basic Training
Remember that your service dog will be able to accompany you in public places, so it's incredibly important for him to be properly trained. He should be able to follow basic commands such as sit, stay, lay down, heel, and come. It's common for this to be a bit difficult for dog owners, especially if they've never trained a dog before. Don't hesitate to reach out to a professional dog trainer to help guide you through the basic training process.
#4 Begin Anxiety Response Training
Once you and your dog have had time to bond and perfect basic commands, you can start to target his response to your anxiety. You can do this in a number of different ways, such as cuddling him when anxiety hits or giving him a treat when you feel anxious. He'll naturally start to pick up on the change in your energy and begin to understand that he should remain close when you're experiencing anxiety.
#5 Register Your Service Dog
Once you feel your dog is prepared to be an official emotional support dog or service dog, then it's time to get him registered! Our website has all the information you need to properly register your dog and receive your emotional support dog letter. We also provide therapist referrals, information on housing rights, and even emotional support products for your pup!