Many people rely on animals for companionship and comfort. They tend to our emotional needs and ask little in return other than some attention, a walk in the park and a bowl of food. To people disabled by mental, psychological or emotional disorders, their animals are more than pets but an integral part of their medical care.
An emotional support animal helps people with mental or emotional disabilities to function with a degree of normalcy. To a person susceptible to panic attacks, anxiety, or other behaviors related to their mental or emotional condition, having the animal around can be a calming presence.
That could mean taking a cat with them for a medical visit, cradling a pig on a passenger air flight, or holding a lizard in a public place. Not every place accessible to the public allows emotional support animals, although many are. Even if you’ve obtained an emotional support animal certification, it helps to be familiar with laws that affect them and your ownership of them.
Owners of emotional support animals (ESAs) typically confront resistance from property managers of apartments with no-pet policies or those that charge a substantial fee for having a pet. ESA owners also encounter resistance from managers of public access buildings like theaters and restaurants. These facilities restrict animal access to specially trained service animals like dogs that assist the blind. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals by some companies, so owners of ESAs may also run into resistance from airlines when trying to board with them.
Not every building with public access is required to accept emotional support animals. However, federal law does protect owners diagnosed with emotional, psychological or mental disabilities who want to take their support animals on passenger flights. The owners also have legal protections when it comes to leasing a place to live.
The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ensures individuals with disabilities who rely on emotional support animals have access to housing – even to properties that restrict pets. Property owners are required under federal law to make “reasonable accommodations” for emotional support animals. They cannot charge an advance deposit or fee for the ESAs but may recover costs from damage the animal causes to the property. Property owners may require individuals with ESAs to present documentation of their disability from the licensed mental health professional treating the individual.
Disabled individuals that want to travel with their emotional support animals sometimes encounter resistance from passenger air carriers. Individuals with ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act that prohibits discrimination of disabled people who travel by air. This 1990 law prohibits airlines from refusing transportation to or require advance notice from people who are disabled. Air carriers are required to accommodate individuals with emotional support animals.
Air carriers may also require disabled people with ESAs to supply documentation of their disability. In addition, individual airlines may have their own policies regarding emotional support animals accompanying their owners, so it is a good idea to check with their carrier prior to the trip.
The federal laws covering emotional support animals in travel and residential situations prevent discrimination to mentally or psychologically disabled individuals. Documentation from a licensed mental health professional of a mental or psychological condition or disorder is often requested. In some cases, disabled persons apply for emotional support animal certifications to ensure the animals are recognized as essential to the person’s therapy. If an emotional support animal is part of your therapeutic routine, it may be an option worth looking into. Visit our ESA certification page to purchase your own ESA certificate today!
A service dog can be a major asset to your life if you suffer from a disability. This could be anxiety, physical ailment, or emotional disability. While some people reach out to an organization to provide the animal, others would prefer to use their own dog. Many feel the process will be easier with their own dog as they already feel comfortable with them. For many people, hiring a professional to train your dog with you is the best way of making them a support animal. Others would rather attempt the training on their own. Here are some tips for properly training your dog to be a support animal.
Find Your Dog
If you don’t already have the dog you want to make your support animal, you will have to find one. It’s widely believed that the breed of the dog is an important factor. It’s actually the temperament that is most important rather than the breed. When choosing a dog to be trained as a support animal, you want one that is intelligent and trainable. For this reason, it’s best to choose a dog between six months and a year in age. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a dog that will approach you without hesitation and doesn’t show aggression, such as growling. A dog that desires contact with you is also good as this shows it’s more docile.
The first part of training a service dog is making sure that they understand basic commands and obedience. These basic commands, such as “sit” and “down,” are useful for any dog but are more important for service dogs. An important aspect of a service dog that separates them from others is their obedience. A service animal must have excellent obedience skills in order to help you. An important aspect of training is to ensure that they don’t get distracted by sniffing other animals or people. This training is often done by having someone walk up to you while the dog is looking at you. If the dog looks at the other person, they should look right back to you. This is because they need to know to pay attention to you and not become distracted. During these early stages of training, the dog is often rewarded with treats.
When training your dog to be a service animal, you’ll teach them specific skills. These skills will depend on your disability because those with different disabilities will need their service dog to perform different tasks. While dogs are smart and can learn many skills, they can only take in so much information in a short period of time. To avoid overwhelming your dog, the skills should be taught slowly, step by step. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to retrieve keys, you first need them to respond to the word “keys.” Then you need to teach them to pick the keys up and bring them to you. It’s best to teach these skills in five to ten minute intervals.
Living with a disability can be made easier with the assistance of a support dog. Properly training the dog is essential to ensuring that they are qualified to help you when needed.
How Emotional Support Animals Improve Mental Health
The average person who deals with depression, anxiety, or other health conditions does it on their own. Sure, they have health care providers and maybe a therapist, but for the most part, they have limited support. Friends and family get busy. Doctors and therapists are only available during regular office hours. An animal, on the other hand, doesn’t have a schedule and is always at your side. If you already have a cuddly pet, you know how important they are to your well-being. An emotional support animal (ESA) can change your life! Today’s post covers the impact ESAs have on their owner’s lives. Learn about the positive things you could experience with an ESA support dog by your side.
A New Look on Life
If you suffer from depression, you know it’s more than feeling tired or not up to par a few days a week. Depression takes over and moves in for the long-haul. Most people who deal with depression experience a range of symptoms, but one common thread is a loss of hope. It’s difficult to plod through daily life without hope for the future. People without hope often have trouble caring for themselves and others. Spending time with a pet, especially one with a wagging tail and soulful eyes, can alleviate the symptoms of depression. As your mood lifts, you’ll feel hopeful again. While not a substitute for medication prescribed by your doctor, you could think of an ESA as a component of your treatment program.
Help for Anxiety
There’s a reason why so many people bring their ESA when they travel, especially on airplanes. It’s not uncommon for people to get anxious when they fly. For some, the anxiety is paralyzing and, in extreme cases, prevents the person from traveling by plane, which can put a damper on seeing the world. Traveling with an ESA may help alleviate some of the anxiety. While taking anti-anxiety medication may work, an ESA offers a different kind of relief. When you focus on your dog, instead of the fear of airplanes, you’ll usually relax and even enjoy your travel experience. By the way, simply petting your ESA can relieve anxiety, whether you’re on a plane, or sitting in your living room.
They Love You Back
The joy of owning a pet is the unconditional love they give, no matter what. An ESA doesn’t care if you’re feeling out of sorts. They love you anyway! There’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal, but it’s especially helpful to a person with emotional health issues. It’s not uncommon for a person who has a mental health condition to feel unlovable. At the least, they may not feel like being around people. Your ESA will stay by your side, loving you right through the dark moments.
An Integral Part of Treatment
While they’re not a substitute for medical or mental health care, ESAs work as part of your overall treatment. Whether you exercise or practice mindfulness, you can incorporate time with your ESA into your treatment methods. When you need to ground yourself, you can focus on your animal. If you use exercise, your ESA can help motivate you to walk or run every day. Since they’re an essential part of treatment, you should consider ESA dog registration. Registering your ESA opens up a world of benefits, including the ability to show people that your animal is a legitimate support animal. For help with registration, contact National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930 today!
Positive Chemical Changes in the Brain
Pets, especially dogs, have become a central part of today’s society with many of them working as full-time ESAs. The positive effects of emotional support animals can be attributed to the bond that builds between you and your ESA and how you feel when you are around them. A lot of behind-the-scenes chemical and neurological changes add up to create this feeling. Let’s take a look at the science behind emotional support animals.
Studies have shown that when you cuddle or pet your dog or ESA, oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of love, affection, and bonding. And this has an amazing impact on the brain and body. Oxytocin reduces heart rate, blood pressure, and most importantly, the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This is why you feel calm and less anxious when you are with a dog.
That’s not all. When you interact with your ESA, it boosts the release of beta-endorphins in the brain. This hormone blocks the sensation of pain thus helping you with pain management. It also lowers bodily stress and increases the level of dopamine. Dopamine is known as the feel-good hormone, all for good reason. This hormone is a part of your reward system. It boosts focus and builds motivation, thus pushing you to do better and achieve your goals.
Reducing the Feeling of Loneliness & Isolation
Mental health benefits of having an ESA extend beyond the boost in feel-good hormones, dopamine and oxytocin. ESAs have been found to reduce loneliness with their ability to respond to their handlers intuitively at the time of crisis. There’s also a science behind this capability of emotional support animals.
We all feel lonely at some point in our lives. It can often be a result of major life changes, circumstances that cause us to live alone, being separated from someone, death of a loved one, and so on. While feelings of loneliness are natural, they can become detrimental to our mental health if they are prolonged. Here’s what happens if these feelings are left untreated: the release of happy hormones, dopamine and serotonin are reduced. This in turn reinforces the feeling of loneliness, causing a feedback loop. This drives a person further down into isolation.
ESAs help break this cycle by boosting the happy hormones. They also force you out of routines by pushing you to take care of them. ESAs need to be taken on walks, to the veterinary, etc., thus giving you a purpose. A purpose keeps our brains happy and reduces the feeling of loneliness.
It’s quite common to talk to your ESA even though you do not share a common language. When you talk to your pet, you subconsciously imagine a mind that understands and their responsiveness sort of enforces that tendency. Also, when you have an ESA with you, it becomes easier to meet new people. You can join pet groups and interact with like-minded people.
The effects of emotional support animals extends beyond mental health. Owning an ESA, especially a dog, is closely associated with physical activity. Dogs require to be walked and played with regularly. This will push you to go outside for a set amount of time every day. Brisk walking qualifies as moderate-intensity exercise. Benefits include weight control, improved muscle strength, better cardiorespiratory fitness, etc. It reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other deadly diseases.
Since the body and mind are inherently connected, physical exercise translates into brain health. This means when you take action to make an impact on how your body is functioning, it also impacts how your brain functions. Your endorphin levels increase and as a result, you feel a sense of achievement after a physical exercise session. This does a lot of good for your emotional health. When you start to feel better about yourself, you will find more meaning in your tasks and a heightened sense of identity. That is how effective emotional support animals are.
Who Can Benefit the Most from Emotional Support Animals?
If you are suffering from any kind of emotional or mental instability, you qualify for an ESA. If you have a pet, you already know how much you depend on them in times of loneliness and emotional crisis and how they fill your home with love and happiness. While an ESA is not a pet, it brings the same joy to your life and works extra to help you cope with your emotional disability. Naturally, there are some groups of individuals who benefit more from the effects of emotional support animals than others.
Anyone Suffering from Anxiety, PTSD, Depression
ESAs work in conjunction with medication for people with psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, etc. to provide therapeutic benefits by alleviating some of the symptoms. ESAs are highly intuitive, can sense when their handler is becoming stressed, and provide immediate comfort.
ESA for Kids & College Students
ESAs have been found to be an effective step in psychotherapy for children, adolescents, and college students with mild depressive symptoms caused due to living away from home, parents’ divorce, loneliness, trauma, etc. These animals can intervene before these symptoms progress into major depressive disorder. ESAs also help with social involvement and interaction, communication trouble, transition difficulty, etc.
The effects of emotional support animals extends in areas of psychological and emotional disturbances experienced by not just war veterans but also active-duty soldiers. ESAs help alleviate PTSD symptoms, improve sleeping patterns, provide assistance during nightmares and stressful situations, and so on.
Patients in Palliative Care
Emotional support animals provide comfort and companionship for hospice patients. Just the act of stroking alleviates anxiety and improves mood. They provide unconditional love, a non-judgmental listening ear, and a sense of calm to patients. From quiet comforting to laughter, ESAs can lift your spirits instantly.
Get Your ESA Letter Today
If you already have a pet who also assists with your emotional health, you can get it registered at the National Service Animal Registry to further legitimize your ESA and enjoy extended benefits. We provide ESA letters that can help you with your accommodation. Our registration kits contain certificates, ID cards, vests, etc. that you can use to avoid confrontations when you take your ESA out with you. Order your registration kit and ESA letter today.
So, you’re bringing your sweet, new dog home to the den and you’ve already read up on how to welcome him into the pack with ease and grace in Part 1 of this series. But what if your unique pack includes a member of the feline variety? Introducing your new ESA to an established cat is another thing altogether and can be fraught with tremendous challenges if the two of them aren’t disposed to be friendly with each other. In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.
Ideally, you want your special pack to be tight-knit and well-bonded, for the obvious fact that it’s simply a better way to live. Luckily, there are certain strategies you may employ to help your beloved cat and your new service dog/emotional support dog (or just dog) adjust to each other, leading to a happy family all around.
Can Dogs and Cats Really Be Friends?
Long considered quintessential enemies, cats and dogs are often comically portrayed as each other’s arch nemesis. Perhaps it is this ingrained meme that makes the reality of dog-cat friendships so insanely cute. Indeed, it is not uncommon for these animals to be quite affectionate with each other: nuzzling, playing and sleeping in a cuddle puddle.
It’s wonderful to witness the bond that can develop between a hound and a feline, and a joy to see what pleasure and companionship they bring to their relationship. There can also be an extra benefit: Your emotional support dog/service dog and your Purrs-a-Lot will entertain each other, so you don’t have to be always on duty!
Even if your cat and new dog don’t become the best of friends (you can’t force personality and chemistry, even with animals), they can at least be taught to respect one another and live in a general state of peace. There is nothing more tiresome than having to break up frequent fights or, even worse, being forever on the alert for the safety of your cat.
While it’s true they can be the best of friends, it’s also true that they still need time to get acquainted initially. In the beginning, some tension is inevitable. Naturally territorial, a resident cat will likely feel threatened by the arrival of any new animal, particularly that curious, slobbering oaf of a dog, who is likely insensitive about his invasion of Kitty’s personal space. There is bound to be some hissing and general unpleasantness.
The unpleasantness will, of course, be compounded if there is an actual physical threat to the safety of the cat from the emotional support dog. In some cases, the dog is the one who is threatened!
It is therefore advisable to facilitate an introduction that allows for a minimum of stress and predisposes the animals to recognize the other as family, thus setting the stage for a healthy relationship between the sweet beasts of your heart and home.
Some cats and emotional support dogs/service dogs are more naturally disposed to be friends and need very little in the way of assistance to move through the tense acquaintance phase, becoming quick friends on their own. Others may not reach that place so quickly – if at all. It’s all a matter of personality, age, prior experience, temperament, and inclination. All factors in the relationship equation.
Take prior experience, for example: Has the dog or cat ever been emotionally close to an animal of the other species before, or is this their first opportunity? A cat that is familiar with dogs will likely have an easier time adjusting to this new dog, while a cat with no prior experience will take longer to “break in.”
Age is another factor. An old cat may be cranky and less inclined to become buddies with a young and energetic emotional support dog. The cat may even attack the hound, or at best, ignore it, with an occasional hiss and swipe to put the dog in its place. However, an old cat and an old service dog may match one another’s energy perfectly.
The main thing is to be sensitive to both animals’ personalities and needs. Consider how their energy levels match-a hyper cat and a rowdy dog may have great fun expending energy together, while a shy, quiet cat, may be overwhelmed by a boisterous emotional support dog.
While it’s normal to have tension, along with some growling, hissing, and over-excitement in the beginning, is this something that seems likely to go away in time, and with training? You’ll have to be the judge.
Step by Step:
As always, the key to easing a service dog, emotional support dog, or any animal through a transition is to do it slowly and one step at a time. Here’s a list of the steps to help introduce a new dog to the resident kitty. Use all the steps, or pick and choose, based on the personality of the animals involved, and how you observe them respond to each other.
1. Create Individual Clearly Defined Spaces.
It’s a good idea to begin by making sure both your service dog/emotional support dog and your cat have their own, separate safe zones. If possible, keep the cat’s space, along with all the kitty stuff (kitty litter, toys, food, and water, etc.) remains in its current location, unless the new dog will necessitate a change. Any space changes should be performed before your dog arrives. This enables your cat to get used to things. You can, of course, block off a portion of the house where the dog will initially be restricted to. The important thing is to limit and protect the cat’s private space.
Allowing the dog to sniff and investigate the cat’s space while the cat is in another room or outside (and vice versa) will remove some of the dog’s drive to explore. Let’s face it: The cat’s gonna do what the cat wants to do – when the cat wants to do it!
2. Smell Exchange
If possible, it’s ideal to introduce the animals to one another’s smell, even before bringing your new support dog home. Both cats and dogs have incredible noses with acute senses of smell and if given the chance to become familiar with a particular odor, the less offensive and threatening it will be for the cat, or exciting and stimulating, for the service dog. This, in turn, will create a greater openness to knowing one another upon initial meeting.
You can let them get a whiff of each other by “swapping smells,” or giving each animal a towel or old t-shirt to sleep with and then switching the now odor-drenched textiles so doggie is sleeping with meow-meow’s scent and vice versa.
If it is not possible to introduce smells ahead of the move-in date, no worries. You can implement the same technique once your new dog is in the house, but still segregated in a different room or area than the cat. You can even just swap their bedding.
3. Opposite Side of the Door Feedings
An old trick: feed the kitty and your emotional support dog at the same time, but on opposite sides of a door. They will be able to smell, hear and sense one another, but without the threat or overstimulation of actually seeing one another. Additionally, the food will help them come to associate the smell and sound of the other with something wonderful and delicious!
4. Observe Each Other Through a Gate
Now it’s time to “lift the curtain”, so to speak. Let your dog see the cat through a pet gate. You may want to keep the dog on a leash during this phase, even though they are separated, for training purposes.
Allow them to observe each other, and as they do, observe your emotional support dog. How is he behaving? If he remains obsessively fixated on the cat, lunging, and barking, digging at the barrier and staring at her intently for more than a few days, you may have an aggressive dog on your hands. If so, that require a few other precautions (see below).
Before moving on to the next step, it’s a good idea to see if the emotional support dog and cat are relatively at ease in each other’s presence. They should be able to ignore the other and show relaxed body language.
5. Leashed Face-to-Face
Now that the animals have become pretty familiar with one another and are showing more comfort, remove the gate. Let both animals inhabit the same space, but keep your new dog on a leash, to be safe. Again, stay at this step until both animals seem calm around one another.
6. Grand Finale! Off-leash Hang Time
It’s finally time to let the animals be in a room together with total freedom. They should be adjusted to one another at this point, but you’ll still want to chaperone the first few off-leash meetings or until you feel comfortable. Just use your best judgment and observe body language. You should notice any agitation or aggression.
If the cat is an outdoor cat, it’s a good idea to test the animals together outside as well. Sometimes a different environment, like being out of doors, can alter the behavior of an dog who has become used to the rules inside the house, but isn’t so sure what the rules are in the “wild” where a cat might otherwise be fair game. Better to chaperone out there too, and make sure all is well between the animal kingdoms before letting them run loose together.
Hopefully, your emotional support/service dog will easily habituate to the cat. Some dogs, however, have very strong predatory instincts, and if this is the case with your pooch, you’ll have to do some extra training to facilitate a respectful relationship between your pooch and your kitty.
Strong predator instinct can be recognized by specific body language and behavior: if the dog displays excessive growling, barking, or maintains a fixed stare at the cat, he is treating her more like prey, than as a member of his family. He might repeatedly jump at the cat or be generally obsessed with this other critter.
Specific training techniques to guide an aggressive dog include refocusing their attention. If your dog is fixated on the cat, pull his attention away by saying his name and getting him to look at you. Once he does look at you, offer him a treat. Repeat until the dog learns there is more reward in not being overly obsessed with the cat.
If you are having difficulty finding success, and your emotional support dog is absorbed by your cat in an aggressive way, it may be time to seek professional help.
Occasionally, a dog just is not suited to a cat (or vice versa). If you’ve given it time and patience, but the dog continues to act aggressively to the cat, it may not be a good fit. You’ll need to decide what your options are at that point.
Kittens and Your New Dog
Kittens are especially vulnerable, and even an emotional support dog who has previous cat buddies and is decidedly not a cat chaser, may see a sweet little kitten as a toy. The dog may play too rough and wind up injuring the kitten. If the kitten is a bit older and quite playful, its erratic moves can encourage a dog to play too roughly.
To avoid this sort of trauma, it’s a good idea to chaperone the meetings between these creatures. A kitten will not be territorial and may not even have developed an appropriate fear of dogs. So, in this case, it is really important to protect the little thing.
When you aren’t on patrol but want the animals to be around one another, you can keep the kitten in a big crate, so the emotional support dog can see, but not touch.
Hopefully, by now your cat and dog are well on the way to becoming friends. Just remember to make sure you give both your dog and your cat a lot of love and attention. It can be easy in the excitement of having a new emotional support dog to give less attention to your resident feline. Cats need a lot of reassurance, however, and your cat will benefit to understand he/she still has an important place in your heart. Giving her plenty of attention will help minimize jealousy and ill will toward her new dog friend.
Also, the more the emotional support dog sees you being affectionate with the cat, the more he’ll understand the cat is a special friend – and vice versa. Let them witness the other as family through your behavior.
And, as always, exercise patience. Sometimes, it takes a little time for a new dog and cat to become totally at ease in each other’s’ company, let alone build a familial relationship. Give it time; it will be worth it! Before long, you’ll be enjoying being at the head of a cohesive, multi-species pack!
Covid-19 brings a slew of stresses that can trigger any number of emotional responses. It seems everything is threatened, from our health to our livelihoods, to our natural sociability. Now, it is perhaps more evident than ever how much comfort an emotional support animal can offer through companionship and touch. An emotional support dog, cat or other pet can provide deep therapeutic wellbeing in these troubling times by providing friendship, purpose, and presence.
According to the CDC, some responses to the COVID-19 outbreak can include severe fear and anxiety. This may include:
Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleeping patterns
Changes in diet and eating patterns
Exacerbation of chronic health conditions
Exacerbation of mental health conditions
Alcohol and drug abuse
The CDC recommends a few ways to cope with stress and anxiety about the virus, including regular exercise, meditation, deep breathing, reducing your amount of news intake, avoiding alcohol and other substances and staying connected to loved ones through whatever means available. An emotional support animal can also be a great support.
The Stresses of the Corona Virus and How Emotional Support Animals Can Help
Below are a few of the emotional fears that corona virus can trigger. They are by no means insignificant and an emotional support animal is just one way to help mitigate fears and assuage overwhelm.
In times of social distancing and mandatory stay at home orders, itis no surprise that a sense of isolation or loneliness can be developed or magnified, resulting in anxiety, depression or even PTSD. An emotional support animal can help soothe these emotional burdens by providing companionship, connection and touch. Letis look at each of these in turn:
Companionship provides the simple, but profound comfort found in sharing a space, or a life, with another living, breathing creature, such as an emotional support dog. Of course, an emotional support animal becomes more than an anonymous creature—they become an integral member of your family and an irreplaceable part of your tribe—even if together you are a family or tribe of two.
This companionship can of course develop into a deep bond of intimacy and love that is the definition of friendship. A friendship with your emotional support dog or other emotional support animal, as with any friendship, can provide feelings of joy and connection. You enjoy each other’s company and develop a rapport of sorts.
Your emotional support dog can also help in times of isolation by providing touch. Touch is something so often underacknowledged, and yet so crucial to the emotional well-being of human beings. An emotional support animal can of course provide plenty of nourishing touch. They are there to nuzzle, scratch, pet and cuddle.
Unemployment and Loss of Financial Security
Our ability to provide for ourselves and our families is critical our sense of overall security. When we lose a job or are in financial stress, especially with no idea when our situation will change, it’s normal to feel our stability deeply rocked. An emotional support animal can help alleviate some of the burden by providing a sense of purpose.
How do they give us a sense of purpose? Well, just as they provide nurturing and comfort, they also require a certain amount of attention and nurturing. An emotional support dog, for example, will get you out of the house to go on walks. (Incidentally, getting out of the house, even just for short walks and with a mask covering half of your face, can also help with feelings of isolation.) An emotional support cat needs you to change the kitty litter and of course, all emotional support animals need to be fed and watered every day.
It may seem small, but even these small responsibilities provide purpose. And it is a comfort to tend to the needs of a loved one, even if you aren’t able to work for a paycheck for the time being.
The Unknown Future
A fear of the future is a general, murky fear of the unknown. What does the future have in store? The truth is, we never know what the future has in store for us, but the sensation is truly magnetized in times of crisis.
One way to soften the anxiety around the unknown, is to ground into the present. Emotional support animals can be wonderful at helping us do just that. Your emotional support dog will snap you out of your ruminations on the end of the world when they need to go outside to pee. And when your emotional support cat curls up with softly squinting eyes in the evening, their purr resounding through the room, you’ll reminded that all is well in this moment.
Emotional support animals also have the ability to make us feel safe and at home—they help us relax, give us a feeling of snugness and warmth. In a world of unknowns, these sweet beings can make us feel deep gratification and contentment, grounding us in the present moment.
Illness, Death and Grief
On the extreme end of this virus crisis is both the fear of illness and death, and actual illness, death and grief from losing loved ones—made all the more awful since social distancing prevents large funerals and group grieving.
When dealing with these fears, an emotional support animal can help in all the ways mentioned above: they may help you to be more present, give you a sense of purpose and provide a nourishing relationship full of affection and touch.
When faced with the loss of a loved one, there may be no great consolation but time. However, sometimes just having a familiar presence by your side is a subtle, but appreciated comfort. An emotional support animal can be that friend.
Your Emotional Support Animal
In these troubling times, being able to find comfort in an animal friend can make a world of difference to your emotional well being.
If you live in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets, or you feel overwhelming stress when traveling alone, you may want to get a registered emotional support dog or other animal. An emotional support dog by your side could help assuage anxiety while maintaining social distancing in public, for example.
Alternatively, if you already have a special animal, you could get them registered as an emotional support animal.
Whatever your registration needs, the National Service Animal Registry can help. An emotional support dog or other animal can help relieve the emotional uneasiness during this pandemic.
If circumstances related to Covid-19 are causing severe anxiety and stress, be sure to seek help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can also call the disaster distress helpline at 1-800-985-5990. Get your own ESA letter and make your pet an emotional support animal here.
When people think about service dogs, they tend only to imagine seeing eye dogs. This, however, is only one type of service dog. These pets can be trained to perform so many different kinds of tasks to help their owners. Dogs can do a lot to help people with chronic conditions, including identifying dangers and providing emotional support. Read on below to learn more about the different types of services that a service dog can offer.
For those who have limited mobility, service dogs can help them with everyday tasks that would otherwise be challenging or impossible to complete. A service dog can be used to help with retrieving objects, balance support, opening and closing doors, and more. The dogs that aid with balance support may wear a special harness for their owner to hold on to. These pups can help in emergency situations too.
One of the most common types of support dogs is emotional support dogs. As the name suggests, these service animals help to provide emotional support for those who need it the most, people who are suffering from anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias, and more. These pets can help to make you feel more relaxed, safe, and comfortable in situations where you otherwise may not. If you have an emotional support dog, you may want to look into getting a service dog certification.
Some service dogs can also be trained to provide specific assistance for a medical need. They can detect a change in blood sugar, hormone levels, or some other measurable symptom that could have a dangerous effect. Some of these dogs are even taught to dial 911 in an emergency.
In addition to helping those with limited mobility, there are some dogs whose only role involves helping those in wheelchairs. Your service dog may be able to help you pick up dropped items, open doors, fetch things, and complete any other task that you regularly perform in your daily life.
If you have epilepsy, you may benefit from the help of a seizure alert dog. Pups can be trained to respond to seizures in a few different ways. They can alert someone close by that you need help, or they push an alarm device that will call for help. These dogs can also lie on the floor next to their owner to prevent injury or break their fall at the beginning of a seizure. There are even some dogs who can alert their owner to an oncoming seizure even before it begins, though this sort of training is very difficult.
For those with severe allergies, a service dog can detect the life-threatening allergen by smell. They can alert you when they discover a food that could trigger your anaphylaxis. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can detect even the smallest traces of a substance. Some pups can even detect diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, by smell.
Service dogs can also provide support to those who are hearing impaired. They can alert their owners to important sounds in their environment, such as alarms, sirens, horns, doorbells, and the sound of their own name. Once they hear the noise, a hearing support dog will make physical contact with their owner and guide them to the source of the sound.
To learn even more about service dogs and how you can register your emotional support animal, contact us at National Service Animal Registry.
According to the American Disabilities Act, or ADA, service animals are those that have been trained to perform certain tasks for a disabled person. These tasks may include physical activity or emotional support. Service dogs are commonly used to help those that are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. These service dogs have been specifically trained to assist someone that has experienced some form of significant trauma.
What PTSD Service Dogs are Trained to Do
It’s important to understand first that service dogs are not pets. For this line of work, most dogs are trained from their early years by specialists to become service dogs. These dogs then receive further training to match their companions’ disabilities. These disabilities can be physical like visual or hearing impairment, loss of a limb, etc., or invisible illnesses like diabetes, anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc. PTSD service dogs receive specialized training to sense the symptoms and assist during times of crisis. The following list of tasks defines the job responsibilities of a PTSD service dog best:
Anticipates an anxiety or panic attack and gets their handler away from the trigger
If the attack sets in, the service dog can disrupt the cycle and bring water and medication
Recognizes hormone changes through sweat and changes in blood pressure and heart rate and initiates physical touch to calm the handler
Assists in the time of depression
Protects handler from getting overcrowded by creating a barrier
Interrupts nightmares by waking the handler and switching on lights
PTSD service dogs are also trained for positional commands. For example, PTSD service dogs for veterans can stand behind the veteran in public to create a sense of safety.
Not all service dogs receive the same training. The training depends on the companion they need to be matched with. PTSD service dog training is quite extensive and the training fortifies the behaviors enough so that the dog can perform the tasks under the maximum amount of distraction. Apart from its tasks, the non-judgmental companionship and support that service dogs provide have emotional and therapeutic value. This is why service dogs work so well as a complementary intervention to mainstream therapies and medication.
How a Service Dog Helps Alleviate PTSD Symptoms
There are a variety of incidents that could cause someone to suffer from PTSD. If a patient has been a victim of an assault, this could cause them to fear leaving their home. A service dog can serve as both a companion and as security for that person. The existence of a dog may make them feel protected, should they fear that someone might enter their home or approach them. As a victim of assault, they may also fear leaving their home by themselves. A service dog can serve as a companion so that they will never be alone, potentially causing them less stress or fear that something might happen.
Those suffering from PTSD may find it more difficult to live independently and completing certain tasks, such as taking medication or sleeping through the night. Those that use a service dog tend to take their medication more regularly. Additionally, they sleep better through the night with the assistance of a companion so they function better the next day. The assistance of a service animal with these daily tasks will allow those suffering from PTSD to function better independently.
Greater Coping Skills
The assistance of a service dog can help someone suffering from PTSD cope better with their situation and receive help from others. Dogs that have been trained to help with PTSD have certain behavioral traits that will be observed by the person. The presence of the dog will also force the person suffering from the condition to focus on the animal, as they will be playful and loving. This focus on something other than what has caused their condition will help them become less anxious and more self-sufficient.
Modulate Stress Level and Tone of Voice
PTSD can cause increased stress levels and a change in the tone of voice, potentially making communicating with others a difficult process. When working with a service dog in the comfort of their own home, they will need to reduce stress and use a certain tone of voice in order for the dog to react to their commands. This will allow them to practice adjusting these attributes so that they will know how to control them when associating with other people.
A Loving Companion
A major impact of PTSD is that the person suffering from the condition may be unhappy due to the feeling of isolation, stress, and uneasiness around others. In addition to providing a feeling of security and confidence, a service dog is a loving companion. This will allow the person suffering from PTSD to feel less isolated and happier in their daily life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder can be caused by a variety of factors and be very difficult to overcome. The assistance of a service animal with psychiatric service dog registration will allow that person to be more independent and happier in their daily life. Contact the National Service Animal Registry if you’re looking for a service animal to help with PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is becoming increasingly common among adolescents, adults, war veterans, and even children. Loss of a loved one, living alone, family problems, war, and other traumatic events change people’s lives dramatically. Before you know it, you start getting panic attacks, mood swings, flashbacks to the distressing event, and find yourself unable to adjust to social settings. And then it all becomes so overwhelming that it is no longer possible for you to return to life as you knew it.
Sometimes the flashbacks get so intense that you find yourself spiraling down deeper into it with no way of getting out. This is where PTSD service dogs can help. A psychiatric service dog is adept at understanding that you are having a flashback episode through your bodily changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, changes in your facial expression, etc. They can immediately jump in to break the cycle. If the flashback happens during sleep, your PTSD service dog will wake you up, switch on the lights, open doors, and bring help in extreme situations. This support helps the sufferer to regain control and manage emotions to get out of the episode.
Flashbacks are common among war veterans and usually involve visual and auditory memories of combat. This is also known as “Dual awareness” where the sufferer is unable to distinguish between the hallucination and reality. PTSD service dogs for veterans can recognize the symptoms and help bring the sufferer back to reality. These dogs act as a comforting presence for war veterans and also as a sleeping aid.
Connecting With Your Friends and Family
PTSD is isolating. You feel uncomfortable in a social setting. You no longer want to participate in family gatherings, go out with your friends, take your spouse out to dinner, make new friends, and so on. As you begin to overcome the problems of PTSD with the help of a service dog, you will feel safe to do all of these activities and reconnect with your friends and family. A study has found that pet owners are highly likely to meet new people. A quarter of the participants in the study mentioned that they made at least one new friend rather than acquaintances. In fact, dog owners are five times more likely to meet new people than other pet owners. Dog walking is one of the best ways to make these new acquaintances. So when you have a PTSD service dog with you, you will feel more confident outdoors and build new networks.
Sometimes a panic attack can be triggered when people encroach upon your personal space in public. Not everybody understands the concept of personal space. Sometimes you may not even see the person coming up behind you and into your comfort bubble. A PTSD dog will alert you of any such triggers so that you can take the necessary precautions.
At the time of panic attacks, your service dog can create a barrier around you and protect you from getting overcrowded. If someone is coming up close behind you, your service dog can reposition itself and nose your hand to let you know that someone is behind you. This will alert you to potential threats.
Register Your PTSD Service Dog
National Service Animal Registry provides psychiatric service dog registration services. With our services, certifying your PTSD service dog is easy. Our legitimate service dog registration services have been used over 215K times since 1995. Registering your PTSD service dog with us provides benefits like inclusion in the online service dog database, lifetime registration, frameable embossed certificate, ID card, leash clip, service dog vest, leash, collar, etc.
While it is not necessary for your dog to wear a service vest, it is still helpful since many dogs associate the vest with being on duty. Apart from these, you can also apply for a PTSD letter from a licensed medical health practitioner. This will be the documentation you need when anyone questions you about your accompanying PTSD service dog. Get your PTSD Service Dog Letter today!
Emotional support animals (ESAs) are known as dependable companions for individuals with emotional or mental disorders. In contrast to service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t need special training and provide physical assistance to disabled people. However, it doesn’t mean that emotional support dogs will be untrained or behave badly. There is no federal law that requires an emotional support dog to receive specific training before registration, a well-behaved and well-trained Emotional Support dog is simply recognized by others, particularly when you travel with it in an aircraft cabin or are looking for new accommodation. If you’re planning to adopt or purchase a dog for emotional support, or if you intend to train your pet dog, you will follow the guidelines below before you start the training.
What Is an Emotional Support dog?
Emotional support dogs are quite different from service dogs when the thing comes to purpose. Instead of helping in physical activities, Emotional Support Animals dogs provide emotional support to their owners. A dog does not have to undergo any special training just to become an Emotional Support dog. However, the dog should be well-behaved and respond better to his handler. With this, it is essential to consider the traits of dogs to ensure that he can perform the job well. Generally, you will need a dog with a laid-back and mellow nature.
Some of your perfect choices include:
Now, this does not mean that you cannot get breeds that are not as subdued. You can get a high-spirited dog or one that is full of energy if you need it. There will not be any issue with that as long as you are willing to spend time and effort in training them to behave. Speaking of training, here is what you want to know.
Qualities of Emotional Support Dogs
The features of a puppy depend almost completely on its parents and breed. Few dogs were born aggressive, over-excited or timid, but it doesn’t mean that these imperfect personalities can never become an emotional support dog if they received the training to do so. An about 1-year-old with a calm and responsible personality can start training. It’s also perfect to look for breeds that are more human orientated and eager to learn like Poodles and Golden Retrievers.
Basic Obedience Training
After selecting a dog, you will start the course with obedience training, involving Heel, Sit, Stop, Down, and Come, etc. The sooner you start with these lessons, the easy it will be to train your emotional support dog. Apart from obedience training, going outside to socialize will also be trained to prevent anti-social behavior like begging, barking, lunging or jumping for food.
Emotional Support Dog Training
Various of the people who need an emotional support dog frequently suffer from autism, anxiety, and are susceptible to self-harming behavior for many reasons. Several studies suggest that the presence of a dog aids to calm these patients and reduce the possibility of recurring stressful attacks. In these cases, properly trained, emotional support dogs apply suitable pressure on the body of owners, chest or other body parts depending on the size of the dog. For instance, a little Papillion will lie directly on the chest of owners, but a tall Alaskan Malamute has to place its feet or head across the lap or legs of owners. This method is particularly appropriate for people who suffer from airsickness. Here’s how to teach your dog this skill.
Step 1: Paws Up Command (On The Sofa)
If your dog has to get used to sitting on the sofa, you can need to tempt it with a few tasty treats. The first step is to show your dog the treats, whilst at the same time slow-moving to the sofa and giving the Paws up command. Give it the treat when you’re near the sofa.
Step 2: Repeat The Exercise
The result of the exercise depends on whether your dog is willing to join you on the sofa, so you can need to practice it patiently, particularly with an adult dog. If you’re a little dog, the main goal is to have all 4 paws on the sofa. Whilst it’s like a big breed to place only the front paws or head on the sofa. Repeat this exercise with treats unless it comprehends what this command generally means.
Step 3: Paws Off Command
The next step is to train emotional support dog to take paws away in the paws off command. This procedure wants to reverse the paws up exercise and wants to take your dog off the sofa with the paws off command.
Step 4: Keep Emotional Support Dog On the Sofa
To calm your anxiety, your dog will apply physical pressure to you. In the case of a little dog, it’s perfect to call it to hug you while it’s lying vertically beside your body, with its paws on your shoulder and its head near yours. While a big dog will put its paws on your legs or lap and keep its head down when you’re in a sitting position. After you will say paws up, followed by the command as soon as it sits next to you. Provide the dog a treat after finishing this task and order it to place its paws down. After some time, try to command your emotional support dog without offering it treats to understand that this is a task instead of a reward game.
Having a dog around can relieve your stress. However, if you’re dealing with significant emotional or psychological impairments, an emotional support dog can be an amazing therapeutic treatment. Click here to find out more about qualifying.
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!
For those who benefit from physical, emotional, or medical assistance throughout daily life, a properly trained service dog can be an incredible asset. Not every animal is qualified to become a service dog, as service dogs must offer a combination of the proper temperament to serve, the acute skills to perform tasks for their owners, and the ability to complete the rigors of service dog training. Service dog training is intense, but it’s critical for dogs to confidently perform the desired tasks and aid their owners with potentially life-saving skills.
But what is involved in the proper training of a service dog? Service dog registration doesn’t necessarily qualify a dog to perform the role of a service animal, as both dog and owner must be confident in the animal’s ability to perform. There are many questions that the average person may have regarding service animal training, such as how much it costs and what role the owner must play in the training regimen. Keep reading to learn more about the training of service dogs.
How Long Does It Take?
While the average dog obedience class may be completed in a matter of weeks, service dog training requires a greater depth of knowledge and a far more rigorous training schedule. After all, for many who depend on service animals, a dog’s ability to consistently perform can mean the difference between life and death. While there’s no set time for service dog training, the training window can typically last between one and two years, depending on the aptitude of the animal and the types of tasks it’s being trained to perform.
What’s Involved in Service Dog Training?
There are two primary components within the service dog training regimen. Those two components are public access behaviors and work and tasks. Public access behaviors are important because they allow your dog to be steady and perform its designated tasks, no matter the situation or environment. For example, your dog must be able to perform in a quiet library or a noisy crowd with equal aplomb. Also, your dog must be able to behave itself well in public to avoid being removed from venues. The second half of the training equation is work and tasks. Those terms refer to the specific tasks your service dog will be trained to perform on your behalf. In other words, work and tasks are the disability-mitigating functions that the dog performs for you. Work and tasks also are important because they distinguish service dogs from emotional support animals and non-service animals. That is the component that qualifies a service dog owner for protections against discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
How Much Does Service Dog Training Cost?
Because of the depth of training that a service dog must undergo, the costs of acquiring a service dog can be quite high, whether you purchase an appropriate dog, and have it trained or buy a pre-trained dog from a service dog program. When comparing the two options, it’s important to note the cost of preliminary veterinary care, the cost of the dog, and the cost to feed and outfit your animal. However, the training costs themselves can range from $1000 to $2000 depending on the length of training and the range of tasks the dog is being trained to perform.
What Is the Owner’s Role in Training?
While a service dog is usually trained by a professional or service dog program, there is a role that must be played by the service dog owner. For many tasks, it’s important that the service dog is in tune with your medical and mental state, which means it must spend time with you to learn your baseline emotional or physiological state. During training, your dog will be attentive and more likely to absorb those cues, which is why it’s important that the owner is accessible to the dog during the training process.
Whether you plan to train or buy a service dog, it’s important that you understand the role played by the owner in training, the associated costs, the length of training, and what is involved with the program. To learn more about service dog training, contact the National Service Animal Registry at (866) 737-3930.
WHICH SERVICE "TYPE" SHOULD I SELECT?
Guide: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if you experience vision problems and your dog is trained to guide you in public settings.
Hearing Alert: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained to alert you to sounds that you are unable to hear or identify, such as alarm clocks, doorbells, telephones, automobile sounds, and other important sounds you have trouble identifying.
In Training: If your dog is being trained to become a service dog, but isn't quite ready to qualify for registration, "In Training" is the service type you should select. Although service dogs that are in training have no federally protected rights, many public places allow you access with your service dog in training.
Medical Assist: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained to assist you when experiencing a physical situation in which you can't perform a major life task for yourself (retrieve items, open doors, turn on lights, etc.).
Mobility: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained or able to provide stability and support for substantial balance or walking problems because of a physical disability.
PSA (Psychiatric Service Animal): This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your psychiatric or emotional disability substantially limits your ability to perform a major life task and your dog is trained to perform or help perform the task for you. A letter from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist that clearly indicates this is required.
Seizure Alert: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained or able to either predict a seizure or to get assistance from another person at the onset of a seizure.
SERVICE DOG VS. EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that, by its very presence, mitigates the emotional or psychological symptoms associated with a handler's condition or disorder. The animal does NOT need to be trained to perform a disability-specific task. All domesticated animals (dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, hedgehogs, rodents, mini-pigs, etc.) may serve as an ESA. The only legal protections an Emotional Support Animal has are 1) to fly with their emotionally or psychologically disabled handler in the cabin of an aircraft and 2) to qualify for no-pet housing. No other public or private entity (motels, restaurants, stores, etc.) is required to allow your ESA to accompany you and in all other instances, your ESA has no more rights than a pet.
You'll also need to be prepared to present a letter to airlines and property managers from a licensed mental health professional stating that you are emotionally disabled and that he/she prescribes for you an emotional support animal.
If you do not have a letter of prescription and are unable to get one, we recommend that you consider Chilhowee Psychological Services. This agency offers legitimate psychometric testing, assessment, diagnosis, AND a letter of prescription from a licensed mental health professional. Click here to view their website.
A final note: Some animals are innately able to predict the onset of a physical or psychiatric event or crisis, effectively enabling the handler to prevent or minimize the event. This is an ability that usually cannot be trained - some animals are simply born with the ability to sense the onset of the event. These types of animals, although not otherwise task-trained, are considered "working" service animals.
Normally, emailed PDF copies are processed and sent the afternoon an order is shipped. It usually takes 2 - 4 business days to process and complete an order once we've received the image of your animal, although that can fluctuate, depending on the number of registrations we've received.
VIP Pass is an optional service that places your order ahead of all other orders in front of you (we usually have between 80 - 140 orders to process each weekday). So, your registration kit will ship either the day you order it (if the order is placed before 10:00 AM mountain time) or the very next business day GUARANTEED! Of course, you'll need to make sure you upload or email us an image of your animal immediately!
VIP Pass is not overnight or next day delivery. To have your order delivered "overnight", please contact our office to order and pay for Next Day Delivery. (1-866-737-3930 or firstname.lastname@example.org).