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Chicago, IL: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Chicago, sometimes known as the “Windy City” is a busy metropolis full of skyscrapers, great food, and even better music. It’s the third most populous city in the United States, and has a wide selection of dog friendly locations you can bring your pet or emotional support animal.

If you own a service dog, you already know your dog is welcome anywhere, but there are several places around Chicago your service dog will enjoy for a little off duty fun, or that provide important care your animal needs to keep working for you. Here are our favorite spots in Chicago for your dog.

Places to eat

Taking your service dog to a restaurant is part of the job, but if you have an emotional support animal its usually barred from restaurants. Fortunately, there are dozens of dog friendly restaurants in Chicago. These are our favorites.

Harry Caray’s Tavern

Enjoy a spectacular view of the waterfront while sitting down with your service dog for a great meal. Harry Carays at 600 E Grand Ave, Navy Pier, Chicago, IL, US, 60611 has a dog friendly patio you can enjoy the meal on, while also bringing along an emotional support animal or other pet for the meal.

They have great food as well as a spectacular meal, including vegan options such as the Beyond Burger if you have dietary restrictions.

Big Stars

If you’re craving tacos, you’ll love Big Stars at 1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL, US, 60622. Big Stars features incredible Mexican food, and are most famous for their taco slinging skills. The Wicker park location is especially interesting because of its unique building…it was converted into a restaurant from a 1940’s gas station.

Which ever location you choose, dogs are welcome on their patio, and are well liked at Big Stars.

Take your dog to a four paws up hotel

Whether your dog is a service dog or an emotional support animal, he will love the Hotel EMC2, Autograph. This trendy hotel has no green space on the premises, but there is a dog park available just 3 blocks away!

The hotel itself allows dogs to be left unattended and unkenneled in the hotel room with a signed waiver, and does not charge an additional fee for large dogs. Beds, bowls and treats are available at the front desk for the use of your dog during his stay. See it for yourself at 228 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611.

Stay at a pet friendly apartment

Service dogs and emotional support animals can’t be kept out of apartment buildings, but there are perks to staying in a dog friendly apartment, such as an abundance of green space and the ability to keep a non-working pet.

The Morgan at Loyola station allows up to two pets, and takes dogs up to 50 pounds. They are conveniently located close to the downtown area, and has an abundance of outdoor space including lake access, as well as plenty of amenities for you as well. Enjoy a fitness center, bike storage, club house, and 24 hour maintenance should something break in your home. Check it out at 1209 W Arthur Ave, Chicago, IL 60626.

Keep your service dog healthy with a vet trip

You depend on your service dog for your independence, so making sure he stays fit and healthy is critical to both your well being and his. West Wrigley Animal Hospital at 3416 N. Ashland Ave. Chicago, IL 60657 is a reliable source for vet care. They offer veterinary treatments for all life stages, and have a state-of-the-art hospital with an in-house diagnostic lab for quick results.

If your service dog or emotional support animal should need veterinary care while in Chicago, this vet should be your first call.

Jackson Bark

Your service dog or emotional support animal is used to accompanying you, and chances are he’s seen a lot of dog parks. If you want to take him to one that’s unique for some off-duty fun, Jackson Bark is the place for you. This dog park features agility equipment to train on and get excess energy out on, and people who have visited report safety features and other amenities such as poop bags. Check it out at 5800 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL, US, 60637.

Take your service dog on his own canine cruise

One of the most popular venues for dog lovers in the Mercury Canine Cruises at Michigan Ave. & Wacker Dr. in Chicago, IL 60601. These cruises are designed especially for your furry friend, so you can rest assured your hard working service dog or beloved emotional support animal will have a good time on this trip.

You can listen to a history of the city as you admire its beauty from comfortable outdoor seating, and there are doggie amenities such as a paper-lined bathroom and dog bowls available for your dog. Your service dog will love this trip, and so will you!

Take your dog on a hike

There are lots of fun places to hike in and near Chicago, and your dog is welcome to join you on some of them. The Valley Line Trail is one such trail both you and your service dog will enjoy. It was made along the path of an old railway, and is currently maintained by the Rails to Trails Conservancy. Just 20 minutes from down town, you can access one of the trail heads at 4400 W. Devon Ave. Chicago, IL 60646.

Chicago is a large city filled with dog friendly places you can go with your dog. Where your four legged friend is a hard working animal, a retiree, or just a pet, there are plenty of things you can see and do around the Chicago area.

If you’ve been thinking about visiting, don’t be afraid to bring your dog along with you to the Windy City. You will love it, and he will too.

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Seattle, WA: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Seattle is a thriving metropolis known for the Space Needle, fabulous whale watching opportunities, and how dog-friendly it is. If you are a dog lover yourself or need a service dog or emotional support dog to get around, you’ll love Seattle, Washington. Seattle was even named the most dog-friendly city in the world because of the many opportunities available in it.

Dog friendly lodging

If you’re planning on just a short visit, one of the best places to stay is the Belltown Inn. This dog-friendly inn is centrally located in the heart of Seattle, making it a convenient location for checking out all the sights and sounds.

It has received several awards for being environmentally friendly and for its excellent ratings with customers. Housekeeping will not visit if the dog is left unattended, so be prepared if you want housekeeping while you have your emotional support dog or service dog staying with you.

Staying a while?

If you’re planning to move to Seattle, Cyrene Apartments is a dog friendly apartment located within blocks of the waterfront. You’ll be able to visit the Seattle Aquarium and the Waterfront with just a quick stretch of the legs. Seattle Aquarium welcomes service dogs in all public areas and is wheelchair accessible. Some breed restrictions for Cyrene Apartments do apply for non-assistance animals, but there is no weight limit to the size of the dog. You can see it for yourself at 50 University St.

Take your ESA with you to dine out

If you want to grab your morning cup of coffee on the go, and take your emotional support dog with you, Bark! Espresso is one of the most dog-friendly cafes you can ask for. It has a completely separate area for dogs, and you can even treat your ESA to a doggie latte while you grab a real one for yourself. Bark! Espresso is located at 11335 Roosevelt Way NE.

If you’re hoping for a sit-down dinner you can bring your emotional support dog to, Norm’s Eatery and Ale House is the place to go. All dogs are welcome inside the building so long as they follow the rules. The dog must be on leash, cannot eat off the table or plates, and must not bark while inside. If he can follow these rules, he can come in while you dine! Enjoy a great meal at 460 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103.

There are many eateries that welcome pets in Seattle, so if you’re hoping to bring along your ESA, chances are there will be a place close to you that allows it.

Take your puppy to the beach

Not a lot of off-leash dog parks can boast beach access, but Warren G. Magnuson Park off-leash area can. In fact, it’s the only park in Seattle that does. This 8.6 acre park is part of a larger, 350 acre park in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle, and the off-leash park is alongside Lake Washington, giving your dog plenty of opportunities for fresh water fun.

There are also a multitude of trails to walk your service dog or ESA along, and many of these trails are wheelchair accessible. It’s a great opportunity for everyone, and easily the best dog park in Seattle. The park is located at 7400 Sand Point Way NE.

Visit an outdoor market

The Fremont Sunday Market is a beautiful outdoor market open year-round. The market is located at 3410 Evanston Ave North and is dog friendly. They ask that your dog be kept on a short leash for the safety of patrons as well as your service dog, ESA, or other pet. Click Here to check out National Service Animal Registry’s 4 foot leashes, perfect for this scenario.

You can find all sorts of things at the outdoor market, from handmade leather satchels to treats to give your service dog or emotional support dog as a reward for a job well done.

Bark at the Park

While your service dog is always welcome at baseball games, you may enjoy taking him to one specifically geared towards dogs. “Bark at the Park” is a baseball game where dog lovers can take their pets for a fun filled day of events, free goodie bags from vendors, and of course a baseball game.

Whether a licensed assistance animal or just a pet, he may have never been to a baseball game. This is your chance to let him experience the full fun of this event and watch a great game too.

Need a vet?

Whether your dog is a service dog, an emotional support dog, or your very best friend in life, good veterinary care is vital to their health. In the case of a service dog or an emotional support dog, your dog plays a vital role in your level of independence, and your emotional health as well, making it critical for both you and your pet that he remain healthy.

That means knowing the best local vets in case your dog gets sick or injured while you are in Seattle. If you’re looking for the very best care for your dog, consider Lien Animal Clinic. With over 300 5 star reviews, and prompt attention to those who do have a problem, you know you’ll be treated well when you take your furry companion to this clinic.

Rex Seattle

Service dogs work hard, and sometimes they deserve a little pampering too. Rex Seattle has everything you need to take care of your dog while you are in Seattle. Located at 1402 12th Avenue, you’ll find grooming, a self-dog wash, and select products as well as a caring staff.

Seattle is a great place for dog lovers. If you have a assistance dog and depend on your dog for your own wellbeing, you can rest assured that there are plenty of places you can keep your dog in tip top shape while you are enjoying this big city.

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Austin, TX: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

Texas is a huge state, and experiencing it is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life. Austin is the capital of Texas and has a surprising amount to offer dog lovers who visit there. If you depend on a service dog to help keep you mobile, or you have an emotional support animal you enjoy keeping with you to support your needs, Austin has many locations you can take your dog.

Here are just a few of our favorite locations for you and your dog.

Stay at a dog friendly hotel

There are a number of pet friendly hotels in Austin but finding one that has appropriate places to potty your dog can be tricky. Many locations are completely concreted in, which can result in an uncomfortable experience when it’s time to take your emotional support animal or loyal service dog to do his business.

Luckily, the Staybridge Suites Austin Arboretum at 10201 Stonelake Blvd, Austin, TX 78759-5734 not only has a designated potty spot for your dog, but also has treats for your pet, and a low dog fee. Your dog will feel right at home in this comfortable hotel, and so will you. It’s located just two blocks from fine dining and shopping areas, so you can walk to see more of Austin.

Staying a while?

If you’re planning to move to Austin, Texas, you may be wondering about the available of dog friendly apartments. There are quite a few apartments that accept dogs, including large dogs and multiple pets. If you have a service dog or an emotional support animal, you know that while you can stay anywhere with your dog, an apartment that expects pets has a lot of benefits—including more green space for your dog.

The Villas at Stone Oak Ranch is a pet friendly apartment that allows up to 2 dogs with a nominal dog rent. Some breed restrictions do apply.

This apartment not only has plenty of green space to walk your service dog on, but you can also cross the street to Yett Creek Neighborhood Park and explore the hiking trails there. See it for yourself at 13021 Legendary Drive Austin, TX 78727.

Need a vet?

When you own a service dog or an emotional support animal that takes care of you daily, it’s important to ensure they get the health care that they need. They can handle everything from basic wellness visits to intensive care and have their own in-house lab to help speed the process of getting lab results back.

See them for themselves yet at 5720 Menchaca Road, Austin TX 78745.

Take your dog for a splash at an off-leash dog park

Imagine how much fun your dog will have on surrounded by water on three sides as he splashes and plays in the water. Red Bud Aisle is a magical place for dogs and people alike, and is entirely off leash. Your service dog will love the water, and the broad paths are well kept for easy access.

Parking is at a premium, so you may want to come at off peak hours or use a smaller vehicle to help make it easier to enjoy this park.

Visit a farmer’s market

Outdoor markets are a great way to enjoy fresh produce and homemade goods from local farmers and craftsman. Unfortunately, unless you have a service dog, most farmers markets frown on dogs visiting these markets even when they are held outside. If your dog is technically not a service dog, but you still need him to be comfortable in specific situations, finding a dog friendly farmer’s market is a fabulous experience.

The Barton Creek Farmer’s market is a perfect location to bring your emotional support animal, and is open every Saturday from 9AM to 1PM. You can find them at 2901 S Capital of Texas Hwy Austin, Texas 78746.

Places to eat in Austin

Taking your service dog into a restaurant is a normal part of living, but if you have an emotional support animal, finding a place to eat that will allow your pet can get tricky. Luckily, Austin restaurants love dogs, and there are a number of places you can bring your furry friend, service dog or not.

Yard Bar

If you want to relax with your dog in an adult setting, Yard Bar is a great place to take your pet. This restaurant actually combines an off leash dog park and a bar, so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. The Yard Bar does have some restrictions—no intact animals, even puppies, and no one under the age of 21 may visit.

As long as you meet this criteria, you’ll love the Yard bar, so check it out at 6700 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX, US, 78757.

Austin Terrier

If you have children in tow, the Austin Terrier can feed your whole family without restrictions. Service dogs are always welcome, and emotional support animals are welcome on the patio. They do a great job of taking care of your dog, including offering it water, during your stay.

Austin Terrier is located at 3435 Greystone Dr, Austin, TX, US, 78731 and offers salads, sandwiches, and specialty pizzas.

Go hiking with your dog

Austin Texas is a beautiful place to visit with your dog and has many dog friendly hiking trails your furry friend will love. If hiking is a passion for you and your service dog, give McKinney Falls State Park at 5808 McKinney Falls Parkway, Austin, TX, US, 78744 a try.

This hiking trail is a perfect place to take your leashed emotional support animal or service dog as you walk along Onion Creek and listen to the roar of the water. Geocaching and picnic areas are available, making it entertaining as well as good exercise.

If you have a service dog, Austin Texas is a great place to visit. There’s plenty you can see and do with your loyal companion, and many people who will welcome your dog regardless of whether he is wearing identification or not. You’ll love the visit, and you can rest assured your dog will love it too.

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What You Should Know about Leash Laws and Service Dogs

There are many laws and regulations (both state and federal) that apply to pets and their owners. These laws are designed to keep both animals and people safe and to ensure the general well-being of the public. But many of the laws that apply to a pet are waived or altered in some way to accommodate service animals. If you’ve been wondering how leash laws and other pet-related laws apply to your emotional support animal, here’s what you should know.

Defining a Service Dog

We know that your ESA dog is an important part of your treatment, and essential to coping with your condition. However, in most circumstances, an ESA does not qualify as a service animal. This means that any pet-related laws in your area do apply to your ESA, and there are very few situations under which your dog will be treated as a service animal.

A service dog is defined as a dog that is trained to perform a specific task in order to assist someone with a disability. Because most ESAs are not given task-specific training, and their handlers simply need their presence for comfort, they are not considered service animals. So, please be aware that the majority of public places (restaurants, stores, etc.) that do not allow pets have the discretion to allow an ESA. However, there are exceptions, so if you want to bring your ESA somewhere public with you, do some research, or call the location and ask if they’ll allow a support animal on the premises.

Leash Laws

It’s important to note that, while other regulations may be waived for service animals, leash laws are not altered for dogs that provide a service or support to their handler. Whatever a dog’s job may be, they are subject to the local dog licensing and registration requirements and must be on a leash unless they are in an area where leashes are not required.

In fact, laws strictly state that service animals must be under control at all times. This means they should be leashed, tethered, or otherwise harnessed in public areas. The only exception to this is if the leash directly interferes with a dog’s duties. When this occurs, the dog may be taken off the leash to perform the necessary task but must be kept under control by voice commands.

What Laws Protect Your ESA?

Though the majority of laws that protect service animals do not apply to emotional support animals, there are a few exceptions. If you have an ESA, then you’re provided with two primary benefits:

  • You can acquire housing with your ESA, regardless of the landlord’s or complex’s policies about pets. You also cannot be charged a pet fee for having an ESA in your home.
  • You can travel with your ESA on airlines, trains, buses, and so on. You are permitted to have your ESA in the cabin of an airplane with you and cannot be charged a pet fee for this.

While laws do not require ESAs, or even service dogs, to be marked as such, most owners of these types of animals find it extremely beneficial to have their dog wear a service dog vest when out in public. This notifies others that your dog is more than just a pet and makes it less likely that you’ll meet with resistance or objection when bringing your ESA on an airplane or other places where regular pets are not generally permitted.

If you’re looking for the best service dog leash, be sure to check our online store. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure you have your rights as an ESA owner recognized by those around you.

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The Different Types of Service Dogs: All You Need to Know

You likely know that service dogs are highly skilled animals that are trained to assist someone with a physical or mental disability. But did you know that there are actually many different types of service dogs that perform a variety of functions? This article will tell you a bit more about the different types of service dogs, the jobs they perform, and how they become service animals.

Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are perhaps the first type of service dog that people think of when they learn that an animal has received service animal certification. Guide dogs are specially trained to assist the blind or visually impaired. They wear a harness with a special handle that enables them to guide their owner through busy streets or even around their own home. They can also assist their owner with tasks around the house. References to guide dogs date back as early as the 16th century, but they didn’t become commonplace in the United States until the 1920s.

Hearing Dogs

Dogs can also be trained to help the hearing impaired. Their primary tasks usually involve acting as their owner’s ears. This means alerting them to important sounds, like the doorbell or knock on the door, smoke alarms, alarm clocks, or ringing phones.

Autism Service Dogs

These dogs are trained to help those with autism to become more independent in their daily activities. Not only can they interrupt harmful behavior, alert parents to an autistic child in a dangerous situation, and alert their owner to important noises, but their companionship can also be extremely soothing to those with autism. This can be very important in helping autistic individuals to cope with difficult or unfamiliar situations.

Diabetic Alert Dogs

As you likely know, dogs have an incredible sense of smell. In fact, it’s so incredible that they can detect changes in the glucose levels of their owner’s saliva. This enables them to alert their owner to dangerously low or dangerously high glucose levels so that they can take action before more adverse effects kick in.

Seizure Response Dogs

Contrary to popular thought, seizure response dogs are not actually trained to detect a seizure before it happens. Instead, they’re trained to assist their owner during or immediately after a seizure. This may include activating an alarm to call emergency responders, retrieving medication, finding someone to help, or physically removing the person from a potentially harmful situation.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

Dogs can also be trained to assist those in wheelchairs or who have other mobility impairments. They can be used to physically pull wheelchairs, open and close doors, retrieve objects, and even operate light switches. This enables the person to live much more independently.

Emotional Support Animals

Unlike those mentioned above, emotional support animals do not need to receive any specialized training, and they don’t perform any actual service-based tasks. Rather, their purpose is to simply provide a soothing presence to those who may struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental or emotional disorders. Additionally, any animal(s) can be an emotional support animal.

Becoming a Service Dog

Typically, the average pet cannot become a service dog. They are usually specially trained from puppyhood to perform the tasks needed to aid others, and they receive their service dog certification upon graduating from their training course. However, if you have an animal that you wish to have registered as a service animal, you may be able to find training courses for them. You can also choose to register any dog or other pet as an emotional service animal.

Check out our website for easy and simple instructions to register your pet as an emotional support animal.

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Why You Should Make your Pet an Emotional Support Animal

Do you suffer from emotional or psychological issues? Do you depend on your pet to provide comfort in stressful situations? Have you ever felt unable to cope in a public place because you didn’t have your animal friend to keep you calm?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, have you considered registering your pet as an emotional support animal?

Imagine how much easier life would be if you could be out and about with your emotional support dog, cat, or animal and not have to explain why you need them with you? Imagine having the peace of mind to know you could take them in the cabin of a plane without having to pay extra costs, or that you won’t ever have to justify them to your housing provider.

Maybe you already know that registering your pet as an emotional support animal would make a huge difference in your life, but you’re unfamiliar with or worry about the process.

We want you to know you are not alone. We have been helping people with emotional support animals for over 25 years, and we can use our knowledge and experience to guide you through the entire process. We can help you get the correct documentation, complete a lifetime registration, and even advise you about the equipment you need for your animal friend.

Registering your pet as an emotional support animal (ESA) is quick, easy, and affordable. Let’s start by outlining everything you need to know.

Ready to get started straight away? Click here to register your ESA

What is an Emotional Support Animal (ESA)?

Although an emotional support animal often starts out as a pet (dog, cat, and other domestic animals), for people who are living with an emotional or psychological health condition, they become so much more.

Unlike service animals, ESAs are often not trained to carry out specific tasks like service animals, but they help people with mental health conditions stay calm in a situation that might otherwise be a trigger for their symptoms.

For many people living with emotional or psychological health conditions, the presence of their emotional support animal gives them the support they need to get through daily life.

People with an emotional support dog, cat or other animal sometimes have conditions such as anxiety or depression. Others have emotional problems such as relationship issues that make coping with certain situations or daily life difficult. It could also be as simple as a fear of flying or another phobia that makes going on a trip or doing something related to their phobia unthinkable if they are not accompanied by their furry companion animal.

In order for a pet to become a legally recognized emotional support dog, cat, or animal, they must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a therapist. This means that they are part of the treatment program for this person. Not currently working with a doctor or therapist? You should consider National Service Animal Registry’s a NO-RISK emotional support animal letter assessment.

To qualify, you must be considered emotionally disabled and have a letter from a licensed therapist to prove it. Some airlines and housing companies will accept a letter from a family doctor.

Almost all domesticated animals qualify to become an emotional support animal. The most common are dog and cats, but rabbits, mice, and rats are common too. Animals can be any age; the only requirement is they are manageable in public and don’t create a nuisance in the home.

What are the Benefits of Registering your Emotional Support Animal?

Puppy lying in a camera bag

It isn’t a legal requirement to register your emotional support animal, but there are tremendous benefits, including rights and protections.

  1. You can fly with your emotional support animal in the cabin with you without paying extra costs (The Air Carrier Access Act 49 U.S.C. 41705, Department of Transportation 14 C.F.R. Part 382)
  2. You have the right to live with your emotional support animal in housing where pets are not allowed, without being charged an extra fee (Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988)
  3. Although other public and private establishments (such as hotels, restaurants, taxis, theaters) are not legally required to let you enter with your assistance animal, many are sympathetic if the animal is registered and wears identifying patches or a vest and has an ID card.
  4. For many people, the biggest benefit is the peace of mind to know that their pet is recognized and identifiable as an assistance animal should they need to take advantage of the legal protections in the future, they are covered.

How To Register Your Emotional Support Animal

So, if believe you’d benefit from the advantages of registering your pet as an emotional support animal, you’re probably wondering how to get started. We’ve outlined the process below in three easy steps, but remember you don’t need to do it alone, you can contact us for help and advice at any stage.

Step 1: Get a Letter From a Licensed Therapist

If you don’t have a therapist or your therapist is unwilling to write an animal emotional support letter, National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) offers a NO-RISK emotional support animal letter assessment. National Service Animal Registry 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.

Step 2: Register your Emotional Support Animal
Dog sitting next to a laptop

Although you aren’t required to have your ESA letter before registering, you should register your emotional support animal and get the equipment you need to identify them when you’re out and about. If the registration process feels overwhelming, we can help. We offer three different emotional support animal kits, which we have created based on our experience to cater to people with different needs. We can help you decide which suits you best so you can be sure you make the right decision for your furry friend.

All three kits all include lifetime registration of your ESA as standard – that means you never have to register them again – plus registration in the National Service Dog Register, a frameable embossed certificate, an ESA ID card, and ID card leash clip.

Step 3: Get Out and About Easily with your Emotional Support Animal

Once your emotional support animal is registered and you have your equipment, you’re all set to get out and about together. You’ll be able to relax and have the peace of mind to know you don’t need to explain or justify having your emotional support animal with you, even when you fly. You might well be surprised about the welcome you receive in places that aren’t legally required to allow you to bring them inside, such as cafes and restaurants. And if ever you need to prove your pet is an emotional support animal to your housing provider, you’re all set!

Ready to get started? Click here to register your ESA

Registering Your Emotional Support Animal: Next Steps

We hope this article gave you all the information you need to work out whether registering your pet as an emotional support animal is right for you, and start the registration process.

If you need further help, take a look at our website: National Service Animal Registry. We’ve pulled together all the information you need to guide you through the process of registering your animal.

You can also contact us for further information. We can guide you through the process, provide help and advice about the most appropriate ESA registration kit to suit your emotional support animal and lifestyle, and provide any other help and advice you need.

We’ve helped countless people with emotional support dogs, cats, and animals over the last 25 years. We look forward to helping you too.

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ESA vs Service Dogs: What’s the Difference?

While both serve humans, emotional support animals — commonly referred to as ESAs — and service dogs are often confused. These two types of service animals are similar in that they can provide emotional support for those that need it, but there are many differences between them. Understanding these differences will allow you to properly select and certify an animal for your needs. Here are some of the key differences between these two types of service animal certifications.


Many think that emotional support animals and service dogs are interchangeable, but these two types of service animals are meant for separate tasks. A service dog is specially trained to perform a function or job for an owner that has a physical, intellectual, or emotional disability. An emotional support animal serves as more of a companion for the owner. A service dog may still be able to provide the comfort of an emotional support animal, but it has been trained to complete tasks that a support dog will not.


Service dogs are usually needed more frequently as they help the owner with physical tasks. Thus, they are offered legal protections through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that emotional support animals do not get. You can take a service dog almost anywhere that you go and they legally cannot be denied access. An emotional support dog, on the other hand, doesn’t share the same legal protections. It’s important to understand that if you have an emotional support dog, they may not be allowed into areas that a service dog will. Legal protection of an emotional support animal is limited to housing and air travel. However, there may be businesses that will allow you to bring your emotional support animal inside, so you’ll have to check with them beforehand.


As these types of support animals provide different services, the certifications also differ. A service dog agency will help to find a specially trained dog to assist with a person’s disability. While only a specifically-trained dog can be a service dog, any pet can be considered an emotional support animal. The person looking to acquire certification needs to have a disability diagnosed by a doctor or mental health professional and receive a letter stating how the animal will be of benefit.

Sleeping Puppy

Differentiating Your Support Dog

If your support dog doesn’t have anything that differentiates it from any other dogs, people may not recognize that it’s providing assistance for you. If you have a service dog, you might want to consider having it wear a colored vest. While this is not a requirement, it will tell those working in places you go that the dog is a service dog, and they are less likely to try to stop you from entering with it. If you have an emotional support dog, you should carry your medical letter with you, as this will provide evidence that the dog is officially a support animal.

If you suffer from a disability, be it physical or emotional, you may benefit from an animal’s support. Understanding the differences between a service dog and an emotional support animal will allow you to receive the correct service animal certification. For more information, contact the National Service Animal Registry today!

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How to help a Toddler and Dog Get Along

As toddlers grow up, it’s common for them to pull the tails of animals, grab onto fur, and play with animal’s toys. If this behavior is bothersome to your emotional support animal, it may be time to try out some of these tips for how your toddler and dog can get along better! Keep in mind, many of the ways to desensitize your dog to a toddler will differ depending on your dog’s personality.

You can gauge how your emotional support animal will do with a toddler, depending on a few simple personality traits. Considering how your dog does with being touched, how protective they are of their space or toys, and how well they do with someone being at their eye level can help you to determine if your dog may have trouble cohabitating with a toddler.

However, remember that even if your emotional support animal does have trouble with your toddler, you do not need to give up your dog! There are many ways to get through this trying time, both by desensitizing your dog and by creating boundaries so that your emotional support animal feels safe and comfortable.


The best way to work on desensitization with your dog is to expose them to the kind of behaviors your toddler may exhibit. This way your emotional support animal can get comfortable in a low risk situation. To start, be sure your dog can handle being touched anywhere. If they are comfortable with you touching them on any part of their body, this is a great start.

An ideal starting place is to handle your dog’s ears, hold their paws and apply differing pressure in different regions, gently tug on their tail, and pet their fur with different intensities. This will send the signal to your emotional support animal that regardless of pressure or intensity, they are not in danger in your home.

If these are big steps for your emotional support animal, be sure to continue rewarding them with praise and treats. This way your dog will only relate this kind of touch with positivity, treats, and praise from you. In addition, by starting this training with you, rather than your toddler, you are at lower risk if your dog reacts poorly at first to this training.

Allow Space

Provide space for your baby and ESA dog

While it is important to expose your emotional support animal to touch, it is also important to allow them to take space from constant touch and attention. Maybe this means having your dog’s bed or crate be a safe space where your toddler cannot bother them. If this feels like an impossible change, use gates to block off a certain area of the house for your pup.

If you want to give your emotional support animal freedom from your toddler, use a gate to block off the room or area of the house they are in so that they can take some space. This will ensure when they are interacting with the toddler, they will have more patience, and know that they have a safety area where they can escape.

Managing Interactions

Remember that you cannot properly create a loving relationship without training both your emotional support animal and your toddler. Therefore, it is important to teach your toddler how to best interact with your emotional support animal and make sure you are facilitating interactions.

At first, it is recommended to sit by your dog with your toddler in your lap. Teach your toddler to put their hand out to the dog’s nose so that they can familiarize themselves with your toddler. Next, start petting the dog together. Since you are holding your toddlers’ hand and also petting your emotional support animal this will help your dog to feel safe and trusting.

This will also show your toddler how to best interact with your emotional support animal. By modeling the right behavior, your toddler will follow your lead. If there are times where your toddler is too rough with your dog, just explain to them that if they are too rough, they may hurt the dog.

If your toddler has a hard time staying gentle, move away from your emotional support animal and give them space for a little while before trying again when your toddler is a bit calmer. It is also important to remember that even if your emotional support animal is very kind and gentle with children, not all dogs are!

You should talk with your toddler about how to let a dog sniff their hand and how to pet gently because if they innately trust all dogs, they may be too trustworthy of animals they have never met. This lack of awareness around animals could result in a potentially traumatic experience which could set back their progress with feeling comfortable around animals.

Boundaries with Toys

Have boundaries with your service dogs toys

Finally, there are many dogs, and toddlers, that are protective over their toys and their safe spaces. While your emotional support animal may be very loving and friendly, that does not mean they will not be protective over their toys or their bed if your toddler starts to play with their things.

A great way to navigate this is to keep your dog’s toys and treats exclusively in their private space. If they have a crate or a room to themselves that is set aside as their space, make sure you are only giving them their food, toys, and treats in this spot and make this area off limits to your toddler.

You will not risk any aggressive behavior to your toddler if your emotional support animal has all of their things in a space that is their own. If you are not sure if this is a potential problem, take note of how your emotional support animal reacts to you touching their treats and toys. If they borderline on aggressive behavior with you, assume this will persist with your toddler.


Teaching your toddler and emotional support animal to interact peacefully does not need to be a daunting task. Be sure to develop trust between your dog and toddler and provide space for both individuals to feel safe and calm down after interactions; and remember, with young children it is recommended to oversee all interactions with animals.

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5 Reasons Your Dog Needs Mental Stimulation – And What to Do

We all need mental and physical stimulation, whether that be going to work every day, going for a morning run, or doing mind teasers on Saturday mornings. As human beings, we require engaging and interactive stimulation to prevent our minds and bodies from becoming stiff and old as we age.

This same principle applies to dogs, emotional support animals in particular. Emotional support animals are not service dogs, who have been trained in certain working and medical tasks to assist their owners, but rather provide solace and comfort in emotionally difficult times or help with anxiety and depression.

Let’s get into why dogs need mental stimulation and how to provide that for them!

Reason #1: Emotional Distraction and Release

Although we may not see the strain placed on emotional support animals and dogs, there is a stress that they can receive from being in tune with their owner’s emotions. Emotional support animals, like all dogs, can sense sadness and stress in their owners and provide love and affection.

Just as humans do engaging activities to take their minds off of stress and anxiety, emotional support dogs need that too. Engaging in mentally stimulating activities can help distract and remove any type of stress in their lives.

Research has shown that mental stimulation can fend off anxiety and depression in dogs, thus can help your emotional support animal release the stress it might remove from you.

Dogs who are working breeds, like shepherds and hounds, tend to need more of this type of mental stimulation than lapdogs or lazy pups.

Setting up agility courses or taking your dog to a park or dog park can help release physical tension and engage the mind of your emotional support animal.

Agility courses and dog parks provide obstacles that require your dog to think critically and plan a course of action. This form of thinking is a great way to mentally engage your dog and stimulate their minds.

Reason #2: Get Rid of Boredom

Emotional support animals and dogs tend to get very bored, very fast. Since dogs are active creatures, especially big dogs, they need something to do to wear them out during the day.

If you leave your dog or emotional support animal at home during the day by themselves, you might sometimes come home and see a wild mess of torn curtains, broken vases, or shredded couch cushions and a very guilty-looking dog.

This often happens when your dog or emotional support animal is getting restless and bored. You can help get rid of their boredom by providing mental stimulation during the day, even if you are not home to provide it.

Dogs are intelligent animals, so they know how to entertain themselves. Sometimes, the curtains or couch cushions are what they have to entertain themselves. This type of play does not always provide the mental stimulation they need and there is no doubt that you would not like to buy new curtains once a month.

Getting rid of this boredom is as simple as getting toys that help to stimulate the mind of your dog or emotional support animal. Toys that are interactive or physical are great ways for your dog to get physical exercise during the day and get some critical thinking in.

Food puzzles, where your dog has to work to get the treat or food are fantastic methods of mental stimulation and force your dog to think spatially and critically.

Reason #3: Brain Workouts

Exercise your emotional support animal's brain

Just like mind teasers for humans that are designed to prevent the aging of the mind, increase neuroplasticity, and form new neural pathways, a brain workout is a great way for your dog or emotional support animal to slow the aging of their brain and stimulate their gray matter.

Dogs and emotional support animals cannot do the same types of mind teasers that humans do, like sudoku and Rubix cubes, but they can do the “dog version” of those mental workouts.

If your dog is a hunting or working breed that has a powerful nose, try playing hide and seek with them! Go into a room and hide in a place where they cannot see you, like behind a door or curtain, and call them into the room. Have them come find you like hide and seek!

If your dog is less interested in movement and more interested in treats, play the cup game with them! Sit your dog or emotional support animal in front of a line of three cups that are not see-through. Show them that under one cup is a treat while the others are empty.

Move the cups around in the line so the cup with the treat is in a different spot and then see if your dog or emotional support animal can find the treat. It may take them a little while to fully comprehend and learn what is happening, but once they do, you will have trained them and created several critical and spatial thinking pathways in the brain!

Reason #4: Lowered Aggression and Increased Peace

If you have a dog or emotional support dog that is very standoff-ish and aggressive, they may need some mental stimulation to help stop or curve their poor behavior.

Many dogs get aggressive because they are not getting enough attention both mentally and physically. They get bored, cranky, and then aggressive. They might spend all day barking at every bird in the bushes or at the terrified mailman.

At first, the aggression might be stemming from boredom, but it can quickly turn into a personality trait if left without any treatment. If you have other animals or dogs, an emotional support animal, or young children in your household, you might want to assess your dog’s aggression and try to lower it through mental stimulation.

In the same way that a dog might tear your living room apart simply because it is bored, a dog might try to attack others. It provides them with stimulation. To decrease this behavior, give them something to work on with their mind.

Puzzles, dog parks, wrestling, tug of war, hide and seek, and interactive toys can help to stimulate your dog or emotional support animal and keep them interested. An interested dog is not bored, so the aggressive behavior may decrease.

If your dog is mentally stimulated frequently but is still exhibiting aggressive and poor behavior, you might want to take them to the vet to check to make sure that there is not anything physically wrong with them, like an injury or illness, that is making them lash out.

Make sure that you are not rewarding aggressive and poor behavior, as that will train them into aggressive animals. It can be very hard to have an emotional support animal that is aggressive because the dog has to be able to be around others and in different environments without barking or attacking other dogs or human beings.

Reason #5: Emotional Bonding

Emotionally bond with your emotional support animal

If you can take your emotional support animal to the dog park or play with them for an hour or more each day, they are more likely to begin to create a bind with you of mutual trust.

This bond is what makes an emotional support animal what it is. The bond between an owner and their emotional support animal is strong and intense. It shows the trust and respect between the pair which is reflected by the emotional support animal supporting their owner.

This form of emotional bonding is not only for emotional support animals but is super important for rescue dogs who may have been abused or neglected in their former home. Showing them that you love them by playing with them not only increases their mental stimulation but their emotional trust of you as their owner.

They will begin to understand that you are not like the person who abused or neglected them, and an emotional bond of trust and love will be formed, not unlike the bond between an emotional support animal and their owner.

The same emotional bond is crucial to make if you adopt a puppy. Puppies need to understand love and affection from a young age so that they are not aggressive later in life. If a puppy is no longer living in the same location as it’s mother, it will need the care and love that she used to supply it.

Similar to creating an emotional bond with an abused/neglected rescue dog or with an emotional support dog, playing with your puppy will form a bond that instills a feeling of trust and love in the puppy.

When emotional bonds like these are created in puppies, they often become emotional support animals to their owner. Whether or not they are officially certified as emotional support animals, they still provide the same affectionate love.

Overall, you should make sure that your dog is getting plenty of playtime with you and on their own to help slow aging, build trust, increase mental sharpness, and keep your dog healthy! Make sure that their toys and games are challenging for them and increase the difficulty of puzzles as they get good at them!

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How to Teach Your Dog to Come

Teaching your service dog or emotional support animal to come when called is essential to the training process. If you want to have any type of control while you are in or out of your house, you must start teaching your dog to come when called as soon as you bring them home.

To teach your service dog to come when called they will need to know the sit command first. Once they are well versed with “sit” you can move onto “come”. You will need a few supplies. A long training, leash, some toys and treats, a pet cot or bed, and some patience will get you well on your way!

Whether your dog is a brand new puppy or a full grown adult, you must approach the training with the same mindset: Consistency is key!

Step One:

Put the long training leash on your service dog. Grab a handful of treats let them get a good sniff. They should be very excited about these treats. Tell your dog to sit. Once they get into a sit, jump backward, leaning slightly forward towards them. Keep the treats at their nose level. As you move tell them to come in a very enthusiastic tone. Your service dog should be inclined to move towards you for a couple of reasons: the treat you are holding, and the movement. Dogs are very drawn to movement. This will be a big part of teaching them to come. Being bent forward is a very inviting position for dogs. This will encourage them to move to you as well.

Once your emotional support animal or service dog gets to you, reward right away. Make sure you don’t reward them if they are jumping on you or distracted. They should be looking at you expecting their reward.

Repeat this process with every meal you feed your service dog for about a week. You are building drive and focus on you so when you tell your dog to come, they are excited to do it.

Step Two

Pair ESA dog training with the command stay

Teaching your emotional support animal or service dog to come when called will pair well with teaching them to stay. Use a designated spot like a pet cot. The cots are elevated and will actually help your dog focus better. A bed will work as well. Your service dog needs to have a designated perimeter so they understand where they need to stay until you tell them to come.

Start by showing your service dog their spot. Lure them onto it with treats if needed. Do not force them onto it. Once they understand this is a nice place for them you can start actively using it for training.

When you’re ready to get to work, have treats handy but try not to let them know it. Put them on their spot and tell them to stay. When you tell your service dog to stay, stand up straight. Put your hand out like a stop sign and firmly use the “stay” command. Take one step back. Do not repeat your command. It is likely your dog will jump right off and come to you before you call them. It will take some time and repetitions for them to actually stay put. Age and attention span will have a big effect on the number of repetitions you must do. Once they are staying, start to build on the “come” command. Enthusiastically call them to you and put them into a sit when they get there. Reward them while they are in the sitting position.

While you are working on this, make sure you pause for a moment before you call them. If you step back and immediately call them, they may not be understanding the “stay” part of the command. Try to count to five before you call your dog. Then when you do, take a small step back as you give the command. You will be using that movement to draw your dog to you, but there needs to be a definitive pause between the two commands.

Put more distance between you as your emotional support animal gets better with the command. Once you are moving further away, you should be able to turn your back to walk away. A lot of people will put their hand out and back away slowly, displaying a lack of confidence. This will tell your dog you don’t believe in yourself and they shouldn’t either. Remember, worst case scenario, they hop off and you just calmly put them back onto their spot.

Before moving onto the next step, you should be able to walk across the room. When you call them, they should come right to you. If they are stopping short or getting distracted along the way use the long leash to bring them all the way to you. Then on your next attempt, start a little closer. Continue to practice the short come, sit sequence with their meals as well.

Step Three

Move to a patio or driveway to start teaching your emotional support animal or service dog to come when called outdoors. Remember to have their long leash on, and plenty of treats.

You will need to repeat the beginning process outside. To your service dog, this is basically starting at square one again. Use their food or treats and do the short come-sit sequence. If they are doing well with this, begin working on stay and come with their bed or pet cot.

As you progress, start making your service dog stay while you walk around. Put them on their spot and walk away, but don’t immediately call them to you. Walk in a circle around them. Your emotional support animal or service dog should be watching you the whole time. When you call them to you, they should come directly. If they stop short or get distracted, use your leash. The long leash will come in handy when you start working on longer distances. It gives a physical way to back up your commands if your service dog decides not to listen.

Remember, consistency is key! If your dog decides not to listen, or gets distracted, you must follow through on your command.

Step Four

Conduct the training in your yard

Work in your yard. Use your service dog or emotional support animal’s designated spot all around the yard. Make them stay for longer periods of time. Then repeat and make them come immediately. Switch it up to keep them engaged. You don’t want them to figure out the routine. If this happens you will both likely get bored very quickly.

If you have a fenced in space, this is a good time to drop the leash. Practice recall without any leash back up. You should still keep it on just in case they do not listen but do your best not to rely on it. Remember to take a small step back as you give the “come” command. This movement encourages your service dog to come to you.

Step Five

Start practicing come on your walks. Have your service dog or emotional support animal stop and sit on the sidewalk. Take a few steps ahead, turn around to face them, and give the “come” command. You should continue to use treats for this exercise.

When you are walking pay very close attention to your surroundings. If there is another dog on the other side of the street, practice at that time. Slowly introduce these types of distractions to build your service dog’s focus.

Step Six

Practice in public spaces. Training your dog to come doesn’t require a lot of space to work in. You can have your emotional support animal or service dog stop and sit anywhere. Take advantage of higher levels of distraction. Practice at the pet store or hardware store. Practice in parks and on the sidewalk. At this point, you should no longer be relying on the leash at all. This exercise is simply meant to reinforce the training in different places.

If you find your emotional support animal or service dog is struggling, take a step back, and practice in a less distracting environment. Moving too fast can make it more difficult for both of you.

Bringing your emotional support animal or service dog with you to public spaces is a vital part of their job. Having a solid recall is one of the most important things you can teach them before doing so. Even if you don’t intend to take your dog off of their leash, they should still know it. It could save your dog’s life if they accidentally get loose. Being able to let them off of their leash in parks and even just in your yard gives them more freedom. Being able to get them to come when called gives you peace of mind. It’s a win for everyone!