There is a lot of confusion around Emotional Support Dogs: who can have one, and for what?
It’s no secret that dogs are loving creatures that give their owners a lot of emotional support. In fact, medical professionals now prescribe their therapeutic and calming effects for patients facing mental and emotional conditions.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. have some form of mental disorder.
If you are suffering from a condition and have asked yourself the question: “Should I make my dog an Emotional Support Dog?” read on for a step by step guide on how to make your dog an Emotional Support Dog.
What Conditions Can an Emotional Support Dog Help With?
The first step is to understand exactly what an Emotional Support Dog is and whether it would benefit your mental health to have one.
Emotional Support Dogs help individuals with mental or emotional conditions by providing comfort and support with their presence.
Emotional Support Dogs provide assistance to people with the following conditions:
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Learning Disorders
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Attacks
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Sexual Disorder
- Mood Disorder
- Suicidal Thoughts
Emotional Support Dogs may nuzzle their owners when they feel a panic attack coming on, may nudge someone to interrupt obsessive, repetitive behavior, or may simply be available for petting in order to improve someone’s mood.
How To Make Your Dog an Emotional Support Dog
1- Register Your Dog as an Emotional Support Animal
First, you’ll want to find the right dog registry. USA Service Dog is a top-rated online Emotional Support Dog Registry that we recommend. They allow you to register in just minutes.
It is important to register your dog as an Emotional Support Animal in order to get an ESA ID and certificate, and even an ESA Dog vest so that others can easily identify your dog and not give you trouble.
Airlines, business, and landlords often ask for an identification card that indicates that a dog is indeed an Emotional Support Dog.
Most of all, registering your dog cuts out the hassle, time, and often uncomfortable experience of having to explain why your dog is accompanying you.
2- Obtain an ESA Letter
A key aspect of making your dog an Emotional Support Dog is a written letter from a mental health professional called an ESA letter that states that your dog provides you with “therapeutic value.”
In other words, that your dog accompanies you in order to provide you with the support you need to lead a normal life. There are no animal type, breed, or size restrictions for Emotional Support Animals.
The letter must include the mental professional’s letterhead and signature, the date it was written, and his or her license type, date of the license, license number, and the state which issued the license.
You need to obtain this letter from a therapist. If you do not regularly see a therapist who can prescribe you one, you can easily get an ESA prescription letter online.
Reputable registries such as USA Service Dogs will connect you with a therapist who can perform an evaluation by phone and provide you a signed ESA letter that is valid in all 50 states.
3- Train Your Emotional Support Dog
Under federal law, Emotional Support Animals are not required to have any special training. However, they must be well behaved towards other and in public and must be under your control at all times.
If your dog lacks these kills, you can either train him or her, or hire a professional trainer that will help improve your dog’s behavior.
Benefits of Making Your Dog a Service Dog
Unlike Service Dogs, Emotional Support Animals do not have legal access to all public areas. Two laws, however, do grant you the right to live and travel with your Emotional Service Dog.
The Fair Housing Amendment Act (FHAA) makes it mandatory for landlords to grant you and your Emotional Support Dog residence, regardless of their no-pet policy or weight and breed restrictions, and without charging you a pet deposit.
The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows you to fly with your Emotional Support Dog on commercial airlines. Landlords and airline staff may ask you to present your ESA letter or your Emotional Support Dog’s identification card.
Get Started: Make Your Dog an Emotional Support Dog
If you’re ready to relieve your stress and suffering and have the comfort of your dog always available, register your dog as an Emotional Support Dog today.
USA Service Dogs has helped over 100,000 people achieve peace of mind by providing them with ESA letters and registration kits that makes their Emotional Service Dogs fully compliant and easily recognizable.