Picture a world where your furry friend is more than the usual companion. Imagine a canine confidant who won’t just make your life happy but is also on your side when undergoing stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other emotional challenges.
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Dogs have an unrivaled ability to provide comfort, empathize and become a source of strength in our lives.
With some understanding and guidance, you can tap into your dog’s innate qualities and transform them into an emotional support superstar.
Read on to uncover the steps you must follow to achieve this goal.
1. Understand What an Emotional Support Dog Is
Before making your dog an emotional support dog, you must understand what it is all about. So, what does emotional support dog mean? An emotional support dog is an animal that provides support to people suffering from mental or emotional issues.
Note that dogs are the most common animals known to provide emotional support. Besides, if you want to make your dog an emotional support dog, it does not need specialized training and can be any breed.
2. Find Out Whether You Qualify to Have an Emotional Support Dog and Obtain an ESA Letter
If you want your dog to be an emotional support dog, you must find out whether you need one. If you have any mental or emotional issues, you can discuss them with a licensed mental health professional like a psychologist, doctor, or psychiatrist.
Consult a mental health practitioner, letting them know the dog will provide the support needed to cope with your problem. If they think you need an emotional support dog, they will write you an ESA letter.
This letter should include the condition you are suffering from, the information of your mental health professional, and the date the ESA letter was issued. Note that the letter should be written on their official letterhead.
3. Train Your Dog to Be an Emotional Support Dog
While your dog does not require much training to be emotionally supportive, you must always ensure that it’s well-behaved and obedient. This way, your dog can help you cope with your problem.
Train your furry friend to be friendly to people and other pets. You can also get your dog trained by a professional dog trainer to help it eliminate inappropriate behaviors such as barking at people and other pets.
4. Register Your Dog
Although this is optional, registering your dog as an emotional support animal has its benefits. For instance, it provides additional documentation and helps you discard any confrontation you might get caught in public while with your pet.
5. Submit the ESA letter to your Landlord
If you live in a building where the landlord prohibits the tenants from keeping pets, you can submit an ESA letter to them to allow you to keep your dog. Your landlord might require proof that your dog is an emotional support animal.
This letter prevents landlords from discriminating against tenants based on race, gender, and social status. However, landlords can deny leasing property to people for other reasons like lack of income or criminal history.
What Are the Benefits of an Emotional Support Dog?
Reduce Anxiety During Flights
Aviophobia (the fear of flying in an aircraft) is an anxiety disorder affecting many people.
But an ESA can change that. Holding or hugging your pet can make you less anxious. So, if you’re aerophobic, consider using airlines that allow passengers to travel with their pets.
According to studies, owning a dog can cause the brain to release neurochemicals known as dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin associated with bonding, love, and pleasure. These “feel good” chemicals enhance happiness and improve mood.
Further research shows that simply petting a dog significantly reduces cortisol, the stress hormone which helps reduce blood pressure.
People experiencing social isolation and suffering can feel loved and safe with a dog.
No More Discrimination and Pet Fees in Housing
The federal law provides specific accommodations to persons who own ESAs under air travel and housing sections.
Under the Fair Housing Act, ESAs are part of the assistance animals, and people can’t face discrimination based on disability when getting housing.
Thus, rules like pet restrictions or bans are waived for individuals with an ESA prescription. Besides, they can’t pay a pet deposit for living with their ESA.
Making your dog an emotional support dog is the best way to help you cope with your mental health. However, the above five ways will make turning your furry friend into your emotional support animal easy. Moreover, you should ensure that your dog is well taken care of, ensuring its needs are met.
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