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How to Begin Your Emotional Support Dog Training at Home?

Thinking about your emotional support dog training but don’t know where to begin? Well, you are in the right place. 

It’s true that your pet doesn’t really require training to be an emotional support animal but if you need your dog to function and take it wherever you go, you might want to think again about the training. 

I know that emotional support dog training classes can cost you enough to drain your pocket. So, a smarter and better way would be to understand what you need and make a start at home. Convinced? If yes, then read along to get more details about the same. 

Does Your Emotional Support Dog Need Training?

Yes, your emotional support dog needs training to be a perfect pet for you. While it’s not a federal requirement for qualifying for a doctor’s recommendation, a trained emotional support dog makes life easier for a patient with a mental disability. 

One of the most basic yet primary differences between a service dog and an emotional support dog is the fact that while the former needs to undergo proper training to assist its owner, the latter does not. Your dog is capable of providing emotional support without any special training or courses. It is the mere presence of your dog around you that can reduce anxiety, depression and other kinds of emotional distress. So, why is it advised to train your emotional support dog? Here’s why. 

Your dog needs to be trained not for the purpose of providing emotional support but for being around you in places where they are generally not allowed. 

Federal laws such as the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act have made provisions for patients with mental disabilities to be close to their dogs. If a doctor has written a proper letter stating that a patient requires an emotional support dog to function, the state and federal laws will make sure that you are able to exercise your right. 

But, now that you can live and travel (not for all airlines under the new federal laws) with your dog, you need to make sure that they do not create a nuisance for those around you. You can’t have a constantly barking dog in a small society. Or one that relieves itself anywhere or anytime. That’s why you need proper training for an emotional support dogMust Read: Top 10 Most Friendly Dog Breeds for Emotional Support

What Are Emotional Support Dog Training Requirements?

Emotional support dog training requirements will depend on whether you need to use the housing, traveling or workplace rights. Read along to get a basic idea of the points you need to focus on while training a dog to be an emotional support animal. 

Emotional Support Dog Training For Housing

As per the Federal Fair Housing Act, no person can be discriminated against on the basis of their disability. And going along the provisions of the law, a landlord cannot deny a rented accommodation to an emotional support dog owner, even if it is in a no-pet policy society. The same is the case with college and school dorms. You don’t need to pay a pet deposit or provide any paperwork except an emotional support dog letter for housing written by a licensed mental health professional. 

If you are living with your dog in a rented property, make sure you train them for the following:

  • Your dog should not cause any financial harm to the owner.

  • It should not risk the safety and comfort of your neighbors and other tenants. 

  • You must keep your property and surrounding area clean. 

  • Your dog should know how to behave around other people and animals.

  • It should not be aggressive or overly excited around people or animals. 

Emotional Support Dog Training For Traveling

Until last year, the Air Carrier Access Act allowed emotional support dog owners to travel with their pets free of charge and in the airplane cabin. But, starting from January 2021, the federal government has laid new rules for emotional support animals. The new laws have banned ESAs on airplanes and require the owners to pay the pet fees for traveling with one. 

Alaska Airlines and American Airlines have been the first in line to ban ESAs on planes. 

However, despite the new federal laws, airlines have the discretion to decide whether they want to allow emotional support animals on the airplane. Connect with your airline 48 hours before your flight and if they allow you to travel with your dog, make sure of the following points:

  • Your dog should be calm during the flight. 

  • It should not cause harm to other passengers. 

  • It should be well-behaved and stay near your seat.    

  • It should not bark on the flight.

Emotional Support Dog Training For Workplace

As per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, you have the right to take your emotional support dog to your workplace. The employer has to accommodate your dog if you have a legit doctor’s recommendation. But, before you take your dog around your colleagues, ensure the following:

  • Your dog should be well behaved around people and animals. 

  • It should stay calm and stay where you sit in the office.

  • It should not be aggressive or loud.

  • Should be aware of when to defecate. 

To make sure that you meet all these requirements, you can start with training your emotional support dog at home with some of the most basic etiquettes. 

How to Train an Emotional Support Dog?

When you begin to train an emotional support dog at home, you need to remember to take small steps and have patience. Start with the following:

  • Basic Commands

  • Potty Training.

  • Exposure to Stressful Situations.

  • Emotional Support Dog Training for Anxiety.

Let me elaborate on these points for you.

Basic Commands

Your training begins with teaching your dog how to obey. You can use different methods such as clicker training or using treats as rewards. Make sure that the duration of your training is short as dogs do not have a long attention span. 

Start with very basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘come’, ‘drop it’ etc. As your dog starts learning, move over to difficult commands such as ‘stay’, ‘lie down’, ‘heel’ etc. 

Remember that dogs are a creature of habit. They learn with repetition and positive reinforcements of behavior with rewards. 

Potty Training

Potty training can be developed in dogs with habit. You need to make a routine for your dog. Take them outdoors at a particular time during the day and reward them with a treat whenever they defecate outdoors. Repeat it for a few days and you’ll observe that the dog will make sure to relieve itself outdoors and at the time when you go on walks. 

Exposure to Stressful Situations

If you’ll be taking your dog in planes, cars or to your workplace, it’s very important that you don’t overwhelm them with people at once. Dogs can be stressed out too. They are not accustomed to the commotion of people walking everywhere or staying in one place for long durations. 

A better option would be to slowly introduce your dog to the situation that you will be in regularly. See what triggers them and try to calm them to it. In any case, your dog should be calm when people pet them or if there are other dogs around. 

Emotional Support Dog Training For Anxiety

Dogs can be trained to help people with anxiety. They can learn to apply pressure on certain parts of the body to reduce the stress and anxiety of the owner. It is known as Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). 

The key is to introduce a command such as ‘paws up’ or simply ‘up’ wherever you need to calm your anxiety. Train them to apply the pressure therapy on command and reward with a treat every time. 

Once you get your letter and train your dog to be well-behaved, get yourself an emotional support dog training vest to let people differentiate your dog from regular pets. 

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