Pet therapy has gained popularity in the United States these days. And not just because pets are cute. An emotional support dog provides their owner with emotional support and gives them a reason to feel joy.
With over 90 million dogs in the country, dogs are America’s favorite pet. Be it Odie amusing Garfield or Jay Pritchett's Stella from Modern Family; we all know how loved dogs make us feel.
So it just makes sense to use a dog for pet therapy. Emotional support dogs are definitely a real thing and are gaining momentum rapidly in society.
Before investing in an emotional support dog certification, then here are a few guidelines and terms you need to get familiar with...
But First, What is an Emotional Support Dog?
An emotional support dog is a dog that provides you therapy in terms of emotional support and wellness. They provide support and comfort to us with their affection.
For people suffering from mental and emotional disorders, dogs can definitely make a big difference. Emotional support dogs differ from other pets because of the rights endowed to ESA's. These allow them to:
1.1 Live in a no-pet zone with their owner hassle free. You don’t have to pay any extra pet deposit or rent that comes to anywhere between $200-$500
1.2 Fly in-cabin either on their owners' lap or beside their feet. No need to pay any pet fees when flying domestically with your emotional support dog.
What Medical Conditions Qualify For an Emotional Support Dog?
An emotional support dog letter from a licensed doctor can help you enjoy the right of living and flying with your pet. If you constantly feel anxious or have been clinically tested positive for a mental disability, then you qualify for pet therapy.
We all know that being around a dog is always pawsome. Spending time with a dog can help you manage stress and feelings of loneliness. Not only this, but dogs make sure to add longevity to your life by keeping you on your toes.
Whatever condition you are diagnosed with, make sure it is specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). Few conditions included are:
- Any learning or intellectual disability
- Anxiety disorders like agoraphobia and bipolar disorder
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD) or hyperactivity disorders
- Motor skill disorders
- Acute stress disorders
- Adjustment disorders, disturbance of conduct and emotions
- Brief psychotic disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
If you still have a condition that isn’t listed above, a mental health professional can help you find out if you qualify for an emotional support dog letter.
How to get an Emotional Support Dog Certification?
Most people think that getting an ESA letter is the same as an emotional support animal certification. That simply isn’t true.
In order to have a legit emotional support dog certification, you need to consult a licensed mental health professional. This can be done either in-clinic or online from the comfort of your home.
So make sure your ESA letter is signed by a licensed mental care doctor. Once this is done, you can avoid all sorts of other online registrations for your emotional support dog.
When receiving a letter, make sure it is on the letterhead of the therapist with their valid license number, date and time. Also, make sure that your ESA letter has a validity of 1 year.
Most online clinics require you to take a pre-qualification test so the doctor can assess your medical health before having an online video conversation. Remember that if you don’t have a recommendation for your emotional support dog you can easily fall victim to heavy pet charges asked by landlords and airlines.
Finding The Perfect Emotional Support Dog For Yourself
Finding a furry companion isn’t really the hardest thing to do. You can adopt a dog from a rescue organization or pet shelter easily. And if that doesn’t float your boat then head over to any reputable breeder.
And let’s not forget social media. Follow local stores and breeders so you know what dogs are available. The local vet clinics can also give you an idea if any pet owner is trying to give pups for adoption.
Lastly, let’s not forget our friends who already have dogs. You will definitely know if there is a fresh litter around. Feel free to pick one up.
Coming back to what matters most when picking out an emotional support dog is the right breed to suit your personality and emotional needs. Dogs of the Yorkshire Terrier, Welsh Corgi, and Bulldog family make for great lap dogs and can fill your life with countless hugs and love licks.
If you want more of physical activity then getting a Golden Retriever, Labrador or Beagle is a good idea. For patients suffering from trauma and insecurity related issues; German Shepherds are an excellent choice.
What Are The Benefits of an Emotional Support Dog?
There are several benefits of adding new pets to your family. The inherent bond that humans share with dogs makes them incredible at providing emotional support. Here are a few proven benefits of parenting an emotional support dog:
Unconditional Love: Being with a dog can make you feel more connected and accompanied. The love they offer us can help people get back on their feet. This improves the overall mental health be it for work, life or relationships.
Work Flawlessly Alongside Other Treatments: Ever heard a doctor say that you can’t have a dog because you take anti-anxiety pills? That really makes no sense. Having an emotional support dog has absolutely nothing to do with other medical treatment models.
Travel Without Worry: Does flying make you anxious? And then, there are those times when you almost cannot avoid an airplane ride. When traveling, your dog can help you stay focus on petting them instead of getting overwhelmed by the surroundings.
Overcome Loneliness: With your pooch around there is no way you’ll feel lonely. They will wake you up with their sloppy kisses and urge you to get on your feet. Emotional dogs can be very helpful for regulating everyday feelings. You don’t have to feel out of rhythm anymore.
Physical Activity: Cats are happy staying indoors but the same can’t be said for dogs. Your pet is a bundle of energy and you must make sure they spend it right. More walks mean more activity.
Social Aid: A dog can help you settle in crowded surroundings very easily. They serve a brilliant reason to start a conversation. The relationship with a dog is in itself so healing, that you feel more confident about starting a conversation with others.
With over 20% of America’s population suffering from mental illnesses, the need for emotional support dogs could never have been more. Exceptions to a rare mischief every now and then there is no side effect to bringing a new dog home. Apply online for an emotional support dog certification and begin the journey to healing with your pet today!