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Train your dog

How to Train Your Dog for Emotional Support?

Emotional support dogs are expected to have some basic characteristics. They must be friendly, active, easy to train, obedient and more. While some of these characteristics are natural, some of these need to be inculcated in them.

A dog might naturally be friendly and active, but you must train them to be obedient and supportive, especially if you want them to be your emotional support animal. They even require potty training. This can be done through proper and systematic emotional support dog training. My ESA Doctor has shared some basic tricks and training for emotional support dogs that you should teach your dog.

Should You Train Your Emotional Support Dog?

Training for emotional support dog is not mandatory for an ESA certification in any state and you are not legally obligated to do it. However, there are many benefits to having a trained ESA. For example, you feel a bit secure when walking with a trained dog in public compared to an untrained ESA dog that may jump and bark at people. Emotional support dog training doesn’t only teach your dog restraint but also obedience.

Dogs are very friendly animals, and training them does not overtake any of their likeable qualities. Rather it becomes easier to handle a trained dog.

Should I Get a Professional to Train my ESA Dog?

Getting a professional dog trainer is one way of having your dog trained for emotional support. Although getting a professional is an easy way out, training your dog at home is more rewarding.

Emotional support dog training should be an experience. A journey for you and your dog and should help you create an emotional attachment. Training your dog at home gives you enough understanding of your dog and also gives your dog the chance to get familiar with you and the surroundings. Your dog should know what you like and dislike, when you are happy and when you are sad. And vice versa. It should get used to your voice being authority.

The experience should be fun and relaxing to both you and your dog. It can be a therapeutic break which is also a way to manage your mental disability.

Emotional Support Dog Home Training

Training for emotional support dog at home is a much easier task than training a service dog. This is because an emotional support dog only has to be trained for basic tasks, On the contrary, a service dog has to be trained for much harder tasks like guiding a blind person, alerting the deaf of a noise, alerting to seizures and attacks and more. Emotional support animals do not require any combat training or special skills so it’s easier to train them at home.

The following are some of the basic emotional support dog training requirements:

  • Sit and stand
  • Come and stay
  • Jump
  • Lie down
  • Roll
  • Leave it

The main reason for having an emotional support animal is to make your life easier by boosting your morale. They are meant to make you happy and to help you manage your emotions. But imagine having a dog which brings more problems than solutions. A dog that barks all the time and jumps at everyone.

With basic training like potty training and social interactions, you don’t have to stress over petty issues. Rather it calms you and helps you maintain your emotional wellbeing. Below are some of the tips to train your ESA dog at home:

1. Puppy Training

It is best to train your dog while it’s still a puppy. The younger the dog, the easier it is to train them. Like in people, it is easier to learn a language at a young age and improve as you grow. The same happens with dogs, teach them while they are still a puppy and they become perfect as they grow.

2. Obedience Training

One of the most effective ways to teach your dog obedience is to reward them. You reward them with the treats that they like the most; biscuits, sausages, small pieces of meat or even bones.

You only reward them when they follow an order. For example, when you have ordered them to sit and they obey the order successfully. That way the dog will learn faster as a way to get more treats and to get your approval. Also praise the dog when it follows an order successfully.

You may want to avoid giving it treats for trying, it becomes a habit and may slow down the process.

3. Potty Training

Potty training is one of the most important emotional support dog training requirements that your dog should master. You should teach your dog not to relieve itself anywhere, otherwise it will end up peeing on your carpet, your bed and your legs. Your dog should know how to communicate with you when it wants to relieve itself.

How do you teach it? Well the process is not simple but it’s manageable. Make a routine. Animals understand routine. This means you should choose one spot where your dog relieves itself. For example, you can take it there after every two hours so that it gets used to the spot and understands that the place is only for that purpose.

Try not to change the places it relieves itself, the dog will end up thinking it can relieve itself anywhere. Having a fixed place also helps you to easily clean up. Also reward the dog everytime it relieves itself at the right place. The dog will get used to going there even when you are not around.

4. Leash Training

It is very important to teach your dog how to act on a leash. Some dogs are repulsive to leashes, so you have to teach your dog not to avoid being leashed. This helps in public places to make other people feel safe. Leash it on a regular basis so that it gets used to the idea.

Benefits of Training Your Emotional Support Dog

The following are some of the benefits of training your Emotional Support Dog:

  • Easy to manage – An obedient dog is very easy to manage. You can easily control how it behaves at home and in public. It gives you confidence that your dog won’t bark at everyone or attack people.
  • Sense of security – A trained ESA dog is safe to have around family and friends. It is also safe to keep at any housing facility without having trouble with the housing provider.
  • Learning and fun – Training a dog is a very fun experience. You learn a lot from it and enjoy it a lot with your dog.
  • Builds a bond – Personally training your emotional support dog helps build a unique relationship between you and the dog. It helps create a very strong bond which is good for an ESA dog and a person with mental disability.
  • Promotes cleanliness at home – Potty training your dog helps improve cleanliness at home since your dog won’t be relieving itself everywhere.
  • Sense of ownership – Training your own dog gives you a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Also read : 5 Amazing Benefits of ESA That You May Not Know


It is very advisable to train your Emotional Support Dog as it brings more advantages than grievances.

And, as much as it is easy to have your Emotional Support Dog trained by a professional, it is advisable to do it alone at home. It may be a bit challenging but the experience is one that you won’t want to miss out on. But if you insist on professional training, at least try to be there for the training. That way your dog gets familiar with you being incharge.

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