For some people, dogs can be perfect partners for playing or cuddling, whereas, for some people with mental disabilities, the companionship of a dog can be critical to their health and stability. Dogs can provide emotional support to people experiencing mental illnesses like depression, stress, or anxiety. But they are registered medical helpers known as ESAs (Emotional support animals), not normal dogs.
Dogs are often chosen as ESAs, because of their friendly behavior, whereas Cats, fish, and other animals are also great options for ESAs.
What Is An Emotional Support Dog?
All dogs offer an emotional connection with their owner. To legally be considered an emotional support dog, the pet needs to be prescribed by a registered mental health professional to a person with a mental disability. Medical health professionals must determine that the presence of the animal is good for the mental support of the patient.
For instance, owning an emotional support animal could alleviate a person’s depression, stress, or anxiety or give them new stability in life.
The dogs can be of any breed and any age.
Moreover, ESA can comfort those grieving or lonely in institutions such as hospitals for mental disabilities. A pet dog is different from an ESA dog, but you can train your dog to be an ESA. So without wasting any time, let’s discuss how to train your dog to be an emotional support dog.
How to Train Your Dog as an ESA?
Just having a dog around can reduce stress. But an ESA dog can help give its owner a focus and rhythm to their day-to-day activities, can provide companionship in times of loneliness, and can cuddle when you are feeling emotionally down. ESA dogs should be well-trained. Therefore, making them less likely to engage in stress-causing behavior.
There are many different ways to train dogs to be emotional support animals, but the main thing is a regular training schedule. Give your dog two or three 10-to-15-minute training sessions each day.
Training should always focus on “NO PUNISHMENT” because punishment can add additional layers of negative behavior.
Once you have taught your pet the desired behavior, you can then embed the behavior further by using the three Ds:
Duration, Distance, and Distraction.
Let’s discuss them in detail
Duration is the length of time your dog continues a behavior. The longer dog holds onto the behavior, the harder the task becomes. Whenever you train a behavior, start with a short duration, like three seconds. when your dog gets it wrong, go back to a shorter interval that you know he can handle.
Rewarding your dog is a good idea. If you are training your dog to sit for 60 seconds, give him a biscuit at 30-second intervals.
Most dogs follow commands when you are close to them, but to make your dog an emotional support animal, be sure your dog responds even when you are at a distance. When you are training, start with a smaller distance.
Teach your dog to handle a relatively large distance with you in front of the dog before you start moving to his side or behind him.
Teach your dog to respond to your commands even when surrounded by other people or playing with them. Teach your dog to focus on you and your commands. Before starting distraction, make sure your dog can maintain duration and distance. That means training new behaviors in a familiar environment where you are the most interesting thing in the room.
Who Qualifies for an Emotional Support Animal Letter?
Any animal can be an emotional support animal, but you need an ESA Letter from a licensed healthcare professional. It is not the dog you need to qualify for an emotional support animal letter.
The eligibility criteria for an ESA letter are depression, stress, PTSD, OCD, bipolar, or anxiety.
You must have one of these symptoms to qualify for the ESA.
Deep Pressure Therapy
One of the most common skills taught to ESA dogs is Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). Teach small ESA dogs to sit on specific areas of your body, such as your chest, while larger breeds will rest their heads and paws on you. Train them to lick your face and bark for attention when you need a few moments to decompress. They also need to be taught to remain calm during hyper moments because their calmness will directly impact your positivity.
Before teaching them techniques, you need an ESA letter for your dog that states your dog is a legal ESA. For an ESA letter, contact Fast ESA Letter. They helped numerous people tackle their emotional disabilities through emotional support animals