Having a dog might come with some responsibility, but the benefits of such relationships are well worth it. K9’s are loyal companions that’ll never betray you and, in most cases, ensure that you get much-needed exercise.
For people with certain mental or emotional conditions, though, dogs are more than mere pets. Without the presence of a K9, they can’t function normally on a daily basis. These dogs, known as emotional support animals (ESA’s), provide them with emotional support and comfort to deal with challenges that might compromise their quality of life.
In this article, we’ll explore what an ESA is and which equipment is needed for one.
What Is an ESA?
It’s well known that all dogs form an emotional connection with their owners. This, unfortunately, doesn’t make your pet an emotional support animal. To make it legal, a licensed mental practitioner needs to prescribe a dog to people with a disabling psychological illness.
There are no restrictions regarding the age or breed of the dog. It needs to be determined by a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist that the presence of a pet is required for the patients’ mental health.
The counselor that prescribes an ESA to you needs to provide you with documentation containing the following information:
- Your name
- A statement that you have an emotional or psychiatric disability but that doesn’t have to disclose the details
- A recommendation from your counselor for you have a support dog to assist with your disability
Positive social interaction with a pet, such as stroking or holding it, has many psychological and psychosocial benefits. These include:
- Relaxing and calming an individual
- Alleviates loneliness
- Lowers anxiety
- Enhances social interaction and engagement
- Normalizes blood pressure and heart rate
- Lowers stress
- Reduces pain
- Decreases depression
- Increases pleasure
Although dogs are the most common species to serve this purpose, the role of an ESA isn’t restricted to K9’s. Many other animals can also be of assistance. These pets, however, don’t have to undergo any specialized training.
Essential Equipment Needed for an ESA
The following equipment and tools are needed for an emotional support dog:
- Balls and toys
- ESA collar
- Dog bed
- Grooming equipment
- ESA harness
- ESA identity tag
- Training aids
In addition to this, you can invest in some extras to make them even more comfortable, including a dog camera that dispenses treats – Furry Friend Gear highly recommend it. This way you can reward them for being good even when you aren’t at home.
The Difference Between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs
Although ESA’s provide support through companionship and can help ease the symptoms of psychological disorders, they aren’t service dogs. They’re not allowed to accompany you in places such as restaurants or shopping malls.
Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks or do work for people with disabilities. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), pets that provide only emotional support don’t qualify as service animals.
The main difference between the two categories is whether the animal has received training to perform specific jobs or tasks related to a person’s disability. Instinctive behavior, such as cuddling on cue, isn’t a qualifying factor.
Man’s Best Friend
Emotional support animals play a vital role in the well being of people with psychological conditions. Although it isn’t required by law, it’s worth investing in identifying equipment, such as a vest or harness.
It’s important to remember, though, that dogs need you as much as you need them. The companionship and loyalty of a dog don’t come with a price tag, and their emotional well being is as vital as your own.