Training My Dog to Become My Emotional Support Animal: 5 Easy Steps to Take

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Emotional support pets are one of the best solutions for people with anxiety, depression, or mental disability. Emotional support animals (ESAs) are often dogs or cats and they provide companionship and comfort to their owner. Many people get emotional support animals to help them cope with mental and emotional issues, especially if they live alone or are unable to get constant support from family members or friends.

Emotional support animals offer copious therapeutic benefits and can drastically improve a human’s mental state. Some animals are trained to be emotional support animals from the time they are born, and others are trained later on in life. In fact, the animal you own now could become a licensed emotional support animal; this post will detail how.

How to Make Your Current Pet Your Emotional Support Pet

Instead of adopting an emotional support pet, consider your current pet an emotional support animal. People of all ages can benefit from an emotional support animal; so much so, an independent senior living in NJ encourages seniors to have emotional support animals to combat loneliness and to help them stay motivated and active.

If you are thinking about registering your pet as an emotional support animal, there are a few things you should know ahead of time. Knowing what to expect and the steps you need to take will make registration easier and will help you make your pet be the best emotional support animal possible.

1.   Get to Know What an Emotional Support Animal Entails

Here are a few key facts to help you understand what an ESA is and what having one entails:

  • An ESA does not need special training; though professional training may be beneficial in some cases
  • Dogs are typically the most popular kind of ESA due to their companionship, loyalty, and intelligence
  • ESAs have certain legal rights
  • Under Federal Fair Housing Rules, landlords must allow emotional support animals to stay with their tenant
  • A licensed healthcare professional will have to assess you to determine whether and ESA will help you

2.   Contact a Licensed Professional

As stated above, you will need to be assessed by a licensed professional who will evaluate your need for an ESA. An ESA recommendation is imperative in allowing you to have your ESA with you at all times (despite standard rules regulations). Some licensed professionals that will decide if an ESA is right for you to include:

  • RNs
  • Social workers
  • Counselors
  • Psychologist
  • Psychiatrists
  • Family therapists

Once you have received an ESA recommendation from a licensed professional, you can either adopt an animal that is trained to be an ESA or in the case of this post, you can register your pet as an ESA.

3.   Request an ESA Letter

To officially make your pet an emotional support animal, you will need to request and receive an emotional support animal letter. An ESA letter is the document that you will present to your landlord or airline that states your pet is imperative to your health and that you need to have your pet with you/living with you despite rules and regulations. An ESA letter will include the following:

  • Contact information
  • The date the letter was issued
  • License information
  • A statement that establishes that you have a disability for purposes of the Fair Housing Act or Air Carrier Access Act.
  • A recommendation that states an emotional support animal will help your disability
  • The providers signature 

4.   Get Your Pet the Training It Needs

After getting an ESA letter, you will need to make sure that your pet is trained. Not only will having a well-trained pet make your life easier and allow your pet to do its job as an emotional support pet well, but it will also allow you to avoid any issues with your airline and landlord. 

Your pet should be trained to respond to your mental and emotional distress and should know how to help you. If your pet is not aware of how to help you, it will be in your best interest to hire a trainer that will properly educate your pet. Some things your pet should be well-trained in include:

  • Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) which involves the application of gentle pressure to a part of your body to relieve mental distress
  • Basic commands such as:
    •  Sit
    • Stay
    • Down 
    • Heal

5.   Make the Proper Adjustments to Life with an Emotional Support Pet

Once your pet is officially trained and registered as an emotional support animal, you will have to make the proper adjustments to everyday life. Depending on where you are planning to bring your emotional support pet, you will need to let people know as well. Likewise, you will have to be prepared to care for your pet outside of your home and be prepared to keep up proper training. Some adjustments to consider include:

  • Letting your boss know that you will be bringing your pet to work
  • Letting your landlord know that you have an emotional support animal
  • Make sure you have your emotional support animal’s vest on him or her at all times 
  • Bring food, water, and treats for your pet if you plan to be out of the house for a long period of time
  • Get comfortable with telling people that your dog is working and that he or she can not play right now
  • Be prepared to take your pet’s training very seriously

Register Your Beloved Pet Today

If you truly think you will benefit from an emotional support pet, keep these tips in mind and make the effort to register and train your furry companion to be an emotional support pet. An emotional support animal can help you feel better, combat loneliness, and may even be a crucial part of your recovery. Consider registering your pet as an ESA today. 

About the Author

Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about things that can help others. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

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