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Emotional support dogs and their unique abilities

In Dogs, Emotional Support Animal, Pet Health by Emotional Pet Support TeamLeave a Comment

Dogs occupy some degree of importance in human life and interaction. This is because, among other things, dogs have the ability to perform certain unique functions, which make them essential as domestic animals. 

Not all dogs are pets; some are trained to perform rather specific functions such as domestic services, police/military services, therapeutic services, etc. Dogs can actually be classified based on their ability to offer support to humans, for example, dogs that help out in agricultural activities are classified as working dogs, there are other categories likeassistance dogsand service dogs.


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Emotional support dogsare dogs trained ideally provide assistance to their owner, the dog is also bound to submit to the instruction of its owner or instructor. If everything we’ve discussed so far sounds new to you, not to worry, this article was written with you in mind. 

Here, we will carefully elaborate the unique abilities of dogs, based on their categories and how unique abilities can be channeled to man’s use.

Assistance or service dogs(also known as service dogs) are trained to serve people with disabilities. These dogs serve as guides for the sight, speech or hearing impaired. As implied, these dogs are trained to fit into their owners’ specific needs. Dogs of this kind use their gestures to communicate with their owners. 

old couple with dog

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A service dog for the sight-impaired individual slightly differs from that of someone with a hearing disability. Service dogs are allowed in public areas such as airports, hotels and restaurants and hospitals,  etc. Sometimes, medical practitioners recommend dogs to their patients, to help them emotionally, and in some cases, to help them domestically.

Service dogs are further classified based on their specific abilities and functions, like guide dogs, hearing dogs, seizure response dogs, etc.

  • Guide dogs are service dogs used for the blind. These dogs are breeds with really good eye sights, and they direct their owners on which way to go. Guide dogs are sometimes kept at specific areas, to alert their owners on when they get to those areas, example a guide dog can be leashed to the hall in a house to signal the owner and help the person navigate his path. 
  • Hearing dogs are categorized under service dogs, they are assigned to people with hearing disabilities. These dogs are trained to use their gestures in communicating with their owners.
  • Seizure response dogs are trained to serve people with mental disabilities (like epilepsy) in the absence of human support. These dogs are trained to capture signals of the impending seizure, and they simply know how to get help for the victim.
woman holding dog

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Emotional support animals

An emotional support animal (ESA) provides some form of comfort and friendship to its owner, especially in the case of a disability.  What qualifies a dog as an ESA is its ability to understand an individual’s emotional state at any given time. Dogs empathize with you in times of joy, laughter, pain or sadness.  And of course, happy and sound dogs make the best emotional support dogs.

Emotional support dogs (ESD’s) are acquired mainly for the purpose of companionship. These dogs are trained to pick even the detailed hints of negative emotions in their owners, they are groomed with a specific group of people in mind- those having emotional challenge (like depression, trauma, etc).  ESD’s are trained to satisfy some unique needs of their owners. An ESD for a trauma patient is different from that of a depressed person. 

esa dog

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According to some doctors, animal emotional support is one of the fastest routes to rapid recovery, and dogs have proven to be suitable for this purpose.

Therapy dogs are trained to comfort and support people in ailing conditions. They are often kept in use in health centers, homes for the old, special schools, homes, hospices, etc. These dogs help people who have suffered from traumatic conditions and serve as companions to people with disorders. 

Therapy dogs are beneficial to their owners for several reasons; their owners learn to live normal lives in the absence of human support –they also promote recovery with little dependence on medication. 

old couple with a dog

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Therapy dogs assist their owners through companionship; they are staged in residential areas for support purposes.  When there is a strong connection between a person and its dog, it becomes easy to get support from the dog. One of the strongest drivers of dog support is a relationship is knowing how to tell if a dog loves you.

How are working dogs different from emotional support dogs?

Working dogs are different from emotional support dogs, and this is a function of ability and training.

A service dog is trained to assist humans in a specified area while working dogs are trained as herders to assist farmers in livestock production, some others are trained to work as security guards and some, to work as police dogs (or K-9 dogs).


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These dogs have been trained to provide good support to humans in these unique areas, e.g. A detector dog is chosen from a breed with a high sense of smell. This dog can be trained to work with drug law enforcement agencies to tackle the menace of hard drugs. 

An emotional support dog, on the other hand, is trained solely for the purpose of companionship; these dogs are specialized in becoming friends with you. They can keep you company, but working dogs are trained to answer to orders. An emotional support dog gives you comforts, and they are sensitive to human facial and bodily expressions, which means they have the ability to understand the human’s emotional state.


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While the working dog pays some form of attention to your emotional state, it does this within the confines of work.

Emotional support dogs are sometimes chosen based on their size; smaller and fussy breeds of dogs are trained as emotional support dogs because they are kept for comfort. Working dogs are sometimes in the larger and tougher scale because they are used for work. 


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While all dogs have the same instincts, the working dog’s instincts have been channeled to work. Emotional support dogs need to undergo some evaluation, ensuring they meet specifications before they are brought into use, on the other hand, service dogs are supplied by agencies. 

I hope you found this article helpful? Be sure to leave a comment or question in the comment section. 

Author’s Bio- Manish Paul is founder and author at MonkooDog. Moreover is a devoted dog parent and lover. His articles are mostly on dog care tips and tricks. Through MonkooDog he wants to build a dog’s global social community. He believes “life is better with a dog” and therefore want to make pet’s life happier. Connect with him on twitter or instagram – @themonkoodog

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