A Concise List of Emotional Support Dog Requirements
There aren’t any law-stated requirements for an emotional support animal. However, for you to be the owner of one, there are specific criteria that you must fulfill. However, the requirements start with you and not your pet.
Once you qualify for owning an ESA, you can choose to adopt or register your current pet as your ESA. Here, you can think of a checklist that your emotional support dog needs for qualification. This list is for your ease and does not hold any legal significance.
6 Emotional Support Dog Requirements
As stated above, emotional support canine requirements are not legally binding or upheld by any official laws. Instead, consider these factors for your peace of mind.
1. Canine Companion
Companionship is why dogs are the most common emotional support animals. Why, you ask? You can take them on a walk, to a restaurant (that allows pets), the park, and many other places.
The best part about having a dog is that it’ll enjoy accompanying you to these places. If you suffer from social anxiety or any other mental condition that makes going out and socializing with people difficult, your companion can help.
Also read: The Benefits of Therapy & Emotional Support Dogs
2. Help You Perform Daily Tasks
Emotional support dogs don’t train to perform any particular tasks. It’s the presence of your ESA/pet that makes you feel better and gets you through your routine easily. But unlike other animals, dogs, in particular, can help you perform some activities around the house.
From waking you up in the morning and getting you out of bed to forcing you to go on a walk and play with them, they might also push you to cook for yourself as you feed them, take a bath as you prepare one for them.
3. Help With Socialization
Degrading your mental health status can hamper your social life and socializing skills. In most cases, patients tend to lock themselves up in their house, meet no one, and miss work regularly.
Sometimes it’s the fear of talking to other people; other times, it’s the lack of interest. However, when you walk out of that door with your dog on a leash, you won’t have to interact with other people first. The people around you will introduce themselves, first to your dog and then you.
This buffer moment while they pet your dog can help you get more comfortable in their presence and take the conversation further.
4. Affectionate Canine
Another reason that most ESAs are dogs is that you cannot come across a more cuddly and affectionate species. Whether a shepherd or a Yorkie, you’ll always find these dogs ready for some sweet, relaxing moments. This is especially true if your dogs sense your discomfort or anxiety building up.
Your dog can sense this type of negativity around you and can help you feel better. You can even train your dog to cuddle with you while you’re crying, bring you your comfort blanket during a panic attack or help you in any other way.
5. Your ESA Has a Calm Nature
If you’re an anxious person, you don’t need a jumpy dog who barks at the slightest noise and is always punching around the house. If anything, this will only aggravate your anxiety to unknown heights. Instead, you need a calm dog who can help you calm down when you’re anxious.
Also read: The Benefits of Companion Animals for Managing Trauma
6. Great Travel Companion
Traveling can be filled with anxiety, especially if you’re afraid of being amidst strangers. An ESA, however, can help make the situation better. You’ll have a familiar friend who can quickly calm you down and help your brain release dopamine with a simple lick on your face. (Their saliva isn’t magic, it’s their presence, that is).
However, make sure that your dog isn’t afraid of new places or people. Since ESAs don’t train to handle any of these situations, it’s preferable to introduce them to traveling and new places while still a pup. Once they get accustomed to this lifestyle, it will be easier to travel with them later on.
While all these factors will determine if your dog is suitable to become an emotional support animal, there are some requirements you must fulfill to get an ESA. In this case, these requirements are mandatory.
Mandatory Requirements for Emotional Support Dogs
Unlike your dog, you need to go through a test before claiming to need an emotional support animal or turning your pet into one.
To begin with, you must be diagnosed with a mental condition to qualify for an ESA. Also, you must consult with a licensed mental health professional who will determine if you have a mental or emotional disability.
They’ll also have the last say in determining if your condition can improve by supporting and caring for an emotional support animal. If the doctors decide that you need an emotional support animal, they will provide you with an ESA letter.
If you get an ESA letter from any certified body like My ESA Doctor, you’ll have to get it renewed after one year.
If you’ve been diagnosed with an emotional or mental disability, you might benefit by owning an emotional support dog. These furry companions are great at boosting your mood and helping you perform your daily tasks without falling back on unhealthy coping mechanisms.
While these pets do not have to go through any training or tests to become an ESA, you can choose to look for a canine that fulfills all your requirements. Generally, dogs that are friendly, affectionate, calm yet energetic, disciplined, and well trained (by you) make up for great ESA animals.