Archive for the ‘Emotional Support Animal’ Category

If you’re lucky enough to have an obedient, social, and intelligent emotional support animal (ESA) with a calm temperament, you may have a potentially ideal service dog. Training your ESA to become a service dog isn’t an easy endeavor—it takes work and dedication to make an ESA into a service dog, but it can flourish into a rewarding journey in the long run. This article will discuss important points to consider before starting your emotional support dog’s transition to becoming a certified service dog.

Steps to Making your ESA a Service Dog Determine if you need a psychiatric service dog or a mobility service dog. Make sure that your dog is the right size and or breed for your disability. If your disability is psychological, your dogs size/breed may be smaller than if you required support with mobility. Train your dog to perform a task to aid in your disability. The task doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult, it just has to be right for you. Travel with your service dog out in the world! If you’d like, order a Service Dog ID card for your personal convenience and register online. Register your service dog here. Does Your ESA Have the Qualities of a Service Dog? 

Before you begin to train your ESA, you’ll need to evaluate their qualities from an objective point of view. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Is your ESA the right breed?

Depending on what tasks you’ll need your potential service dog to do, the breed and size matter. Determine whether your ESA is the right fit to perform the tasks you need. For example, a bulk of your requirements might have to do with bracing and mobility, which calls for a larger dog breed. If your ESA is a chihuahua, it will not fulfill the job’s requirements, no matter how obedient or intelligent your small dog is. However, if your needs are psychological a small breed might be the perfect fit.

2. Does your ESA learn quickly?

Though an ESA might have the capacity to learn basic commands, a service dog must go above and beyond the typical “sit” and “stay” commands. Because service dogs in training spend so much of their time learning, only exceptionally intelligent, enthusiastic, and observant dogs can maintain the pace needed to become a service dog.

Dogs that are bright and eager to please typically are ideal to become service dogs, as they have the natural desire to pay attention for hours at a time. Service dogs spend the rest of their lives following commands for long periods of time. Asking a dog who doesn’t enjoy performing tasks day in and day out isn’t healthy for the ESA or the handler.

An intelligent ESA that naturally enjoys performing tasks will most likely lead to a happy service dog and handler.

3. Is your ESA social with other people and animals?

Emotional support animals aren’t typically allowed in areas that prohibit pets. Service dogs, however, can follow their handlers wherever the public can go. This means that service dogs are exposed to many strangers and animals, and safety becomes a concern. An ESA that’s naturally friendly and tolerant of strangers and animals makes an ideal candidate for a service dog. 

4. Does your ESA have a calm temperament?

Service dogs have to maintain a calm demeanor, even when their surroundings are loud or chaotic. For most dogs, remaining steady and focused in new or disruptive surroundings is a challenge. They cannot be distracted by others and should not bark (unless barking is part of a task). But if your ESA is naturally calm and doesn’t become agitated, you might have an emotional support dog with the potential to become a service dog.

To make an emotional support animal into a service dog, the dog must meet the requirements needed to perform tasks the handler needs assistance with. Training a Service Dog 

Once you have confirmed that your emotional support dog has the qualities needed for a service dog, and you’ve determined what tasks you need your service dog to perform, it’s time to begin the training. Training involves two parts: 

Teaching the Public Access Test requirements, which determines if dogs can remain in public areas without disrupting their environment.  Training for specific tasks geared at addressing the disabilities of the handler.  Turning Your ESA Into Your Service Dog

You have a number of options when training your ESA. The easiest but most costly option is to hire a professional. Your dog may be away in training for a while, but you’ll have a solid, obedient service dog once the training is complete.

Alternatively, you can choose to train your ESA yourself entirely. This option is the most cost-effective—and most involved—choice. And while it will take up a chunk of your time and patience, the bond between your dog and you, as well as his responsiveness towards your commands, will be stronger.

You can also choose to hire a trainer for parts of the training—like the Public Access Test—and train your dog yourself for the other, more individualized portions.

Whichever path you select, keep a training log to document your dog’s progress. A training log can help hone in on your dog’s strengths and weaknesses and provide proof of training should the needs or documentation arise. 

Know Your Service Dog Laws

Once your ESA has mastered all the training needed and has become a certified service dog, they can escort you into public areas like parks, malls, areas where pets and ESAs are not allowed, and on all flights. However, they must apply to the following rules:

A service dog must be under the command of their handler at all times. A service dog cannot display signs of aggression. A service dog cannot disturb the normal functioning of the places they are in.

And be aware, an establishment may ask the handler to remove the service dog from the area if the dog is out of control. Each state may also have additional service dog laws, so it’s safest to inquire about the laws for the state you’re in.

Turning an ESA into a service dog is like having the best of both worlds. A person can have their closest healing companion physically assist them with their disability. Training an ESA to become a service dog may take time and work, but the results are worthwhile! 

The terms “service dog” and “emotional support animal” are often incorrectly used interchangeably. While they fall under the same umbrella of assistance animals, these two types of dogs provide different services to their handlers. In order to find the most fitting, beneficial support, it’s important for handlers to know the difference between the two types of dogs.

In short, a service dog is a trained dog to help an individual with specific tasks and often accompanies their owner at all times. An emotional support animal (ESA) provides comfort in times of distress and does not need any specific training. While ESA’s do need an official ESA letter issued by a licensed medical professional, service dogs do not need any documentation. However, some service dog owners find it easier to communicate the dog’s purpose when they obtain a registration or id card.

Show everyone that the rights of your service dog should be respected. Get your service dog registered below.

What is a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is a dog that performs tasks specifically related to a person’s disability. Examples of disabilities are:

Visual impairment. The service dog would be trained to guide their handler. Physical disability. A service dog could help retrieve items for a person in a wheelchair. Chronic health problems. The service dog could alert its handler with diabetes when the blood sugar is low.

These tasks relate directly to the individual’s disability and help improve their quality of life. 

Difference between service dog, emotional support dogs, and therapy dogs. What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA) provides support to an individual solely through companionship. Specialized training is not required.

Anyone suffering from one or more of the mental illnesses listed below may qualify for an ESA:

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) Learning Disorders Autism General Anxiety Disorder Gender Identity Bipolar Cognitive disorders Depression Severe anxiety Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The emotional support animal doesn’t need to meet any specific requirements regarding training or registration and doesn’t have to be a certain type of animal. The owner of an ESA benefits from having the animal nearby, rather than having them complete certain tasks.

An Emotional Support Animal can be any type of animal. Qualifications for a Service Dog 

A person qualifies for a service dog if they have an official diagnosis of a disability from a medical professional. While the ADA doesn’t require a prescription or documentation to obtain a service dog, there are certain requirements that the dog must meet in order to qualify.

The dog must be under control at all times. A service dog cannot display any aggressive behaviors, The service dog must perform one or more tasks that directly related to their handler’s disability.

If the dog is highly trained and can meet these standards, the handler will be allowed to bring them to most public places.

Qualifications for an Emotional Support Animal

Similar to service dogs, there is no official registry for emotional support animals. However, there are more limitations to where an ESA can be brought. Under the current ADA and Fair Housing law ESAs are allowed only in

Housing with no pets policies  College dorms Places you can adopt an ESA, such as animal shelters

In order to legally own an emotional support animal, the handler is required to hold an ESA letter issued from a licensed medical professional. The therapist must agree that the handler’s pet is part of the treatment for their mental or emotional disability.

How to get an ESA Letter Online Which One is Right For Me?

Whether a person chooses a service dog or emotional support animal depends on their individual needs. A person who is diagnosed with a debilitating disability may prefer a service dog, as they’ll be able to help them with their day to day tasks.

On the other hand, somebody with a mental illness may prefer an ESA to support them during certain anxiety-provoking situations. No matter what, the dog is there as a support for their handler in times of need.

California expanded the definition of support animal in 2016 and removed training requirements.

California law is more expansive than federal law when it comes to the rights that disabled employees have to bring ESAs into the workplace. That protection increased when the Department of Fair Employment and Housing regulations were amended effective April 1, 2016 to make two key changes to the legal treatment of emotional support animals in the workplace in California, which include:

• Expanding the definition of “support animal”

• Removing the requirement that assistance animals must be trained.

California did not recognize support animals as a type of reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities until 2012, when the law was changed to specifically include ESAs within the definition of assistive animal. The definition of what constitutes an emotional support animal under California law was expanded with the 2016 amendments. An emotional support animal “provides emotional, cognitive, or other similar support to a person with a disability, including, but not limited to, traumatic brain injuries or mental disabilities, such as major depression.” 

California law also previously required that assistive animals be “trained to provide assistance for the employee’s disability.” That requirement was eliminated with the 2016 amendments and now assistive animals, which includes support animals, no longer need special training.

Required ESA Documents For the Workplace

California law requiring reasonable accommodation for ESAs applies to employers who have five or more employees. According to the CalChamber, employers may require the following documents for people in need of an ESA in the workplace:

• Documentation from the employee’s health care provider of the need for the animal (an example would be why the animal is necessary as an accommodation to allow the employee to perform the essential functions of the job).

• Confirmation that the animal will behave appropriately in the workplace and meet the minimum standards for assistive animals. (California Code of Regulations, Title 2, Sections 11065(a), 11069(e).)

Your animal must have an ESA letter to be in the workplace.

How to Get an ESA Letter

In order to get your ESA letter, you must contact a licensed therapist that can provide documentation on your need for having an emotional support animal. The ESA letter must be written on the letterhead of the licensed therapist. We have a great in depth resource on how to get an ESA letter here.

Restrictions on ESA’s in the Workplace

Employers can impose some requirements on emotional support animals, including requiring that the ESA be free from offensive odors, display habits appropriate for the workplace, and not endanger the health or safety of the disabled employee or others. 

ESA Letter for the Workplace

An employee should be prepared to present a letter from a licensed mental health professional which documents the employee’s restrictions and need for accommodation. It is critical to note that a legitimate ESA letter will come from a licensed mental health professional – we work with ESA Doctors since they always match clients with mental health professionals licensed to practice in their state. Some providers of ESA letters may provide letters that are not from LMHPs licensed to assist you. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has taken the position that these types of fake letters are not sufficient.  Employees should also keep in mind that it is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for requesting a reasonable accommodation of a disability, regardless of whether the employer ultimately grants the request.