Posts Tagged ‘emotional support animal’

Emotional support animals (ESA) help individuals to overcome mental health challenges. Other people may only see a pet, but an emotional support animal fulfills the valuable role of supporting the handler in mastering life’s challenges that others might take for granted.

Is an Emotional Support Animal for you?

If you have a mental disability — such as depression, anxiety, or other psychological disorder — you may qualify for an emotional support animal. It is well documented that ESAs provide a therapeutic benefit through comfort and companionship. To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need to obtain an ESA letter. Talk to your licensed health care professional or, if your therapist is unavailable or out of state, connect with one through an online service, such as ESA Doctors.

Pets versus Emotional Support Animals 

On a general level, pets provide a special beneficial relationship. The Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) has collected scientific evidence, which shows how pets positively influence human lives. Pets can encourage social interaction. Pet owners are more likely to get to know their neighbors and have positive relationships than individuals who don’t own a pet. Pets can contribute to a healthy life by improving physical health, decreasing stress levels, and providing companionship.

Emotional support animals, however, have a very specific and essential task. 

Difference between service dogs, emotional support animals, and therapy dogs. An Emotional Support Animal is More Than a Pet

More than pets, ESAs are required to serve a vital therapeutic purpose. ESAs allow people with emotional and mental health challenges to accomplish life activities that they would otherwise be unable to do. But, as opposed to a psychiatric service dog, an emotional support animal is not trained to perform a specific task.

Given the importance of the human-animal bond, it’s not hard to imagine how emotional support animals can improve the quality of life for a person suffering from a mental health issue or disability. 

Emotional support animals serve a particular therapeutic purpose by helping with emotional and mental health issues.

Mental Health Help

Before the value of emotional support animals can be explained, the importance of a person’s healthy mental well-being needs to be recognized. Mental health affects a person’s life as a whole. Not addressing these mental health concerns can cause problems at work, school, with friends, or even with family. Ignoring mental health issues can also compromise physical health in the long run by raising blood pressure, increasing heart rate, and causing muscle tension. 

Inadequate mental health can leave a person feeling lonely, drained, and defeated, unable to perform daily tasks that others take for granted. For example, a person may experience anxiety, making them unable to travel or be in social situations. Illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause insomnia, causing someone to be unable to obtain adequate sleep. Mental concerns can have a sweeping negative impact on a person’s life.

Emotional Support Dog helps to keep a positive outlook on life. Benefits of an Emotional Support Animal

For people trying to overcome mental health issues, every little triumph can help on the way to recovery. Emotional support animals can offer support on the path to healing. 

Numerous studies have documented how ESAs can be part of the wellness plan for mental health issues and other disorders. Emotional support animals have been essential in helping people manage disorders such as:

Anxiety Depression Post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) Agoraphobia (fear of being outside of the home) Aerophobia (fear of flying) General Anxiety Disorder Stress-induced situations Social shyness.

Get the Love and Support you deserve!

Anxiety and PTSD

Anxiety can be difficult to overcome without assistance. For those whose anxieties include phobias, anxiety can make everyday tasks impossible to accomplish. Emotional support animals are useful for anxiety and specific phobias. The ESAs provide a sense of comfort and safety, enabling patients to face and overcome those phobias. For instances:

Individuals who tend to have anxiety attacks when traveling often feel calmer in the presence of an Emotional Support Animal. Hospitalized patients with serious medical diagnoses have been shown to experience a decrease in anxiety when able to interact with an ESA. In courtrooms, Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals are used to provide victims some security while they are testifying against their alleged assailant.

Many therapists utilize Emotional Support Animals for veterans who have PTSD. A Pairing Assistance-Dogs with Soldiers (PAWS) study demonstrated that dogs significantly reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress in veterans. Veterans with Service or Emotional Support Dogs reported improved interpersonal relationships with others, fewer instances of depression, and fewer instances of substance abuse than veterans without dogs.  

An emotional support cat offers comfort and healing. Depression

In the case of depression, emotional support dogs can save a life. In instances of severe depression, a person may be unable to perform daily activities, or they may have feelings of suicide. There is scientific evidence that a human-animal bond can be a protective factor against suicide and depression. An ESA for depression can improve mood, increase sociability, and promote responsiveness to others in cases of depression.

Beyond Priceless

An emotional support animal — a dog, cat, or any other animal — serves a specific and valuable service for the people they accompany. More than pets, ESAs serve a particular therapeutic purpose by helping deal with emotional and mental health issues. Understanding the therapeutic value of emotional support animals can lead to their increased acceptance into society.

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! 

When we say “Pitbull,” it may unfairly conjure up images of a blood-thirsty beast out to destroy anything in its path. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Pitbull has gotten a bad reputation over the years due to cruel people using them for illegal dog fighting rings. These dogs are victims of animal abuse like any other helpless canine that finds themselves in the hands of an unscrupulous individual.

The term “Pitbull” is also a misnomer. There is no recognized breed of Pitbull, but instead, four registered Bully breeds that get lumped into one category. These include the American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, American Bully, and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

All of these “Pitbulls” are battling their way out of an unfair image. Some are even finding their way into the world of therapy work.

In this post, we will explore the question; can a Pitbull be a therapy dog?

General Traits of the Pit Bull

All of the “Pitbull” breeds share similar traits. They are all blocky in build with square heads and muzzles. Despite their shorter stature, the Bully breeds are also deceptively strong.

They all have very short, straight coats that come in a variety of colors.

Personality wise, the Bully breeds tend to be on the stubborn side (this is their Terrier” nature coming into play). However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t highly trainable. With the right techniques (a gentle, yet firm hand, positive reinforcement, and a willingness to help the breed overcome its lousy rep) these dogs do make wonderful companions.

The Bully breeds have a strong need to please, and therefore are very loyal, loving, and devoted animals. They crave human attention and do not do well left alone for long periods-of-time.

When it comes to exercise, your Bully will need 60 to 90 minutes of vigorous exercise once or twice a day. This can include long walks or hikes, jogging, playing in the park or getting your dog into agility or flyball activities.

 Get your Therapy Dog Identification Card Here

What is a Therapy Dog?

Unlike a service dog that must provide a task for a disabled individual, the therapy dog is used for comfort and support.

There are three types of Therapy Dogs;

Personal Therapy Dog (aka Emotional Support Animal) – a dog (or other species of animal) that provides general comfort and unconditional love. It does not need to be specially trained for a task. Requires an ESA letter and can travel and live with you. Assisted Therapy Dog – one that joins the handler (typically a doctor, therapist, teacher, etc.) at the workplace to help clients, students, etc. with stress and anxiety. Visiting Therapy Dog – one that is brought into hospitals, schools, hospices, nursing homes, etc. to interact with the people. They are only there for a short period-of-time. The Pit Bull as a Therapy Dog

Despite many communities imposing breed-specific bans on the Pitbull, there are just as many regions trying to break the stigma.

It is a fact that the “Pitbull” makes an excellent Therapy Dog. Their natural love for people, their eager-to-please attitude, and their ability to withstand pain give them the innate ability to be tolerant in situations where some dogs may not be so.

According to Pitbull Lovers;

“Some people have a hard time getting around, and it’s not altogether unlikely their toes might get stepped on or run over by a wheelchair. I worked a session where a woman had a sensory problem, and she had a compulsive need to pinch things extremely hard once she got a hold of them.

While she never pinched Angel, she could have if we were not paying attention and the outcome would have been Angel having discomfort but not reacting with aggression.

Another breed might have been driven to biting or growling at a person like this.”

All these qualities are what’s making the Pitbull a popular choice in the world of therapy work.

Can a Pitbull Be a Therapy Dog? 

Pitbulls do make excellent therapy dogs, but as with any breed, early socialization and obedience training are vital to having a well-rounded dog. If you want live with your personal therapy dog (emotional support dog), you must get a letter from a licensed therapist to verify your need.

If you want to get into therapy work or think a canine would be the perfect solution to your emotional issues, then be sure to seek out a reputable breeder or rescue organization.

We all deserve to have a happy, healthy life. The Pitbull is no exception.