Posts Tagged ‘emotional support animals’

Using Dogs to Stop Panic Attacks

It’s happening again. Your heart is going a mile-a-minute, you’re sweating and shaking, you’re short of breath, and you’re in a state of absolute panic. But your dog notices what’s going on, comes into the room, jumps onto your lap, and before you know it, everything is fine. But why is this? What is it about dogs that helps to stop panic attacks? Here we explore how dogs can help to soothe sufferers of panic attacks, and more specifically, how to stop panic attacks using dogs.

Obviously, dogs can’t speak or truly understand what you’re saying, nor do they know what anxiety is or what panic attacks are, but somehow they have the ability to calm us down in moments of need. Dogs can do wonders for people who suffer from various anxiety related conditions, and here’s how they can be used to help stop panic attacks.

Dogs love to cuddle

It’s been clinically proven that positive physical touch can calm people down by reducing their heart rate, but this sort of physical affection isn’t always available, especially as the symptoms of panic attacks tend to occur at the most unlikely of times. As dogs are always down for cuddle time, they make the perfect solution for people craving the warm touch they can provide. Simply having a dog sit on your lap or lean against you can significantly reduce the symptoms of a panic attack and help to calm you down.

A dog will listen without trying to ‘fix’ you

Quite often, when discussing anxiety-related issues with people, they will usually listen but also try to offer advice, which is sometimes the last thing you want when pouring your heart out. Having a dog nearby to speak to can often alleviate the symptoms of a panic attack, as you can say absolutely anything you want without the fear of being judged, and knowing your dog won’t try to offer advice – because it can’t. Simply knowing you have an impartial listener can really help towards stopping panic attacks from happening.

Dogs are a great distraction

When left to our own devices, we can let our mind wonder and think about situations we wouldn’t normally think of, and this can be much worse for people with anxiety issues and suffer from panic attacks. As dogs are always available to play, take for walks, or just to snuggle with, they make for an excellent distraction from any wondering thoughts we might have. How can we think about worst case scenarios when playing fetch with an enthusiastic dog? It’s well known that dogs require a lot of care and affection, so when your focus is on looking after a dog, there will be less time to focus on any negative thoughts.

Having a dog around can help loneliness

Being alone at home for long periods of time can increase the chance of developing anxiety related disorders such as panic attacks. A flicker of light or the slightest noise can put you on edge, and the worry of being alone can induce a panic attack. By having a dog with you, you’ll definitely never be alone – there will always be someone you can share your latest news with, someone to play with and someone to cuddle up to.

Playing with your dog is a fantastic way to clear your mind

With all the stresses of daily life, it’s a wonder more people don’t suffer from anxiety related issues. Thinking about worrisome situations can only lead to more negative trains of thought, but it’s hard to worry about life when taking your dog for a walk, or see them being silly. In fact, playing with a dog has the ability to massively relieve stress and decrease the chances of having a panic attack. By simply focusing on your dog can really help to clear your mind and enable you to come up with solutions to any problems you may have, real or imagined.

Whether you’re a sufferer of panic attacks, have anxiety issues or simply want a loving companion, a dog can help anyone seeking to improve their life. A dog can be a shoulder to lean on in times of need, a non-judgemental listener, a great distraction from life’s stresses, a great companion to ward off loneliness, and can help to clear your mind. Why not think about getting a dog to help stop panic attacks?

For more information on service dog requirements click here.

For more information on how to obtain an emotional support animal letter from a doctor click here.

No! Emotional Support Animals are NOT fake Service Dogs.

There are major legal differences between emotional support animals and service animals. Knowing the difference will help you in understanding your rights. It will also determine how you go about obtaining the right documentation and identification for your animal.

What is the Purpose of Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals 

By helping individuals with disabilities function better in society, emotional support animals (ESAs) serve a higher purpose than regular house pets. The sole purpose of an emotional support animal is to provide therapeutic benefits to individuals with mental, emotional or psychological disabilities.

On the other hand, service animals provide direct assistance to people with disabilities. A service animal’s main purpose is to perform functions and tasks that individuals with disabilities cannot perform themselves. Direct assistance includes guiding individuals who are blind, picking up items, or alerting and calming a person experiencing a panic attack/anxiety.

What Kinds of Animals can be Emotional Support Animals?

Emotional support animals are not limited to just dogs. All domesticated animals can qualify as an emotional support animal as long as they are not a nuisance and are manageable in or around public areas.

Under titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service animals are limited to dogs and, in some cases, miniature horses. The animal must be able to perform tasks directly related to the owner’s disability. Although service animals are limited to dogs and miniature horses, the ADA does not restrict the type of dog breeds.

Training Requirements for ESA’s and Service Dogs

Emotional support animals are not required by law to have special training because their role is to provide emotional comfort, companionship, friendship, and affection to their owner or handler. Their presence mitigates stress associated with the owner’s psychological or emotional disability.

However, service animals are required under law to be highly trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. To ensure good public behavior and adequate support, dogs undergo extensive training before they become service animals. While every state has different laws regarding training, it can take roughly 1 to 2 years to train a service dog although there are not age requirements. Although training is required by law, people with disabilities are not required to use a professional service dog training program. They may train their service animal themselves. 

Documentation for ESA’s and Service Animals

Emotional support animals are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Owners are required to acquire an ESA letter, provided by a licensed mental health professional before they are granted access to apartments with a no-pets policy. The letter should state how the owner’s disability substantially limits their lifestyle and how an emotional support animal is necessary for treating their mental health.

Service animals, on the other hand, are entitled to accompany their owners in all public areas and facilities. Under ADA, businesses are only allowed to ask (1) if the dog is required due to a disability and (2) what task the dog has been trained to perform. Unlike owners of emotional support animals, service animal owners are not required to show documentation. Some service animal handlers may chose to carry an service dog identification card or have a vest on their service dog to avoid harassment by people who are ignorant to service dog rights. 

We hope this helps clarify some misperceptions you may have had on Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs! Share this article to help your friends or family find the help they may need.