Posts Tagged ‘emotional support dogs’

What Is an Emotional Support Dog?

Anyone who has owned a dog knows the unconditional love and support they give.  There’s nothing like coming home from a bad day at work and waiting for you at the door is your furry friend waiting to give you all the love you need and turn your day around. 

Because of their ability to provide support and unconditional love, the mental health profession has begun using dogs (and other animals) as emotional support for individuals with varying mental health issues.  Emotional support dogs have been shown to help individuals suffering from the following:

Agoraphobia (the fear of leaving the home) Anxiety Depression General Anxiety Disorder PTSD Social Shyness Stress-Induced Situations

With the help of emotional support dogs, those suffering from the above disorders have been able to begin recovering and regaining the confidence and freedom with the help of their emotional support dog.

How Can I Make My Dog An Emotional Support Dog? Get an ESA letter from a licensed medical healthcare provider. Provide your ESA letter to your landlord. Get your ESA identification card and register your Emotional Support Dog. Enjoy living with your Emotional Support Dog.

In order to receive the rights under the laws afforded to emotional support dogs, the dog must be prescribed by a mental health professional for an individual who is suffering from a disabling mental illness. 

Emotional support dogs do not have to be licensed or registered, but you do need to have an ESA letter written by a mental health professional (on their letterhead) that states that you are suffering from an emotional disability and the emotional support dog is vital to your wellbeing. 

The letter must be signed, dated, and include the mental health professional’s license number and the date and place where their license was issued. It is important to note that the letter prescribed by your mental health professional is only valid for one year. 

Emotional support dogs do not require any specific training and the only difference between them and a pet is a letter from the prescribing mental health professional. While emotional support dogs are not required to be registered many individuals choose to register their support dog and carry an identification card and have their dog wear an ESA (emotional support animal) vest because it makes it easier to travel with their emotional support dog.

Click Here to Qualify for Your ESA Letter

What Rights Do Emotional Support Dogs Have?

Emotional support animals do not have the same rights as service dogs and psychiatric service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Service dogs have been specifically trained to help perform tasks for individuals with disabilities and have the right to accompany them into any place the normal public has access to. 

Because service dogs are trained and are needed by a disabled individual to perform tasks like pulling a wheelchair, alerting an individual they are about to have a seizure, or assisting a visually impaired individual across the street they are afforded more rights than are emotional support dogs. 

There is also a difference between psychiatric service dogs and emotional support dogs as again they are specifically trained to help assist individuals suffering from a disabling mental illness. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to detect and recognize the beginning of a psychiatric episode and then help to ease the effects of that psychiatric episode, once again because they are specially trained and licensed they are afforded more rights than emotional support dogs. 

When out in public establishments including restaurants, theaters, stores, etc. have the right to ask two questions:

Do you need the animal because of a disability? What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?

If an individual is unable to answer these two questions then they do not have a service animal that is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the establishment has the right to refuse to allow the animal on their premises.

Emotional support dogs do not have the same public access rights as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, ESAs are protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Under this federal housing law individuals with emotional support animals are allowed to have them in their residence even if there is a no-pet rule in effect. Emotional support animals owner are protected against discrimination and property managers are required to make reasonable accommodations for them.

Conclusion

While emotional support dogs provide an essential service to many individuals suffering from certain mental health issues, because they do not require any specialized training, registration, or licensing they are not afforded the same rights as service dogs are. 

Having said this, ESA owners are protected against discrimination under federal and state housing laws, so you can live with your emotional support dog even if you can’t take them to the local restaurant with you. 

Since qualifying for an emotional support dog only require a letter from your mental health professional you can receive the benefits from your own animal saving you time and money searching for a dog that provides you with the emotional support you need.

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.