Therapy Dog Certification Online
Dogs can have a calming effect on people when they are experiencing distress. That makes their presence especially useful for people suffering from mental health woes or who have recently undergone a traumatic experience.
Some people own emotional support animals or psychiatric service dogs to assist with their mental health conditions. A therapy dog, however, is neither an emotional support animal nor a service dog.
In this article, we’ll explain what a therapy dog is and how you can get a certificate and ID card if you are a qualified handler with a fully trained therapy dog.
What Is a Therapy Dog?
Therapy dogs have been trained to provide comfort, not to their owners or handlers, but other individuals. Therapy dogs also frequently work in group settings. For example, therapy dogs can visit schools, nursing homes, hospitals, disaster zones, and other areas where people need comfort or a mental health break. Some therapy dogs are also used in therapeutic settings to assist with professional counseling.
Should My Dog Become a Therapy Dog?
Being a therapy dog is hard work. A therapy dog must have the proper temperament and be capable of meeting strangers as a routine occurrence. Therapy dogs and their handlers should also be equipped to deal with individuals in crisis and be comfortable in group settings.
Some organizations can help train your therapy dog if you are interested in becoming a therapy dog handler. If you are already a professional therapy dog handler, you can obtain a certificate and ID card to help notify people that you have been invited on the premises to bring your therapy dog to help others.
How to Certify Your Therapy Dog?
National organizations will certify your therapy dog, but there is no universal legal standard for what constitutes a therapy dog. However, there are some basic requirements that your therapy dog should meet before it can be considered a therapy dog.
Your therapy dog should, of course, be well-behaved and follow all commands. Therapy dogs should also be calm and in your control at all times. This is especially important for therapy dogs as they are often in settings like hospitals and schools with lots of people, noise, and unexpected distractions. Therapy dog handlers should also have an understanding of how to deal with people who are experiencing distress.
If you are an experienced professional therapy dog handler and your animal has been appropriately trained and is capable of engaging with vulnerable and at-risk populations, you can order therapy dog paraphernalia from Service Dog Certifications.
It’s important to note that while therapy dog owners commonly use items like certificates, identification cards, and vests, these items do not confer or convey any rights. They also do not substitute for proper training of both the therapy dog and handler, nor do they give your therapy dog any special legal status. The therapy dog handler is always directly responsible for any representations made about their therapy dog’s qualifications.
Therapy dog accessories are popular with handlers because therapy dogs are often invited to public places such as schools and hospitals, where dogs are normally not allowed. Having these items is an easy way to communicate publicly that your dog is there to provide a service to others. Some staff members at venues that normally don’t allow animals may not be aware that a therapy dog is joining them; therapy dog paraphernalia can help avoid misunderstandings.
What Special Access Rights Does a Therapy Dog Have?
Therapy dogs do not have public access or housing rights and must be invited in. Therapy dogs are not service dogs and do not have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Fair Housing Act, or Air Carrier Access Act. Many institutions, such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes, that do not allow dogs, have programs to allow invited professional therapy dog handlers to visit.
How to Qualify For an Emotional Support Animal
If your dog provides comfort to you and not others, it may be an emotional support animal. ESAs accompany people with mental or emotional health disabilities. ESAs do not need any individualized training and are protected in housing under the Fair Housing Act.
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you need an ESA letter from a licensed healthcare professional. It is important to seek support from a medical professional and licensed therapist well-versed in ESA rules. If your current therapist is familiar with ESA rules and can write you an ESA letter, that is your best choice.
If your therapist is unfamiliar with ESA rules or does not understand animal therapy, you can seek support from a legitimate online service, such as ESA Doctors, that will connect you to a licensed professional.
When getting support online, it is important to be wary of discount sites or sites that guarantee “instant approval;” these may be ESA letter mills or from therapists whose license may not be recognized in your state. Top-tier companies, like ESA Doctors, will pair you directly with a licensed healthcare professional who is licensed in your state of residence.
What Special Access Does an Emotional Support Animal Have?
Your dog may already be your best friend and act as your emotional support animal. Why is it necessary to officially qualify your pet as an ESA with an ESA letter? Emotional support animals are protected under federal law. Under the Fair Housing Act, ESA’s have access to “no-pets housing.” Landlords cannot charge an additional fee for accommodating your ESA. ESAs are also exempt from size and weight limitations.
In any case, your ESA needs to be well-behaved and not create any threat to the health and safety of others. If your ESA causes harm to others or substantial property damage, a landlord can deny access.
Can You Qualify for a Legitimate ESA Letter Online?
Yes! Thanks to telehealth services, you can qualify for a legitimate ESA letter online.
To connect with a licensed healthcare professional and see if you qualify for an ESA letter, click on the link below to complete an ESA questionnaire.