In this post we will review the steps on how to make your dog an emotional support animal. Here is a quick summary on how you can make your dog an emotional support dog.

  1. Determine what an emotional support dog is and if it would benefit your mental health
  2. Get in touch with your therapist or connect with one online and have them write an ESA letter for you and your dog
  3. Train your ESA dog so that you are in control
  4. Travel or live with you emotional support dog

How to use your current dog as an emotional support dog 

The medical world has known for years that animals have a therapeutic effect on people. Mental health professionals are even prescribing Emotional Support Animals as a part of some of their patient’s treatment. Emotional support dogs have specific access rights and do not require specialized training. 

emotional support dog

1). Understand what an Emotional Support Dog is

An emotional support animal is any animal species that brings comfort to the person with a mental or emotional disability. Under Federal laws, these animals do not have to have any special training. They must be well behaved towards other people and under the handler’s control at all times.

2). Qualify for an ESA letter

Since an ESA does not need any specialized training any dog (or pet) can qualify as an emotional support dog. In order for your current dog to be recognized as an ESA, you must have a written letter from a mental health professional stating that your dog is there to provide you with the support you need to live a normal life. The letter must include: 

  • Your mental health professionals letterhead and signature
  • Dated no later than one year from approval for an ESA

Having an ESA letter is important in order for people with ESA’s to get into “no pets” apartments/housing and to travel on an airline accompanied by the ESA in the cabin at no extra cost.

How Can I Get an ESA Letter from ESA Doctors?

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3). Train Your Emotional Support Dog

If you currently have a dog and want to make it an ESA, then you will have to make sure it has the proper temperament. This means your dog must be social towards other people and other animals. If your dog is lacking in these skills, you may want to seek professional training to help curb his/her inappropriate behaviors. These include jumping on people, lunging, excessive barking and being overall unruly.

Another option is adopting a dog that will be the right fit for you. A good ESA is one that can bond with you and will be there when you have troubled times. For example, an animal that has been through trauma/abuse itself may not be a good choice for some disabilities as the dog will have its own issues to work through. Adopt the dog suitable to help you live a better life. 

Another consideration is the breed itself. Even simple tasks such as grooming a dog may add more stress to your life. Take extra time to select the right animal for you. 

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4). Live with your ESA’s in “No Pets” Policy Housing

It is against the law for landlords and property owners to discriminate against those folks with emotional support animals. In fact, they must make reasonable accommodations for you and your ESA and allow you access to all areas of the property and building as they would any other tenant.

When applying for housing in a “no pets” policy building, your landlord will want to see your documentation stating that your dog is indeed there for medical purposes and not just as a pet. However, he/she cannot ask you the extent of your disability or charge you any extra for having the ESA.

Once you have been granted housing you are still liable for any damage your dog causes and you can be legally asked to leave if your dog/animal is a legitimate nuisance to the other tenants (ie excessive barking, unruly behavior, causing damage to their property).

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5). Travel with your ESA

It is possible to travel with an emotional support animal, but there are some rules you will have to follow. First, you will have to notify the airline that you are traveling with an ESA. This is so they can seat you in the appropriate area (not in front of an emergency exit etc.). Second, you will have to have your letter from your mental health professional at the check in point. Third, your dog must be under your control at all times. Lastly, your dog will be granted access to the cabin of the aircraft (at no extra charge) if you’ve followed these procedures. You ESA does not have to be in a carrier, but it must be on a leash and sitting on your lap or on the floor directly in front of you.

ESA’s to the Rescue

If you believe an ESA may help you with your emotional or mental disability, be sure to ask your doctor or mental health professional for the proper documentation. Whether you are using a current canine companion or are searching for one to adopt, having the perfect furry support may be all you need to live a normal life. 

Qualify your dog as an emotional support dog today.

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