What to Know About Getting an Emotional Support Dog
As we previously discussed in ‘10 Simple Ways to Care for Your Mental Health’, until recently, mental health was an often overlooked aspect of a person’s wellbeing. If you fail to address the distress you’re experiencing, the issue may blow up and place you in a mental health crisis. To avoid this, it’s important to engage in activities that build resilience and improve your mental wellbeing.
Activities like exercise, dieting, and socialising can help any individual improve their mental health, regardless of whether they’re currently afflicted with mental illness. However, people that require medical intervention for their emotional distress may be able to seek the assistance of emotional support dogs. Emotional support dogs are canine pets that are prescribed by medical professionals as psychological treatment for your condition. The companionship emotional support dogs offer can provide a sense of comfort that alleviates symptoms of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
If you’re considering adopting an emotional support dog, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Emotional support dogs are different from service dogs
An emotional support dog may be mistaken for a service dog, given that both provide services to individuals in need. However, according to an article on emotional support animals by SymptomFind, there are key differences between them and service animals. Service animals exist to aid people with disabilities. They are trained to assist with tasks that people with disabilities find difficult to execute, such as helping people with limited vision in public spaces and helping people with limited mobility to open doors or carry objects. As such, service dogs usually receive professional training of some kind.
On the other hand, rather than performing tasks, emotional support dogs only need to provide companionship. Therefore, they’re not required to receive any form of training, though basic obedience classes may be able to help them maintain a temperament that is easy for mentally ill owners to manage. While emotional support dogs do provide support, they have too general of a role to be classified as service animals.
Who qualifies for an emotional support dog?
There is no need to register for an emotional support dog certification. An article entitled The Emotional Support Dog Diaries explains that to gain permission to adopt any emotional support animal, an individual only needs to secure a prescription from their healthcare provider. This is a formally written letter that proves that an official medical provider recommends owning an emotional support animal as valid psychological treatment. Individuals who experience panic attacks, anxiety, PTSD, or OCD will usually qualify for an emotional support dog prescription.
What are the legal protections for emotional support dogs?
Since emotional support dogs are not classified as service animals, they do not have the same legal privileges. Emotional support dogs will not often be allowed to fly with their owners in passenger cabins. Unlike service animals, who are generally allowed everywhere, emotional support dogs will have limited access to public spaces. Whether your emotional support dog will be allowed in your residential buildings depends on where you live.
What are the best emotional support dog breeds?
FamilyMinded’s article on dog breeds for emotional support recommends the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, the Standard Poodle, Retrievers, and the Corgi. Golden Retrievers are considered some of the best dogs for mental health due to their obedience and gentleness. These dogs are easy to train and are social with both people and animals.
There are a lot of different ways individuals can protect their mental health. By getting an emotional support dog, people suffering from mental illnesses can gain support in the form of a cute, furry friend.