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Can You Get An Emotional Support Dog For Anxiety

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How To Get A Service Dog For Anxiety & Depression

To obtain or acquire a mental dog for anxiety and depression, the first thing you need is a prescription to get a psychiatric assistant dog from a licensed mental health professional. The prescription must include an outlined need for the psychiatric dog.

The prescription should have clear and outlined details that show the specific tasks the dog is needed to perform for the handler, and which tasks the handler is unable to perform on their own. Psychiatric service dogs can be purchased through reputable service dog organizations.

On the other hand, you can seek the services of a reputable service dog organization to train your dog to suit your needs.

Here’s a helpful video with more information about how to get a service dog for anxiety .

What Is The Best Pet For Anxiety

Owing any pet can be beneficial for your emotional and mental health. However, dogs and cats are considered the best pets for anxiety, so it is really about whether you are more of a dog or cat person.

Some people believe that caring for a dog or cat can have incredibly positive effects as one of the best ways to improve your mental health is to bond with your pet. Dogs and cats can help you feel less stressed, boost your mood, and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Scientific research shows that physical contact with your pet causes your brain to release hormones of happiness, oxytocin, and serotonin while blocking the stress hormone cortisol, helping you feel happier and more relaxed.

Also, dogs provide a sense of security, making you feel safer in their presence. Dogs, cats, and other animals cannot judge, which means you will feel nothing but unconditional love. These feelings of being loved and adored can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Additionally, caring for a pet requires specific lifestyle changes , helping reduce loneliness, improving your mood, enhancing physical health, and much more.

Training Your Own Service Dog

It is possible to save money by training your own service dog; however, this is a challenging task to undertake and requires dedication and many of the criteria required by the professional training programs noted above.

It would be best if you also kept in mind that training your own service dog will require a lot of discipline, time, and dedication.

Another benefit to training your own service dog is that there is no waiting list many professional service dog organizations have lists of applicants for years into the future.

On the other hand, individuals with depression and/or anxiety may not be able to partake in hundreds of hours of training a service dog.

What Type of Dog Can Be a Psychiatric Service Dog?

Certain characteristics make a dog a good candidate for service dog work for people with depression or anxiety.

While many canines can possess these characteristics, a few breeds tend to display them more regularly, so they favor service dog work.

When assessing an animal’s suitability for service dog work, its important to consider the following questions:

  • Are they capable of carrying out the tasks that are required of them to help their owner?
  • Are they trainable?
  • Are they distracted by excessive drive or energy?
  • Do they get easily distracted?
  • Are they loud, reactive, or timid when faced with unfamiliar or overwhelming situations?
  • Are they in their senior years?

The Cost of Training Your Own Psychiatric Service Dog

What Are Emotional Support Animals

An emotional support animal is a companion animal prescribed to a patient suffering from a mental or emotional illness. Numerous studies prove the benefits and improved healing of patients who own a pet or who often have contact with animals.

Comfort, companionship, support, and love are all coming right your way when you have an ESA! A companion animal can help to ease the symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder , and phobias.

An ESA is an assistance animal, but they are not to be confused with a service animal!

Can’t wait to get started?

The ESA Application process at CertaPet starts with a fast, free screening test that you can take right now. It takes only 5 minutes and shows if you may qualify for an ESA right away.

Living With An Emotional Support Dog Can Boost Your Confidence

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People who suffer from social anxiety often have low self-esteem and confidence. But getting an emotional support dog can change that.

First, understand that no matter what, your dog will always love you! And thats the best part about having a dog. But living with a dog is more than that.

When you are living with an emotional support dog, you will have to take care of that cute animal. You will have to feed and bathe your dog. Your doggo will be dependent on you for everything, even exercise.

Taking care of your dog will give you a sense of responsibility and purpose. It will also give a boost to your confidence and self-esteem. This will also make it easier for you to fight external issues you may experience in your daily life.

Studies have shown that taking care of another living being can provide you a sense of purpose, which can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Not to mention the comfort you feel just by petting a dog. 

Housing Laws 101: The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988  states that apartments or housing communities that do not allow pets must make an exception for emotional support animals and make suitable accommodation for them and their owner.

  • ESA owners must be legally allowed to keep their support animal even in no-pet housing.
  • ESA owners are exempted from pet deposits or pet fees.

The landlord of the apartments or housing community may require a proof of documentation indicating that the patient is in the need of an emotional support animal due to their mental or emotional disability. This documentation is an emotional support animal letter or ESA letter, which is written a licensed mental health professional .

The FHA allows tenants with mental or emotional disabilities to request a reasonable accommodation for their Emotional Support Animals. Read if you are looking for a housing letter.

Definition Of A Psychiatric Service Animal

While most people think of service animals as those that help individuals with physical disabilities , they also help those with medical conditions and psychiatric illness. In this way, psychiatric service animals are just one specific type of what is legally known as a “service animal.”

Based on the Americans with Disabilities Act , “a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.”

Only dogs and miniature horses are recognized by the ADA as service animals as of March 15, 2011. 

Note that the Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act have different definitions of assistance animals and service animals than the narrow definition of the ADA. Service animals may also be defined more broadly in your particular state or local area. Check with your state attorney general’s office to learn what applies in your area.

Emotional Support Animal Letter

As mentioned, an Emotional Support Animal letter can only be issued by an LMHP or medical professional, and should recognize that you are a patient under his/her care for mental and emotional disabilities.

The letter should prescribe an emotional support dog or  for you as a necessary reinforcement for your mental well-being.

Letters are usually issued under the LMHP’s letterhead and include licensing details and information for further correspondence with the LMHP if required.

Appropriate Emotional Support Animal

There is no set rule of what animals can or cannot be considered ESAs; however, many airlines, landlords, and, most importantly, licensed mental health professionals will not allow or write an emotional support animal letter for a pet who does not provide you with the proper care you need for an mental/emotional condition.

The animal must be beneficial for your health and not put you or anyone else in harm’s way.

Overall, most dogs and cats are recognized as appropriate emotional support animals with the exception of a few outside breeds.

Be aware though, there are airlines that have banned specific dog/cat breeds for the safety of other passengers and flight attendants as well as for the breed itself. For example, brachycephalic breeds are not allow to fly on some airlines due to the fact that their nasal passages are packed; and therefore, have serious respiratory problems more so than other breeds.

Make sure to always check with your airline before you fly.

Wondering How To Get An Emotional Support Animal Try These Steps

When youre trying to figure out how to get an emotional support animal, there are a few steps you can use. Follow them here!

1. Qualify

You will need to qualify for an emotional support animal through your mental health professional. You will need a letter from them. Keep an eye out, though! Not all letters are created equal so make sure your mental health professional knows you need one for an ESA!

2. Support

Most people who have registered emotional support animals choose to use an animal they already have for emotional support. For example, if you have a dog who already lives with you, you might be able to register the dog as an official emotional support animal. There are also resources, clubs and organizations that might help you find an animal who fits well with your emotional needs that you can then register. 

3. Prepare Your Home

Your home should be ready for an emotional support animal. If you have any pets or children in your home, make sure theyre prepared for a new animal to enter your home. Be sure to have all the items you need to make sure your emotional support animal can help you out.

4. Animal Care

Caring for an emotional support animal might be different from caring for a pet, but its still important you have everything you need to take care of the animal in your home. Be sure you have a space for it to relieve itself and a clear place where you will keep food.

Obtaining A Service Dog Through A Service Dog Program

Dogs trained through service dog programs go through obedience training, service training, and socialization before being matched with a potential handler in need of this assistance animal.

However, the training is not over yet because the dogs then undergo another set of rigorous specialized training to meet their specific handler’s needs .

Service dogs trained through service dog programs may be from a reputable breeder owned by that service dog program, from other third-party reputable breeders, or, in some rare instances, from shelters or rescues.

To qualify for a service dog from a psychiatric service dog training program, they will subject you to certain rules or requirements. These rules or requirements vary depending on the program you apply to. A good example of some common requirements can be found on the Canine Partners for Life eligibility policy and include:

The Cost of Getting a Psychiatric Service Dog Through a Professional Training Program

A psychiatric service dogs cost will vary based on which service dog organization you contact. The average cost for a psychiatric service dog adopted for anxiety or depression runs between $20,000 to $30,000, which is obviously very expensive.

This high price reflects the time, effort, resources, and amount of work that goes into raising and specialty training an assistance dog that will be specialized for you specifically and is essential custom-tailored for your condition and lifestyle .

What Training Is Required

Unlike service animals, however, ESAs do not need to undergo specific training. An ESA calms its owner through its presence alone rather than by completing tasks or utilizing comfort techniques.  

If you would like, you can enroll your animal in professional training courses to make them adept in helping you at certain tasks, but this is not required. An ESA does not require any additional training or specifications. 

Legal Protections Of Emotional Support Dogs

Another difference from psychiatric service dogs is that emotional support dogs. They are not provided for under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

They are, however, provided for under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act.

You can read more about the protections afforded to Emotional Support Dogs in our article here.

What Animals Count As An Esa

Trained Service Dogs Reduce PTSD Symptoms

Unlike service animals, any pet can qualify, such as cats, snakes, and rabbits. Still, airlines and property owners have cracked down on ESAs that are of an exotic species. While the law can be open ended with regard to ESA animal type, please dont assume that your pet llama actually qualifies as an ESA even with a valid letter from a licensed therapist. Service animals can only be dogs or miniature ponies, so if you’re planning to switch from ESA to a service pet, then you need to plan accordingly since service animals go through extensive training to assist their owners.

The Emotional Support Dog

Now let’s adopt emotional support dogs for anxiety or depression, which are slightly different from above mentioned psychiatric service dogs. Still, generally, many same things apply to this category of animals as well.

ESAs can be viewed as a second tier of assistance dogs for these specific mental health conditions in some ways.

For individuals who do not qualify for a psychiatric service dog, emotional support dogs can still provide comfort in times of distress. An emotional support dog is a lesser choice because they cannot perform specific functions for their disabled owner with mental health conditions. Rather, they are dogs that provide comfort just by being with a person.

Emotional Support Dogs Are Not Psychiatric Service Dogs

There are service dogs, known as psychiatric service dogs that require extensive training to work specifically with people whose disability is due to mental illness. These dogs detect the beginning of psychiatric episodes and help ease their effects. Although this sounds similar to the role of an ESA, the difference between a psychiatric service dog and an ESA is again in the tasks performed by the dog and the training received to perform these tasks.

Psychiatric service dogs have been trained to do certain jobs that help the handler cope with a mental illness. For example, the dog might remind a person to take prescribed medications, keep a disoriented person in a dissociative episode from wandering into a hazardous situation such as traffic or perform room searches for a person with post-traumatic stress disorder. If it is simply the dogs presence that helps the person cope, then the dog does not qualify as a psychiatric service dog.

What Is An Emotional Support Pet

An Emotional Support Animal or Pet is an invaluable friend for persons having mental health disorders. It means that an Emotional Support Animal provides therapeutic support like a part of their mental health treatment. Typically, cats and dogs are emotional support animals. However, exotic animals also may help people with mental health issues. 

A psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different, Gail Saltz, assumes that pets provide people presence, unconditional love, warmth, and softness. It holds all thought to be calming and mood-boosting. People have to care for them, and due to that, they get structure, purpose, and being needed.

The mere animal presence can make people feel more comfortable. Pets can relieve emotional stress that therapy cant. Therapists cant give full support to 24/7 as emotional support animals do.

Thus, emotional support pet registration becomes more popular in the United States. If you think how to register a pet as an emotional support animal, it means that you feel the needs of your pet presence when you travel or move to another rent house. After the registration, your pet will be protected by two Federal Laws: The Fair Housing Act The Department of Housing issues guidance relating to the FHA and The Air Carrier Access Act The Department of Transportation issues guidance regarding the ACAA.

Esa Dog Registration Is It Required

Federal Laws of The Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act dont require any specific ESA Dog Registration. You may get an Emotional Support Animal Identification Card when you prove that you need an emotional support animal on this website. 

You should provide its name, age, breed, weight. This information may be included in the ESA Letter too. So, its only this way legally register emotional support dog.

Service Dog Licensing Or Prescription Requirements

To have a psychiatric service dog, you do not have to have a doctors prescription. However, if you obtain your service dog through a service dog organization, they may ask how a service dog would improve your life. This information will help them to match you up with the right canine for your special needs.

There is no requirement for a service dog to be licensed or registered with any special agency.

In fact, its discouraged to use licensing services, not only because they are a scam to make money off service dog owners, but because they are widely used by people posing with fake service animals.

And because of that, they make it much harder for legitimate service dog handlers by teaching business owners to expect service animals to be certified.

The U.S. Department of Justice even remarked quite recently that:

There are individuals and organizations that sell service animal certification or registration documents online. These documents do not convey any rights under the ADA, and the Department of Justice does not recognize them as proof that the dog is a service animal.

Getting An Emotional Support Dog For Anxiety Or Depression

Looking to bring home a dog that can serve as an emotional support dog. But you do not require the specific assistance that psychiatric service dogs can provide. Therefore, some rescue organizations and breeders do make a note of dogs within their programs, making good ESAs.

Often, a potential ESA is marked on the dogs adoption profile or profile on their breeders notes.

But if it isnt, try contacting the rescue or breeder directly and asking if they have or can help you find a dog that suits your needs.

What Do I Have To Do

No matter your reason for getting an ESA letter, you will first need to speak with a mental health professional. In most cases, an established relationship with a therapist and a discussion with your care provider will be enough to receive an ESA letter should you qualify.

Please note that registering an ESA through a website does not automatically qualify your animals as an ESA. A letter from a mental health provider is what makes an ESA legitimate. Registering an animal on ESA Registration adds you to a searchable self reported database and in the event of an emergency or lost animal someone has the ability to search for and connect with an owner to return a lost ESA.

What Makes An Animal An Emotional Support Animal

Can I Get an Emotional Support Dog for Anxiety ...

For an animal to be considered emotional support, they must be certified. Certifications for animal companions typically come through a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional. These professionals must confirm and provide support that the animal alleviates one or more symptoms of an existing disability. This confirmation must be done on their official letterhead and include the information of the individual, including that the patient does indeed have an emotional or psychiatric disability, without labeling what kind of mental illness it is. Some common mental disabilities that qualify someone for an emotional support animal are anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, chronic stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The certification for an emotional support animal can be for any type of animal, though it is most commonly a dog. However, some other emotional support animals to consider include cats, birds, rabbits, fish, or rodents. 

ESAs come with some perks. For example, an animal with an emotional support certification has unfettered access to apartment housing, even if it has a no-pet policy. It also waives any additional monthly pet fees and your ESA gets free domestic airline travel in the cabin. 

Emotional Support Dog Vs Service Dogs

ESAs provide support through companionship and can help ease anxiety, depression, and certain phobias. However, they are not service dogs, and ESA users do not receive the same accommodations as service dog users.

A service dog, such as a guide dog or psychiatric service dog, is generally allowed anywhere the public is allowed; ESAs are not. For example, ESAs generally cannot accompany their owners into restaurants or shopping malls.

The Americans With Disabilities Act defines service animals as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. The act clearly states that animals that simply provide emotional comfort do not qualify as service animals. Some state and local laws have a broader definition, so be sure to check with local government agencies to learn if ESAs qualify for public access in your area.

The key difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog is whether the animal has been trained to perform a specific task or job directly related to the persons disability. For example, service dogs are trained to alert a hearing-impaired person to an alarm or guide a visually impaired person around an obstacle or provide pressure on someone with PTSD who is suffering from a panic attack.

Behaviors such as cuddling on cue, although comforting, do not qualify. The tasks need to be specifically trained to mitigate a particular disability, not something instinctive the dog would do anyway.

They Can Help Stabilizing Intense Emotions

During tough times, emotional support animals can help individuals to stabilize intense emotions. Pet owners say that when theyre feeling down or are tired from a long day at work, they feel happier when they get home and see their pets. Theyre like children who are stress busters. 

Even how anxious or scared you are, the bonding time with your pet will always be a happy moment. Most especially when your pet does silly and cute things, you forget about all the intense emotions. 

Do Emotional Support Dogs Need Training

As mentioned previously, unlike service animals, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development does not require any special training for the service and help that an ESD provides. However, you need to provide at least some basic behavior training to your emotional support dog to ensure that your pet behaves properly in public.

When Does Depression Or Anxiety Qualify As A Disability

Depression and anxiety do not always qualify as a disability, which means that not everyone with these conditions can officially obtain a psychiatric service dog to mitigate their symptoms. It’s important to understand your situation and know whether you’ll qualify to get a service dog for anxiety or depression.

When is anxiety or depression considered disabling?

There’s an official definition for this. The ADA defines a disabling illness as an illness that physically or psychiatrically must limit one or more major life activities, such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing, learning, etc.

If the illnesses do not limit one or more life activities, you do not qualify for a service animal .

For example, the individual we referred to in the above example who cannot leave their home because of their anxiety would qualify as disabled because of their inability to engage in major life activities.

However, someone who experiences mild anxiety levels, such as having an increased level of worry about what other people are thinking about them while they are out picking up medications, is not considered disabled.

The former individual was unable to leave home , the individual with mild anxiety may be uncomfortable leaving home to pick up medication.

However, they are still capable of doing so. It’s considered that their level of anxiety isn’t preventing them from living a full life.

How Do I Get A Service Animal

Taking care of an animal can be a great way to improve your mental health. But not every landlord allows pets. You can get around this if a mental health professional certifies that you need an emotional support animal. There are other types of service animals tooits important to understand what youre trying to get, because the steps are different for each type.

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