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If you suffer from a debilitating mental or emotional affliction, registering your furry friend for a companion dog certification is a positive way to live a better life. If you don’t already have a dog, the option of welcoming one into your home is becoming more popular as people see the benefits of their comfort, affection, and emotional support.

Why do dogs make such awesome emotional support animals? Well, dogs are naturally empathetic to humans. They’re intelligent and social. They can be trained, which makes it easier when you’re out in public with them. There’s a reason why they are known as man’s best friend: They just love us!

The difference between an ESA and a normal household pet is that an ESA dog is officially registered as an emotional support animal and you get companion dog certification. This allows an ESA dog to have a greater range of mobility out in public. By fulfilling companion dog requirements for certification, your ESA can accompany you on a flight, live with you, or go with you in public places where dogs may not usually be allowed.

What Afflictions Lead to Needing an ESA Dog?

Sadly, mental illness is a fact of life. In the U.S., one in four adults has some form of affliction or disorder that they must cope with daily, from mild forms of anxiety and depression to more incapacitating illnesses, such as phobias, major depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. An ESA dog can mean the difference between needing to take medication to cope with an affliction or living a relatively normal life medication free. Caring for an ESA dog is sometimes all that is needed to put people on the path to happiness. They can alleviate loneliness in a way that no other animal can. Visit our FAQ page to find out more about how to get a companion dog certification.

Does an ESA Dog Need Special Training?

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Profession training isn’t necessarily, but it certainly helps.

Unlike service dogs, such as guide dogs, a companion dogs’ requirements for certification don’t involve performing specific tasks or undergoing professional training; your dog just has to be there to provide emotional stability. However, in the case of traveling by plane with an ESA dog, it helps if it is well-trained and able to sit quietly on the seat beside you or on your lap. A well-behaved ESA dog is also an asset if you want to go to a cafe, shopping and or meet other dog owners in the park.

What Do I Need to Prove My Dog Is an ESA?

You may already have a dog that provides you with emotional support or be seriously considering buying one from a pet store or adopting one from the local animal shelter. But identifying your need of an ESA dog is just the first step. You’ll need to also have a letter from a doctor or mental health professional to show as your companion dog certification. This ESA letter is something you need to have on hand to present to airline staff, a landlord when renting or anyone who questions why your dog needs to be with you.

It helps that ESA dogs are protected by the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), but to avoid constant questioning, it may be easier to have your dog wear a vest or tag to identify it as an ESA because the majority of the public is still unaware of what exactly an emotional support animal is and does.

Which Dogs Make Good ESAs?

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Choosing the right breed for your companion dog certification is important.

Any dog can be an emotional support dog, but getting the right one for companion dog certification is important, especially if you want to travel with it or frequent public places on a regular basis. Look for an ESA dog that has the following qualities: an affectionate temperament, eager to please, responds instantly to a command, respects other people. This will make life a lot easier for you. You need them to calm your stress, not add to it.

Some dog breeds that make good ESAs are Labradors, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, Pugs and Bichon Frises. But there are much more. In addition to considering your personal affinity to a type of dog, it depends on how much room you have to accommodate a larger breed, how much shedding you mind and how much time you have to exercise your ESA dog.

How Do I Take Care of My ESA Dog?

Caring for an ESA dog is just like caring for any other pet. It will need food and water, a comfy bed to sleep in, and daily exercise. Dogs are social creatures, so taking your ESA to a dog-friendly park is a great way for it to interact with other canines. It’s also good for you to meet other dog owners and build up confidence via socializing. Smaller ESA dogs won’t need as much exercise as a larger breed, which is something to keep in mind if you do live in the city and don’t have easy access to a green urban space.