If you’ve decided that you’d like to get a dog to function as an emotional support animal (ESA), it’s essential to pick a breed that’s best for the job. There are a number of breeds that are ideal matches for emotional support animals because of their temperaments and behavior. If you’ve ever wondered “Is a Labrador a good ESA dog?”, read on for all the info you might need to know about getting a Labrador ESA.
Emotional support animals are basically any kind of animal (from more traditional dogs and cats to exotic species like snakes and hedgehogs) that provides comfort and companionship to someone with a mental illness. If you suffer from any number of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder etc., you could find a number of benefits from owning an ESA. Good ESA dogs are generally very well-behaved and easy to train – these are must-have qualities, since you’ll be taking them with you out into the world (like when you travel on airplanes). ESAs should be obedient, but also very affectionate so that you can soak up some of their positive energy when you’re feeling down. ESA dogs typically shouldn’t bark a lot (which can provoke increased anxiety symptoms in some individuals), be aggressive, or shy away from people. You’ll want an ESA that you can form a good bond with – which brings us to the Labrador breed.
Labradors are currently one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. They’re usually on the bigger side: males weigh between 65 and 80 pounds and females weigh between 55 and 70 pounds, with a life expectancy of around 10 to 12 years. They come in three different colors: chocolate, yellow, and black. Labs have become a favorite with families because they’re super friendly and affectionate (which also makes them great ESAs). Labs don’t require a ton of grooming – an ideal quality if someone with a mental illness can’t get out frequently to take them to the groomers. However, this breed does need lots of exercise every day, so they’re not a great pick if you’re not willing to take them outside and play with them often. A Labrador ESA is also a good option because they’re extremely intelligent, making them easy to train with basic commands; this is beneficial, since you’ll most likely be taking them out in public. Actually, Labs are often picked for search-and-rescue missions, police work, and work as service dogs because of this innate intelligence and trainability.
Because Labradors are basically just incredibly lovable, they can be exceptional ESAs. Their affectionate nature makes them great for people suffering from depression who need boosts in their mood. Playing or just cuddling with your Lab can help lift your spirits and remind you that you’re not alone in the world. Since they’ll need frequent exercise, you also might find that you isolate less (a common aspect of depression and social anxiety), because you can take your Lab to dog parks and interact with other dog lovers. Labs are also known for their dependability and loyalty; they’ll always want to cheer you up if possible. And as a constant companion, you’ll have a loving presence around you, especially when you feel like you’re really struggling with your mental health.
If you’re now wondering “How can I get an emotional support animal?”, there are several ways to find the perfect ESA for your needs. Labs are typically pretty easy to find because they’re such a popular breed. You can research breeders in your area or consider bringing home a dog from a Labrador rescue group (do a simple Google search and you’ll find some options!). If you’re not sure exactly where to head, you can always ask your local groomer or veterinarian, and they should have suggestions for you. Just remember to steer clear of puppy mills or sellers who breed dogs under dangerous or inhumane conditions. If you already have an existing pet Labrador at home, you can make them a certified ESA too.
For your Labrador to become an official ESA, you’ll need to get an ESA dog letter from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. This person can write a Labrador ESA letter that asserts that you have a mental health condition (it doesn’t need to be specifically named) and that you can benefit from owning an emotional support animal. It’s okay if you don’t have a mental health professional to write an ESA letter like this. At Moosh, we can help by connecting you virtually with a licensed professional in your state that can help evaluate your situation and then write a Labrador ESA letter for you. This letter will be completely authentic and can be shown to authorities (such as airline companies or landlords) to ensure that you’re getting all the ESA privileges you deserve.
If you’re ready to own a dog that will become your best friend, Labradors are a perfect option. Their love and devotion can be a huge help in fighting symptoms of your mental illness. So why wait any longer in getting your Labrador ESA? There’s a Lab out there just waiting to be of service!