Dogs can be the best of friends to their owners, and contrary to their famous reputation, don’t care about gender. Man, woman or child — a dog will be open to loving and caring for any and all potential new friends. However, when you first bring your emotional support dog home, they can be a real handful, especially if it is a puppy.
Puppies are in a hurry to experience the world, and they tend to get over-excited about even the smallest things. They also aren’t too keen on following orders or listening to commands, and they can really run riot, which is all part of the fun of course. Sooner or later, however, you’re going to want them to settle down and fall into the usual routine of the household. To do this, puppies need to be trained.
Although training is an important part of any dog’s early life, it can be particularly crucial for emotional support dogs, a popular choice of emotional support animal. The function of an ESA animal is similar to that of therapy animals; they support people who suffer from a wide variety of mental illnesses. The difference lies in the way they are trained and who they’re geared toward aiding.
Therapy dogs receive strict training and generally tend to a wide variety of people, particularly those incarcerated in some form or another. ESAs, on the other hand, receive no training and are concerned with looking after one person only: their owner. They help the mentally afflicted by being with them, soothing patients with their nonjudgmental and gentle presence. All ESAs are afforded special privileges that allow them to accompany their owners where other pets cannot. As a result, although emotional support dogs require no formal training, it’s important that they’re trained so they behave well in public.
Choose Your Emotional Support Dog Carefully
Any animal of any species or breed can become an emotional support animal, from a snake to a gibbon. They can be a pre-existing pet who provides comfort to somebody afflicted with mental illness, or they can be suggested or prescribed by a doctor who thinks they’ll benefit a patient. Either way, all it takes is an emotional support animal letter, prescribed by a medical professional.
Then comes the fun part: choosing your new pet. The most popular ESAs are dogs, followed closely by cats. With an emotional support dog, it’s important to choose the right breed for your particular affliction and lifestyle. This doesn’t just mean choosing an indoor emotional support dog if you’re a depressive type who shies away from the outdoors. ESA dogs are meant to play a part in treating your illness, and that might mean encouraging you to get outside more. Large emotional support dogs suit people suffering from anxiety or autism because they’re a calming, secure presence in the face of an episode. People suffering from depression might opt for an active emotional support dog to take them out into the world and provide them with a sense of responsibility. It all depends on what your particular illness is and which breed takes your fancy
Use the Crate-training Method
Crate training is a method of training any dog to be on its own. But be warned: It should only be used in the short term because it can distress your pet if used repeatedly. The goal here is to make sure your emotional support dog gets used to sleeping on its own and to erase any behavioral problems you might encounter when you first bring it home.
Essentially, whenever you need some space or alone time, you put the ESA dog in a crate for a few minutes at a time. You can also introduce the crate at night time if your emotional support dog is the rowdy sort; it’ll be an easy transition if it’s already used to it. After a few days or weeks, it’ll get used to its new “bed’” and will think of it as a safe haven or a place it can get its own downtime.
By nature, dogs enjoy small, enclosed spaces for sleep or rest, so don’t worry about your pet’s mental state. It will take to it like a duck to water. Just be aware that your emotional support dog shouldn’t spend too long in a crate and should never go more than two hours without a toilet break.
Teach It to Behave in Public
One big responsibility that owners of an ESA dog have over other owners of similar animals is that their emotion support animal can accompany them anywhere, including places where other pets are forbidden such as planes, trains and rented accommodations. This allowance comes by virtue of an emotional support animal letter signed by a medical professional.
Although this unquestionably grants the ESA owner the right to take their animal with them wherever they go, it is up to the owner to make sure their ESA dog behaves in public. Your emotional support dog needs to be of calm, stable temperament and able to get on with other people and dogs without getting freaked out in large crowds. You can help your dog along by bringing it outside for walks in public places and being stern with it if it happens to step over the line. This may take some time, but the younger you start this training, the better it’ll be for you and your dog. You can then have your lovable emotional support dog accompany you anywhere you wish to go without the added stress of it potentially acting up.
Ultimately, the stronger the bond you form with your ESA animal, the better it’ll be for both of you. Start building that bond with disciplined and regular training so that you and your new pet can enjoy life together a little bit more.