What is an Emotional Support Animal?
An Emotional Support Animal is a companion animal that a medical professional has determined benefits an individual with a physical or psychiatric disability.
You can have your treating physician write a letter or obtain a letter online, and with an official ESA designation, you may qualify for a waiver of a no pets’ policy on airlines and housing. Proper documentation allows ESA’s to sit in a passenger seat on a commercial airline at no charge, not in a carrier under your seat or in cargo.
Can MY dog be my ESA?
Yes, any dog can qualify to be an emotional support animal as long as it does not cause a disturbance or undue hardship to others.
Why should I bother training my dog for this?
Taking an untrained dog into a public place is NOT a victimless crime.
The irreparable damage that an untrained dog can do to the reputation of service dogs and well trained ESA’s. An incident like this could cause people with disabilities to lose their rights and privileges. By taking an untrained dog into a public place, you also endanger the dog. A dog that has not been properly trained may be frightened, which could cause it to bite someone. The unhappy result of that could be the dog being euthanized.
Taking an untrained dog into a public place can also cause damage to a business. No one wants to shop at a place where dogs are sniffing people and food, barking or eliminating on the floor. ESAs who behave inappropriately by disrupting business, behaving aggressively, and interfering with other patrons can still be excluded from airlines, housing and public places.
What training should an ESA dog have?
An ESA dog must be unflappable AND have impeccable manners. Your dog must be socialized in a huge variety of situations so that he/she has enough experience to adapt or “bounce back” from new things that might trigger a fearful or aggressive response. Remember, dogs are animals, and they cannot vent their feelings the way people can. They don’t get to hire attorneys when they feel wronged or write letters to the editor. They simply react.
Your dog must be trained not to come into other people’s space, sniff them, lick, mouth or jump on them. They must not eliminate, jump on furniture or take food until invited. They must not get up on tables, counters, knock things over, bolt through doors or drag you on a leash. Your dog must learn to stay with you calmly and quietly.
Will this make my dog a service dog?
No. An ESA’s sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship and to promote wellbeing for their owners. They are NOT service dogs.
Service dogs are specifically trained to DO something specific for the person with a disability. The training of service dogs requires many years of training and costs about $15,000.
Will this make my dog a therapy dog?
No. A therapy dog provides comfort to people other than you. The first step to is to get your dog properly socialized and trained. Then you must obtain your Canine Good Citizenship title. PlayStayTion Pet Resort & Training can help you achieve these three steps. Afterwards, you select a therapy organization and you and your dog can go through their program to become a certified therapy dog.