There are many benefits to gain from having a pet, and this could especially be true for those who suffer from certain mental illnesses. It’s been found that 74% of people reported improved mental health by having an animal companion, but you may wonder, what exactly is an emotional support animal, and is it right for you? Before seeking out an ESA, there are a few things to consider.
Why an ESA?
Unfortunately, mental health can be an uphill battle that’s not so easily won. If you’re like the many people who seek emotional support animals for treating depression or anxiety, then you’re on a viable track to improvement. Touch and companionship, which can be gained with pets, leads to the release of serotonin and oxytocin — important neurotransmitters thought to promote happiness and well-being.
How to Get an ESA
It’s easy to confuse a service dog for an emotional support animal, but there are noticeable distinctions. Unlike a service animal, the process of obtaining an ESA is less expensive and more streamlined. Essentially, those seeking emotional support from an animal need to get a signed document from a therapist or physician to approve a service pet. Once this is completed, you can begin looking into the type of pet that best suits you, as all breeds are different.
Because ESAs mainly serve as companions, they do not need formal training like service dogs; however, there is a lot to gain from having a trained pet. It’s important that you toilet train your ESA dog in order to avoid accidents in public as well as the home, and it could also be beneficial to train your pet to react when you’re experiencing emotional distress. The amount and type of training your pet should receive is subjective to you and your situation.
What ESAs Should Know
ESA pet training does not need to be excessive, nor does it need to done by a professional trainer. You can toilet train your ESA dog yourself with a little bit of patience and persistence.
This can essentially be done by offering your dog positive reinforcement, such as a treat, when they’ve performed a favorable action. You should take your pet outside on a daily basis, and once they’ve gone potty, you can reward them. This builds a relationship between emptying their system in a preferred location and being rewarded for doing so. This will then make it easier for any owner who plans to have their ESA dog in public places.
The method of positive reinforcement can be applied when training your pet a variety of actions, although certain actions will be more difficult to come by. Some “tricks” you may consider teaching an ESA are: sitting, staying, and deep pressure therapy. These additional teachings could come in handy for anyone who experiences varying degrees of anxiety.
Benefitting From your ESA
Just like everybody experiences emotional distress differently, every dog is going to be different. If you plan to get an ESA, you should consider the steps it takes to own one and how it could benefit you.
It is not difficult to toilet train your ESA dog or to teach it certain moves, but it will take time and patience; by the end of it, however, you’ll have a noble companion that can reassure you in times when you most need it.