One in five Americans has a mental health issue. Emotional Support Animals can help relieve some of the symptoms of mental health conditions. Not only is a dog a reliable companion, but the companionship also promotes relaxation by encouraging the release of serotonin, oxytocin, and other feel-good hormones.
For those who need to get emotional support animals for treating depression, it is important to understand the distinction between ESA and service animals. Service animals are highly trained to perform specialized tasks for people with physical or emotional disabilities. Emotional support dogs provide psychological support and comfort. But before you can get an ESA dog letter, here are a few things to note.
Alleviate Stress, Depression and Social Anxiety
Dogs have always had the reputation of being loyal and reliable companions. The happiness you feel at the sight of your pup wagging its tail can be helpful when in overcoming social anxiety disorder. The presence of a pet can diminish feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Besides that, those with social anxiety can benefit from new opportunities to interact with strangers. One study showed that people with service dogs got more inquiries from strangers than the control group. Subsequently, the subjects in the study became more social, and there was an increase in the number of their evening outings.
Also, having a dog triggers the release of serotonin helping you to relax in social situations. For that reason, pets have become critical in providing support for people with mental health conditions. More than seven out of 10 of people with psychological conditions, noted improvements when they kept service animals. Other than the release of serotonin, playing with pets also increased levels of oxytocin, reduced cortisol, and slowed down the heart and blood pressure.
Importance of Getting an ESA letter
You may get a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional. Getting an ESA dog certification will make it easier for you to move with your pet whenever you need to go.
There are several benefits that you get with an ESA certification:
- You can fly with your pet in the airplane cabin.
- It is easier to get access to all types of housing, including those that normally do not accept pets.
- No additional costs for accessing housing or an airline.
ESA Dog Training
Before registering your dog for ESA, the pet must get the right type of training. A dog that is not trained for emotional support certification will still give the same benefits, such as making you relaxed by encouraging the release of serotonin and oxytocin.
But for your pet needs ESA training to be well behaved in public. A dog that barks excessively or shows aggression in public could cause more distress than relaxation for pet owners, with social anxiety disorders.
You can train your dog to be an emotional support animal, but there is one key area you shouldn’t overlook. The pet needs to be properly socialized. That means excessive barking, running around, begging for food will make the pet unsuitable as an emotional support animal. You may choose to go for a breed that is social and easy to teach.
Some of the popular breeds you could choose as an emotional support animal include:
- Golden retrievers.
- German Shepherd.
The best way to train your pet is to start when it is still a puppy. You can begin the pup with some basic training commands such as sit, stay, heel, and come. With time you can begin to train your pet to respond to your emotional distress.
One simple technique that has been effective for many dog owners with social anxiety is (Deep Pressure Therapy) DPT. With DPT, your pet is trained to apply pressure on some part of your body when you are in distress. Your dog may place its paws on your thigh or lie across your chest. A study on college students with anxiety concluded that DPT showed promising results as a technique for alleviating anxiety.