Dogs provide companionship, love, and security, which is why many people consider them members of the family. And for people with mental health conditions, dogs can provide an important sense of security and support. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly common for people to get their dogs certified as emotional support animals (ESAs). But should you do the same? Here are some things to consider.
What are Emotional Support Animals?
Despite the name, emotional support animals are not just for people with mental health conditions. Anyone can have an ESA, provided they have a letter from their doctor saying that the animal provides the aforementioned psychological benefits. When it comes to getting your dog certified as an ESA, your doctor can provide you with a note explaining that your pet is used to mitigate anxiety and/or depression brought on by such things as panic attacks or PTSD.
However, before you get too excited about having an ESA in public places like restaurants and stores, there are some limitations on this access:
ESAs must remain leashed when in public areas (with some exceptions). They should also be muzzled if they’re playing with other dogs in the presence of food and/or non-pet animals. If your dog is uncooperative when you’re trying to put on a muzzle, you can just leave it off.
Who Can Have An ESA Certified Dog?
First, you must have an ESA letter from your doctor. This can be used to support your request for an emotional support animal (ESA) in the workplace or housing situation.
Second, your dog must be well-trained and reasonably well-behaved. If you want to register your pet as an emotional support animal, it’s usually necessary to display these characteristics on walks around your neighborhood with at least one of its handlers (you or a family member). This is because studies show that dogs who are calm and under their owner’s control are less likely to create problems for other people.
It’s also important that emotional support animals aren’t treated like regular pets. If they keep acting restless or out of control in public, they’ll run the risk of being banned from that area.
Is it Worth Getting Your Dog ESA Certified?
If you want to bring your dog out in public but experience extreme anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions as a result of being separated from him or her, then getting an emotional support animal is probably a good idea. However, if the only reason for having your dog certified as an ESA is so he can sit on your lap at a restaurant with you, it might not be worth the time and money to have him certified as an emotional supporter.
In general, getting certification for an emotional support animal is likely to be beneficial if you plan on using him to help treat some kind of mental health condition. In this, dogs are just like wheelchairs, which are usually purchased to accommodate someone’s physical disability. But if you’re simply looking for somewhere to keep your dog when you go out of the house (e.g., parking or pet fees at an apartment complex), it might be more convenient and/or cheaper to do so on your own rather than having him certified as an emotional support animal.
How Do ESA Dogs Help You?
An ESA dog can help in several different ways. For one, he keeps you company and provides a sense of security and protection. This is especially useful when you’re in the workplace or in public spaces like malls and restaurants. Another benefit to having your dog with you is that any stress and anxiety brought on by his absence wouldn’t be exacerbated by social stigma toward people who appear to be accompanied only by an animal (i.e., no kid, spouse, friend, etc.).
Can Your ESA Dog Travel With You?
Yes, your ESA dog is allowed to travel with you in the cabin of the airplane. He doesn’t even have to be in a carrier–just make sure he’s leashed and well-behaved. You will, however, need to provide documentation from your doctor stating that your dog is an emotional support animal. This documentation is required by the airline in advance of your flight.
The laws for taking ESA dogs on airplanes are also different in each state, so be sure to check with your local Air Traffic Control before you travel.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Your Dog ESA Certified?
Whether or not you get your animal certified as an emotional support animal will depend on whether or not he helps treat a mental health condition like depression. It’s also important to note that emotional support animals aren’t recognized by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), so if you plan on using this to get him into your apartment, you’ll probably want to get the letter anyway.
The easiest way to get this certification is with a licensed mental health professional. These are people who have experience in determining whether someone’s condition qualifies them for having an ESA dog or not. This might be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. If you don’t want to go through someone you know personally, there are some companies that can help you get your dog certified online fairly inexpensively.
What Can You Bring With An Emotional Support Animal?
An ESA dog isn’t treated as a regular pet in public places. So if your dog gets restless and starts barking loudly in the middle of a movie theater or restaurant, it’s probably best to take him outside for some air. The more you bring your ESA dog into situations where animals aren’t usually allowed, the more likely it is that someone will question him.
While some people try to get away with bringing their dogs wherever they go, this can cause problems when other people are allergic or don’t want dogs near them (e.g., in public transportation). For this reason, it’s important not to abuse the system by taking your ESA dog everywhere you go just because he has a letter from a doctor.
Certification for an emotional support animal is likely to be beneficial if you plan on using him to help treat some kind of mental health condition. But if you’re simply looking for somewhere to keep your dog when you go out of the house (e.g., parking or pet fees at an apartment complex), it might be more convenient and/or cheaper to do so on your own rather than having him certified as an emotional support animal. Some people try getting a letter from their doctor in order to have their ESA dog with them all the time, but that can cause problems.