How Emotional Support Animals Help People

Animals have been loyal and devoted pets of people for many years. Dogs, for example, were originally used only for hunting or for protecting property. However, over time, these animals have primarily become faithful companions and partners.

Nowadays, animals are also used for the treatment of physical and psychological illnesses. There are several types of individually trained animals. All of them can fulfill both a standard defensive function and help their owner with household duties or contribute to his speedy recovery by taking part in therapy.

Service Animal dogs breeds

Psychiatric Service Dogs

A psychiatric service animal is a distinct subcategory of a service animal that is often assigned to humans with severe forms of mental disorders. These animals are great for serving veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and accompanying psychic disturbances.

Service dogs perform tasks the specifics of which depend on the demands of people with mental disabilities. For example, an animal constantly supplies its owner with psychological endorsement, which raises his sense of security and self-confidence. Moreover, such an animal succors to overcome flashbacks, nightmares, fears, and phobias much faster.

Emotional Support Animals

One of the best cures for depression and bad moods is spending time with family or friends. Likewise, companion animals are recommended for people who want to minimize stress. It has been scientifically proven that people with pets are much less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

The main difference between these animals and service animals is their status. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which is one of the basic laws regarding helper animals and their handlers, doesn’t apply to ESA. Therefore emotional support animals have access only to pet-friendly institutions. However, some other laws concerning the helper animals are still relevant for ESA.

ESA dog keeps hands

Training of ESA

Unlike service dogs, which provide completely physical services to a human with an inability, the help from ESA is more psychological. Therefore, these animals do not need special training. In fact, if you already have a pet and can prove that it helps you cope with your mental distress, you can qualify it as an emotional support animal.

Nevertheless, you can train your animal by yourself and taught it to perform various assignments for your benefit. For example, you can teach your pet to fulfill some household duties. Animals are able to bring to the handler required things like medications. They also know how to open and close doors and windows, upload and unload laundry, and turn the light on and off.

In addition, animals know how to provide first aid. They can call 911 or another service if their numbers are on fast dial.

A Dog as an Emotional Support Animal

Dogs are used more often as emotional support animals because of their calming effects. They are capable of providing comfort and care for those they love. Almost all psychological disorders can be eliminated to one degree or another through constant contact with the dog. During contact with animals, emotional discharge occurs, and the brain is distracted from any problems.

In fact, most dog breeds can be ESAs. However, some breeds are considered more suitable for this role. For example, the Golden Retriever is considered to be the best partner in the fight against depression and anxiety. They often have a strong emotional bond with their owner, which makes them ideal pets and emotional support dogs.

Another breed that is perfect for an emotional support animal (ESA) role is the poodle. These dogs are naturally highly intelligent, which makes them perfectly trainable. In addition, they are insanely cute, active, and love to spend time with their owners. Poodles are very executive, social, and easily adapt to the new atmosphere.

Also, the Great Danes and Newfoundlands dogs often become emotional support animals. These breeds are friendly, calm, patient, reliable, and loyal. Furthermore, Newfoundlands like to hug and cuddle with their owner, which guarantees additional tactile support to get rid of depression. The Great Dane, among other things, is also distinguished by its guard qualities, therefore, next to such a dog, a human with a mental disability will feel safe.

Dog Breeds Better Not To Use as an ESA

In most cases, the ability of an animal to render psychological prop to its owner depends more directly on the dog than on its breed. In theory, if you already have a pet, you can register it as an emotional support animal as well. However, some dog breeds are unlikely to be suitable for this role.

One of these breeds is the Shar-Pei. This dog is distinguished by its loyalty to its handler, but at the same time, it is not always ready to show care and affection towards others. The Pekingese and Shiba-Inu also belong to this group. These dog breeds are quite independent and often don’t need interactions with other animals or people to feel happy. They will not seek your attention, just as they will not give it to someone without their own desire. Therefore, they are not the best contenders for the role of ESA.

Emotional Support Cat

If you love cats more than dogs, you can use a cat as an emotional support animal. Although this animal cannot be trained as a helper one, cats can still be loving and caring friends or even family members. Cats have very developed intuition and mental abilities, so they always feel when their owners need endorsement and assistance.

As well as other ESA cats help to cope with depression and anxiety. They reduce the level of psychological tension, stress, and aggression. Furthermore, contact with cats helps to get rid of obsessive thoughts and clears the mind. Purring of a cat, for example, can have calming and soothing effects.

Other Species of Animals for Psychological Endorsement

Miniature horses have also gained widespread popularity as emotional support animals. Moreover, these animals can also be used in the therapy of some physical inabilities. Horses are very focused and are easy to train. They can be facilely disciplined to carry out the job that meets the disability-related needs of their handler. However, the training process of a miniature horse takes more time than it is necessary for a dog.

Horses are very sensitive and responsive, which is evident even in the wild. In addition, they have a natural tendency to protect and look after those who are weaker. They are always ready to supply backing and defense to those who need it. In addition, contact with the horse improves mood and gives an opportunity to distract.

At the same, if you want to get a miniature horse as an emotional support animal, your home must correspond to some demands. First of all, there must be enough free space for the animal to run and train outside. Also, the room should be spacious enough so that the animal is not restrained, but at the same time does not bring discomfort to other residents of the house.

Using of ESA in Therapy

Pet therapy is quite widespread in the USA, where there are even special organizations that treat a lot of mental disturbances with the help of animals. Moreover, some scientists say that dogs thanks to their sense of smell can even be helpful in the diagnosis of a person’s illness.

To a greater or lesser extent, positive changes are noticeable in the treatment of depression, psychosis, anxiety, dementia, childhood mental trauma, and many other frustrations. The therapy may take place in specialized institutions, like nursery homes, where the treatment is carried out according to special methods and under the oversight of doctors. This is more typical for severe forms of disorders. If a person has milder forms of frustration, the therapy takes place at home, and the emotional support animal is practically no different from a regular pet.

ESA dog with tag

Emotional Support Animals for Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are among the most widespread mental disturbances all around the world. With each passing day, these disorders worsen the lives of more and more people. Often human suffering from these frustrations stops enjoying what he or she previously liked. For example, sports, walking, hobbies, or meeting friends no longer bring pleasure. Nevertheless, an animal makes a person interact with the outside world, do something new and go out.

ESAs help their handlers to cope with panic attacks, fears, and phobias. They also supply a man with a necessary emotional and tactile endorsement that is extremely important when a person’s mental health conditions get worse. In general, the animal has a calming effect on humans, both on a psychological and physical level.

Of course, it is not worth hoping for a cure for depression or anxiety only with the help of emotional support animals. This is just one element of therapy, which also usually includes taking special medications and visiting a psychiatrist. However, research shows that emotional support animal owners recover much faster than other patients.

Other Benefits of ESAs

Among other things, animals perfectly support the good mood of the handler. Emotional support animal owners become more cheerful and optimistic, laughing and smiling more often. Thanks to the pet, you can also adjust your daily regime, sleep, and diet. All this will certainly contribute to the improvement of the general well-being of a human.

Moreover, pet owners develop such traits of character as friendliness and sociability. They become more reliable and self-confident as the animal boosts a sense of security. Thanks to this, a man becomes more hearty and easy-going, starts the conversation, and makes new friends more readily.

The Freedoms of ESA

Emotional support animals have much more freedom than regular pets. Having a legitimate status, the animal can travel with its owner in the cabin of the aircraft, and not in the luggage compartment with other pets. In addition, you can rent accommodation with such an animal at no additional cost, even if living with pets is prohibited.

However, there is often a lot of controversy surrounding the freedoms of emotional support animals. While service animals have special ID cards to prove their status, there is still no specific document to certify ESA status. Therefore, some airlines, landlords, and restaurant owners may refuse to let the animal on their property.

Accommodation With the Animal

Despite the lack of such conditions in the ADA, emotional support animals still enjoy some privileges in the housing field. A housing provider cannot deny the accommodations for a human with a helper animal. Moreover, a landlord may be fined if such a situation occurs.

However, the law also protects the person’s property. For example, a housing provider can ask about a deposit. This money will only be used if the pet damages the property of the landlord, otherwise, the deposit will be returned to the tenant upon moving. Also, a housing provider may ask the government to evict an animal if he or she considers it to be dangerous to his or her property or other residents.

Traveling With Your Pet

Family with dog

By law, a service animal or an emotional support animal can fly in the cabin of an aircraft next to its owner, if you have all the appropriate documents and the animal meets all the requirements. For instance, the animal must not be very big or heavy, it must be clean, non-aggressive, and free of any disease.

Airlines usually have their own requirements for the carriage of animals in the cabin. The most popular restrictions for the animals include harness, muzzle, or vest. Besides, a special kennel is usually needed since the animal cannot occupy a seat or an exit row. More detail on the rules of different airlines concerning the transportation of animals can be found on their websites.

If the airline refuses to authorize the pet to fly in the cabin, you can carry your emotional support pet in the hold with other pets. In addition, there are now pet-friendly airlines, where any animal can travel next to its handler.

How to Get an Emotional Support Animal

To certify a pet as a legitimate emotional support animal, a pet handler must obtain a certificate from a psychologist or psychiatrist. The certificate should detail why a man needs such endorsement. To get an ESA you will need serious reasons. The man must have a diagnosis that involves the presence of the animal as a therapy.

You may qualify for an ESA online by filling in a special form and attaching all the necessary documentation to it. After your application has been considered, you will receive an answer about the possibility of obtaining an emotional support animal.

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