Emotional Support Dog Training in Northern Virginia
At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we get asked a lot about Emotional Support Dog Training. Seemingly, many people know the role of a service dog and many people know the role of a therapy dog. However, the term emotional support animal (ESA) is fairly new to this genre of dogs acting as therapeutic or physical support for humans. Distinguishing the services provided by the animal and the capacity of the recipient are critical in establishing a dog as a legitimate emotional support animal. Emotional support animals are described as animals that have been prescribed by a person’s physician, usually a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed therapist, to aid in the recovery of a person diagnosed with a mental illness.
How does a person qualify for an ESA (emotional support animal)? A person must be declared as emotionally disabled under the categories of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) IV or V. This means that a person must have at least one function of life activity limited due to the disability, the person is under the care of a qualified professional, and the dog is prescribed for the person’s treatment or recovery. All information must be documented fully in order to qualify a dog as an emotional support animal (ESA). While registering a dog with the emotional support animal registry is not mandatory, it is highly recommended to ensure the validity and continuity of the emotional support animal program.
Persons prescribed a dog as an emotional support animal do not have all of the same entitlements and rights as those prescribed a service animal or therapy dog. Persons with a prescribed and documented emotional support animal, such as a dog, are entitled to live in housing designated as “no pets” and are permitted to fly with their emotional support animal without being charged. These acts protect the mentally disabled through the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Amendment Act. However, a mentally disabled person is not afforded the same rights with their emotional support dog as those prescribed with service animals. Emotional support dogs are not permitted in public places such as restaurants, parks, hotels, beaches, theaters, etc. unless specifically allowed by the individual entity. This is different from prescribed service animals which are required access to these locations by law.
Dogs as emotional support animals are very beneficial to persons suffering from depression, social phobias, or sense of well-being. These persons benefit greatly from the presence of the emotional support dog and many find the dogs an integral part of their recovery and/or daily function.
Emotional support dogs are distinguished from their service and therapy counterparts by the simple fact of training. While service and therapy animals are trained to react to specific instances or even take on specific tasks, emotional support animals are not. The mere presence of an emotional support dog may provide comfort and therapy to a mentally disabled person, allowing to function fully on a daily basis.
If you want more information about training a Therapy Dog, Service Dog, or Emotional Support Animal (ESA), contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-413-0896.
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