HOW TO TRAIN AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG?
As man’s best friends, most dogs quite naturally provide loving companionship to their owners. But for people with emotional or mental health conditions, stable emotional support dogs are even more important.
CAN MY DOG BECOME AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG?
Looking after a dog provides stability, structure and comfort to people suffering from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, PTSD and related conditions. This is why many therapists prescribe emotional support animals (so-called ESAs) as part of their approach . Just like service dogs, ESA dogs require training. But unlike the elaborate training programs designed for service dogs (such as guide dogs or medical response dogs), this training is far less specific.
When it comes to a dog’s suitability to fill an emotional support role, breed and size are almost irrelevant: What matters most is the dog’s temperament. Any dog with a calm and stable disposition can become an emotional support dog. Of course, to serve their owner in the best possible way, such a dog should be obedient and well-mannered.
ADULT EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOGS
But what if you prefer adopting an older dog, instead of going through the lengthy process of raising a puppy? Or maybe, you already have an adolescent or adult dog at home – and you want them to be your emotional support animal. Even old dogs can absolutely “learn new tricks”. And it is never too late to improve your dog’s levels of obedience, manners and socialisation.
Therefore, we encourage you to believe in your dog’s capability to be your trusted companion in all situations. Now, some dogs have formed certain “bad habits” over time that could reduce their suitability for filling emotional support roles. Maybe they suffer from separation anxiety, or they pull on the leash so much that walking them feels like a chore. In this case, it is time to restructure your relationship with your dog. Many undesirable behaviours are merely symptoms of an unbalanced relationship between the both of you. Usually, this stems from an absence of calm, consistent leadership and the clear communication that goes along with this. In such cases, the solution lies in you stepping up, and embracing the position of your dog’s loving leader. And by leading them, you are helping them to be more calm, relaxed and content in their lives. This in turn makes it easier for them to help you – by being your canine best friend, or even your official emotional support dog.
Dogs are amazing companions – loyal, loving and devoted. No matter what challenges you may be facing in your life, your dog will always be right there by your side. We wish you all the best in your journey with your dog. And please remember, you are not alone: We from Fenrir are dedicated to helping you live the best life possible with your amazing canine companion.