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Can your dog be an ESA or emotional support dog?

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Although most pets do provide emotional support, there is an actual designation of that term to be an ESA dog. It is a legal terminology and carries weight enough to enable their owners or handlers to have certain privileges and certain access to some areas other dogs would be unable to go.

Although an ESA dog is not a service dog since they are not trained to do specific tasks, they are an asset to people with disabling mental disabilities. To have your dog actually certified as an ESA dog, a doctor must write you a letter stating your need for such a dog. Then you must apply. As a result, this determination will give you the right to keep your dog with you in some situations. Remember because it is still not considered a service dog, your access with your dog will be limited.

You really do not need to undergo specific training for you ESA pet, but just the same general training for a well behaved dog that any pet owner should go through. Paige and her partner adopted a dog with just such a goal in mind. She is to be her partner’s ESA pet. It came about while they were both volunteering. This happened about 4 months ago. The dog is a female Rhodesian/Pit Bull mix about 1½ years old. Her name is Syrabi. Paige says, “We met her when we volunteered to help New Hope Rescue with some adoptions. We both fell in love with her the moment we saw her.” It was only one week later when she came to be a permanent part of their life. She said, “A week later after making sure we had everything we needed and a home visit, we adopted her.” These dog owners were aware when Syrabi arrived that she was very underweight. They are trying to put more weight on her, but say her metabolism is high so it is a challenge. Finally, the vet says she is no longer underweight or in danger. She probably could use a just couple more pounds.

She had the potty training pretty well down when she came, but she still has an occasional accident. Like all adopted pets she came with a couple problems they need to address such as jumping up on people. The other problem may take more work since the dog cannot be around their cats.

Paige says, this dog “can also be very possessive and doesn’t like to share us with other dogs.” These new owners have taken a beginners obedience course with her. They also plan to sign Syrabi up for an intermediate course soon.

Any dog you adopt will require a training period with their new owner. You must always expect challenges and have patience. As long as patience and love are provided by the owners, the pet has an excellent chance of fitting into their new family.

If your goal is to get an ESA dog, ask questions from your doctor, pet shelter, trainer and vet.

Paige and her partner say, “She is a wonderful dog and we both love her very, very much.”

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