Responsibilities and Functions of Emotional Support Dogs

Responsibilities and Functions of Emotional Support Dogs

Information overload about emotional support animals (ESA) has been flooding the Internet in recent times, leading to more confusion rather than understanding. Some of the information about what an emotional service animal is, turns out to be mostly false, misleading or only a half-truth.

The best thing to understand what exactly can qualify your canine to be certified as an ESA or Emotional Support Dog (ESD) is to know the regulations, requirements, rules, and functions.


Emotional Support Dog Explained

Animal or pets such as dogs can become an emotional support animal (ESA) such as an emotional support dog (ESD) or therapy dogs if a licensed mental health practitioner is convinced that the owner with a mental or emotional disability can benefit from their love, support, and companionship.

Emotional support dogs are not on the same level as service dogs. Providing companionship, relief, and comfort are the expected tasks of emotional support dogs. They are there to give their owners love and a sense of worth as a way to bring relief to a mental or emotional symptom. Other benefits attributed to emotional support dogs include lowered anxiety levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. The overall physical and mental wellness of their owners is often provided by the emotional support dog.

There is a difference between a normal pet dog and a pet dog that is considered as an emotional support dog. A canine that qualifies to be an ESD may now have these rights:

  • Housing facilities with no-pet policies cannot deny access to a tenant with a certified ESD. The Fair Housing Act allows ESDs to live with their owners regardless of whether the housing facility has a no-pet policy.


  • The Air Carrier Access Act allows owners to bring their ESD or ESA with them in any air plane’s cabin.


  • These laws exempt an owner of an ESD or ESA from being charged additional housing and airline fees for their animals.


The Emotional and Mental Disabilities That Can qualify for an ESA Dog

You may be able to qualify if you are currently suffering from these mental and emotional disabilities:

  • Bipolar
  • PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • ADD or attention deficit disorder
  • Severe anxiety
  • Gender identity
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Learning disorders
  • Cognitive disorders
  • General anxiety disorder

The mental and emotional disabilities listed above can seriously impact a person’s ability to do activities of daily living. Owning a legit ESD or ESA is something to think about if you suffer from any of the mental and emotional disorders listed above. If you are not under the care of a certified therapist, learn how you can avail of an online ESA letter that can qualify your present pet dog to become a registered emotional support dog.


What Are the Training Requirements of an Emotional Support Dog?

There is no special training for an Emotional Support Dog unlike the extensive training for Service Dogs. However, they need to show the following behaviors for them to be deemed beneficial to their owner’s mental and emotional disabilities:

  • The ESD must always be under the control of his handler. He must exhibit a calm and cautious behavior and alert to his owner’s needs at all times.
  • The ESA or ESD must not create any disturbance in the home or on a plane ride with his handler. He must not be the cause of harm to other people.
  • The handler is responsible for removing the ESA or ESD from the public if and when he shows aggressive behavior.

The spaying of an emotional support dog is not a law requirement. However, aggressive behaviors during mating season can be avoided when an ESD is neutered.


The Tasks That an ESA Dog is Expected to Perform

Dogs have been found to aid adults with serious emotional and mental disabilities by a study conducted back in 2009. There are four important areas found by the researchers that dogs can do other than providing companionship to his owner. These areas include:

  • Aiding their owners to open social interactions with other people. Social skills can often be lacking in people with mental and emotional disabilities. An emotional support dog can be the perfect icebreaker when the occasion calls for it.
  • Provides a feeling of belongingness and family even when it is only the ESD and his owner. A sense of belongingness is very important for handlers suffering from severe depression and PTSD.
  • A boost in self-confidence and empowerment when mentally ill owners see the dependence of their ESD on them. Doing a good deed for someone such as taking care of the dog’s physical needs empowers emotionally ill people like no other.
  • The struggle is real and debilitating for mentally and emotionally ill people. Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sometimes violent reactions are immediately sensed by an emotional support dog. Someone who understands their struggle even when it is only an animal has been proven to give therapeutic benefits to mentally ill handlers.


Steps to Certify Your ESD

The way to certify your dog as an ESD is to get an ESA letter from a licensed mental health practitioner. There are two options for you to choose from: a real-life visit with a mental health professional or go online using a reputable and legitimate website.

A licensed mental health practitioner is the only person allowed by law to issue an emotional support dog letter. People think that an ESA or ESD needs to be officially registered or certified. The ESA or ESD letter is the only certification or registration your dog needs to become an ESD. The letter bearing the licensed medical professional’s license number, the state where the license was issued, and the date of the letter are all the information needed to make the ESA letter valid. The letter will also explain the reason for your need for an emotional support dog.

Do you think you can benefit from with having a loving and supportive Emotional Support Dog? Make it convenient by completing the questionnaire. You can be able to get your ESA letter in less than 60 seconds if your condition qualifies you to have an Emotional Support Dog.

Just remember to use reputable sites to get an ESA letter if you can’t meet with a licensed mental health practitioner in person.

Read Our Reviews On The Most Popular ESA Letter Providers Below
Emotional Support Animal Co.
The Dogtor
ESA Registration of America
National Service Animal Registry
USA Service Dog Registration