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Training Your Emotional Support Dog

Training Your Emotional Support Dog

When you have an emotional support animal, the human to animal bond grows more intimately as both live and work together, and are supported with health and happiness. This experience is effective when an emotional support dog, cat, or other furry friend is carefully training. Training to provide comfort, assistance, and even protection.

Canines are typically best, as long-serving, support animals. Once you’ve examined the criteria for an emotional support animal, you should understand the importance of training your ESA to be your ‘best friend’ and attentive partner. This way, you will gain offer greater therapeutic benefits while at home or abroad.

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Establishing a Role for Your ESA

The first thing an ESA owner should do, even before getting an ESA letter, is to examine what you desire your emotional support dog to accomplish. This may sound like a foolish question, but the object is to train your pet to specifically address your needs, rather than expecting too much, too soon. A fully trained ESA can take months for both parties to feel confident in asking and giving. Here are some common roles an ESA can play in your life:

  • Provide a sense of calm
  • Provide companionship
  • To manage anxiety attacks
  • To ward off depression
  • Interrupt PTSD symptoms

Once you’ve come up with what your needs are and what you want to gain from training your ESA. Here are some tips to reach your goals faster and with less frustration.

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Dealing With Personality Traits

In some cases your dog may be too rambunctious and easily over-excited. Maybe the pet is a bit too calm and lacks motivation? You must first address these inherent personality traits. The optimum behavioral traits for an ESA dog is to be attentive yet relaxed, sympathetic yet alert, able to get along with other people, and eager to learn. All these can be gradually molded into an ESA with time, patience, and consistency.

When your dog lacks motivation – use rewards such as treats, hugs, or loving speech to get unwilling dogs to cooperate. Consistently train in the basics; sit, stay, down, come, heel

If your dog is pushy or assertive– practice calm-assertiveness by setting rules and limitations, such as waiting for your permission to go inside the house, eat, or get on the couch. Sometimes you may need to ignore her to reduce her dependence on attention.

For dogs that are hyperactive– you may become frustrated with their short attention span but these types of dog personalities require a lot of physical exercise, consistent behavior management, and very possibly – a professional dog trainer.

Start Obedience Training as a Puppy

For the best results in an emotional support dog, the training should start early – in the first year, when the dog is still a puppy. The ESA should socialize with other puppies and people. Doing this by, taking the pup to dog parks, neighborhood walks and car rides. Also, allowing visitors to pet and communicate with the puppy.

As a responsible pet owner, your puppy should then begin obedience training as early within its first year, according to the American Kennel Club

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“The idea here is that inadequate socialization during the first two to three months of the puppy’s life can result in behavioral issues (including fears, phobias, avoidance, and aggression) that extend well into the dog’s life. By the time the puppies graduate 6 weeks later, they are developmentally ready to begin learning additional new skills.”

When you’ve decided it times to get an emotional support letter and train your puppy to provide a wonderful and balanced relationship with you and others, contact American Service Pets for guidance on becoming a certified owner of an emotional support dog. 

Get Your ESA Today


Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.


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