How to Train Your Dog to Be an ESA
Even though emotional support animals are not mandated to be as highly trained as service dogs, it is always preferred if they are properly trained and well-behaved. For this reason, there are certain things you will need to take into account when picking a dog intended for emotional support or training your current pet to be an ESA.
Qualities of an Emotional Support Dog
Most dogs have the natural tendency to be affectionate and dedicated to their parents because after all, that is what makes them ‘man’s best friend.’ However, some dogs might be too rambunctious, too timid or extra excitable to assist or ‘support’ people emotionally in their dark times. This doesn’t imply that these pup-personality-types will never or cannot be a good emotional support animal, it just implies that they just require more training.
If you have been recommended an ESA by your doctor to help with your diagnosis, you’ll want to go for a canine that is a year-old and has a calm nature, as well as a responsive personality. Making an instant bond or true connection with any pet is one way to make sure that your dog will be there by your side when you need him the most.
Emotional Support And Puppies
Some people want to teach their puppy to be a better emotional support animal. This is a great way to train the dog several ways to perform the duty better. To do this, you will want to look for a dog that is known to be more people-oriented and curious to learn. Such breeds include Poodles, Golden/Labrador Retrievers, and increasingly popular, Goldendoodle. Sure, any pure or mixed breed can offer the qualities you are looking for, but you will need to some extensive research and visit individual puppies to find the most suitable candidate.
Once you have found the right candidate, here’s what you can do to train your dog to be an ESA. A quick exercise you should teach your dog to help you with your anxiety, stress or panic is Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT). Studies show that DPT can calm the symptoms of autism, depression, anxiety, stress, and self-harming behaviors.
- Place a treat in front of your dog’s nose and slowly bring it to the back of the couch. Tap the couch with your hand and then excitedly say your dog’s name.
- If your dog puts his front paws up, appreciate that gesture and reward him with the treat.
- Now call your dog off the couch with commands such as “paws off!” or “good boy!” and praise him. Use these calls whenever your dog gets off the couch when you ask him to or on his own.
- Now lie down on the couch and pat your chest and say “paws up!”. Your dog will surely be confused at first, but offer him treats until he becomes relaxed with the idea. You will need to practice the command “down” on your chest. If you start becoming frustrated, stop what you are doing and give the whole thing a rest. Try giving your dog fun or easy command and end your practice session.
- Lengthen the time your dog is required to lay on you by extending the time between you reward him with treats and when you say “paws off!” With the course of time, you can substitute treats with verbal praise or extended petting.