Most everyone has seen both service dogs and emotional support dogs. While it’s often obvious what a service dog does, many are still left wondering, “What is an emotional support dog?” As opposed to service dogs, emotional support dogs don’t perform any specific tasks, so they require no special training. What they do provide, however, is provide therapeutic benefits for their owners. Here are few ways an emotional support dog could help you cope with emotional or mental issues.
Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows how comforting their presence can be. With their unending loyalty and capacity to love, having a dog by your side can help you deal with trauma and insecurities, and make it easier to live your daily life. For a dog to be considered an emotional support animal (ESA), however, you will require an official letter stating so from a mental health professional.
2. Combating Stress
If you have difficulty handling stressful situations, your emotional support dog can help decrease your stress levels. This is particularly helpful for those who have trouble flying, or facing unknown situations. Having a dog at your side won’t cure you of your issues, but they can make these circumstances easier to cope with.
3. Reduce Depression
People who suffer from depression can find it difficult to get out of bed or do the things they have to do. Dogs demand our attention and require us to care for them. Accepting this responsibility encourages those experiencing depression to engage with their animal, making it more likely they can interact with the outside world as well.
4. Reduce Panic Attacks
If you’re vulnerable to panic attacks, a dog nearby can have a soothing effect. Not only does their love make you feel better and less likely to experience an attack, but their presence gives you something to focus on, so the attack is more likely to go away. Just being able to talk to your dog and pet them sometimes may be all you need.
5. Dealing with PTSD
Dogs are particularly suited to helping PTSD sufferers deal with the myriad of problems that come with the condition. Whether you’re a veteran, or anyone else who’s suffered a traumatic event, having an emotional support dog can make a tremendous difference.
If you’re still wondering “What is an emotional support dog?”, ask your therapist for advice and whether or not they think a dog or another type of ESA can help.