Owning an emotional support dog has become fairly common practice. But many people still confuse a support animal and a service dog. A service dog is a highly trained animal that is meant to assist an individual with a physical disability. However, a support animal provides comfort to those who have a mental or emotional concern. If you’re considering an emotional support dog for your child, here are some things to consider.

What are the Qualifications to Get an Emotional Support Dog?

There are no official forms required or a license needed to have a support dog. Rather, your child’s doctor will fill out a prescription with a note that gives you access to this type of animal. You must have a qualifying mental health concern such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety. About 28.8 percent of Americans will develop an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, so it’s easy to see why this is a common reason to have an emotional support dog. Just having a canine by their side at school or in public can make a world of difference.

Does an Emotional Support Dog Need Special Training?

Unlike service animals, an emotional support dog doesn’t perform specific tasks. This doesn’t mean that the dog cannot help you with some things, but there is no training required for this animal to be classified as emotional support. Sometimes all a person needs is a warm body beside them to bring comfort. All comfort pets must be well behaved in public and not bark or growl at people. A store manager can ask you to leave if the pet is causing a disruption to their business. Make sure they have a vest or some type of notification on them that indicates their role as a support animal.

Support Dogs Can Go Almost Anywhere

Suffering from anxiety is debilitating for some people. It may limit where they go or how long they can stay. However, having a dog to lean on makes a difference. Your child has a right to an emotional support dog if your doctor has written a prescription. They can go into virtually anywhere with your child, and they bypass all the rules for rentals that stipulate no dogs are allowed. The downside is that so many people have abused this privilege, and many establishments are scrutinizing those who bring animals with them. Make sure to carry your prescription and any shot records with you should you ever be questioned.

Many studies have been conducted on the calming effects of having a pet. It’s no wonder they are used in nursing homes and other therapeutic settings to bring calm to those suffering from mental ailments. Having an emotional support dog is a boost for many adults and children alike who feel alone and vulnerable. Man’s best friend is certainly loyal and can help those with mental challenges.

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