What are emotional support dogs?

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I'm sure you've heard of that kind of dog! And I'm sure you think that the support your dog gives you can't be compared to the support you get from any person? How can our pets be so empathetic?

For some years now, we have been talking about emotional support animals, not only dogs, but also pigs, hamsters or even turkeys. If you want to train as a specialist in Animal Assisted Therapy, you need to know the concept of an emotional support animal.Shall we see it?

Emotional support dogs accompany their owners everywhere to help them overcome emotional or psychological difficulties.

What are emotional support dogs?

The emotional therapy with dogs is a psychotherapy that assumes that emotions have the potential to adapt sufficiently to change an undesired state. Well, the companionship of our pets also has the power to make us feel better in the face of an adverse situation.

Emotional support dogs are pets that help their owners to overcome emotional or psychological problems.e.g. phobias, stress, depression etc.

These dogs involve an essential support to ensure the physical and emotional well-being of the person they accompany. Their presence and contact with them have a very positive effect on people's health.

The concept of the emotional support animal (any kind of animal) originated in the United States, but is gradually spreading to other countries around the world.

Emotional support animals are considered necessary for the mental health of their owner. They are mainly used for panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and social phobia.

In order to be considered emotional support animals, dogs must be "prescribed" to their owners by a mental health professional.

Differences between an emotional support dog and an assistance dog

The assistance dogs are specially trained to help people with some kind of disability or disorder. Assistance dogs are guide dogsthe medical response dogs (to detect epileptic seizures, low blood sugar in people with diabetes, etc.), or the sound signalling dogs for deaf people, for example.

For their part, the emotional support dogs are those who are not trained to perform any particular task and whose mission consists of accompany their owners to help them emotionally in their daily lives.

The therapy dogs are animals that assist in specific therapeutic activities, both individually and in groups.

Characteristics of emotional support dogs

Emotional support dogs do not have to have specific characteristicsThey simply have to be compatible with their owners and follow the basic rules of coexistence: not to be aggressive, not to bother other people, obey their owners, etc. All pets must meet these requirements!

On the other hand, these animals they do not need to receive specific training. However, they should be able to respond appropriately to basic commands, such as to come when called or to sit down.

Emotional Assistance Dogs: The Best Breeds

All types of dogs are suitable to be emotional assistance dogs. Not only that, but any domesticated animal species can also serve as support.

However, some dog breeds have with certain characteristics that make them ideal for emotional assistance, such as great empathy, intelligence, psychological balance, etc. Some of these breeds are as follows:

  • The golden retriever.
  • Labrador retriever.
  • Yorkshire terriers.
  • The corgis.
  • Greyhounds.
  • German Shepherds.
  • Poodles.
  • Pomeranians.

Emotional assistance dog certificate: what is it?

In order for a dog to be recognised as an emotional support animal, it must be prescribed by a mental health specialist. This specialist will assess the individual's situation and determine whether their pet is essential to improve their psychological or emotional condition. If this is the case, shall issue the corresponding certificate.

The emotional support animal certificates are necessary to be able to access certain places with these animals. normally off-limits to pets, e.g. public and private transport (especially air travel).

In Spain, for example, Iberia allows only travelling in a cabin with emotional support dogs at flights to the United States or from that country (with at least 48 hours' notice). However, these animals must have the corresponding accreditation.