How to Make Your Dog Into an Emotional Support Animal

It’s no secret that animals and humans often have strong, even healing bonds. More recently, laws in many states have acknowledged this beneficial relationship, allowing people to bring service animals into areas that would otherwise be restricted.

You may have considered getting your dog registered as an emotional support animal, but you don’t know where to start. Here, we’ll be sharing the key details about the process to make your dog an emotional support animal.

What is an ESA?

An ESA or emotional support animal is more than simply a pet. Legally, they are not service animals either. While service animals often go through rigorous training from an early age and are frequently placed with disabled people through an agency, emotional support animals are a broader category.

Typically, an emotional support animal is a pet that someone with a mental health condition creates a special bond with. These animals (not just dogs) can become especially in tune with their person and help calm them and prevent things like panic attacks.

Benefits of Registering Your ESA

While it’s true that your pet doesn’t need to undergo special training or receive special certification to be useful to you, we do recommend registering them. Anyone can say their dog is an emotional support animal, but having the documentation to back up that claim opens a lot of doors.

By having your pet registered, they can access places that normally don’t allow four-legged friends. Even apartments with strict pet policies will often make exceptions for properly registered emotional support animals. Registration legitimizes the very special and important relationship you and your dog have in the eyes of the law.

How to Make My Dog an Emotional Support Animal

If you and your dog fit the above criteria, consider having your dog registered as an emotional support animal. Here are the steps of that process:

  • Receive a Prescription Letter: For the legal acknowledgment of your ESA you will need a healthcare professional to write you a prescription letter recommending your pet become an ESA as part of the treatment for your condition.
  • Register Your Dog: Use the online form to register your dog.
  • Receive Your Dog’s ID: Your dog will receive an ID and registration certificate. You should keep the certificate as well as a copy of your prescription letter. Carry the ID card day-to-day.
  • Share Necessary Documents: While you don’t need to show your dog’s documents to go into a restaurant, use them when applying for apartments, booking airlines, and other situations where dogs may not normally be allowed.

The process and simple and inexpensive, particularly if you are already under the treatment of a doctor who is willing to write a prescription letter for you.

Tips for Preparing Your Emotional Support Animal

You want to make sure that the transition from housepet to ESA is as smooth as possible for you and your canine companion, so there are a few ways you can prepare.

Training and Socializing

Since your dog will be accompanying you in your daily life, you want to make sure they are well-trained and well-socialized. A dog who becomes skittish around other dogs or people can end up causing more anxiety for everyone involved.

Help your dog become confident and responsive to your needs in a variety of environments. This helps the dog, helps you, and prevents any accidents from occurring in environments that aren’t typically suited to dogs.

Get an Appropriate Harness or Vest

Once your dog is registered as an emotional support animal, you should purchase an appropriate vest or harness that states they are an ESA or service dog. Though ESA are not recognized as service dogs by the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are still working.

Wearing this vest or harness will signal to others that the dog is not to be pet or played with while they’re focusing on helping you. It also immediately shows staff at shops and restaurants that your dog is an exception to their ‘no pets’ rule.

Don’t Delay in Registering Your Dog as an ESA

If you have been thinking about registering your dog as an emotional support animal, don’t delay. By having your dog registered, you open up a world of possibilities. ESA registration can help protect your right to have your dog support your mental health in many situations that aren’t available to an unregistered pet.

The process is straightforward and inexpensive. We hope this guide has helped you better understand how to register your dog as an ESA.