How to Train Your Emotional Support Dog?: Emotional support dogs can be trained through various techniques. The most common emotional support animals are cats and dogs, and while we will only be focusing on our beloved dogs today, the bounds of emotional support training have been opened up to other animals, including a wide range of birds as well.
The crate training method is a good way to keep your dog calm and polite. This method also helps in house training of the dog and polishes your dog to be an emotional support one. Other than that, deep pressure therapy is one of the most reliable techniques which can be easily taught to your dog and dogs quickly and smoothly get around this method.
Emotional support dogs need to be calm in public places, so to make your doggo a peaceful and calm one, you have to make the effort of practicing mindfulness and calmness with it. Yes, with your pup. Taking your furball on a daily walk at the local park and practicing some other strategic techniques can help you achieve this goal easily.
First things first, what do emotional support animals even do?
If you are not already aware of what emotional support animals are capable of, you are definitely in for a fun and wholesome ride.
Emotional support animals are trained to provide support through their companionship to their owner and are as equipped as helping to ease panic attacks, depression, anxiety, phobias, and many other emotionally charging conditions that the user may be subjected to. Psychiatric disabilities and mental impairments is the larger umbrella that these animals help their owners to get through.
Your Emotional Support Dog & Training
Dogs are known to be a man’s best friend. And to your luck, most of them are naturally attached to humans. This factor makes them a good pet, as well as your shoulder to cry on whenever you need on. It is no secret that people love to keep dogs as pets. Dogs are loyal, they protect you, they support you, they make you laugh when no one else can.
Basically, dogs are superheroes and they can do everything. No one does it like them. End of story. Haha, kidding.
While dogs can easily adapt to their human owners and can help to ease their stress and put a smile on their face, not all kinds of dogs are suitable for emotional support training.
Some dogs are overly excited or just are too afraid which stops them from making it. It is not so that they can never be trained, they can be trained but they tend to take a longer time than a normal dog.
There is a list of characteristics that you need to check before selecting a dog to train for emotional support. These characteristics will make it clear whether a dog would become a good emotional support dog or not:
- The dog should not be overly excited or boisterous as these types of dogs are too difficult to train and they take much longer time to get trained than other dogs and instead of calming you down, they will just end up wrecking further havoc in an already high-stress situation.
- Your dog should not be a lazy one to the extent that it is unable to engross with you at the time of depression.
- Your dog should know how to behave with not just other people, but other dogs as well.
- Your dog should already be trained to respond to the basic command such as, sit, stand, and stay.
- Never select a dog that barks too much excessively and has a habit of excitedly jumping or lunging at people around it.
Select your dog very carefully according to the above-mentioned checklist so it can be easily trained to become an emotional support dog.
Keeping a dog as a pet can reduce stress and it is fun playing with a dog until it is not destroying your furniture or it is not barking all night scurrying around your house.
A well-behaved dog is able to provide better companionship to its owner and they are considered to be the best partners at the time of loneliness.
This means that an emotional support dog should be well trained so minimizing their chances of engaging in stress-causing behavior.
The Crate Training Method
The first method that you could opt to train your dog is the Crate Training method.
Crate training is highly recommended and prescribed by vets and breeders as it helps in a lot of ways.
The primary purpose of crate training is house training of your dog.
The Crate limits the access of your dog and helps you make your life a tad bit easier and it restricts your dog from mindlessly roaming around the whole, destroying your furniture and creating an overall mess for you to deal with.
In addition to these benefits, a crate is also a safe way of transporting your Dog in the Car.
Introduction to the Crate
Of course, crate training has a specific method for you to go by in order for it to be successful enough. Start placing the Crate in an area of your house where your family spends most of the time, and remember to line the crate with a soft blanket so your dog can feel comfortable and warm.
Open the door and let the dog explore it, in its leisure time, some dogs are over excited so they may straight away go inside and sleep in it, while others will be scared of it.
If your dog is not showing any interest then try these tricks:
- Bring your dog near the crate with a happy tone and make sure that the door of the crate is open.
- Put some treats on the door of the crate and later inside the crate so may your dog walk in all the way to eat them. However, if your dog does not follow your lead, and does not go inside the crate, then you should not at all force it to do so.
- Continue tossing treats in the crate but if your dog is not showing any interest in them, try putting its favourite toy in the crate to spark their excitement.
Feeding Your Dog in The Crate
After introducing the crate to your dog, start with feeding them their meals near the crate. This will help in developing a close association between your dog and their crate.
- If your dog is regularly entering the crate, place its meal at the end of the crate.
- If it does not go inside, then put the meal dish close to the crate and with every meal move the meal bowl, closer towards the crate.
- When your dog starts eating the meal in the crate then close the door of the crate, while your dog is eating the meal until it finishes it. Open the door as soon as it finishes the meal. With each successful feeding in the crate. start to increase the time of keeping the door shut.
- If the dog whines or cries out in the crate, don’t open the door until they stop doing it otherwise, they would think that the key to getting out of the crate is whine.
- Give a treat to your dog each time it comes to the crate.
- Give a command to your dog to enter the crate such as “in”
Settling in The Crate
- When your dog begins to sit in the crate for more than half an hour, let it be in there for the whole night or when you are out of your home.
- When you come back home and your dog becomes excited, never reward it for doing this.
- Keep your dog in the crate at night and in the beginning, try to keep it inside the crate for a longer period of time as this helps to develop habit.
After following these steps, your dog will most likely become a polite and calm dog.
It will learn that you do not want him to always get elated when you see it and will learn to stay in the crate. However, try to make sure that you do not leave the dog inside the crate for way too long, especially not for more than two hours without a toilet break. This crate training will make your dog a perfect emotional support dog.
In second, Deep Pressure Therapy
Many people who are suffering from emotional stress, anxiety or depression tend to engage in self-harming behaviour for different reasons and need an emotional support dog to help them prevent this if they do not have a loved one around them.
People who take a lot of tension or are in stress due to a sudden situation need an emotional support dog.
Emotional support dogs can be taught various techniques which are often used to reduce stress and anxiety.
Deep Pressure Therapy is one of the most common techniques which is taught to emotional support dogs.
In this technique, the dog puts pressure on the body parts of its owner, mostly the chest as it is considered to relieve emotional and mental distress.
Small breeds of emotional support dogs will sit on your chest while large dogs will put their paws or head on the chest to relieve stress.
For this therapy, the emotional support dog needs to be trained enough to remain calm and relax themselves while helping you relax, helping to share the same type of emotions with you.
On the Sofa with “Paws Up” Command
Of course, you would need to sit in a comfortable place to receive deep pressure therapy and you will also need to teach your dog to join you on the sofa and leave when you are done.
Call your dog onto the sofa and give some tasty treats each time he joins you, and whenever it jumps on the sofa give him the treat and say his name with the command “Paws Up”.
Just like practice helps to make man perfect, it can helpPractice again and again until your dog gets trained to join you on the sofa.
If you have a small dog, then your goal is to bring four of its paws on the sofa, but if your furry friend is a large and bulky one, then commanding it to put just two of their front paws on the sofa will be enough. Repeat this exercise patiently until your dog is successfully able to learn it.
“Paws Off” Command
Now you will have to teach the “Paws Off” command to your dog.
Simply call your dog away from the sofa by showing a treat or a toy and remember to repeat this command over and over again. And whenever it does as you say, reward them with a yummy treat!
Once you have trained your dog to join you on the sofa, you will need to teach them how to position itself correctly, all while remaining calm.
This is the similar process as done before, you will teach them the position associating it with a command word, and follow it with a similar command for getting off of the sofa.
Once you have taught your dog a position, the real struggle for you will be to train it to maintain its position. As this is very vital, you cannot by any chance skip it. If you skip it, then you will just end up erasing everything from your dog’s memory which will just crush all your efforts and bring you back to square one. But of course, with a lot of determination and patience, you will eventually be able to get there.
On the other hand, if you feel like you are unable to fulfil this job, then you always have the option of hiring a professional trainer to do it for you.
-The Signs of Anxiety Training
Once your dog has mastered the above techniques then you need to move on to the next step.
And that is to mimic an anxiety episode so your dog can get themselves familiar to such a situation.
Practice this when you are calm and reward your dog for following the commands so they will be better trained for the time when you actually need them.
Should I Get My Dog Certified as an Emotional Support Animal?
Your dog does not need any kind of license to provide you with emotional support or to become a good companion.
But there are a lot of benefits to register and certify your dog as an emotional support animal.
If your dog is a certified emotional support animal, you are allowed to take it into No Pet Policy Areas.
Furthermore, you are allowed to take your dog along with you on a flight if you follow the emotional support animal airline policy and you inform the airline 48 hours before the flight.
Conclusion & other FAQs
How long does it take to train an emotional support dog?
You can train your emotional support dog in just a few months.
Can I take my emotional support dog to stores?
No! they are not allowed to accompany their owners in public places.
Which dog breeds are considered the best emotional support dogs?
Most of the dog breeds are considered good emotional support dogs but these breeds are considered the best of them:
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retriever
Can a Pitbull be an emotional support dog?
Pitbull can be a good emotional support dog.
What breed of a dog can be a therapy dog?
Any dog breed can be trained to become a therapy dog.
Can dogs sense anxiety?
In some cases, dogs have sensed the stress and anxiety before their owner has even realized it.
How to get an emotional support dog?
If you want to get the benefits from an emotional support dog, you will need a prescription from a mental health professional.
Emotional support dogs are good companions and help to pull their owners out of high-stress and anxious situations whenever needed. Your dog can become an emotional support dog if you follow the above-given guideline.
It must be known, however, that the type of your dog greatly impacts its training as certain kinds of dogs take a very long time to learn, while others get trained quickly. And lastly, always remember that patience and undying determination to train your dog is the key to actually accomplishing it.