Getting An Emotional Support Dog
An Emotional Support Animal is mostly commonly a dog, and can be any breed of canine that helps alleviate symptoms of mental illness or emotional distress. An ESD can give its owner the confidence and support they need to live a normal and productive life.
You might recall that people were using all kinds of animals as an ESA – from Horses to Peacocks, going as far as taking them on airplanes during travel trips. This practice was stopped at the end of 2020 by the US transportation department.
Any breed of dog can make a great Emotional Support Dog, including the beloved German Shepherd. Dogs can be found in shelters and rescues that could potentially become ESDs. You can qualify for an ESA letter before or after adopting a dog. Unlike a Service Dog, Emotional Support Dogs do not need to be specially trained to perform tasks for their owners they are intended instead to provide comfort and support through their companionship.
Any breed can be an Emotional Support Dog, but when searching for the right fit for your needs, be sure to look for a dog that is manageable and wont cause added stress. For example, if you live in an apartment, a small dog may be easier to handle versus a large dog that might need greater amounts of exercise and room to roam.
Here at Regis Regal German Shepherds we can help you through the process of getting your dog trained up to become an ESA – just get in touch if you want to discuss this further.
How Do I Certify My Emotional Support Dog
You do not actually certify an Emotional Support Dog certifications are meaningless when it comes to qualifying your dog as an ESD. This is a common mistake and there is a very important distinction between certifying a dog and obtaining an ESA letter.
There is no such thing as a certificate or a certification program that officially qualifies a dog as an emotional support animal under any law. The only correct way to qualify your dog as an Emotional Support Animal is by obtaining a recommendation letter from a licensed mental health professional. If you do not have a therapist or are having trouble finding one, you can connect with a mental health professional through an online platform.
Anyone who asks for a registration number, certificate or ID proving your dog is an emotional support animal, such as a landlord, is misinformed. The only proof you need is the ESA letter written by a licensed professional stating your need for an emotional support dog.
The Fair Housing and Air Carrier Access Act rules do not recognize certifications or registrations of emotional support animals.
Esa Dogs Vs Therapy Dogs Vs Service Dogs
With the different types of emotional support dogs out there, its easy to think that they, therapy dogs, and service dogs are the same. They are not. ESA dogs are pets, dont need training or registration, and include more small breeds. Therapy dogs and service dogs are types of working dogs that need training and registration, but therapy dogs are considered to be pets in places other than where regular dogs and therapy dogs are allowed. Some service dogs are psychiatric dogs for people with mental health issues, and all service dogs work with individual handlers who have some type of disability. Therapy dogs work with a variety of people in public places.
Emotional support dogs are important as pets, especially for people with a disability or disorder. The different types of emotional support dogs show that certain breeds are better for certain disabilities or disorders. ESA dogs need no training and registration because they are not service, therapy, or working dogs, instead of relying on their natural instincts and personality traits to comfort their owners.
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the entire world?
Recommended Reading: How To Stop German Shepherd From Pulling On Leash
What Is A Therapy Dog
A therapy dog is a dog specially trained to provide emotional comfort, affection, and support to people through volunteering. Owners may take their therapy dogs to visit hospitals, retirement homes, disaster areas, and schools. Visits from a therapy dog can provide people in these settings with joy and comfort during difficult times.
Therapy dogs can also help with specific activities, such as helping children with autism practice reading aloud, or encouraging patients to participate in gentle physical activities. Therapy dogs have been proven to reduce stress, as well as to help people work towards social and communicative goals.
Reasons Why German Shepherds Are Good For Depression
German Shepherds are one of the most popular and common choice as pets among all dog breeds. Not only do they make excellent family dogs because of their friendly nature, but they equally make great emotional support animals. They are easy to live within families that have children because most are social and have a caring temperament.
If you are struggling with depression, the following are reasons why a German Shepherd Dog might be a good fit for you:
Don’t Miss: What Size Harness For German Shepherd Puppy
Tips For Finding & Buying A Miniature German Shepherd
Miniature German Shepherd mixes are becoming quite popular. This can make it easy to find a mini German Shepherd puppy but it also increases the risk of working with a breeder that uses poor practices like breeding German Shepherds with known health problems like dwarfism or hip dysplasia.
The cost for a miniature German Shepherd will depend on the type of dog the mom is bred with and the breeders fees. As a general rule, you should expect to pay around $1,000 for a mini German Shepherd puppy.
Before working with a breeder, make sure you ask lots of questions! Dont be afraid to ask about:
- The parents of the puppies
- How many breeds are involved in the heredity of the puppy
- Whether there are known temperament issues
- Whether the parents or puppies have displayed any health problems
- Whether the breeder offers a health guarantee and supplies a veterinarians approval of health
- How many litters the mother has had
If the breeder wont or cant answer these questions, its a good idea to walk away and find a different breeder. A great dog breeder should be happy to provide plenty of information about the DNA line and health of the puppies.
You may also have the opportunity to adopt an older German Shepherd mix from a rescue or local animal shelter. While you wont know the pups genetic line, you will be giving a home to a pup in need that youre sure is the right size for your needs.
What Breeds Make Good Service Dogs
Several breeds are typically better service animals than German Shepherds. For instance, Labrador Retrievers are standard options. They are suitable for all sorts of service work. For instance, they are commonly used as seeing-eye dogs.
They are friendly and very devoted to their people. Therefore, they are much better than German Shepherds when strangers are involved. You can socialize a German Shepherd to a point, but youll never get them at the same level as a Labrador Retriever.
Read Also: Will A Coyote Attack A German Shepherd
Can My Dog Become An Esa Dog
To officially be called an ESA dog, the presence of the dog must be prescribed by a doctor or mental health professional.
But any dog can be trained to fulfill this role or to provide this kind of emotional support to someone in an unofficial capacity.
While any breed of dog can be trained to be an ESA, they do need to have a fairly docile and friendly temperament, which means that some breeds are more well suited to the task than others.
But these are not hard and fast rules, and breed alone is not enough to decide whether your dog is suitable or not.
There are a number of characteristics that you should assess when deciding if your dog would make a good ESA:
- Your dog should not be too overly-excitable or rambunctious as this can make them difficult to train, and this type of behavior can create further tension in times of high stress.
- Your dog should also not be so timid that they are unable to engage with you when you are facing a dark moment.
- Your dog should be social and know-how to behave not just around other people, but also other dogs.
- They should already know how to respond to the basic commands: sit, stay, down, and heel.
- Avoid selecting dogs that bark excessively or have the habit of jumping or lunging at people.
How Do Pugs Heal Your Mental Disorders
If you are looking for an ultimate source of real affection to cure your mental issues, then you should consider keeping a pug. It will supply you with an endless pool of love and friendship.
They are not only cheerful when you are feeding them, but also eager to please you even when you are just sitting on the couch. Furthermore, they can survive in a variety of conditions, but they do best in moderate temperatures, so you can walk with them outside, take on overseas trips, or even just sit together in the house.
Playful by nature, this breed is very outdoorsy. They are also a great company for children, which can charm you to peace even more.
Recommended Reading: How Long To German Shepherds Live
How Well Do German Shepherds Respond To Service Dog Training
There is one thing that most experts can agree on, all dogs regardless of breed can be trained.
However, as established, service dogs need to learn specific and complex skills. And this isnt something that every pooch can do.
Thus, this begs the question, are German Shepherds a little better at learning these skills than many other breeds? Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, who serves on the advisory board for Pup Life Today has some insight into this.
German Shepherds who come for working lines of dogs may have an advantage over dogs who have simply been bred for their looks. Working dogs of all sorts need to combine obedience with independent thought, a concept known as intelligent disobedience in the guide dog community.
For example, a service dog who is told to perform an action should refuse if that action would be too dangerous. Service dogs have to be clever to balance these competing demands.
Essentially, there is no guarantee that all German Shepherds are equally well-equipped to learn tasks specific to service dogs.
Simultaneously, as long as your pup is from the right bloodline, they may just be able to master complex tasks a little better than other breeds.
Physical Disability Service Dogs
These dogs help people that are physically handicapped to live a more normal life. They provide assistance in getting around, picking up objects, turning off lights, and many other everyday tasks that may be difficult or impossible for their owner.
German Shepherds are particularly well-suited for this type of work. Because they are intelligent, they can learn to do a wide variety of tasks, and they are also large enough to help support their owners physically.
Don’t Miss: How Much Food To Feed A German Shepherd Puppy
A Guide To German Shepherd Therapy Dogs
Sam Shephard is an experienced German Shepherd owner and has learned throughout the years how to optimize the breed’s health and wellness.
German Shepherds can be trained to be excellent therapy dogs and emotional support dogs.
People have known for centuries that pets help to relieve anxiety, provide emotional support, and overall make life happier. Today, there are official designations for dogs that fulfill these purposes: therapy dogs and emotional support dogs. Whether you are looking to volunteer or to address mental health in your own life, a dog can be an excellent companion.
When people think of jobs for German Shepherds, they are most likely to think of them as police or military dogs. But German Shepherds intelligence and affection also make them perfectly suited to be therapy and emotional support dogs. With the right training, a German Shepherd can make a big difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
How Much Does A German Shepherd Service Dog Cost
The cost of these dogs differs and depends on how they were trained and what they were trained for. The more specialized the service, the costlier the dog. Specialized service means that more professional training went into the dog.
These dogs can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $65,000.
Some people may consider getting a dog on their own and training it themselves. Make sure you go through a professional training program with your German Shepherd to make sure hes properly trained.
Something else that goes into the cost of a dog is bloodlines. German Shepherd breeders that specialize in service dogs strive to produce outstanding dogs that will excel in that field.
A quality bloodline is a foundation for training, so its important to ask questions of the breeder about how many of their dogs have successfully become service dogs.
Buying a German Shepherd puppy from such a breeder to train yourself will cost around $2,000 $7,000.
Another thing that you need to consider before getting a service dog is the ongoing cost of dog ownership.
For starters, youll want to feed your service dog a high-quality food for GSD that will allow them to live a long, healthy life.
You also need to cover vet bills, whether its just yearly check-ups or for injuries or illnesses that could come up along the way. So, dont forget to factor this into your budget.
Don’t Miss: Why Do Cops Use German Shepherds
Tendency To Bond Strongly
Although independent dog breeds can be wonderful in some circumstances, most good service and support dogs tend to be touchy-feely dogs who bond strongly with their owners. Besides, you are going to end up depending on your dog pretty heavily, so itll just work better if you pick one thatll develop a strong bond with you.
What Kinds Of Jobs Are Suitable For A German Shepherd
Guide Dog – help people with visual impairments to navigate their surroundings.
Diabetic Alert Dog detect and alert a person with diabetes about low blood sugar.
Seizure Alert/Response Dog – alert people about an individual having a seizure.
Allergy Alert Service Dog detect and alert someone with life-threatening allergies about the presence of an allergen.
Hearing dog – alert someone with hearing impairment of key sounds.
Mobility Support Service Dog – assist the mobility of someone who uses a wheelchair or walker pick up and deliver household items for someone with physical disabilities open doors and turn on lights.
Psychiatric Service Dog – Interrupt dangerous, repetitive behaviors of someone with OCD provide companionship.
German Shepherds can make excellent service dogs, but they may not be the right choice for everyone
However, it should not be overlooked that German Shepherds arent always the right breed for the job.
Reason 1 These dogs are very athletic and intelligent, which means they need to exercise and be challenged. They are more task-oriented. Thus, anyone who plans to have a German Shepherd as a service dog must also be prepared to spend time and energy by giving them physical exercise and mental stimulation.
Reason 2 They have a strong, protective instinct and are suspicious of strangers. When they sense anxiety from the handlers in public, German Shepherds can be anxious or even act aggressively in public.
Read Also: Are German Shepherds Wolf Hybrids
What Kind Of Emotional Support Can A Dog Provide
Dogs in general provide a positive emotional force in the lives of their families, but what are the additional benefits and justifications for having an ESA dog?
- Having a dog can physically reduce stress as passing time with dogs releases endorphins and oxytocin, both of which reduce stress, and also contribute to reduced blood pressure and cortisol levels. Exercise has a similar effect on the body, and walking your dog regularly can further contribute to this benefit.
- Many mental and emotional conditions leave people feeling isolated or anxious in social situations. The companionship and loyalty of a dog can reduce feelings of isolation, and the presence of this companion can help give their owner confidence and security during social interactions.
- The sense of security and familiarity provided by a relationship with a dog can help reduce anxiety, especially when entering new or unpredictable situations.
- Dogs can provide a distraction from negative thoughts, helping alleviate the pressure that overwhelmingly negative internal commentary can place on a person.
- People suffering from certain conditions, such as depression, can suffer from lethargy and lack of motivation. Caring for a dog can provide a routine that gives the personâs life structure and encourages them towards activity.
ESA dogs can also be taught to perform specific tasks designed to reduce stress, such as Deep Pressure Therapy .
Do German Shepherds Make Good Therapy Dogs
Because of their intelligence and affectionate nature, German Shepherds make some of the best therapy dogs. German Shepherds are incredibly smart, which means they can be trained to do almost anything. With some dedicated time, German Shepherds can learn to be patient, quiet, and calm even in hectic settings.
German Shepherds are also extremely social and will enjoy all the attention they receive as part of therapy activities. Because German Shepherds are such athletic dogs, you will have to be careful when training them about distinguishing between playtime and therapy time.
A German Shepherd therapy dog will need plenty of play and exercise, but theyll have to remain calm when meeting new people, rather than trying to play. You should keep in mind that some people may feel nervous around German Shepherds because of their reputation as police and military dogs. When volunteering for therapy, always respect the comfort level of other people.
Don’t Miss: How To Play With Your German Shepherd Puppy