Throughout history, humans have employed animals to complete many different jobs for us. Dogs in particular have fulfilled many roles from hospital helpers to members of the police force, military, and more. A profession for our four-legged friends, and dogs in particular, that seems to be cropping up more and more in the last few years is that of emotional support animal.
What is an emotional support dog?
An emotional support dog is one whose presence around a specific individual helps treat or manage various mental health conditions. Any dog or other animal can be an emotional support animal, as the only requirement is that they have been prescribed as such by a licensed mental health professional—no other training, qualifications, or certifications are necessary.
What does an emotional support dog do?
Designated emotional support dogs primarily provide comfort and companionship for their humans, rather than performing or helping with specific tasks. The dog’s presence may help calm or relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, phobias, etc.
Although not required, emotional support dogs can be trained to respond to various emotional cues. For example, a dog might be trained to sit on their owner’s lap when they begin exhibiting signs of a panic attack. Landlords and airlines cannot deny emotional support animals, as they are legally protected. Business owners, however, are not required to allow them.
How is an emotional support dog different from a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs often need to be certified and sometimes (though not always) go through special training. They can work in a group setting, such as a hospital or nursing home, or be trained for a specific individual to assist with physical, occupational, and mental health therapy treatments.
A therapy dog, unlike an emotional support dog, may be trained to perform tasks that assist individuals with disabilities caused by mental illness or detect and/or manage psychiatric episodes.
What makes a good emotional support dog?
Any dog can be an emotional support animal, although certain characteristics do make some more qualified than others. Ideally, an emotional support dog is capable of being calm and laidback when they need to be, well-trained, obedient, and human-oriented. Experts recommend working with either a dog who is one year old or a puppy who can be trained for the appropriate qualities early.
As one of the friendliest, most easily-trained canine breeds there is, Labrador Retrievers often grow to be excellent emotional support animals. The early training our pups receive at Lankas Labs to prepare them for the hunting field makes them especially qualified and eager to take on the role.
Give us a call at 785-626-9313 to reserve your newest companion from our next litter!