An emotional support dog is a dog who provides emotional comfort for its owner. The dog doesn’t need to receive any specialized task training according to current definitions of emotional support dog. The dog does not perform any tasks to mitigate the disability, however, the owner feels emotional comforted by petting the dog or by its very presence. This is a passive, rather than an active, relationship. Owners must secure a medical diagnosis from a doctor or a psychiatrist; these professionals must have know and understand the needs of their patients and be willing to complete documentation verifying the need for an seminal support dog within the regulations of the HIPPA. The rights of the emotional support dog are not protected by the ADA.
There is currently no task training nor behavioral requirement. We would like to see this changed.
Although the role of an emotional support dog may seem ambitious, some individuals with panic or anxiety disorders may benefit from having the comfort of their pet. Requirements for a properly trained emotional support dog should closely mimic the behavior requirements of a service dog. They should be housebroken, non-reactive in all situations, receive proper vet care and be current on all of their vaccinations. They should be kept well-groomed and clean. Additionally, they should not be allowed to wander more than several feet from their owners and must be restrained by a maximum length leash of six feet. It is preferable that they be kept within three feet of their owners.
Ideally, these dogs should pass behavioral testing and owners must possess a level one handler certification for United K9 Professionals which includes an eight-week distance learning course on canine behavior, appropriate ethical and legal information, and the responsible way in which to bring a dog to a public place.