Unlocking the Power of Emotional Support Animals: FAQ Minneapolis
Comfort, support, and unconditional love: raising an Emotional Support Animal in Minneapolis.
All dogs provide love and support to their humans, but trained Emotional Support Animals (ESA) take it to the next level. It’s their job is to prevent or mitigate mental health crises by providing a grounding presence, stability, and calming energy to their companion. If you’re considering an ESA to help you or a loved one improve their mental health, we’ve compiled a handy-dandy FAQ just for you.
Emotional support animals – what are they?
Emotional support animals, also known as ESAs, are pets who have been trained to provide comfort, companionship, and support to individuals with varying mental health conditions. ESAs are not always dogs: we’ve met cats, miniature horses, bunnies, and even pigs who are killing it as ESAs. True ESAs are prescribed by a psychiatric professional to aid individuals with a disabling mental illness. People are helped by ESAs in a ton of different ways, but the bottom line is that the presence of an ESA is essential to the mental health and stability of the patient.
That sounds like a service animal. What’s the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?
Good question! First, the similarities: ESAs and service animals are both critical to the health and wellbeing of their humans. Both types of animals may provide psychiatric benefits to their humans, and both have been prescribed by a health professional. The key difference between an ESA and a service animal is that a service animal has been trained to perform specific tasks related to a specific diagnosed illness, while an ESA provides health benefits through their presence alone.
For example, an emotional support animal may help a person having a panic attack by remaining nearby and providing companionship. Their presence alone is the main comforting factor. The animal may cuddle or give kisses when his human is in distress, but those actions are not considered trained tasks.
A service animal may also provide assistance during a panic attack, but the aid extends beyond a comforting presence. Service animals will instead perform their trained tasks, which could be fetching medication, providing deep pressure therapy, or preventing the human from harming themselves.
Both types of animals are very good boys & girls, but their levels of training and responsibility are very different!
Can I take my ESA with me everywhere?
Nope! Unlike service animals, emotional support animals are not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore they aren’t given any public access rights. Most stores, restaurants, and businesses don’t make exceptions for ESAs, but it never hurts to ask. Don’t fret, though! We’ve got a huge number of dog-friendly businesses in Minneapolis and that number keeps goin’ up!
ESAs used to be allowed on flights, but due to changes in the Air Carrier Access Act passed in 2020, that’s no longer the case. Sadly, many people abused the system and were falsely claiming their ordinary pets as ESAs. After several high-profile disturbances caused by imposter ESAs on flights, the decision was made to exclude emotional support animals.
ESAs do get some rights when it comes to housing accommodations, though. The Fair Housing Act specifically includes ESAs, which means that you cannot be discriminated against based on your ESA. Breed restrictions or pet bans do not apply to prescribed ESAs, and you cannot be charged extra “pet rent” or deposits either. Yippee!
Where can I find Emotional Support dog training programs in Minneapolis?
There sure is. Ta da! Here we are. At Go Anywhere Dog, our curriculum and training methods are perfectly suited for aspiring emotional support dogs. We put a humongous emphasis on social skills and confidence building, which is an emotional support dog’s biggest asset. Afterall, a dog cannot provide comfort and stability to his person if he isn’t feeling comfortable and stable himself!
In addition to our spectacular social skills, we teach real-life obedience. No show ring prancing here! We ensure that not only will your behaviors work, they’re also practical to teach. We’ll help you proof your behaviors to real world distractions, and we don’t sweat the stuff that isn’t important or functional. We make your training journey as fun and as simple as possible!
Last, but certainly not least, we’re a warm and fuzzy kinda place. We care about feelings – not just yours, but your dog’s feelings too. We’ll always train your pup based on what is developmentally appropriate for him, and we never train with pain, fear, or intimidation. We’ll teach you how to always be your dog’s hero, which means your bond with your pup will be deeper than ever. (And isn’t that the whole point of raising an ESA?!)
The Go Anywhere Dog program is designed to start your new puppy on the best puppy training path for training your dog becoming an Emotional Support Dog. It will take some legwork and perseverance to raise a puppy for a therapy dog role, but we ensure loads of fun for both you and puppy for the full journey. The journey begins with mindful puppy socialization and teaching skills when your puppy is developmentally ready. You can choose to begin with our puppy classes if your puppy is under 16 weeks old. If your dog is over 16 weeks old, you’ll begin with Life Skills 101 Dog Training Class. If you prefer a more customized 1:1 approach, we offer an In home Puppy Training Program or a Private Dog Training Program where our Dog Life Coaches will come to your home for training. Our in home puppy training and in home dog training services are offered in Minneapolis, Edina, Minnetonka, Richfield, Hopkins, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and Eagan, MN.
Can I raise my puppy to be an ESA?
That’s a toughy. Our not-at-all-satisfying answer is that it depends. Puppies need safety, stability, and consistency in their lives in order to grow into confident, dependable adults. Some individuals who are seeking emotional support animals struggle to provide this type of environment and training. We don’t blame them – living with mental health disability is already hard enough!
We often see a similar dilemma when parents seek to raise an ESA for their child. Parents want their child to be involved in the puppy’s training, but children are often inconsistent and unpredictable – especially children who are struggling with mental illness themselves.
Take an honest look at your lifestyle and your abilities. Can you consistently, lovingly handle the normal (but totally trying!) puppy naughties like play biting, chewing, barking, and potty accidents? Will you be able to take your puppy on frequent socialization outings? Is your home environment relatively stable and predictable?
We’d be happy to set up a one-on-one consultation with you to determine if your expectations are achievable and what your next best steps should be.
How do I get an official ESA prescription letter?
You may qualify for an ESA letter if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, or other emotional or psychological disorders. Talk to a licensed mental healthcare provider, such as a therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist. They will evaluate your condition, determine if an ESA would improve your mental wellbeing, and write an official letter if necessary.
Emotional support dogs: improving the world simply by being.
All too often, humans get caught up in “fixing” and “doing” and forget that sometimes just “being” can be the most healing thing of all. Emotional support dogs improve their humans’ mental wellbeing, and they don’t even have to do anything specific – they make the world better simply by looking up at their humans with love in their eyes, and silently saying, “I’m here.”
How can we help?
We’d love to help you along your dog training journey in preparing in preparing your puppy or dog to become your emotional support dog..
We’ve got a wide variety of offerings that fall into six main categories:
If you’re looking for the socialization, skills training, and FUN of our off-leash group classes, here they are! eCourse, weekly Private LIVE Q&A, contests & more...all included.
Private Puppy Training
If you’re looking for a more tailored approach or if group classes don’t fit your schedule, your very own Dog Life Coach can come to you! Let our professional puppy trainers do it for you.
All Inclusive Packages
If you want us by your side every step of the way, check out our all-inclusive packages. Working both in your home and out on the streets, we’ll do the heavy lifting for you!
Dog Obedience Class
Off Leash Dog Training Classes offer excellent social skills and obedience behaviors. Creating a well rounded Go Anywhere Dog that navigates our big modern world beautifully!
Private Dog Training
You simply don't have the time or bandwidth to learn the skill of dog training. Let us (the ones that do this professionally every day) do the training & simply teach you to drive. 😉
Dog Behavior Consult
Dogs don't simply grow out of fearful or aggressive behaviors. We need to assess and put together a thorough plan to help your pup and you learn skills for better coping strategies.