Home » How To Train Your Dog To Be An Emotional Support Animal?

How To Train Your Dog To Be An Emotional Support Animal?

Updated on May 06, 2023 by Lisa Tevis
There is no denying that pets, especially dogs, are naturally blessed to comfort and support their owners. For that very reason, dogs are the first choice among humans as emotional support animals.

Emotional Support Animals are the animals that help humans in alleviating symptoms of mental or emotional illness with their love and companionship.
But there is a common dilemma among dog parents, What makes a dog an Emotional Support Animal? Do they require emotional support dog training? If yes, how to train a dog?

Check out this complete article till the end for complete information.

How To Train Your Dog To Be An Emotional Support Animal?

How to Make a Dog an Emotional Support Dog?

As such, a dog doesn’t require special training or skills to be an Emotional Support Animal. Your medical condition must be qualified to certify a dog as an emotional support dog.

If your medical condition is appropriate for an emotional support dog’s assistance, your mental health professional can write an ESA Letter for you. Just an ESA recommendation letter is enough proof that a dog is an ESA dog.

All the illnesses mentioned in DSM-V can qualify you to have an emotional support dog. Some of these illnesses are mentioned as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder
  • Substance-related disorder (alcohol, drugs)
  • OCD- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Phobias
  • PTSD-Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Acute Stress Disorder
  • Learning Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Sexual disorder
  • Developmental coordination disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism and many more.

What Emotional Support Do ESA Dogs Provide?

As we have described, ESA dogs provide emotional support to humans. To understand it more profoundly, check out the following points:

  • Reduce anxiety: Where anxious thoughts limit the person from engaging in any social situation, petting an emotional support animal will give you the security and confidence to interact in social gatherings.
  • Eliminate Stress: Studies have shown that having a pet by your side releases Oxytocin and Endorphin, that in turn reduce cortisol and stress levels. It is somewhat similar to doing exercise daily.
  • Cure Depression: It is common to have depression these days that creates the feeling of lethargy and kills the motivation to do anything. However, an emotional support dog will set you a routine and motivate you to do your daily tasks.
  • Create a Feeling of Safety: Only a mentally and emotionally ill person can understand how lonely it feels even after being surrounded by the crowd. An emotional support dog will act as a companion to trust and rely on in difficult situations.
  • Positivity: Emotional support dogs carry unique energy and a positive vibe. They will help you to get rid of all the negative thoughts and think positive in life.
  • Training: You can train emotional support dogs to be therapy animals by giving ESA training. These animals can calm the nerves in harrowing situations.

Benefits of Training a Dog

Keeping a Dog as a ESA can add various benefits to your health. There are several mental health benefits of keeping a pet dog. Some of them are as follows:

Ultimately safer for your dog:

Training a dog can be much safer for you as well as for your dog too. The safety of a pet lies in the hands of its owners as it’s your responsibility to teach them some rules. Giving and responding to your commands can save your dog from deadly conflicts like conflicts with other dogs or wild animals, moving into a busy road, or usually harming itself in hazardous situations.

It’s easier when you take your dog out in public:

Well, you must not like your dog misbehaving in public places with you and other individuals. To avoid such circumstances, you need to teach your dog some commands such as sit, stand, and run. Also, by training your dog, you can build connections with its fellow dogs, and you can walk together with an enjoyable experience. After some time, your dog will learn to interact safely and effectively with others.

You can easily socialize with others:

If your dog is well-behaved, then you can take your dog in social situations and learn to respect the people, dogs, or other animals around. A well-treated dog gets all the love and attention from the people that can also help you socialize with other pet owners. Now, it’s time to take a break from those cuddles and let your puppy learn some essential skills first.

How Do I Train My Dog to Be ESA?

It is true that emotional support dogs, unlike service dogs, don’t require training to be ESA. However, you can give your dog some basic obedience training or special emotional support animal training to handle critical situations.

If you are just adopting a dog to be your ESA, it would be best if you choose a puppy. It is because of this reason that the puppies are easy to train and can be handled easily. With proper technique and planning, you can also give ESA dog training to an adult ESA dog. You can teach your pet various instructions that are as follows:

Teach Your Pup to Come When Called:

Coming to you when called
The first basic command that you should teach to your dog should be to come. You can train your pet by sitting down and taking their name and luring them by taking a treat for them. If they go, get excited and give them lots of positive support, and each time they come, provide some treats to your pet dog. After some time, you will see the changes every time you call their name and realize the benefits of giving this command.

Teach your dog not to bite:

Teaching a dog not to bite
While your puppies start growing, they like to nip things around, and sometimes, they can bite a little more complicated, and that sometimes can be painful. It’s better to teach your dog not to bite. You can shout or yell at them so that they can stop. Crying in pain can surprise your dog and may prevent them immediately. If this fails, you can stop responding to them and ignore them for some time.

How to sit:

Telling a dog to sit
Sit or can Stay both work in the same way and can help you control your dog. This command allows some guests to visit you, especially when you don’t want your pup to overwhelm guests. You can easily teach your dog to sit by opening your arms and asking them to sit. If your puppy stays, then reward them with a treat. Slowly, increase the steps you take before giving the treat to increase the waiting time.

How to Socialize:

Socialize a dog
Socializing your pet can help build their confidence, so it’s recommended to socialize your puppy as soon as they’re old enough. You can drag your puppies around to pet stores, parks, or anywhere dogs are allowed. By doing so, you can make them familiar with strangers and other dogs too. Also, teach your dog to be polite, respectful, and calm outside your house.

Bathroom Rules:

Teaching a dog bathroom rules
Being a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to teach your dog bathroom rules, as one of the top things your dog needs to learn is the house rules once you bring your dog home. If your dog does not understand these rules as a puppy, it won’t follow them as an adult. You set specific timings in the morning and evening so that you can take them along on leashes and teach them all such rules outside the home.

How to be Home Alone:

Teach your dog to be home alone
It might be very stressful for your dog to be home alone as dogs are naturally social creatures and like to be surrounded by people who need attention. You cannot be by the side of your dog every time, and your puppy should also understand that situation for you. You can teach them by keeping them in a crate or exercise cage. To turn up the environment, you need to provide them with toys and food to satisfy them. You can keep them inside the cage for some time and can leave them alone. Provide them with treats if they stay quiet, and steadily increase the time you’re away from your dog.

What is The Best Way to Train a Dog For Anxiety?

There is a solo exercise named “DEEP PRESSURE THERAPY” that not only trains your dog to treat anxiety but also for other illnesses like autism, depression, stress, self-harming behaviors, etc.

This training makes your dog a perfect replacement for any synthetic medicine used to treat serious mental disorders. Some health professionals consider this therapy to be even better than synthetic drugs.

This therapy works on the principle of pressure application method by your dog on your chest or some harmed area. Small dogs can directly lie on your upper body, while large dog breeds need to put their head or paws on your chest or some hurt area.

You can follow the following steps for emotional support animal training to teach Deep Pressure Therapy:

“Paws Up”

The first and foremost step to teaching your dog Deep Pressure Therapy is to get it on the Sofa firstly. This practice will prepare the dog for anxiety and other critical situations. For that, you can use treats to lure your dog. Start by moving the treat to take it back to the Sofa and affirming the “paws up” command.

Rehearsal Phase

While using the command, instruct your dog to settle on your upper body near the chest. The former scenario is possible if your dog is small enough, but if it is big, of course, it won’t be possible for you to endure its weight. For large breeds, teach them to put their front paws or face on your chest.

Once your dog follows you, it needs practice. Use this technique several times. Repeat it gradually without using any treats. Treat or not, your dog should know to step up on your “paws up” command.

“Paws Off”

It is the next step after your dog follows the “Paw Up” command and holds it for a while. You should affirm the “Paws Off” command similarly using the treat. This step also needs a lot of practice, just like the former ones.

Laying on Sofa

Professionals suggest practicing DPT with small lap dogs or medium-sized dogs like coolie. However, that doesn’t mean you can not teach big dogs for DPT. If you follow the proper procedure, you can also coach it to your big pooch. As mentioned earlier, use “paw-up” and “paw-down” steps to guide its upper paws on your chest.

It seems like practical training, but dogs are filled with emotions. Even without so much training, the dogs naturally know how to calm you when you are mentally stressed.

Final Training

It is the last level of your Dog training. You need to mimic anxious behavior and check if your dog follows the commands or not. It is critical for your dog to properly follow the DPT for an actual situation when you will be anxious in real life and need its support.


Dog training is not difficult but actually something that you can enjoy doing with your dog. However, if you think you don’t have that much patience and time to train your dog, you can also look out for ESA dog training near me.
Training for emotional support dogs is not mandatory, but it is worthwhile. We highly suggest you train your dog for difficult situations.

Posted in: Blog

About the Author

Lisa Tevis
Lisa Tevis
Lisa is a talented professional writer at Fast ESA Letter, fueled by a deep passion for animals. With a natural affinity for their well-being, Lisa combines her writing skills with her love for animals to create engaging and informative content. As a proud pet parent, Lisa shares her life with two beloved dogs, who have enriched her understanding of the human-animal bond. Through her work, Lisa aims to raise awareness about emotional support animals (ESAs) and their positive impact on mental health.


  1. Charlton Kurt

    Are dogs trained to be emotional support?

    • Tracy Deslaurier

      No, dogs don’t need any training to be emotional support dogs. Even no animal needs special training to be an ESA, as long as its owner has an ESA Letter as proof of its mental illness.

      However, you can still teach your dog some basic ESA training, i.e., “DEEP PRESSURE THERAPY,” which can help you in case of your anxiety attacks.

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