There is no specific restriction on the kinds of critters which can be considered emotional support animals (ESAs), but there are definitely some which make better companions than others.
Dogs are a particularly good example, and there are a number of reasons for their suitability when it comes to picking an ESA, so here is a look at a few of the top motivations.
Training is an option
Although an emotional support animal does not need specific training to be classified in this way, dogs are definitely among the most amenable to instruction, which can be very useful for owners.
From straightforward behavioral training to the instilling of specific abilities that are relevant to the condition that the pet is intended to alleviate, you can teach a canine ESA to be your four legged assistant, and to generally be easy to live with.
They are most malleable as puppies, so starting training as soon as possible is sensible. You can also opt for a full-blown service dog that has been schooled by experts if your needs are more specialized.
The bond between man and dog has been built over millennia
Humans and dogs have lived side by side for anywhere up to 40,000 years, according to research, and the domestication of the wolves from which modern mutts are descended has created an indelible link between us.
This is significant because it means that the emotional attachment and understanding that exists is not as fragile and fleeting as it might be with other animals; while cats can be fickle, dogs are unconditionally affectionate to their owners.
As a result of this strong bond, the emotional impact of owning a dog is all the stronger, and the benefits for mental health are unambiguous and appealing.
Indeed dogs are better at reading the emotions of their owners than any other animal, responding to things like facial expressions and vocalizations, and exhibiting a surprisingly deep appreciation for the mental state of the people who look after them. This puts them in an excellent position to act when something is wrong, and to cheer you up with a friendly lick and a cuddle when you are feeling blue.
Dog personalities vary significantly
Another advantage of dogs as ESAs is that they actually have lots of different personalities depending on the breed, as well as how they are raised. This means you can select a pooch that fits in with your own preferences.
If you want a dog that is calm and relaxed, yet reassuring in terms of its physical presence, then everything from a basset hound to a Saint Bernard is an option. Conversely if you are looking for an energetic dog that will fit in with your active lifestyle, then a corgi, Dalmatian or golden retriever could tick all the boxes.
Owning a dog gives you a social outlet
Aside from being excellent companions in their own right, dogs also make exceptional ESAs because they give you a reason to get out of the house and interact with other people.
Dog owners are a friendly bunch, and taking your dog for a walk each day will inevitably mean that you cross paths with others who share the same interests as you, and with whom you will be able to converse on a topic that you both understand intimately.
Those who suffer from social anxiety will definitely see the advantages of dog ownership, and during an era when it can be tough to form friendships and connect with other humans, a hound can be a helpful way to bridge the gap.