It’s already well-known that animals can play a huge role in helping to relieve anxiety. It’s certainly true that many pet owners feel a certain sense of relief when they’re able to be around their own pets, but this actually goes a bit deeper than that. There is evidence that shows that, for at least some people, the presence of animals can actually help them to deal with certain medical issues that include anxiety.
Getting a service pet, however, can seem very difficult. It’s true that the methods necessary to get one of these fantastic dogs can seem arcane from the outside, but the truth is that learning a bit more about the process can make it seem far less mystifying. As such, the first step that anyone who wants to get a service dog for anxiety should take is ensuring that they know everything they can about who can get one of these dogs, how they go about getting them, and ultimately how having one of these dogs can help them to improve their lives.
Who Can Get a Service Dog for Anxiety?
As you might imagine, not just anyone can get a service dog for anxiety. There are absolutely certain hoops that you must jump through, as well as certain things that you must prove both about yourself and about the place where you live. It’s only by going through these steps, though, that you’ll have a chance to get a service animal.
The first step you’ll need to do is to get a recommendation letter from either your doctor or from the mental health professional that you see for your anxiety. He or she will not only provide documentation that your anxiety is a debilitating psychiatric condition, but he or she will also make the argument that getting the pet would be good for your long-term health. Without the help of a medical or psychiatric professional, you will likely be unable to get a service animal of any kind.
You’ll also need to show that you have the resources to take care of a dog. This means that you’ll need to show that you have a stable home environment and that you will be able to take care of your service pet for his or her entire life. You’ll also need to show that you are able to attend a handler training program and that you’re physically able to care for your service animal.
Beyond that, you’ll also need to show that you’re patient and that you have good communication skills. A love for dogs is a must as well, as you’ll be as much a companion to this pet as it is to you. While these may not be the most rigorous requirements, they’re nonetheless quite important.
What this means for someone with anxiety is, unfortunately, that getting a service dog can be quite difficult. You would have to satisfy all of the requirements above, which can be tough to do. This is not, however, your only option to get an animal that can help you to deal with your anxiety.
Choosing an Emotional Support Dog
If you cannot qualify for a service animal, you might be better suited to getting an emotional support animal. These dogs aren’t trained like service animals, but there are also fewer barriers to getting these dogs than their service counterparts. With that said, these pets can give their companions many of the same benefits that might come with getting a service dog.
If you choose an emotional support animal as a pet, you’ll still be working with an animal that your medical provider thinks will help you with your anxiety. Your pet will not have the same kind of legal protections as they’d have if they were service pets, but they may be exempt from some no-pet policies.
So, how do you go about getting an emotional support dog? As with getting a service dog, you’ll have to start by getting a letter. In this case, it will have to come from a licensed mental health professional who is familiar with your condition. The mental health worker will have to vouch for the fact that getting some kind of support pet will help to improve your life in some way.
The good news is that this is the only qualification. If you can get over that particular hurdle, you can get an emotional support dog. For most with anxiety, this is a very reasonable alternative to trying and failing to get a service animal.
The Cost of Getting a Service Dog
If you do qualify to get a service dog, you’ll need to be aware that you’re going to have to deal with some hefty costs. An awful lot of training goes into these dogs, and the cost of dog training is often passed along to the owners of these dogs. In fact, it’s estimated that most organizations that provide service animals will end up paying as much as forty-thousand dollars just to get a single trained animal.
So, why are service dogs so expensive? Simply put, it requires a lot of work to get a dog ready to serve. On average, service dogs take about six hundred hours of training with professional trainers to get ready to work and during this time they need to be fed, taken care of, boarded, and groomed – all costs that add up over time.
The good news is that you might not have to worry about all of these costs on your own. Some people, for example, might choose to get a dog and to train him or her to become a service animal. This can cost significantly less than getting a trained dog, but it takes more time and still has some associated costs involved. Even with that said, it’s still a valid option.
Many, though, require the help of charitable organizations to get these dogs. These organizations go through rounds of fundraising to get dogs for their chosen partners, often at no cost to the recipients. While it can be tough to find these organizations in some areas, it’s often the only way that many who need service animals can afford them.
Breeds of Dogs That Can Be Service Dogs
Generally speaking, any type of dog can become a service dog. Whether you have a working dog breed or a toy breed, the dog’s temperament plays a much bigger role in how he or she will perform than the breed. There are, however, some dog breeds that have an easier time with the training than others.
As you might imagine, many of the dogs who do well as service dogs are also dogs that tend to be good workers. Boxers, for example, tend to be great support animals, as do the always-popular German Shepherds. Golden Retrievers are popular as both emotional support and service pets, while Huskies and Labs both have a similar reputation. Even Poodles tend to be very good at getting through training classes, so there’s really a type of service dog out there for virtually anyone who needs the help.
What You Need to Know
Service dogs can be great companions for those with anxiety, bringing them not only comfort for a sense of safety that they might not otherwise feel. With that said, it’s very difficult to get a service dog if your only diagnosis is anxiety and you’ll have to jump through quite a few hoops in order to find out if you’re even eligible to get one of these dogs.
The best way to move forward is to broach the subject with a qualified mental health professional. He or she can work with you to figure out if you qualify for a service dog at all, and whether getting one could help you. If you don’t qualify, it might be wise to consider getting an emotional support animal – which, of course, will still require having a conversation with a mental health professional.
Anxiety disorders can absolutely play a huge role in your life, so it is wise to look into all of the options available to you if you’re looking for ways to cope. Though service dogs aren’t appropriate for everyone, they might be just what you need to ensure that you’re able to move forward with your life in a way that won’t necessarily be dominated by your anxiety.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What anxiety disorders qualify for a service dog?
To qualify for a service dog, you’ll have to show that your anxiety order has a major impact on your life. Not only that, but you’ll need to have a medical professional show that having the aid of these service dogs would have a positive impact on your long-term mental health. The key phrase used in most cases is “debilitating”, as you’ll have to show that your anxiety disorder goes beyond simply having a minor impact on your life and that it rises to a fairly significant level.
2. How much does it cost to get a service dog?
The answer to this question depends on a number of different factors. If you’re looking at getting a service dog who is already fully trained, you can expect to pay somewhere between thirty and forty thousand dollars in order to cover the cost of not only raising the dog but the costs of having experts fully train the dog. If you want to train the dog yourself, you’ll pay the cost of adopting the dog as well as the rates of the professionals with whom you work – rates which, of course, vary depending on the expert. In some cases, though, you can get a service dog for free or for only a nominal fee if you are willing to work with a service organization that helps to provide service dogs to recipients in need of financial help.
3. How do you qualify for an emotional support animal?
Qualifying for an emotional support dog is much more straightforward than qualifying for a service dog. You’ll need to go to a licensed mental health professional and get a letter from them that shows that not only do you have a mental disorder like anxiety but that your life would improve by having an emotional support animal. From there, you’ll simply need to adopt the proper animal. There are no requirements for particular diagnoses here, nor do you have to do quite as much to prove that you have the financial means to support the animal for over a decade or that your living situation is unlikely to change in the near future.
4. What medical conditions qualify for a service dog?
Many different conditions qualify for a service dog. Rather than there being a list of conditions that can be checked off, there’s just a requirement that a medical professional believes that some aspect of your condition would be improved by having a service dog in your life. As such, conditions can range from blindness and deafness to having seizures or certain types of cancer. It’s generally up to not only your physician to determine if a service dog is a right fit for your life, but also to any organization that provides service animals to determine if your condition is one with which their dogs will be able to provide any kind of assistance.