Scientists have always known that having a dog or cat increases the quality of life for people. They can lower blood pressure, give a person someone who listens to their problems and can bring about laughter when a person is feeling down. This is just the beginning of what having a pet can do for a person. Recently, it has been noticed that those individuals who deal with emotional illnesses seem to do better in all areas of life when they have access to a pet on a regular basis.
Dogs are being specially trained to provide emotional support for many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, PTSD, autism, social anxiety and many other disorders. A person suffering from one of these disorders is helped by the unconditional love from another being. These animals can help a person with social anxiety venture out into the world, can ground a person suffering disassociation due to PTSD and can help bring a person living with autism to come outside themselves and start to interact with the larger world.
Unlike dogs trained for aiding the blind or deaf, emotional support dogs do not require pre-training except in the basics, such as being housebroken and walking well on a leash. In some cases, being part of this training is actually beneficial to the person who will be the dog’s caretaker. It will help increase the sense of accomplishment in these individuals. The biggest thing necessary for a successful partnership between dog and human is an emotional connection and that is also the one thing that can not be taught. For that reason, it is advisable for the person to be the one who chooses the emotional support dog.
Finding the “right” emotional support animal is merely a matter of getting out where animals are available, spending time with them and allowing the natural way of the Universe to take place. Dogs and people seem to instinctively know who they connect with. It is not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars at a breeder or pet store. The one dog that connects best can just as easily be found at your local animal shelter. In Erie, the two biggest shelters are The Anna Shelter and the Humane Society. There are, however, many smaller rescue groups that are willing to help place that special dog. There are shelters like these throughout the world for those with emotional issues to find their emotional support animal.
With this new member joining more and more mental health teams, people are finding the increased benefit is becoming one of the greatest seen for these patients.