Author Topic: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?  (Read 233 times)

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Offline Green_Kiwi

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What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« on: February 09, 2018, 01:09:12 PM »
Im not going to be getting one anytime soon but when I do I need an idea of what to look for when the time comes. Like the kind of personality, temperament, breed, how welll it will do with small animals etc.

(Id like to add Im planning on adopting).

Help would be greatly appreciated!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2018, 01:53:53 PM »
An ESA is a well behaved pet that belongs to a person with disabling mental illness that is used under the direction of their mental healthcare provider as part of their treatment plan.

As far as personality goes, it should be a nonagressive, well behaved pet with whatever personality clicks with the owner and their lifestyle. It should not disturb neighbors with loud or frequent barking, should be reliably housebroken, and under control when outside of the home (not jumping on people or peeing on flower pots).

How well it gets along with other animals depends on the dog you choose. Please note that if you already have other pets you may be required to show why none of them can provide emotional support or to remove another pet from the home if there is a pet limit.

Generally speaking for an ESA life will be easier if you choose a smaller dog, 20 pounds or under, as this appears to be the magic size that landlords are less likely to object to, so it will tend to make future moves easier and less stressful.

There's no need for a specific breed although I would tend to avoid naturally protective breeds as they can misread their handler's anxiety as an actual threat and respond protectively, resulting in a bite, which is a nightmare no one wants to deal with. A dog who gets excited when someone comes to the door will tell you just as well that someone is there, but with less risk of a bite should a repair person have to enter without warning when you are not home in an emergency (such as a burst water or sewage pipe, that can't wait for time to contact or notify you).
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 03:43:38 PM »
(please imagine this post being spoken in a friendly, conversational tone - that is how I wrote it. It's my usual habit of spewing facts and discussing things, and I'm not remotely frustrated or upset at all, especially not with you)

Kirsten really said it, and I don't have anything to add to that. I just wanted to pop in quickly and say something about this:

(Id like to add Im planning on adopting).

I'm not upset with you at all, but I wanted to mention that I really, really don't like the terms "buying vs adopting". Either way, you're generally paying for the animal (most shelters require an adoption fee). Either way, you're taking in a living creature with the intelligence of a toddler. Seems to me like it should either be called buying (if you lean towards viewing dogs as property) or adopting (if you lean towards viewing dogs as living creatures). Under the law, you're buying them one way or another. For most people in their real lives, you're adopting one way or another.

I feel like "buying vs adopting" is a trigger phrase. "Buying" is used derogatorily, while "adopting" is used saintly. I am both buying (seeing as I am using money to legally purchase property) AND adopting (seeing as it's a living being with the intelligence of a toddler) ANY dog, whether it's from a shelter or a breeder.

In summary - you're still purchasing the dog (buying) whether it's from a shelter or breeder, and you're still adopting a living being whether it's from a shelter or a breeder. They're one and the same no matter which one you do. There's literally nothing that actually distinguishes 'buying' vs 'adopting' other than the viewpoint that created the saying, which is that adopting from a rescue is the only right way to adopt and adopting from a breeder is always awful.

I'm definitely not saying that you believe that! I don't think you meant anything by it at all! I think that's just what the vocabulary has become nowadays. But I wanted to point it out because there really is no reason for it other than to be high and mighty (which, again, I don't think you are).
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2018, 04:08:34 PM »
I don't think buying vs adopting is a critical discussion for a brand new member. If it bothers you, that's your issue. I don't care one way or the other and would imagine it's not a significant issue for the majority of members. It's like the people who get bent when I call myself Tar's mom. If you don't like that language, don't use it but it's not okay to press someone to conform to your personal preferences. It's like telling someone they can't get married because it's against your beliefs.

OP doesn't make that distinction and why is it necessary that they do? Please make criticism constructive, something that will benefit the OP, help them to reach their goal or to avoid a pitfall.
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Offline Tuttleturtle

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2018, 04:18:12 PM »
I would also add, that avoid getting a puppy for an ESA, get an adult. With an adult you'll know the temperament of the dog, with a puppy you won't, you'll know how they're acting right now. With an adult you won't have to go through things like potty training. With an adult you don't have to go through fear imprint stages, and how your mental illness with affect their view of what is scary and what isn't.

Puppies are cute, but puppies are a lot of work.
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Offline ccunnin3

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2018, 04:23:57 PM »
I second Tuttle's suggestion of getting an adult dog. I got a puppy ESA and it was a lot more work than was healthy for me at the time. There are a lot of groups use foster homes that also do some training with the dogs. Housebreaking is very common, so is crate training both of which will make your life a lot easier.
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Offline Moonsong

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2018, 06:12:30 PM »
Kirsten, I wanted to say something because I find the 'adopt' vs 'buy' derogatory and offensive. I didn't think the OP was doing it on purpose, but wanted to point it out for their information. It has a connotation to it that anyone who doesn't 'adopt' is doing something horrible, and has a holier-than-thou attitude to it. Since I'm someone who "buys" dogs, it's definitely hurtful to me. I never told them that they had to change their language, I just shared why it bothered me.



I also would have appreciated it if you had approached me about this in a PM instead of on a publicly viewable board.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2018, 06:59:53 PM »
She didn't say people who do other than adopt are horrible.  This is your issue, your self-talk.  It's not okay to tell someone they have to conform to your word choice preferences because you choose to let yourself feel offended.  Some part of you was aware you were being inappropriate because of how carefully you danced around telling her how she should interpret what you were saying.  You knew it was going to offend. 

I'm also telling you it was inappropriate.  It's not okay to jump on others because of your issues and it's especially not okay to do it to a new person who doesn't know that ordinarily you are a very sweet person and this is an aboration for you.

It's also not appropriate to argue this out with a moderator publicly on her thread, so drop it now. 

When you bully someone publicly, I have to respond publicly so that others know it is being dealt with.  If I contact you privately how does the OP feel about being bullied and the moderator doing nothing?  How do other members feel?

I also buy my dogs from breeders and yet I don't find her use of the term "adopt" offensive in the least.  It's your issue, one you need to learn to deal with, not the OP.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2018, 07:05:54 PM by Kirsten »
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Offline ScootersMom

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Re: What to look for when getting an Emotional Support Dog?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2018, 11:07:25 AM »
I'll throw in my $0.02 with my landlord hat on.

I'd rather see an adult lab, GSD, etc, that is a couple of years old and has some manners in my homes than a 5 pound dog.  A Great Dane that is a couple of years old makes a great apartment dog in many ways because they are total couch potatoes.  Many of the very small dogs that I know over the years  are pad trained (therefore used to going inside and often miss the pad) or have bladder issues because of having small bladders.  I've had to remediate and seal more flooring after very small dogs than larger dogs. 

One of my criteria for any dog moving into my homes is they dog must be non-reactive if Scooter and I come over for some  reason.  In fact, I turned away an "ESA" last summer because it failed that test.  I stated that the person was welcome in my home.  They were welcome to have a dog in my home.  THAT dog, however, was not welcome no matter what after the hackles rose, it growled and did the slow tail sway, and tried to pull away from the person holding the leash toward Scooter.  I refuse to put my SD at risk from a tenants poorly trained and Unsocialized dog if I need to check the smoke detectors.