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Can I Get a Therapy Dog for Anxiety?

An anxiety disorder is not something that automatically qualifies you for an emotional support animal. You need to have an established diagnosis and to obtain a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional or doctor to apply for a therapy dog for anxiety.

It is essential to understand the difference between a dog as an emotional support animal, a service dog, and a therapy dog.

Emotional support animals alleviate the symptoms of anxiety just with their therapeutic presence. These animals are not trained to perform any tasks.

On the other hand, psychiatric service dogs are trained to perform various tasks and undergo specific training to qualify as support animals.

A psychiatric service dog can help you if you suffer from anxiety by:

  • Anticipating an anxiety attack
  • Bringing you a phone for medication during an anxiety attack
  • Getting help if you are having an anxiety attack
  • Providing tactile stimulation and a sense of calm to help you feel less overwhelmed by emotions

Service dogs have full public access per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Therapy dogs must be adult dogs older than one year. They need to be certified by an American Kennel Club (AKC)-recognized therapy dog organization. Therapy dogs also have to be trained to provide support, affection, and comfort.

These animals go with their owners to volunteer in various settings (nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, schools, etc.) to improve the lives of people with disabilities.