Emotional Support Dogs

Emotional Support Dogs blog NewDoggy.com

What is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal provides emotional support through companionship.  These animals help people struggling with mental health issues by acting as companions. The presence of an animal can be very calming and may alleviate the symptoms of a person’s mental illness. People with conditions such as anxiety or depression can benefit greatly from having one.

Technically, any animal could be an emotional support animal, but dogs are a common choice. Having a dog as an emotional support animal is much more practical than a more exotic animal such as a parrot or peacock. Dogs are easier to care for, and much more accepted in public than some other animals would be.

What’s the difference between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal?

The first big difference between these two is that as a rule, only dogs can be Service Animals (though occasionally miniature horses are used in some circumstances). Service Dogs are not pets (though they are no less loved!) but working animals, trained to perform specific tasks. Charities often provide service dogs, though a person who is able afford the costs of training and care could purchase their own service dog. Service dogs and their owners have special rights and legal protections.

Emotional support animals can be of any species, though dogs are a common choice. They can be pets, and they don’t always receive specific training to fulfil their role. Although it varies from country to country, in general a letter from a doctor or therapist is needed for a pet to be designated as an emotional support animal. Having an emotional support dog is a bit like being prescribed medicine: having that dog is a treatment, prescribed by a doctor or therapist; that is vital for your mental health.

Do they need special training?

Emotional Support Animals are a fairly new concept, so the regulations about them are either still being written or are not all-encompassing. They are also very variable in different parts of the world. In general it seems that an Emotional Support Dog does not require special training by law. As their main role is to provide comfort through companionship, specific task-training is not required.

That said, training can be a very good idea in order for an Emotional Support Dog if you plan on bringing them to public areas. A potential support animal’s character should be assessed to see if they are a good fit for the job. An energetic and anxious dog is unlikely to do well as a support dog, but a calm and intelligent dog will probably do well. The good news is that just about any breed of dog can be a support animal, though certain breeds such as Labradors tend to excel at this task.

A trained support dog should be able to behave quietly and politely in public, sit in public areas (such as cafes or parks) without disturbing anyone, are just some of what a good emotional support dog may be expected to do. If you are interested in training your dog to be a support animal, please consult a professional dog trainers, and perhaps a veterinarian, for further advice.

Do Emotional Supports Dogs and their owners have any special rights?

If you have an Emotional Support Dog, depending on where you are in the world, you may have particular rights regarding your dog.  For example, in the USA, if you provide a letter from a mental health practitioner or doctor that supports your need for an emotional support animal, you should be given rights such as access to no-pets housing or being allowed to fly with your animal.

Some countries do not recognise emotional support animals. Although a person may benefit from having a dog or other animal for therapeutic reasons, they and their animal have no special rights the way service dogs do.

Pet Peeves and Canine Controversy

Unfortunately, Emotional Support Animals have become controversial due to people misusing and abusing the term. Many people attempt to pass off untrained pets as support animals. These dogs are often not trained to behave as proper assistance animals. At best, they may cause inconvenience, and at worst, they can be dangerous to other people and animals.

Many people obtain fake documentation to “prove” that their dog is a service dog, when in fact in many countries no official documentation for emotional support animals exists. They may also buy vests emblazoned with the words “therapy dog” or “service dog” to make their dog seem like a convincing service animal. The reality is that in many countries (such as the USA), there is NO official registry for emotional support animals. If someone tries to prove otherwise with documentation, they are either lying or mistaken.

Another common ploy is acquiring a false letter from a mental health practitioner or doctor; in some countries your emotional support animal will be recognised and given certain rights (such as taking your dog on an airplane) if you provide this letter, so this is a common deception.

Pretending that your dog is a service animal has detrimental effects on people who need real emotional support animals. Poorly trained animals and deceptive owners give all people with emotional support animals (and even service dogs) a bad name.

An unruly “emotional support dog” that walks into a restaurant barking at customers and stealing food, while its owner fails to rein it in, will make that establishment unlikely to accept more people with support dogs (shops, restaurants and other establishments are entitled to have a no-dogs policy, except in the case of service dogs). This makes life more difficult for people who genuinely need emotional support dogs due to mental health issues.

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The following is needed to bring a puppy into Dubai:


  1. All dogs entering Dubai from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Dubai must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Dubai must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Dubai specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Dubai must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Dubai must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Dubai.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Abu Dhabi:


  1. All dogs entering Abu Dhabi from a low-risk country at least 15 weeks old, and those entering from a high-risk country must be at least 27 weeks old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Abu Dhabi must be equipped with either a 9 or 15 digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Valid for 30 days.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Abu Dhabi specific vaccinations: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvo Virus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Rabies.
  5. Rabies Titer Test * – All dogs entering Abu Dhabi must be tested for rabies no later than 14 days before the planned travel date. ( Only from specific
  6. Parasite check - All pets travelling to Abu Dhabi must receive preventive treatments against internal and external parasites in the 14 days before travel by an authorised and competent vet.
  7. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Abu Dhabi.
  8. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.


* The United Arab Emirates classifies all countries into two rabies categories:
  • Low-risk countries: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Island, Fiji, Finland, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Montenegro, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK, and Vanuatu.
  • High-risk countries: All other countries are considered high-risk countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Hong Kong:


  1. All dogs entering Hong Kong must be at least 3 months old.
  2. Microchip – All dogs entering and residing in Hong Kong must be equipped with either a 9 or 15-digit microchip.
  3. Import Permit – All dogs entering Hong Kong must be equipped with a Special Permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. Valid for up to 6 months.
  4. Vaccinations* – Depending on the country of origin, your pet might need a rabies shot on top of all the age appropriate vaccinations. Hong Kong specific vaccinations: Canine distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus and rabies.
  5. Health Check – A Health Check by a veterinarian is mandatory in order to obtain permissions to enter Hong Kong.
  6. Pet Passport – This document verifies that the puppy is fully healthy and up-to-date on their vaccinations.
  7. Captain’s Affidavit – Document to be provided by the airline personnel confirming that your dog has not left its crate or interacted with other pets at any point during the journey.


* Hong Kong classifies countries into 3 groups. Vaccinations against rabies are only required from Groups 2 & 3.
  • Group 1: Rabies-free countries (at least 6 months of residency) Australia, Fiji, Hawaii, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Bailiwick of Jersey.
  • Group 2: Rabies-controlled (at least 4 months of residency) Austria, Bahrain, Bermuda, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Guam, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Vanuatu, Bahamas, Belgium, Brunei, Cayman Island, Denmark, France, Gibraltar, Iceland, Jamaica, Maldives, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands, USA (Continental), Virgin Islands.
  • Group 3: All other countries.
** Only for puppies from high-risk countries
Travel Requirements

The following is needed to bring a puppy into Switzerland:


  1. All pets entering Switzerland must be equipped with a 15-digit microchip that is compliant with ISO 11784/11785.
  2. Dogs must be vaccinated against distemper.
  3. Rabies vaccinations are mandatory. Dogs must receive their first rabies vaccine at least 21 days before entering the country.*
  4. The state veterinarian of the origin country must equip the dog with a valid Health Certificate.
  5. Import Permit – all dogs entering from a 3rd level rabies country must carry an import permit issued at least three weeks in advance. Entry points through Basel, Geneva, Zurich.
  6. Different regulations depending on whether it is a commercial purchase or individual and where the dog is coming from.


* Specifications differ for booster shots. ** Switzerland categorises countries by level of risk of rabies in three levels.
  • Level 1: All EU Member States and Andorra, Switzerland, Faeroe Islands, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Northern Ireland, Norway, San Marino, Vatican City State.
  • Level 2 (Low Risk of Rabies): Ascension Island, United Arab Emirates, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Aruba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Barbados, Bahrain, Bermuda,Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Curaçao, Fiji, Falkland Islands, Great Britain (including Crown dependencies), Hong Kong, Jamaica, Japan, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, North Macedonia, Montserrat, Mauritius, Mexico, Malaysia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Russia, Singapore, Saint Helena, Sint Marteen, Trinidad and Tobago, Taiwan, United States of America, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, British Virgin Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna.
  • Level 3: All other countries are considered as having a high risk of rabies.
Travel Requirements