Support Dog Activities


This post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Noah Rue

Photo by Pixabay

Fun Activities With Support Dogs

People need the assistance of support dogs for many reasons. They provide both psychological and physical benefits to those in need. Emotional support dogs (ESDs) can do everything from help someone dealing with chronic pain to calm someone who struggles with anxiety. Simply put, these dogs are amazing!

Scientifically speaking, dogs make people feel better. They can llower your blood pressure and reduce stress, and they offer companionship. It’s no wonder more people are taking advantage of pet therapy to improve mental health, and even to reduce some of the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

In order to qualify for a support dog, you have to have an existing mental or physical health condition, and receive an ESA letter. While they don’t have the public access that service dogs do, ESA status will allow you to bypass rental restrictions to ensure support at home. Support pets and service pets have subtle differences, with most service animalsbeing trained for a very specific tasks to assist their handler with medical needs. Support pets typically don’t get the kind of training required to be a service pet, which is why they don’t have the same rights to public access.

No matter which type of assistance dog you have, though, it’s important to remember that they’re still dogs! They deserve to play, relax, and have fun just as much as you do. So, what can you do to have fun with your dog, even if you’re dealing with a mental or physical ailment?  Let’s “paw” our way through some ideas!

Take a Trip

Traveling with your four-legged friend will always be more fun than doing it alone. Your dog will love going somewhere new, and it’s a great low-impact activity that will be fun for both of you. One of the best ways to travel is via RV. You can save money by hitting the road during the fall.

Roads are less crowded, so gas prices are typically down, and many campgrounds offer special deals to keep people coming year-round. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery with your dog. If you’re able, you can even go on hikes and take advantage of the wonderful colors across the country.

You don’t necessarily need to rent an REV or even take a long road trip to travel with your pooch. Exploring your own neighborhood or taking in new sights and attractions nearby can be just as fun for both of you, and you’ll be provided with a sense of companionship as you play tourist in your own community.

Take a Class

Did you know you can learn something new with your ESDs? There are many different types of classes for pets, including socialization classes, obedience classes, and agility classes. If you really want to think outside the box, do a quick search in your local area for things like art classes with your dog, or even a yoga class at the local dog park.

Yoga has actually some benefits for both you and your pet. It can help you to relax, focus on your breathing, and be more mindful. As you become calmer, your dog may be able to pick up on that and be less tense, too. If you have frequent pain as a result of a chronic disease like diabetes that your service dog helps you with, doing yoga together can help to work out some of that pain by gently stretching muscles.

Yoga is also a great way for both of you to get some exercise and meet other people if you choose to take a class. You can also do it in the comfort of your own home.

Go to the Park

Emotional support dogs do their best work by just being dogs. They comfort you when your mental health struggles get bad and help you to get out of the house. While often this means casual walks around the block, giving them the opportunity to run around and have fun untethered can be important to their wellbeing. What better way to do that than to let them play at a local park, or a fenced-in dog park where they can be off their leash and free to roam? They need a “mental break” too!

Even just watching your dog have fun and play can be beneficial for you. You’ve probably heard the expression “mind over matter” before, and the same rings true for your body. If you’re suffering from something like chronic pain, finding joy in having an ESD can actually help to alleviate some of your symptoms. Dogs can overload your brain with endorphins, taking away your stress and helping to distract you from the pain you might typically feel. Dogs allow you to be more mindful in the moment, which can help you to deal with the psychological effects of chronic pain.

Simply being outside with your service dog can make a big difference, too. It will allow you both to get some exercise, and spending time outdoors in nature has its own benefits, including stress-reduction.

Thinking outside the box will help you to come up with fun activities you can do with your emotional support dog that also benefit you. Remember, a support dog typically won’t be allowed in buildings, like a service dog is. But any public place that allows dogs or any outdoor activity you can do with your four-legged friend will be great for both of you.

No matter what you might be struggling with, it’s likely a dog can help. In return, you can give them a great life full of fun, a strong purpose, and a lot of love.

Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.