Shih Tzu As an Emotional Support Animal

BY MOLLY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM | Updated October 29, 2023
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Unlike service dogs trained to do certain tasks for their owners with disabilities, emotional support animals do not have to perform any particular tasks.

Instead, these animals offer much-needed companionship to people who may deal with frequent stress, anxiety, depression, and trouble handling social situations.

Shih Tzu as an emotional support animal  Do Shih Tzu make good emotional support animals?

Shih Tzu can make wonderful emotional support animals, thanks to their loving and affectionate nature. A Shih Tzu can reduce stress and anxiety in most people.

These loyal pups love to spend time with their owners and are incredibly devoted. Plus, although they can have a stubborn streak, they are trainable and do well in public settings.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not rank emotional support animals(ESAs) in the same category as service dogs.

However, your pup is still afforded some extra rights as an ESA.

Therefore, if you feel you would benefit from your canine companion becoming a support animal, here are a few things you need to know.

What Is an Emotional Support Animal?

An emotional support animal provides comfort to a person by offering positive affection and companionship.

In turn, these animals can help relieve a symptom or symptoms of someone who is disabled through their attention and friendship, but they are not trained to perform any specific tasks to help the person.

An emotional support animal is typically a dog or a cat. However, there is no law restricting what species can serve as a support animal.

ESAs can be horses, birds, pigs, and even snakes.

How Does My Shih Tzu Become an Emotional Support Animal?

Although there are many companies that claim to register your dog as an ESA, there is actually no specific or formal process that makes your dog an emotional support animal.

The only way you can claim your pup as an ESA is if a health professional, such as a psychologist or therapist, prescribes your dog as an emotional support animal.

In these cases, your healthcare provider would decide that your Shih Tzu, or other animal, provides a benefit to you by helping relieve particular symptoms of a disability.

For example, if you suffer from anxiety, but your dog helps you to feel calmer, this can be a reason for your doctor to agree to make your dog your ESA.

You would need a letter from your certified healthcare professional stating that you need an emotional support animal to help you cope with your disability.

Can I Bring My Shih Tzu with Me Everywhere If She Is an Emotional Support Dog?

A very critical point is that emotional support animals do not get the same privileges as service dogs.

Under the law, businesses must allow a service dog to enter a public area, even if the place does not usually allow animals.

For example, you can bring your service dog into a grocery store with you. This is because service dogs are specifically trained to help their owners accomplish various tasks.

For instance, guide dogs that help people with visual impairments, dogs trained to pick up items, etc.

However, public spaces that don't allow dogs are not obligated to let your emotional support animal in with you, even if you show them the letter. These businesses have the right to deny your dog entry.

Emotional Support Animals on Airplanes

What you can do with your canine companion, though, is bring your pup with you on an airplane and let her ride with you in the cabin, thanks to the Air Carrier Access Act.

However, your dog must be able to fit in the space under the seat in front of you, although if it is small enough, she can ride in your lap.

The airline can deny your pup if she is being disruptive, such as jumping, running, or barking without being provoked.

However, if your dog is well-behaved, the airline cannot remove your animal simply because other passengers are uncomfortable with a dog on board the aircraft.

If you have a larger animal that blocks any access point or pathway, the airline can make you remove the animal from the plane.

If this the case, you may be able to upgrade to a different class to fit your animal, but you will be responsible for paying for the more expensive ticket.

Airlines are not required to upgrade a passenger to accommodate the larger animal.

If you are traveling to another country, you will be responsible for learning how that country handles Emotional Support Animals. Not every airline has the same rules, so always check with your airline before traveling with pets.

Emotional Support Animals Where You Live

The U.S. Fair Housing Amendment Act means that public housing and landlords make "reasonable accommodations" for emotional support animals and cannot charge a pet deposit. However, you must show your doctor's letter.  

But, it is still the landlord's right to refuse an animal that they feel poses a direct threat to others' health and safety.

For example, if you can't show proof that your pup is up-to-date on her vaccinations, or your dog is aggressive or has bitten someone.

And if your animal causes damage to the property, you would still be liable for the damage and expected to pay any incurred costs.

Emotional Support Animals in Hotels

When it comes to hotels, a hotel with a no-pet policy does not have to accept your pup. However, more and more hotels are starting to become more accommodating toward emotional support animals.

A hotel with a no-pet policy may allow your service or emotional support dog to stay in your room. While a pet-friendly hotel may waive their pet fees.

In these cases, the hotel has the right to ask to see the letter from your healthcare provider, and many hotels request that your dog wear a service vest so other guests don't wonder why their dogs can't stay too.

Also, you may need to provide proof that your pet is up-to-date on all of her shots.

What If I Have My Shih Tzu Claimed as an Emotional Support Dog, but I Don't Really Need One?

In short, saying your pup is an emotional support animal or falsely misrepresenting her as such is unethical and even illegal in some states.

As with anything in life, honesty is truly the best policy.

All in all, a Shih Tzu can make an excellent emotional support dog, but you should only make them one if you really need it.

If you just want your dog to become an ESA so you can get out of paying a pet deposit or get that swanky apartment that doesn't allow pets, this is dishonest and you'll eventually get found out.

Falsifying your pup as an ESA could ultimately hinder the rules and guidelines for ESAs, making things harder for the people that legitimately need an emotional support animal.

If you feel you could benefit from an emotional support dog, talk with your healthcare provider. No matter what, your precious pup will always be ready to shower you with affection.

In conclusion, Shih Tzus, with their affectionate and gentle nature, can make exceptional emotional support animals.

As a pet owner, you need to follow a specific process to have your Shih Tzu certified. This includes obtaining a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional and ensuring your dog is well-behaved and can adapt to various environments.

However, becoming an emotional support animal owner comes with responsibilities and ethical considerations.

It's crucial to respect the rules and not to misuse this privilege.

Remember, claiming an emotional support animal should not be a means to bypass pet policies but a legitimate aid for those dealing with mental health issues.

By adhering to these guidelines, you can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of having your Shih Tzu as an emotional support animal while also respecting the rights of others in your community.

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