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The 7 Most Important Commands to Teach an Emotional Support Dog

The 7 Most Important Commands to Teach an Emotional Support DogWhy Emotional Dog Training is Important?

Why Emotional Dog Training is Important?If your dog is an emotional support animal (ESA), he or she has more rights than the average pet. ESAs are allowed on flights with their owners and can even live in housing with “no pets” policies. Though ESAs do not need special training, it is still important that they know basic obedience. When a landlord or airline allows an ESA, they assume that it will be well-behaved, trained and friendly. If your dog lacks any of these qualities, the ESA status can be revoked. By brushing up on your dog’s obedience skills, you can make sure that you will continue to live and fly with fido problem-free. Keep reading to learn about some of the best obedience commands to teach your ESA.

Potty Training

Every ESA should know where is and is not appropriate to relieve itself. This is typically the first command owners teach their puppies because no one wants to live with a pup who potties on the floor. Since ESAs are allowed to live and fly with their owners, it is essential that they be fully potty trained. Even if your dog is an ESA if he isn’t potty trained you may not be allowed to keep him in your home for long.


recallTeaching your dog recall will ensure that he comes to you every time you call. This is incredibly important if your ESA is ever off-leash so that he does not run off or get into danger. A dog who has good recall skills is attentive to his owner and submissive to commands, which is vital for an ESA. Even if your dog does not often go off-leash, teaching him to come when called can be just as helpful at home when you need him by your side. 


stayA dog who will stay in place on command has high impulse control and desire to please. These qualities are important for an ESA because the way they behave in public is important for retaining their status. Sometimes, you may need your ESA to stay in one place for his safety or your own, so it is a very important command to train.  

Leave It

Leave it

Dogs left to their own vices will usually stick their nose into anything that smells or looks interesting. This can be inappropriate for an ESA, because they are allowed in places that regular pets are not, such as airplanes and “no pets” housing. The “leave it” command teaches a dog to walk away from whatever delectable morsel they have found or put it down if they had it in their mouth. 


sitThough it may seem like the most basic obedience command, “sit” is actually incredibly important for a well-trained ESA dog. A seated dog is controlled, attentive and alert which is important if your dog is in a place that dogs are not typically allowed in. If you are taking your ESA on an airplane, it is important that he sits when commanded and will remain seated for as long as it is necessary.


downSometimes it is important for an ESA to be up on the couch or bed, but it is not always appropriate. Teaching your dog “down” will tell them when you need your space. It will also prevent your dog from jumping up on you or other people, which is always rude and can sometimes be dangerous if the dog is large. The “down” command will remind your dog to respect your space and the space of others, so it is important for a polite pup.



Most ESA dogs are happy and friendly, so they are often excited when experiencing new people or situations. This is not a bad quality, but an airplane is probably not an appropriate place to get the “zoomies.” “Settle” is another command that will teach your dog to control his own impulses and mind your commands. Getting excited and rambunctious is a quality that makes dogs so loveable, in a controlled environment. Teaching your dog the “settle” command will tell him that right now isn’t the time to bounce off of the walls and that he should probably lay down instead.

Tips on How to Train a Dog in Basic Obedience

Obedience training for your ESA is a process and doesn’t happen overnight. When teaching your pup new commands, remember to be consistent. Ask for the command the same way every time and provide a reward for the same action. 

Don’t forget the treats! Dogs respond much better to positive reinforcement than to punishment, so instead of punishing your dog when he does something bad, reward him when he does what you want.

If your dog is a puppy, keep training sessions short. Training sessions that last too long may actually cause more harm than good and make your pup resistant to learning. They have short attention spans, so try practicing a command for about 5 minutes at a time. 

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