A Guide: How to Train an Emotional Support Dog

Smart, sweet, and loyal—there’s a reason dogs make such amazing emotional support animals. For those of us looking for little extra help from our furry friends, an emotional support dog (ESD) can be a tailing-waggingly good way to feel secure in stressful situations.

That said, you may not know how to train an emotional support dog.

From common commands to specialized techniques, we’ve developed the ultimate how-to guide for emotional support dog training. If you’re ready to turn your pup into a pillar of emotional assistance, read on.

Step 1: Teach The Basic Commands

Before jumping into the more complex aspects of emotional support training, it’s important to acquire the fundamentals.

It can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so we encourage owners to start training the emotional support dog when they’re a puppy. That said, it’s still possible to train an adult dog as long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort.

Consider teaching the following commands to your dog through these tried and true methods to create a solid foundation for future training.

Bathroom Training

Dogs are full of surprises, some of them not all that pleasant. For new pups, potty training is the first step. Housebreaking your dog is essential if you hope to travel frequently with them.

For quick and effecting house training, follow these guidelines:

  • Consistency – Keep your pup on a regular schedule and they’ll have a headstart on proper potty training. If they can anticipate their next opportunity to go outside, you have a better chance of avoiding accidents.
  • No water at night – Young pups can have trouble making it through the night without a bathroom break. Consider taking away their water dish a few hours before bedtime to assure they’ll sleep soundly.
  • Crate-training and confinement – As much as you wish you could always be with your pup, you may have to leave them alone for short periods of time. It’s recommended that you crate train or confine your pet to a small room when you’re not home to avoid potential accidents. It can also help for future travel plans if your dog is comfortable in their crate.


This command should come naturally to most dogs. For generations, dogs have been trained to sit, so you should have your pup popping a squat in no time.

To train your dog to sit, try the following tips and tricks:

  • Use a treat – Pick out a favorite dog treat and hold it directly in front of your pup while repeating the word “sit.” While their eyes are focused on the treat, you can move it up and backward to encourage them to move into a sitting position.
  • Practice makes perfect – With all commands, they require time and diligence for your dog to fully master. Consistency is key, so keep up your training on a daily basis and try to create routines and schedules to further reinforce the training. This goes for sitting and just about everything else.


After “sit” comes “stay.” Sometimes you can teach both of these commands at the same time, but it’s helpful to make sure your dog understands “sit” before adding the “stay” command.

When teaching “stay,” try the following steps:

  • Place your hand, palm out, toward your dog
  • Repeat the command
  • Move backward slowly
  • Offer a treat and positive reinforcement for a job well done



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