Emotional Support Animals


What if I want to take my ESA out in public?


REQUIREMENTS. Prior to beginning this test ESAs require proof of current rabies certificate and any other state or locally required inoculation certificates and licenses.

TEST 1: ACCEPTING A FRIENDLY STRANGER This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The Evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Evaluator looks but does not touch your dog. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the Evaluator. The Evaluator will also move behind you; your team may change positions but your dog must remain next to you

TEST 2: SITTING POLITELY FOR PETTING OF A FRIENDLY STRANGER This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. The dog should sit at the handler’s side as the Evaluator approaches and begins to pet the dog on the head and body only. The dog may stand in place to accept petting. The dog must not show shyness or resentment. Your dog must willingly accept the evaluator petting.

TEST 3: APPEARANCE AND GROOMING This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern, and sense of responsibility. The Evaluator inspects the dog, then combs or brushes the dog, and examines the eyes, ears, nails and each front foot.

TEST 4: OUT FOR A WALK (WALKING ON A LOOSE LEASH) This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog can be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. There must be a left turn, a right turn, and an about turn, with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The dog should be aligned with the handler and should sit when the handler stops

TEST 5: WALKING THROUGH A CROWD This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers, without appearing over exuberant, shy, or resentful. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not be straining at the leash. Also have a group surround dog.

TEST 6: SIT AND DOWN ON COMMAND/STAYING IN PLACE This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s command to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler. The handler may use a verbal and/or hand signal. The evaluator will instruct for the sit command and needs to stay in the sit command for at least 5 seconds. Will then repeat for the down command. For the stay portion the handler can choose between Sit, Down or Stand. When instructed by the Evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of a 10-foot line. The dog must remain in place, but may change position but must stay until the Evaluator to release the dog.

TEST 7: COMING WHEN CALLED This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog. The evaluator will distract your dog by petting. The Evaluator will tell you to call your dog. Your dog must return to you without distraction or delay. You will attach your standard leash and return the long line to the evaluator

TEST 8: REACTION TO ANOTHER DOG &/OR OTHER ANIMALS This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 10 yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 5 yards. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other. Your dog may not show aggression, fear, or excessive fear.

TEST 9: REACTIONS TO DISTRACTIONS This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations, such as the dropping of a large book or a jogger running, a bicycle or a skateboarder riding in front of the dog. The dog may express a natural interest and curiosity and/or appear slightly startled, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. There will be a visual distraction in front and auditory distraction behind.

TEST 10: REACTION TO MEDICAL EQUIPMENT WITH STAGGERING AND GESTURING INDIVIDUAL The dog must be tested around medical equipment (such as wheelchairs, crutches, canes, walkers, or other devices which would ordinarily be found in a facility) to judge the dog’s reactions to common health care equipment. Using the healthcare equipment, he/she may stagger, gestures with hands, make noises, and moans until she is about 5 ft. from your team. Will stop and call and motion your team to approach and pets your dog. The ideal Therapy dog is “neutral” to these devices and your dog must willingly approach and accept petting.

TEST 11: LEAVE-IT The handler with the dog on a loose leash walks over food on the ground, over toys on the ground and, upon command the dog should ignore the food and toy or any other item. Will also throw and/or drop toy and dog should not go after it.

OFFERED TREAT Evaluator walks toward your team with treat in hand with it reached out in front and asks “May I give your dog a treat?” You get to decide whether your dog may have the treat. If you allow the treat to be taken, tell the evaluator how to give the treat to your dog. Your dog must take the treat gently.

TEST 12: ACCLIMATION TO INFIRMITIES This test demonstrates the dog’s confidence when exposed to people walking with an uneven gait, shuffling, breathing heavily, coughing, wheezing, or other distractions which may be encountered in a facility. Again, being “neutral” is ideal. ANGRY YELLING Assistants begin yelling at each other approximately 5ft away (the yelling is not directed at your team). The assistants stop, yelling become neutral and one assistant calls your team over. Your dog must be willingly to approach and accept interaction.

TEST 13: SUPERVISED SEPARATION This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.

TEST 14: SAY HELLO WITH EXUBERANT & CLUMSY PETTING & RESTRAINING HUG The Evaluator will test the willingness of each dog to visit a person and that the dog can be made readily accessible for petting. Evaluator simulates petting by someone with limited mobility and poor motor skills. Evaluator will make strange noises while interaction with your dog.
The Evaluator will also give a full body hug around the shoulders that restricts it for no more than 15 seconds. Your dog must be willing to except the petting and hug.

TEST 15: REACTION TO CHILDREN The dog must be able to work well around all types of populations, including children. The dog's behavior around children must be evaluated during testing. This means the dog can be observed for a reaction toward children playing, running, or present in general at the testing site. Any negative reaction by the dog will result in automatic failure. Negative reaction means a dog showing signs of aggression. The dog must allow the children to pet, hug, him/her.

OVERALL HANDLER EVALUATION The evaluator makes an overall assessment of your handler skills, as demonstrated throughout the evaluation. Did you advocate your dog? Did you guide interaction? Did you have appropriate social interactions?

Test 16: FINAL TEST ESA Evaluator will accompany dog and handler team to visit a local facility. All dogs are tested and evaluated for therapy dog work by evaluators. Many dogs provide love and companionship in the home however, not all dogs are qualified or have the temperament suited to be a Therapy Dog.

Test 17: Evaluator Discretion: If the evaluator is concerned with the Temperament or aggression. The evaluators are instructed to redo a test or same test in slightly different environments to make sure there is no aggression.

For Small Dogs

PASS BETWEEN STRANGERS Assistants are seated in chairs within arm’s length, you pass your dog to the first assistant. Your dog sits for a minimum of 5 seconds in the assistant’s lap and is petted, and then returned back to your lap. The process is repeat with 2-3 more assistants. You may reassure but not pet your dog. Your dog must welcome the interactions.