What is the Best Type of Emotional Support Animal for a Small Living Space?
When it comes to the perfect apartment dwelling ESA, cats reign supreme. Cats don’t need to be walked or exercised like dogs do, so having them confined to a small living space is no problem. They also sleep for about 15 hours a day, meaning you don’t have to worry about them not being able to get up and explore when you’re gone to work as they’ll most likely be catching some Z’s on the comfiest available surface.
If you have your heart set on an emotional support dog, fear not! There are plenty of dog breeds that are more than happy to live in small spaces. While it is possible to have a large dog breed in a small home, it’s advisable that you stick to smaller fluffs.
Rabbits are often overlooked as emotional support animals, and that’s a real shame. These long-eared cuties are just as emotionally aware as their canine counterparts, but come with the extra added bonus of being significantly more independent. A dangerous misconception about rabbits is that they must be kept outside in a hutch. In fact, keeping a bunny outside leaves it exposed to numerous dangers like extreme weather, diseases and predators, and it’s likely to half its lifespan.
Benefits of the Human-Animal Bond
The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of both. While many of us intuitively understand the benefits of positive interactions with animals in our lives, an emerging body of research is recognizing the impact the human-animal bond can have on individual and community health.
Just a few examples of therapy animals improving the physical, social, and emotional health of clients:
– A therapy dog has a positive effect on patients’ pain level and satisfaction with their hospital stay following total joint arthroplasty (Harper, 2014) .
– Fibromyalgia patients spending time with a therapy dog instead of in an outpatient waiting area at a pain management facility showed significant improvements in pain, mood and other measures of distress (Marcus, 2013) .
– A walking program that matched sedentary adults with therapy animals resulted in an increase in walking over a 52 week graduated intervention with the participants stating their motivation for adherence was “the dogs need us to walk them” (Johnson, 2010) .
– The presence of an animal can significantly increase positive social behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder (O’Haire, 2013) .
– Children made fewer errors in match-to-sample categorization task in the presence of a dog relative to a stuffed dog or human (Gee, 2010) . Similar studies may indicate presence of a dog serves as both a source of motivation and a highly salient stimulus for children, allowing them to better restrict their attention to the demands of the task (Gee, 2012) .
– Therapy animals in pediatric cancer studies improved motivation to participate in treatment protocol, to maintain their motivation over time, and to want to “get better” or stay optimistic (Sobo, 2006) , (Barker, 2008) .