Yay! ESD/PSD/ECD dogs are so fantastic, I'm glad more therapists are familiar with how much
of a service they can be. Finally a subject on this board that I actually feel qualified to weigh in on with any authority, lol! Emotional/psych service dogs are... well, they get dismissed a lot. "You don't have a REAL service dog" or "You don't LOOK disabled" is something you're likely to get from layfolk a lot, as well as a lot of ID checking and scoffing by employees at places that don't allow pet dogs. And you're even likely to get worse from people with "real" service dogs, dogs trained by a specific foundation or facility to perform specific tasks like mobility assistance, household tasks, or guidance. It's sad, but everyone likes to tell you about your dog and not many folks like to listen.
That said, there is an endless list of benefits from having an emotional companion dog. However, there are things you'll really need to think about for yourself before you dive into it. There's a lot of responsibility that you take on with a service dog.
1) Yes, CGC is essential. There are hundreds of places to get a Service Dog "certified". That just means that you pay a lot of money to get a laminated badge and a vest; there is NO national registry for service dogs, there are only a handful of private registries that train 'official' service animals, and they breed their dogs or select from puppyhood specifically for their own purposes. (Anyone out there, if this information is outdated PLEASE CORRECT ME, I am not aware of changes in the recent past) Ergo, there is nothing to stop that crazy lady with the DA bichon down the street from getting her snappy anklebiter 'certified'... scary, right?? Not every dog is suitable for public service. You need to be 100% sure that Murphy will be 100% stable in all situations he may encounter on duty, and the CGC is an excellent first step in that direction. It's a given that he'll need to be solid on his basic obedience, he needs to walk on a lose leash and know enough commands to behave himself. No jumping, no aggression, no fear of people or places. Flawless housetraining and quietness are essential as well.
2) Never too young for good manners!
3) Anyone can get any dog 'certified', so no. But he may not be the kind of dog suitable for the work.
4) Find a local group that does therapy dog training. If your dog can pass therapy certification, you can start considering him as a service animal.
5) Thousands of things!
Remember, not everyone loves dogs. PTSD (as you know!) is an exceptionally real thing to experience, but it's up to you and your therapist to gauge how much stress a SD would alleviate for you during activities in which your dog would accompany you. Movie theaters, visiting the mall or the pharmacy, or staying at a hotel are all more 'acceptable' places to have a service dog; but what about medical facilities, restaurants, or grocery shopping? The latter are places you may want to consider going without a service animal, unless you really need him with you. People (employees especially!) don't always like having a dog in their facility, because they are often a cause for contamination concern for other patrons or customers. Bottom line; be courteous to others. If you don't feel you need Murphy to assist you on a particular outing, consider leaving him at home.
All that said, Murphy may not be a suitable candidate for service. Don't get attached to the idea until you've had outside evaluation that he can operate appropriately on duty; if he wears a vest, tag, or if you present him as a service dog he needs to be a beacon of excellence for his position. There are far, far too many people out there with 'service dogs' that just have the tags so they can take their pets into places they couldn't normally go, and it's up to the folks out there who have animals in service that make the difference between a healthy lifestyle and an unhealthy one to remind people that dogs can and do provide that service.