Can Chihuahuas Be Service Dogs?

Chihuahuas are a popular toy breed of dogs that seem to be present all around the world. These little dogs are energetic, adorable, and entertaining. This breed conforms to many situations and has many hidden talents to offer its owners. However, there is another question we may have in mind: can Chihuahuas be service dogs?

What makes a dog a good service dog?

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Service dogs are an important source of aid to thousands of people around the world. These companions are trained to assist people with many types of disabilities. [1]

The most well-known one is guide dogs, otherwise referred to as seeing-eye dogs, but that doesn’t even scratch the number of situations where service dogs can help people.

Service dogs can aid people with seizures, muscular dystrophy, and other similar problems but that doesn’t even cut it. Dogs can assist people with mental issues as well, provided that they get corresponding training.

The first thing to consider when asking can Chihuahua’s be service dogs is knowing what makes a good service dog. Everybody finds their dog to be the perfect friend and a nice source of stress relief during difficult days.[2]

However, while that’s very helpful to have in our home a service dog needs to fill out specific requirements to become one.

It needs to be on its best behavior at all times

As you may imagine, the overall type of behavior a dog has around strangers and the world at large comes into play quite a lot with service dogs. They need to be able to keep calm in just about any situation, stay energetic so they can accompany the person they are assisting throughout their day, comfortable around people, and focused.

These qualities mean that the dog won’t get scared from sudden noises or slight pain and will stick to its owner. A service dog who starts running away from any loud sounds could cause more issues to the owner or even endanger them if they are holding the leash when the dog gets spooked.

Training is paramount

No matter what dog it is or what breed they belong to, training will end up being a key factor in judging how well a dog fits a service dog role. Once the temperament tests have been passed and the dog has been confirmed as a good candidate, training in earnest begins.

The training itself can be quite varied due to the sheer number of options service dogs cover. Their training can include pulling wheelchairs, stabilizing their owner when their legs get unsteady, guiding people with sight issues, getting items for their owner, calming the owner down, and many more tasks that may be required out of a service dog. [3]

These service dogs should also be acquainted with situations their owner could get into, that’s why trainers make sure to cover that in the training too. Just about any unusual situation where the owner would have to calm or restrain the dog, a service dog will require no urgency from the owner to act properly.

Can Chihuahuas be service dogs?

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The role of a service dog isn’t restricted to just bigger dogs, that’s important to understand when covering whether a Chihuahua can be a service dog, small dogs have been service dogs for a while now.

Advantages of small service dogs

Small service dogs have a few unique advantages that may not be immediately apparent. They eat less and as such are good for those who cannot afford to constantly feed large breeds.

Smaller dogs, especially Chihuahuas, are often very easy to groom so it’s not hard for their owners to keep them groomed, unlike larger breeds who could have a complex coat to boot, leading to a lot of work to be done around their coat. [4]

However, the biggest advantage they offer is one of simple transportation. Being able to have our dog with us just about anywhere without making them sit in a cramped area is great for those owners who use transport a lot.

Roles of small service dogs

As you can imagine, a small dog wouldn’t fare too well when it comes to some of the tasks mentioned previously. Those tasks that require physical strength are especially incompatible with these breeds. On the other hand, they conform quite well to a few other roles that aren’t affected by their size.

Hearing dogs

As far as small dog breeds and their assistance goes, hearing dogs may be the more common type present. These small service dogs can be trained to respond to certain sounds, warning their owner of them.

Said sounds can include alarms, doorbells, timers, and other simple sounds like that. However, these dogs can also be used to help their owners keep track of other aspects of their life by warning them of crying babies or somebody calling out to them.

There is also the very important role of hearing dogs which is one that improves the safety of people with hearing impairments. The service dog can warn the owner of fire alarms or other sources of sound that would otherwise warn them that there’s a dangerous situation.

Seizure alert dogs

The lives of people who experience seizures can be changed immensely with seizure alert dogs. The dog can sense an oncoming seizure and warn its owner before it happens. Of course, they don’t only warn them, they are there to perform tasks that may be mandatory for their owner but currently unfulfilled by them. These include them reminding the handler of specific therapies or aiding them when a seizure happens.

While small breeds may not be able to cover all the potential needs, like making their owner sit down or moving them if needed, they are still capable of fulfilling a number of these tasks.

They are also capable of seeking help in case their owner does suffer a seizure without anybody present or if complications arise. Their intervention could save a life no matter the dog’s size.

Diabetic alert dogs

The ability of dogs to sense various factors that are invisible to the human eye is why they get used so much in different areas of our life. It’s not different with diabetic alert dogs.

These animals are properly trained to detect changes in blood sugar once their training is done. These dogs have a very potent sense of smell, being able to discern any shift in blood sugar and inform you of it. [5]

Small dogs with good smells are no less capable of fulfilling this role than big dogs. After all, you don’t need a large dog to warn you when the little one can offer the same amount of urgency.

There’s no physical requirement for these warnings either, the little dog can simply nudge you or bark to make people aware of their blood sugar level. When it comes to Chihuahua service dog diabetes alerting is a pretty easy task to fulfill due to it not requiring any specific action that a small dog cannot accomplish.

Psychiatric service dogs

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When it comes to therapy and any sort of assistance with mental issues, service dogs have found their place in the sphere no matter their size. After all, even an untrained dog can aid their owner in times of distress solely through the act of companionship. The comfort we feel with an animal such as a dog can help during lonely times or depressive episodes solely through their friendly and caring behavior.

Psychiatric service dogs are further trained to be more competent in providing their owners the care they need as well as performing tasks for them.

These dogs are taught how to approach their owner during distressing times, aiding them during the times their mental issues act up. There are many triggering occurrences in our daily life even if we are simply staying home.

Service dogs are there to aid those who may experience extreme levels of discomfort no matter where that situation may occur. They can lessen the chance of panic attacks or at least ease up any reoccurring episodes the owner may have.

Small service dogs can be additionally helpful in this case because of their size. As we’ve mentioned before, it’s easy to transport a small service dog so they can stick around with their owner throughout the day aiding them all the way through.

Service dog certification

Now that we’ve confirmed that small dogs can partake in the role of being service dogs and offered some examples of them acting as such, it’s time to check what a dog needs to do to get certified as a service dog. Let’s go over the requirements and find out.

Clear the requirements of temper and training

It’s understood that any dog attempting to become a service dog has to pass the temper test we described beforehand. This is the simplest qualifying factor but it can also be the most important one because the behavior during it could showcase a personality that’s not fit for the role of a service dog.

Training is key though, no matter how well a dog behaves it still has to pass all the training. Specific training may be required for specific roles, as we’ve seen above not all service dogs have the same roles so in some cases extra training may be necessary. However, after these two have been cleared it’s time to get a certification.

Certification and registration

The certification is an official confirmation that your dog qualifies as a service dog and can be used for purposes of providing support to those who need it but there are a few things you should know about it.

It should be understood that after a dog passes previous requirements without any problems and showcases competency as a service dog, it’s already one. The certification added on top of that is an added confirmation of their capability rather than a sole showcase of it. This certification isn’t even a requirement for identifying your dog as a service dog as per law public establishments aren’t supposed to inquire or demand documentation for a service dog.

All of the identifying factors involved in this certification, including dog IDs, don’t give the dogs any additional rights and aren’t the identifiers that a dog is indeed a service dog. However, it’s not only possible but common that staff at public establishments will ask for some sort of proof regardless.

This issue is resolved through various sources of identifying items that make it more convenient to have a dog around during your daily trips. This issue persists even with toy breeds, despite their size the staff may have doubts about their behavior and won’t allow them inside an establishment. These toy breeds may also be servicing people who are hard of hearing so the invasion of private space is a frequent occurrence as staff fails to understand the situation.

That’s why a Chihuahua service dog vest is a really good solution for such situations. Just about any dog benefits from it, considering the constant scrutiny in a public establishment that they’ll face.

What one needs to know is that at this point your dog is fully recognized as a service dog even without the documents. The service vest, certification documentation, dog IDs, and other such items are exclusively used to avoid uncomfortable public encounters and inconvenience.

Can chihuahuas be service dogs?

The Chihuahua that passes this training has the same experience as any other dog. After proper training and showcase of good behavior, they can accompany their owner on their daily tasks as a helpful friend. The temper and attitude these dogs have makes it so that they aren’t a nuisance or a problem in public spaces although it’s likely that this won’t stop people from doubting the dog’s behavior or status.

Can chihuahuas be trained?

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The only question that one may inquire when deducing the Chihuahua’s competency as a service dog is whether they can be trained. The energetic and stubborn nature of a Chihuahua may seem like an immediately debilitating factor to training a service dog but one shouldn’t be discouraged by it. While they may be harder to train to regular means, a Chihuahua is no less capable of establishing itself as a competent dog with proper training. After all, they are decently intelligent animals despite their feisty personality.

Training begins with the owner

While a professional trainer will usually be required for more complex training, the fundamental understanding of commands and good behavior is something entirely on you.

The owner has to establish a good connection with their dog and follow through with a training regime to achieve the desired results. Trained dog won’t destroy things around your home.

Use a daily routine

Whether it’s eating, walking, playtime, or just about anything else in a Chihuahua’s life, a firmly established daily routine can help prepare them for other training activities. A good daily routine can also help those people who leave their Chihuahua at home ease their separation anxiety and understand that when a certain amount of time has passed the owner will be back.

For their further training as service dogs, this routine will be changed by training sessions and encounters with problems they have to warn about the person they are acting as a service dog for.

Obedience

This once again ties into the attitude required for a service dog. If a dog was to assist a person in their daily life and aid them constantly, they need to be obedient. The most common problem can stem from disobedient behavior during walks, which is something a service dog mustn’t do.

The first step towards resolving it is to teach the dog to walk politely on a leash by putting them on a table or bench and walking next to them. The tighter surface will prevent them from darting all around the place so you can walk past them and get them used to this polite walking style. However, you should very much make sure that this training is conducted safely, a Chihuahua may be tempted to rush after something and get injured doing so.

Socialization training

A service dog will be around a lot of people and potentially a lot of dogs. Last thing a Chihuahua should do when around other people or animals act out in negative ways. While they are naturally protective to a fault and very loud, you can train them into nicer dogs.

Simply by having a Chihuahua be around other people and animals you are starting to socialize them. From that point on, you are supposed to provide constant guidelines to dos and don’ts within the situations they find themselves in.

Make sure to reward good behavior while punishing bad behavior properly. Withholding food or physically hurting your dog aren’t good ways of doing so. Instead, find alternatives like cutting a walk short or not giving them those special treats. While stubborn, Chihuahuas aren’t incapable of learning how to behave with enough time and care given to them.

Emotional support animals

Even if a Chihuahua cannot become a proper support dog it can become an emotional support animal or ESA for short. These animals function differently from regular service dogs despite fulfilling a similar role.

Emotional support animals and psychiatric dogs

The role of ESA is similar to those of psychiatric dogs with one key difference. An ESA dog is exclusively there to provide comfort and ease the effects of the person’s mental issue or issues, they do not get training to perform specific tasks or jobs that may relate to the disability or mental issue. [6]

Chihuahuas and any other dogs who fall into this category also do not gain benefits such as accompanying their owners in areas that prohibit access to dogs so unlike a service dog you can be denied access in a restaurant or similar public establishment.

However, they are still recognized as assistance animals and cannot be banned from housing that would otherwise prohibit pets. Owning of an ESA also doesn’t allow house owners to charge the dog owner a pet deposit.

Are chihuahuas good emotional support dogs?

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Toy breeds such as Chihuahua can even bring beneficial advantages with them which mostly relate to their size and as such are great for those people who need to have their dogs nearby as much as possible yet do a lot of traveling.

These dogs are also competent as emotional support animals due to their loyal behaviour and while those may not have the same amount of rights service dogs do, their helpful impact on people they accompany shouldn’t be underestimated. [7]

Conclusion

When all is said and done, Chihuahuas can be service dogs. Their attitude may require more frequent and deeper training but if their personality is fit for a service animal position they will get through all the requirements. Keep in mind that a lot of effort is on the trainer and owner, they need to understand what approach to take with the dog and how to best bring it up to par with all the requirements for a Chihuahua to become a service dog.

Otherwise, dogs can become emotional support animals, providing much needed emotional support to those in need. They don’t have as many rights as other service dogs but their role is nonetheless important.