Chihuahuas are the perfect dog breed for families because of their small size and easy-going personality. Is this adorable breed able to handle complicated tasks that are normal for service dogs? The answer is absolutely YES, and is confirmed by many owners. Chihuahuas can help people with mental disabilities get rid of panic and other symptoms, much like emotional support animals. Below you can read more about the features that make Chihuahuas good service dogs, and about the differences between emotional support dogs and service dogs.
In this article
What is a Service Dog?
Service Dogs are a kind of special and professional working dog and they are not pets. They can help people with disabilities gradually, consistently and invaluable.
• Guiding Assistance
• Hearing Assistance
• Medical Assistance (Sense, Alert, Support)
• Diabetic Alert
• Autism Support
• Anxiety Support
• PTSD Support
• Allergy Protect
People are becoming more and more aware of their importance. Keeping a service dog has already become a great treatment for mentally and physically disabled people today. The service dog requirements are extremely strict for these specific tasks and in addition, they also need to have a very good temperament. Since they must be allowed under federal law for the needs of the owner in any public space, there are many customers, passengers and patrons who must be protected so that the service dog must be obedient to strangers and other animals.
Chihuahua is one of the most popular small dog breeds. Usually, they only weight 3 to 6 pounds. A lower weight means that this dog is a little unhealthy. Some oversized Chihuahua can weigh as much as 12 pounds, which is more suitable for families with children, as normal Chihuahuas should not stay with kids under 8 for safety reasons. Although they are small, they can lead a long life of up to 18 years, which is why people like it as it can be a long time companion, and they also dare to fight against a large dog with their agility. In fact, they are not dog-friendly and a little shy towards strangers. Therefore, it is better to train them as early as possible to be sociable. Since they are highly intelligent, they belong to the category of easy-to-train dog breeds. Chihuahuas are always considered to be pet dogs, but due to their extreme sensitivity, they have also become a very popular watchdog. One peculiarity is that they have a pair of big ears that are prone to earwax and therefore need to be patiently cleansed, but their coat is very easy to care for.
Chihuahua as a Service Dog
When talking about service dogs, people always think of a Labrador or a German Shepherd or something similar in size. In fact, even small shapes can perform tasks for people with disabilities as service dogs, such as Chihuahuas!
1. What kind of Service Dog can Chihuahuas qualify for?
• Epilepsy Alert Service Dog
Epilepsy can happen anytime, anywhere, and this type of working dog can feel the seizure in advance and seek immediate help for patients. A large dog, because of its size advantage, is better suited for the job to bring the owner’s body to a safer place.
• Diabetic Alert Service Dog
Diabetes mostly occurs in the elderly. It is a very common disease caused by people’s unhealthy lifestyle. If it is not treated in time, it will even increase the risk of dangerous heart disease. Such a service dog can alert to the bad blood sugar situation and then remind the patient to take some medicines to bring the blood back to normal. Humans can not detect the special odor as fast as the doggie.
• Hearing Service Dog
Will lead hearing-impaired people to special sounds such as fire alarms, doorbells, kitchen timers, crying infants, car horns, etc. However, not only Chihuahua can do this, but any dog with ears can be trained to be this kind of working dog.
• Psychiatric Service Dog
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and people pay more attention to mental health problems than in recent decades. Small dogs are more likely to be toy dogs for people, which also gives them great comfort without being overwhelming as well as being easy to carry and pack. The mental disorders include anxiety, depression, autism and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). A service dog can assist people with these symptoms to recover from a distressing condition and be their protective barrier.
Apart from these 4 service dog types, a Chihuahua can work as an allergy detection dog, a mobility assistance dog and a medication reminder dog.
2. How can a Chihuahua get a service dog certification?
First, make sure what kind of task the dog can do for you. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined to perform specific tasks for an individual with a disability.
Then, look for a professional trainer or train it by yourself. Before you start basic training, you should play and communicate with them and get their trust. The basic training includes obedience and command training. Then do some socializing exercises and a special task training for the particular illness.
The final step will be a public access test and an ability test. There are still no clear requirements for qualifications and training levels. However, you should make sure that the service dog has the appropriate competence. When you bring it to a public place, the owner must make sure that the service dog behaves well.
3. What about other small dogs?
In addition to Chihuahua, other small dog breeds like Corgi, Yorkshire Terrier, Pug, Poodle and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are also very suitable to become service dogs.
Chihuahuas as Emotional Support Dog
Emotional support animals come in all species and all sizes. They are not as well trained as service animals and only for emotional comfort. The difference between a mental assistance service dog and an emotional support dog is that the service dog is more professional and more important to the owner. For example, an emotional support dog for anxiety can leave its owner, but a service dog for anxiety needs to stay with its handler all the time. The prioritization is not at the same level. An ESA does not have the same rights to enter public spaces. However, as an ESA, a chihuahua can save some money on air travel and apartment rentals (pet-free housing).
But not to forget, an ESA needs to be registered or receive a vet letter before you can use their special privilege that is different from normal pets.