Chihuahuas are one of the most iconic dog breeds in the world. Known as the world’s tiniest dog standing at 6-10in (or 15-25cm) tall and only weighing about 6lbs (or 2.7kg) these dogs are a beloved breed.
People get dogs for a variety of reasons and usually, it is because they are looking to add to their family. The addition of a new dog can really enrich someone’s family and can be a really exciting time.
While dogs are typically picked out to become a part of someone’s family, dogs are also known for being chosen as service dogs.
With chihuahuas being such a popular breed, some people question whether or not they are appropriate to have a service dog.
Service dogs play a critical role in helping disabled or impaired persons navigate through life. When most people think about service dog breeds, they think of German Shepards or another bigger dog breed. However, chihuahuas can be service dogs!
Chihuahuas are often seen as a high-strung, high-energy, yappy pups. However, this is a common stereotype for chihuahuas who haven’t been appropriately trained.
While it is true that chihuahuas have a lot of energy, they can be trained like any other dog. This is done with patience and consistency.
Moreover, training should be take place as early as possible because younger dogs tend to learn new things a lot easier than older ones.
Chihuahuas can be trained as early as 6 weeks but slightly older dogs can still be trained, however, is usually a lot harder.
Because chihuahuas can be trained like other dog breeds, they can make really useful service dogs. It is important to note that service dogs aren’t considered pets.
While do have an owner, their purpose is much different from that of a pet dog. Their training is specifically tailored to helping impaired or disabled people in their day-to-day lives.
It is thought that if a service dog is treated too much like a pet, they will become accustomed to this type of treatment and thus lose their ability to be a service dog.
But what types of behaviour shouldn’t be shown to a service dog? Below are key things that shouldn’t occur with a service dog to help them maintain their behaviour to help their owners!
Behaviours To Avoid With Service Dogs
They Shouldn’t Be Pet By Strangers
Service dogs are always on alert to ensure that the surroundings around them and their owners are safe. When a stranger interrupts their routine of guiding or aiding their owner, it can become a habit that is destructive to the dog’s behaviour.
Because of the importance of their purpose, interference by petting distracts them from their jobs.
This isn’t to say that they are just dogs with a job to their owner. Typically, their owners are blind, deaf, physically disabled or might have some other affiliation
A service dog’s purpose is giving these types of people a new way of life by having the dog help guide them through life. This can include crossing streets, navigating their homes or places like a grocery store.
Strangers should respect their purpose and keep their distance, even though it could be tempting to pet them.
They Shouldn’t Be Given Food Or Dog Treats
As a part of their critical training, service dogs are taught to ignore food or dog treats from outside sources.
Much like getting pat from strangers, accepting food or treats from an outside source other than their owner can have a negative effect on their training.
While they are trained to ignore such gestures, it is important that they aren’t continuously put in situations where they may have to face being subjected to this.
Strangers should remember this but so should their owners. Strangers might not realize the importance of not petting or feeding a service dog special treats.
Owners and their family members should make a conscious effort to ensure that they aren’t being given treats or interfered with by strangers as much as possible.
They Shouldn’t Be Picked Up By Strangers
It is rare that a stranger will pick up someone else’s dog, however, it isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities. Service dogs should only be picked up by their owners.
They simply aren’t trained to be lap dogs or cuddly with strangers. Once again, their mission in life is to enrich the life of a disabled or impaired person.
Their training for this is important to their lives as well as their owners.
Service dogs are usually bigger dog breeds, however, chihuahuas can help impaired people live a full life as well. The above tips are critical to keeping a service dog true to its training.
This is applicable for chihuahuas or other dog breeds.
Can A Chihuahua Be An Emotional Support Dog?
Chihuahuas can be a service dog or an emotional support dog. There is a huge difference between the two types of dogs.
A service dog is assigned to a person with a physical disability or some sort of physical impairment such as blindness or deafness.
An emotional support dog is assigned to a person with a mental affliction or medical condition and is trained to provide comfort in a time of distress.
Even though an emotional support dog’s purpose is different than a service dog, the tips for approaching an emotional support dog are the same.
They shouldn’t be pet or picked up by strangers. They are trained to provide support to their owners and any interference, just as well as service dogs can be bad for their training.
Emotional support animals, in general, aren’t really limited to a specific species of animal. However, more times than not, they will be a dog.
Sometimes, emotional support animals are also called “therapy” animals because they are providing a form of therapy to their owners.
These types of animals can be found all over the world and every country will have varying rules about how to register an animal.
It is always best to check within the country of residence to ensure that all and any rules or applications are being met.
What Qualifies A Dog As A Service Dog?
It is mostly common knowledge that service dogs are trained dogs that help impaired or disabled people in their day-to-day activities.
But what exactly qualifies a dog as a service dog? As expressed before, it isn’t as easy as just saying a dog is a service dog.
These dogs need special training and generally, if the training is done early, it is better. Below are the specific identifiers that make a dog qualified as one of service.
Things That Make A Dog A Service Dog
They Need Specialised Training
Service dogs need to be trained in a very specific manner to meet the needs of the person that they are servicing. Their primary duty is to help impaired people during their day-to-day routines.
They serve to make things like walking down the street, crossing the street, entering a grocery store or other store, etc much easier for a blind, deaf, or otherwise disabled person.
In order to do this, the dog must be trained to alert the owner of when to walk a certain way, stop before crossing a street, or navigate through a store to certain aisles.
This type of training can be a bit more demanding than traditional dog training, however, it is really important to those they will be helping.
Additionally, service dogs can be trained to help people who are diabetics or prone to seizures.
They can be trained to known the signs of a distressful situation. Emotional support dogs or animals can be trained in a similar manner as well.
Chihuahuas are super capable of being able to learn these types of activities and can become amazing service dogs.
They Have To Wear A Special Vest
The special vest that a service dog wears is to help identify them as being a service animal. This isn’t necessarily an “ID”, however, it is a major identifier for people in public to know that it is a service animal.
These vests are usually the size of the animals mid-section so that they are large enough for other people to see.
While they aren’t necessarily required to have an ID, they should have this vest on when they are out in public.
They Should Be Registered As A Service Dog
Different countries might have varying rules concerning the registration of a service dog. However, generally, they aren’t legally bound to registered as a service animal.
Registering them as service animals can make things a lot easier for impaired people in public though.
Most of society, worldwide, has a common understanding that if they see a service animal in public, they shouldn’t ask questions.
It simply makes things very uncomfortable for the impaired person as well as the person asking the question.
However, an impaired person might choose to register their animal just to be sure that all bases are covered. This isn’t a terrible idea and could make a person feel better about taking their animal out in public.
They Have Certain Housing Rights
In some countries, like the United States, service dogs have rights concerning housing.
No matter what breed of dog they are, landlords cannot discriminate against service dogs living in the building even if pets aren’t allowed. This is because service dogs aren’t a pet.
They are an aid to the person that they service. This protective law is to ensure that an impaired person can live anywhere with their service dog.
They Have Travelling Rights
Similar to their housing rights, service dogs also have travelling rights. They cannot be restricted from flights when travelling with their owners.
The reason behind this is quite obvious as the person needs the dog to help them in public spaces. Without them, impaired or disabled persons aren’t able to navigate properly in public.
Between specialised training and key things like the vest, these are what makes a service dog so incredible.
A chihuahua can have a purposeful meaning as a service dog with these qualifications, just like other dog breeds.
How Much Does It Cost To Make Your Dog A Service Dog?
For someone who wants to train a dog to be a service dog, the costs can vary depending on the training service that they are using.
Considering how much training a service dog needs to accomplish the tasks that it will be performing, the dog will the appropriate time to learn.
The general costs are around $200 an hour. It is possible to find grants to help with the costs of training. It could also be a smart idea to attempt saving up money prior to going through with the training.
Depending on someone’s financial situation, finding a trainer to make a dog a service dog could be the best route. Purchasing a dog that was raised to be a service animal is extremely expensive.
They can be anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 depending on where it is coming from. This also doesn’t include the maintenance of the dog either.
Even though service dogs aren’t pets, they are still required to have their vet check-ups and proper shots.
Service dogs are remarkable animals that aid disabled or impaired people live better lives. While it is hard to train an older dog to be a service, it isn’t impossible.
Whether someone chooses to try training their dog or buying an already trained service dog, these types of dogs are an essential part of keeping their owners safe.
Even though there are specific breeds that are generally associated with service dogs, these dogs aren’t limited to specific breeds.
Chihuahuas are totally capable of being incredible service dogs!