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Can A Chihuahua Be A Service Dog? (How to Train Them)

People often don’t think a Chihuahua could be a service dog. Chihuahuas are often thought of as yippie little ankle biters and have a bad rap for being untrainable. Also, their small size and limited stamina may make people believe they can’t perform service-oriented tasks. This simply isn’t true. Chihuahuas can be trained to perform some very useful tasks for their owners.

Chihuahuas can be trained as service, therapy, and emotional support dogs. Being loyal, alert, and intuitive, Chihuahuas have characteristics that can help support their owners. People who have mental or physical disabilities such as PTSD, anxiety, diabetes have benefited from having a Chihuahua service or support dog.

It is no secret that Chihuahuas are a very polarizing breed. People tend to either love them or dislike them, but for anyone who has ever owned a chihuahua, they know these little guys are not only playful and charismatic but also loving and devoted. Chihuahua owners will defend and brag on their little pups all day long!

Read on to learn more about the reasons for a Chihuahuas suitability as a service dog.

And if you are looking for a service dog vest for your Chihuahuas Click Here to see the best options available now!

Definition of Service Dogs

According to Americans with Disability Act (ADA): “A service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The tasks performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” 

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Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): “A service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability, or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.” 

It is important to understand that in order to be considered a service dog your Chihuahua must be trained to perform a task or a service for you that you can’t do yourself.

There are so many ways in which service dogs can assist humans. These laws don’t specify the particular dog breeds that can be considered service dogs. Thus, it’s not so surprising to see a small breed as a service dog. Their hard work can make all the difference in improving the quality of life for their owners.

Can a Chihuahuas be a service dog? What Services Do they Provide?

For obvious reasons, Chihuahuas would not do well for people that need a Service Dog for tasks that involve physical support and heavy lifting. However, that doesn’t mean your Chihuahua is out of the picture. 

Many tiny, spunky Chihuahuas have proven adept at alerting their owners to symptoms associated with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or asthma.

Chihuahuas are very different from most service dogs but they do have some special talent. 

  • Chihuahuas are great for the hearing impaired and deaf

    One Chi owner says her dog will alert her when her phone is ringing/viberating and she’s not near it to feel it.
  • Chihuahuas can help individuals who have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

    One Chi owner has their dog sleep with him. His dog can recognize when he starts to have bad dreams. It licks his face to wake him and comfort him. This has helped him from having more extreme night terrors.
  • Despite being small, Chihuahuas can still be adept at helping around the house with more manageable projects.

    One owner has trained her dog to bring her small items that she needs.
     
  • The Chihuahua service dog is valuable for those who have psychiatric disorders such as autism and social anxiety disorders.
  • Also, Chihuahuas have even proven themselves to be valuable as medical alert service animals. These little dogs can be trained to detect epileptic seizures and subtle changes in a diabetic’s glucose level. Chihuahuas can sense when their owners’ blood sugar reaches dangerous levels and let them know.

    One Chi owners dog will detect when she starts to have a seizure. She has been trained to press a medical alert button on the floor, and then lay on her owner and bark loudly until help comes.

Following are some of the manageable house chores most Chihuahuas can be trained do:

  • Fetching television remote
  • Pulling open cabinet doors with soft handles
  • Retrieving light clothing from the dryer
  • Alerting their owner to specific sounds, like telephone ring, alarm, or if someone’s at the door
  • Alerting their owner of baby cry
  • Fetching the newspaper from the lawn

Consider training your Chihuahua to become a service dog if he has the following characteristics:

  • Your dog is intelligent and obedient
  • Your dog is well-behaved in public situations.
  • Your dog is healthy to perform the required tasks
  • Your dog is quiet and active when in public

Chihuahua can be wary of strangers, so they need to be very well socialized and have the right temperament in order to do their jobs in public with no problem.

How To Make Your Chihuahua a Service Dog

If you want your Chihuahua to become a service dog the process is quite simple. Either you or a professional needs to train your dog to do a specific task for you. This task is something that you can not do or have trouble doing for yourself.

Whether the task is to detect when a seizure may be coming or alert you when your blood sugar is getting too low there needs to be a specific task that your dog is trained to do.

If this task is something that you need help with while in public areas your dog needs to be well socialized and able to be in a public place without being disruptive or aggressive.

A service dog is allowed to go into any public place with the exemption of some religious buildings. You do not have to have a license or any documentation stating that your dog is a service dog.

If you are questioned by a business about your service dog they are allowed to ask you 2 things.

“(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.” (Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA)

Although it is not required to have any identification for your service dog it can be very helpful to have a service vest for your dog so that you can avoid some uncomfortable questions or possible confrontations. Chihuahua service dog owners have loved this vest for their dogs. You can check the prices on service vests by clicking here.

It’s important that if you plan to have your Chihuahua be a service dog that you train it properly and don’t take advantage of the opportunity to have your dog with you in public places.

Because some people are taking advantage of just saying their dog is a service dog without the proper training it is shining a bad light on service dogs in general and making it more difficult for people who actually do need their dogs in order to function in society.

Pro Tip: Even though it is not required, It can be helpful to have some sort of identification for your service dog. Here you can find service tags and badges for your dog.

Difference Between a Service Dog and an Emotional Support Dog 

Here are some key differences between service dogs and emotional support dogs:

  • Service dogs perform duties and tasks that their disabled owner can’t do. Emotional support dogs offer comfort to people suffering from any trauma or mental health problem.  

    For example for someone who suffers from PTSD if the dog is trained to go into a room to sniff, look around, and check that is safe and then come and signal to their owner that it’s ok to enter that would be a service dog. That would be a specific task that it has been trained to do.
    If the dog is just there to offer support and comfort to the person with PTSD that is not a service dog.
  • Service dogs need training while emotional support dogs do not undergo extensive training.
    Service dogs undergo quite a bit of training in order to be able to complete specific tasks for their owners.
  • Service dogs can easily travel anywhere with their owners. Emotional assistance dogs cannot travel anywhere with their owners. 

Are Chihuahuas Good Emotional Support Dogs?

With their small size and loving nature, Chihuahuas possess the qualities that make them wonderful emotional support dogs.

Many Chihuahua owners I’ve talked with identify their chis as ESA (emotional support animals) for their needs. Most of the owners said their dog helps with GAD (general anxiety disorder) PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and depression.

Chihuahuas can be amazing for kids who have these issues. I have 2 daughters with anxiety and ADHD and our little Maltese Chihuahua mix Bear helps them a lot. When they are feeling overwhelmed and having an anxiety attack he will go and lick their face nuzzle up to them and sit on their laps. It helps considerably to get them to a calmer state faster.

Chihuahua won’t give you the additional stress of transportation since they are quite lightweight and very portable. They are the perfect size to carry in your purse anywhere you go. 

There’s nothing quite like the warmth of a sweet cold nose. Chihuahua can provide you with emotional support as you go about your day. Cuddling up with a Chihuahua can boost your spirits when you’re feeling low. 

Chihuahuas are capable of making their owners feel better and feel happier. They can be of great advantage to those with mental health conditions. Owners must train their Chihuahua and ensure that they do not misbehave in public, despite the situation.

Do Chihuahuas Like to Cuddle? (What do Owners Say!)

What to Look for in a Service Dog 

Regardless of the breed of dog, there are some qualities and characteristics a good Service Dog should possess. These include:

  • The dog should be of the right size, with the right amount of strength and stamina to perform the required duties.
  • The dog must be physically active as well as calm and peaceful when in public.
  • The dog must be smart and a problem solver. It should have a some intelligence and obedience.
  • The dog must always be well-behaved in public situations. They should not be aggressive, hyper, or snappy at public places.

Can a Chihuahua be a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog lends comfort and affection to people in an establishment or to certain people who require help to deal with a physical or emotional problem. They are neither service dogs nor emotional support dogs. 

The responsibilities of therapy dogs are to provide comfort, assistance, and psychological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. Generally, they visit hospitals, schools, old age homes, nursing homes, and many more.

Chihuahuas are an intelligent and easy-to-train breed. This fantastic combo of brains and beauty makes him an ideal therapy dog. Chihuahuas do have a tendency to bark, so they need to be trained to stay quiet and calm.

One Chihuahua owner told me that she takes her chi to a nursing home to help seniors who suffer from memory loss.

The comfort that these energetic and tiny Chihuahua can share is remarkable. This small breed is also valuable for those individuals that suffer from any psychiatric issues. Chihuahuas can provide relief to those in anxiety-provoking situations. They can bring comfort and relief to those who are grieving or lonely. Chihuahuas offer affection to people who are in hospitals or nursing homes.

Vital Stats About Chihuahua

Let’s have a look at some vital stats of Chihuahua:

Stats
Description
Dog Breed Group
Toy group 
Purpose
Lapdog, Companionship
Temperament
Gentle, Charming, Playful, Peaceful 
Average Height
6-9 inches
Average Weight 
Under 7 pounds
Energy level 
High 
Exercise needs
Low; 20 minutes per day
AKC Breed Popularity
Ranks 11 of 197
Life Expectancy
14 – 19 years 

Chihuahua Characteristics and Personality  

Chihuahuas are affectionate, fun-loving, and happy dogs. Most Chihuahuas generally share the following personalities:

  • Loyal: Loyalty is a natural behavior of . These little dogs are very loyal to the family.
  • Great watchdogs: Chihuahuas are alert dogs who are fearless in a charming toy-dog way.
    They tend to bark at anything suspicious if you want to get alert for unexpected people or animals, Chihuahuas serve as reliable watchdogs.
  • Playful: Chihauhaus are playful dogs and enjoy playing and spending time with their human companions. They thrive on human companionship and can get anxious if they don’t get enough interaction with their owners.
  • Intelligent: Chihuahuas are fairly intelligent and smart dogs. They can read and react appropriately to human gestures. These little guys have a good memory. need mental stimulation to stay away from mischievous and destructive activities. 
  • Affectionate: Chihuahuas are very loving and affectionate dogs. They need your attention and affection but offer unconditional love to their owners.
  • Barkers: Chihuahuas are vocal dogs with high barking potential. You can train your Chihuahua to stop barking and to avoid unpleasant situations.
  • Adapts well to apartment living: If you live in an apartment or small home, then this little guy is a suitable option for you. Chihuahuas are excellent apartment dwellers due to their small size.
  • Trainable: Chihuahuas can sometimes be a bit harder than other small breed dogs to train, but if you have the right tools and enough patience this breed is generally smart and adaptable. Chihuahuas respond well to rewards-based training. You will need to use treats and games to teach Chihuahua to comply with your requests.

Trying out a fun training program together like this widely popular program Brain Training for Dogs can help unlock your dog’s hidden potential and help them learn how to avoid problem behaviors.

Field Dogs 300 x 600

The temperament of a Chihuahua is affected by a number of factors, including genetics, training, and socialization. 

Next Steps 

Overall, a Chihuahua is a small dog that is not capable of performing big tasks like pulling a wheelchair or supporting balance.

There are many Service Dog tasks that a Chihuahua is capable of learning. These include being there for physiatric issues and small duties around the home like opening cabinet doors.

The Chihuahua’s size, personality, and capabilities make them a good emotional support dog. They can soothe people who need a furry companion through petting, cuddling, and doing simple tricks or playing games.

Learn more about what makes a Chihuahua unique by reading these articles next.

Do Chihuahuas Watch TV? (She May Prefer HD!)

Do Chihuahua’s Whine A lot? (Complete Guide to Chihuahua Whining)

Do Chihuahuas Like to Cuddle? (What Owners Say!)

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