Service animals are essential to securing a better quality of life for people with various disabilities. Whether the person is hard of hearing, has severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or experiences epileptic seizures, they can have more peace of mind that crises can be mitigated or even averted altogether with a trained service dog.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about Chihuahuas as a service animal, including answers to the following questions:
The Bottom Line:
- What are service dogs? Service dogs are specially trained animals that can assist their owners with physical tasks, emotional stress, etc.
- Why are Chihuahuas good service dogs? Chihuahuas are small, sweet-tempered, and bond very strongly with their adoptive owners.
- How can you obtain your own Chihuahua service dog? Completing a quick assessment can help us get a comprehensive understanding of your needs for pet service.
- What's the difference between a service dog and an ESA? Service dogs are specially trained to assist with physical and emotional problems; an ESA receives no special training.
What Are Service Dogs?
A service animal is any canine that has been specially trained to carry out duties for the benefit of a person with a disability, such as physical, sensory, mental health, intellectual, or any other type of mental impairment, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Animals other than dogs are not considered service animals, regardless of whether they have been trained to perform activities.
The job or tasks of a service animal must be specifically related to the person's condition. There are several examples of work or jobs a service dog may perform for their owner. Her are a few:
- Assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks
- Alerting deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals to the presence of people or sounds
- Providing non-violent protection or rescue work
- Pulling a wheelchair
- Assisting an individual during a seizure
- Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
- Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone
- Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities
- Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.
Types of Service Dogs
Many types of service dogs specialize in helping those with different disabilities. The following are some of the most common types of excellent service dogs.
Guide dogs assist the blind and visually impaired in navigating their surroundings. Hearing dogs assist deaf and hard-of-hearing people by alerting them to important sounds. Mobility dogs help people who use wheelchairs or walking aids or who have balance issues. Medical alert dogs may also alert the user to the presence of allergens, signal the onset of a medical problem such as a seizure or low blood sugar, and perform a variety of other functions.
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Psychiatric service dogs help people with disabilities like obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses.
Psychiatric service dogs may perform tasks such as entering a dark room and turning on a light to alleviate stress-inducing conditions, interrupting repetitive behaviors, and reminding a person to take medication.
Pettable offers an online PSD training program if you wish to train a psychiatric service dog yourself. The program is entirely on-demand consisting of a series of video lessons presented by a professional dog trainer. If you are interested in the program get started by taking our online quiz.
Like many modern-day dog breeds, much of the Chihuahua's history is shrouded in mystery. Historians continue to speculate on Chihuahua's true origins, but most agree that it leads back to the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Spanning 95,544 mi and bordering Texas and New Mexico to the northeast, Chihuahua is the largest of Mexico's 32 states. It was here where dog fanciers are believed to have discovered some of the earliest Chihuahua specimens in the mid-1800s.
In 1884, Mexican merchants began selling the small dog to border tourists, many of whom brought them back to the U.S. to keep as pets. Back then, the dog didn't have an official name. Instead, people named it after the region in which it was seen. This resulted in the modern-day Chihuahua being called the Arizona dog, the Texas dog, the Mexico dog, and the Chihuahua dog. Of course, only one of these names withstood the hands of time, with the breed now being universally recognized as the Chihuahua.
Why Chihuahuas Make Great Service Dogs
Chihuahuas, known for their small size, loving nature, and sassy attitudes, are popular dogs to keep as pets, and they are also an excellent option for those looking to find or train a good service dog. Here are five reasons why a Chihuahua would make a great service dog or therapy dog, thanks to their appropriate competence and right temperament.
Chihuahuas Are Loyal
The loyalty and unconditional love that Chihuahuas show to their owners is a crucial characteristic of their success as service dogs. Loyalty from a dog is one of the most critical aspects of building a relationship of trust with the owner, and trust, in turn, allows the owner to lean on the ability of a service dog to help them.
Chihuahuas Can Live Long Lives
Chihuahuas can live upwards of 18 years (longer than many dog breeds). Because of this, those with long-term disabilities can count on them for an extended period without the need to find a new service dog. Their longevity also means that their bond can grow very strong throughout their working relationship.
Chihuahuas Are Intelligent
Being intelligent dogs, many Chihuahuas are well-suited to learning and working with a purpose, precisely what any service dog needs to do. This ability to retain information and utilize it is essential because it can directly impact the person the service dog is serving. There may be times that this ability to respond in a crisis could save the owner's life.
Chihuahuas Are Conveniently Sized
Because Chihuahuas are small dogs, they are easier to travel with and carry. Their size can be beneficial for those with physical disabilities and those who need to take a lot of flights for work. It can also help prevent the service dog from being overwhelming to other people in public (which is a helpful consideration for those with small or large dogs as service dogs).
Chihuahuas Are Relatively Low-Maintenance
Finally, as a small dog breed, Chihuahuas don't require much exercise as many other dog breeds. The lack of exercise can afford the owner extra breathing room when caring for their service animal, which can be critical, especially for those with physical disabilities. While it's essential for service dogs to be well taken care of, the more they can alleviate burdens for their owners, the better.
Chihuahuas Are Friendly
Chihuahuas are extremely friendly. They are eager to befriend any member of the family, a puppy, other breeds, some farm animals, etc. This benefits owners with disabilities because their service dogs won't be afraid to alert others for help since they love being around others while remaining loyal to their owners.
Chihuahuas Are Vocal
Chihuahuas are highly vocal dogs that, unless restricted, will bark whenever they feel like it. While some people might find this tendency bothersome, it's actually a beneficial trait for a service dog, as they can alert people immediately if something is wrong, such as low blood sugar or the onset of a panic attack.
What Tasks Can a Chihuahua Perform?
The number of tasks Chihuahuas can learn can be practically limitless if you have the time, patience, and resources to train them. Some of their most practical abilities can help make everyday life safer and more accessible for their owners.
Chihuahuas are great at retrieving items for their owners, whether as crucial as an inhaler or something as incidental as a TV remote. While this physical support task is simple, it's still vitally important. It can also save a person with physical impairment a lot of trouble (potentially protecting them from injury). The list of retrievable items is limited only by the physical ability of the dog to carry them.
Alerting About Dangerous Blood Sugar Levels
Amazingly, service dogs (including Chihuahuas) can sense and alert a person with diabetes about dangerous blood sugar levels. Of all the specific tasks that a service dog can handle, this is one of the most important and potentially life-saving, especially when retrieving the proper medication or other items that the person needs to handle the situation.
Helping With Psychiatric Conditions
Service animals can also help with psychiatric conditions. People with PTSD, for example, might have a Chihuahua service dog that can help calm them down when they experience an anxiety attack in public, or their service animal might help them turn on the lights or check rooms in their house. This kind of help is different from more general emotional support, though a Chihuahua can certainly also give emotional support to people suffering.
Leading To Important Sounds
Chihuahuas can be great hearing service dogs. Hard-of-hearing people can miss important alerts, whether in public or at home. For example, if a crying baby is in distress and its mother or father isn't able to hear it, the service dog can lead them to the baby. If a fire alarm goes off and there isn't anyone around to indicate it, the service Chihuahua dog performs the task of leading its owners to an exit.
Providing Reminders To Take Medications
Another valuable thing a Chihuahua working dog can do is remind many owners to take the medications they need. Missing medication dosages can be very dangerous, and, especially for those with memory impairment, it's invaluable to have a built-in reminder.
Helping Those Who Are Visually Impaired
Chihuahuas can be trained to alert visually impaired people about persons or things in their environment that may cause them significant harm. This can alert an owner if something is falling, if they're about to walk into traffic, or if someone is approaching to harm them.
Chihuahuas are great at alerting others if their owner is in danger. If their owner has diabetes, a Chihuahua can obtain the proper medical supplies they need when their blood sugar dangerously fluctuates. For those with epilepsy, a Chihuahua can detect an imminent seizure and get help by signaling emergency servicing.
Chihuahuas can also alert someone with anxiety or PTSD to an imminent attack, getting help or providing deep pressure therapy during an attack.
How To Get a Chihuahua Service Dog
In order to obtain a Chihuahua service dog, you will first need to be diagnosed with a disability that can be assisted by owning a service dog. Once diagnosed, you will then need to ensure that the Chihuahua is trained to be obedient in public and perform tasks intended to assist you with that disability. If you wish to train a Chihuahua as a psychiatric service dog, we have created an online PSD training program to guide you through the process.
Complete Our Assessment
First, you must complete our brief assessment to assist us in determining your situation and psychiatric service dog requirements. F
Consult with a Therapist
You'll be matched with a licensed mental health professional and sent a link to book a live consultation with them after filling out privacy and consent forms to authorize our clinicians to work with you. Following that, you'll meet with a mental health professional and complete a mental health evaluation to see if you qualify for a psychiatric service dog.
Train Your Psychiatric Service Dog
You will need to train your Chihuahua to perform tasks that assist you with your disability. You can pay a professional trainer to do this or you can opt to train the dog yourself. If you want to self-train a psychiatric service dog you may benefit from our online, expert-led PSD training program. The program is delivered through video lessons and can be completed on any timeline.
If you are not satisfied with the training program within 7 days of purchase we will completely refund your money.
Can I Train My Own Chihuahua To Be a Service Dog?
A Chihuahua may be taught to serve as a service dog, you can opt to hire a professional trainer or train the dog yourself. Having patience with your dog if you plan to train your service dog independently is crucial because the process might take a while. Training a service animal can be a laborious but extremely worthwhile process if you're sincere about your devotion to it. If you wish to self-train your Great Dane as a service dog, you may benefit from taking Pettable’s online PSD training program.
It's important to keep in mind that training is necessary for service animals before they can receive certification, whether it's done by you or a qualified expert.
Where Can I Adopt a Chihuahua Service Dog?
Chihuahuas, like any other service dog or emotional support animal, can be adopted from local shelters or breeders. Any dog, regardless of where it came from or if it is an existing pet, can become a certified service animal. This option requires owners to develop a relationship with their dog, go through training, and complete certification for their dog.
Some services, however, allow people to adopt service dogs that have already been trained and are looking for a new home.
What Disabilities Qualify for a Chihuahua Service Dog?
To find out if you are eligible for a Chihuahua service dog, speak with a licensed mental health professional. However, there are some mental and emotional disabilities that often qualify someone for a service dog, such as the following:
- Depression and Depressive Disorders
- Anxiety Disorders & Phobias
- Bipolar Disorders
- Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Addiction, Substance Abuse, and Alcoholism
- PTSD, Trauma & Stress-Related Disorders
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
- Dissociative and Personality Disorders
- Neurocognitive and Sleep-Wave Disorders
Some physical disabilities include:
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Sensory Disabilities (Blind, Deaf, etc.)
- Cerebral Palsy
- Parkinson's Disease
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Chronic Pain
- And more
What Is the Difference Between an Emotional Support Animal and a Psychiatric Service Dog?
Emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs are very different. Here are some key distinctions to remember between ESAs and psychiatric service dogs.
Any animal can be an emotional support animal. Under federal law, only dogs and miniature horses can be service animals.
An emotional support dog can help simply by being present. A service animal is a dog that has been specially trained to assist someone with a disability.
An emotional support animal requires no training; all that is required is a letter from a licensed mental health professional explaining its therapeutic value. Individual training is required for service animals.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act protects service animals, it does not protect emotional support animals. Emotional support animals are only covered under the Air Carrier Access Act and the Fair Housing Act if they have a valid ESA letter.
A service animal can accompany its owner anywhere. While owners of emotional support animals may be able to bring them into places where pets are not permitted, the only places legally required to welcome them are housing units.
Frequently Asked Questions about Chihuahua Service Dogs
How Much Does a Chihuahua Service Dog Cost?
A fully-trained service dog can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000, and you also have to factor in the cost of the care (food, shelter, medical needs) that the service dog needs regularly. Pettable’s online PSD training program can provide you with all the information you need to train a PSD and starts at $199.
How To Catch a Fake Chihuahua Service Dog?
The most obvious way to spot a fake service dog via a close search is the lack of characteristics such as discipline, focus, and professional presence around other dogs and people. If a supposed service dog is particularly aggressive, unfocused, or disruptive, it may be a fake service dog.
Can You Get a Chihuahua Service Dog for Anxiety?
Yes, you can. A service dog, by definition, can perform tasks to help people who need it. If anxiety gets in the way of everyday life functions, a service dog can help. People with anxiety disorders can get a Chihuahua service dog to help ease anxiety attacks.
Can Any Dog Be a Service Dog?
Yes, any particular trained dog can be a service dog.
Do Chihuahua Service Dogs Have To Be on a Leash?
Yes, all service dogs need to be leashed or harnessed when spending time in public.
Does Insurance Cover Chihuahua Service Dogs?
No, health insurance does not cover getting a service dog.
How Long Does It Take To Train Chihuahua Service Dogs?
Full training for a service dog takes six months to three years. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) recommends that a service dog's training be at least 120 hours over six months. The dog must also complete at least 30 hours of practicing its skills in public. Ultimately, the time it takes to train a service dog depends on the individual animal. Pettable’s PSD training program is entirely self-paced to account for any variances in required training time.
Are Chihuahua Service Dogs Allowed Everywhere?
Yes, fully-trained service dogs are allowed to go anywhere public with you.
How To Get a Chihuahua Service Dog for PTSD?
To get a Chihuahua service dog for PTSD, start by obtaining your PSD letter from us, and from there, you can find the right service dog for your situation.