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Can a Chihuahua be a Service Dog for Anxiety?

Are you looking to make your chihuahua a service dog? These tiny dogs have become one of the most popular dog breeds due to their size and fun personalities. But can a chihuahua be a service dog for anxiety? Chis are more than capable of being one and can help anxious people during panic attacks.

These tiny dogs can tackle complex tasks routine for service dogs. And aside from anxiety, chihuahuas can assist individuals with other mental illnesses. Read on to learn more about service dogs, chihuahuas, and how to make your chi one!


What is a Service Dog?

Service dogs are “special” or “professional” working dogs that assist challenged individuals. They provide practical and emotional support to people with mental or physical disabilities. Aside from their routine jobs of guiding or guarding, these dogs can also help emotionally. You can train any dog, including chihuahuas, to assist with conditions like anxiety. 

For better insight, here’s what a service dog helps with:

  • Mobility 
  • Guidance
  • Hearing
  • Diabetic or Seizure Alert
  • PTSD, Anxiety, or Sleep Support
  • Allergies

People are now becoming more aware of service dogs and their importance. Having one has become an efficient treatment for those physically or mentally challenged today. But the good news is, any dog can become one, and yes, that includes chihuahuas!

What’s the Difference Between Service Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs? 

Service chihuahuas for anxiety often get confused with emotional support dogs. To help you distinguish them, here are their most significant differences:

  • Service dogs tackle tasks that their handlers can’t do alone. Meanwhile, emotional support dogs provide comfort to those with mental health issues.
  • Emotional support dogs don’t do anything aside from accompanying their owners. In contrast, service dogs check environments to ensure their handlers are comfortable.
  • Service dogs need intensive training to perform their tasks well. But emotional support dogs do not require such things.
  • Emotional support dogs can’t go to most public areas, unlike service dogs, who can accompany their handlers almost anywhere. 

Can a Chihuahua be a Service Dog for Anxiety?

can a chihuahua be a service dog for anxiety (infographic)

When learning about chihuahuas, you’d be surprised to know that they make excellent service dogs for anxiety. These tiny dogs are alert, agile, and have outstanding social skills. As a result, they’re more than qualified for emergency tasks like bringing medications during panic attacks. And they warm up fast to their host families, helping those with anxiety or other mental illnesses cope.

Despite their small sizes, a chihuahua’s friendly nature has helped them become one of the best service dogs for anxious individuals. And that and the other traits mentioned, let chis notice when there’s something wrong with their owners ASAP. 

Aside from that, having a chihuahua as a service dog provides more benefits, such as:

☑️ Exercise

Having a chihuahua as a service dog is a great way to motivate people with anxiety to exercise. Participating in more physical activities improves symptoms of most mental health conditions. And yes, that includes anxiousness. Aside from that, it ensures that the person stays in tip-top shape!

☑️ Outdoors

Being outdoors can be challenging for those with anxiety or other mental illnesses. Chihuahua service dogs can help these people be more comfortable outside. And we all know how valuable time outdoors is for a person’s mental health. It introduces new environments and boosts your vitamin D intake—improving your mood! 

☑️ Company

Sometimes, all anxious individuals need to stay calm is company. And what better company to have than a chihuahua service dog? They offer loyalty, love, friendship, and fun! Generally, having a chihuahua around reduces feelings of isolation or loneliness.

☑️ Relief

Regularly spending time with chihuahua service dogs reduce stress and anxiety—boosting happiness. And having one early on can help lessen the risk of anxiety in kids. 

You can train your chihuahua to become a service dog and perform tasks depending on your needs. And a few of these crucial tasks include the following:

  • Detect signs of anxiety or panic attacks before they happen
  • Bring medications or water to help swallow the medicine during an episode
  • Fetch someone to help when you’re in distress
  • Stop other people from approaching you
  • Offer deep pressure therapy to soothe you 
  • Calm you down during an anxiety or panic attack by distracting you
  • Give you your phone during your episodes
  • Remind you to take your medication

But even without training, chihuahuas make excellent emotional support dogs. After all, they help reduce stress after a busy day! 


What Are the Other Things a Chihuahua Can Do As a Service Dog?

chihuahua staring at human owner

Besides helping those with anxiety, chihuahua service dogs can do the following too:

👂 Listen (Hearing Service Dogs)

Chihuahuas can hear things for those with hearing difficulties. They have an acute natural sense of hearing, handling up to 65,000 Hz! Your chihuahua will likely notice things you wouldn’t even be able to hear from the farthest distance! As a result, chihuahuas make for excellent hearing service dogs. 

These tiny dogs can work for deaf handlers, alerting them to sounds like the following:

  • Doorbells
  • Cooking timers
  • Alarms
  • A crying baby
  • Ringing phones
  • Boiling water

Chihuahuas can alert owners by tapping on them or licking their hands. Either way, training your chi for the job is possible. But it requires them to learn individual sound cues. That means it’s best to leave this one to a professional service dog trainer. 

But if you want to train your chi to become a hearing service dog, you must expose them to different sounds. Doing so removes any fear of them over time, making it easier to train your chihuahua later. Watch your chi’s reaction to the following sounds: 

  • Car horns
  • Fire alarms
  • Revving engines
  • Smoke detectors

I recommend exposing your chihuahua to one of the sounds for at least 30 minutes daily. Allow your chi to absorb and remember them. Aside from that, I suggest using clickers. Having these sound cues help your chihuahua with rewards while aiding you!

🔼 Detect Spikes in Blood Sugar Levels (Diabetic Alert Service Dogs)

Diabetic alert service dogs can notice the changes in blood sugar levels. They can smell a person’s saliva scent changing, alerting their owners. 

Chihuahuas can detect the early warning signs, allowing you to address them ASAP. With their help, you don’t need to poke yourself for a blood sample. It’s impossible to detect changes in your blood sugar, but your chi can! Here’s how to make the most out of your chihuahua’s abilities: 

  1. Prepare samples. Get a strip of a non-invasive glucose detector paper with your saliva (at 70) and place it on an upside-down bowl.
  2. Double-check the environment. Ensure the place is scent-free to prevent confusing your chihuahua.
  3. Start the smelling exercises. Have your chi smell the sample and give them treats. After, move the bowl with the strip farther and have your dog re-sniff it. Repeat this 3 to 4 times daily. 

I recommend doing the method until your chihuahua no longer needs treats to find the samples. And remember to make fresh samples every time you move the bowl.

⚠️ Help During Seizures (Seizure Alert Service Dogs)

Seizure alert service dogs can sense seizures before they occur, alerting their owners. Chihuahuas are excellent at sounding alarms when someone’s having seizures. And they can do this thanks to their incredible sense of smell! 

Generally, chihuahuas have over 300 million olfactory receptors, allowing them to detect the chemicals humans release before a seizure. 

Although they can’t hold down their owners like bigger dogs, they can let other people know! Aside from that, you may train your chihuahua to bring your emergency kit during an episode. Besides barking, chihuahuas can perform alternative “warning actions,” such as:

  • Pacing back and forth
  • Excess licking
  • Restlessness
  • Facial pawing
  • Rapid tail-wagging

Have your family and loved ones know these signs to help you during an episode ASAP. But aside from that, prepare yourself and take advantage of the time your chi gives you by doing things like:

  • Grab towels for easy clean-up of vomit and drool
  • Remove any obstacles near you
  • Turn yourself on your sides to prevent your head from hitting the floor

I recommend keeping your chi far from you until your seizure stops to prevent your dog from getting hurt. And only let your chihuahua go near once you’re alert again.

👃 Detect Allergies (Allergy Detection Service Dogs)

Chihuahuas can sense trace amounts of allergens in the environment or food. They can warn their owners from going too close to these. And luckily, chihuahuas can lock onto specific scents with ample training. 

The best part is that you can train your chihuahua to become an allergy detection service dog at home. And here’s how to do it:

  1. Make your chihuahua smell treats. Get your chi to get used to their treats first
  2. Hide them. Place the treats in different areas to challenge your chihuahua. Be sure your dog can’t see you!
  3. Let your chihuahua find the treats. Once your chi spots the dog treats, reward them!

Once your chihuahua understands this concept, bring things you’re allergic to and repeat the steps. And if your dog starts acting excited, there’s an allergen.

🛡️ Guard (Guarding Service Dogs)

As small as chihuahuas are, they also make excellent guarding service dogs. They can look after your things, alerting you once someone tries to steal them. And these are possible thanks to the chihuahua’s natural protectiveness of its territory. Not to mention, these tiny dogs are loud! So, before anyone can knock on your dog, you’ll hear your chihuahua barking first. 

Aside from that, chihuahuas are also notorious for being “biters.” And even if these aren’t as deadly as other dogs’ bites, intruders can expect a painful bite from your chi. But you’ll need to train your chihuahua to become an efficient guarding dog. 

If not, your untrained chihuahua might start biting friends and family. Remember, being an efficient guard dog means channeling anger on the proper targets. Here are tips for training your service chihuahua for guarding:

  • Dress up. Have a friend your chihuahua hasn’t met go to your home. Instruct them to make eye contact with your chi and run. Doing so taunts your chihuahua, triggering them to run after your friend and try to bite them. 
  • Let your chihuahua bark at will. Barking is a chihuahua’s deadliest weapon. I recommend taking advantage of this and teaching your chi the “bark command.”
  • Bring your chi outdoors. Help your chihuahua distinguish friends from strangers by bringing them outside. 

🦯 Guide You (Guiding Service Dogs)

Their small size doesn’t stop them from being observant dogs. Nothing can escape a chihuahua’s gaze! 

These tiny dogs can find gaps along roads, obstacles, and traffic cones. Aside from that, chis are excellent at focusing. But solely guiding can be difficult for chihuahuas. 

After all, these tiny dogs are aggressive and might pull their owners or bite other people. Here are the traits service chihuahuas should have for guiding:

  • Calmness. Staying calm during guidance is crucial. After all, chihuahuas may get rattled by sudden stimuli or attack strangers.
  • Perceptiveness. A chihuahua should figure out if its owner’s having difficulty. Your chihuahua should be familiar with the “come” and “heel” command for the best results.
  • Attentiveness. Chihuahuas can become destructive or uncontrollable when bored. 

Side note: Never pull your chihuahua when guiding, as their bodies are fragile. Constant pulling may lead to bone problems over time. 

Regardless of the purpose of a service chihuahua, all need sp,e training to perform their assigned tasks well. These tiny dogs must focus on their owners or handlers at all times, allowing them to pick on all alerts, no matter how subtle. Aside from that, your chihuahua should be able to control itself in the presence of others.


How to Train a Chihuahua to be a Service Dog for Anxiety?

Although any dog breed can be a service dog, not all will do! Service dogs must be adaptable, friendly, and most importantly, trainable! Picking chihuahuas with the right temperament is crucial. After all, hyper or nervous chis will only cause more trouble than good. If you want to transform your chi into a reliable service dog, here are techniques to try:

  • Attune your chihuahua to calmness. Expose your chi to various situations and reward them whenever they stay calm. Positive reinforcement works best for these tiny dogs, so give them treats and praises! And never entertain nervous or investigating habits.
  • Establish vehicle manners. Bring your chihuahua on a ride while practicing loading and unloading from the car. Aside from that, train your chi to ride in a vehicle quietly.
  • Teach your chihuahua the off-leash recall. You can use a Flexi leash or extended lead to guide and give reinforcements for coming to call. 
  • Have your chihuahua learn “heel.” Teach your chi to heel and how to enter and exit via doors. I recommend practicing in different places, like the park, for the best results.
  • Obedience is key. Have your chihuahua learn all things about compliance. Ensure your chi knows established obedience commands like “sit” and “stay.”

As mentioned earlier, your chihuahua will need the training to become a service dog. You’ll need to teach your chihuahua specific tasks that you might have trouble doing yourself. And luckily, the process is simple and can be done with a professional’s help or on your own.

Whatever the task, the listed techniques will make it easier to acclimate your chi. They ensure your chihuahua stays calm and focused during training.

Once trained, you can bring your service chihuahua to most public places. You don’t have to provide any license or documentation saying your chi is a service dog. But if an establishment is to ask about your service chihuahua, they can ask these two things:

  • Do you have to bring your service dog due to a disability?
  • What training has the dog undergone?

Aside from those questions, businesses aren’t allowed to ask for more. They cannot request documentation, prove training, or ask you about your disability. 

But even if it isn’t required to provide identification for your service chihuahua, it’s best to have them wear a service vest. This way, you won’t have to deal with uncomfortable questions or confrontations! You may also opt for service tags or badges to be more discreet. 


Additional Things to Know When Owning a Service Chihuahua

Here are things to know when owning a service chihuahua to ensure a harmonious relationship:

✔️ You’ll Never Be Alone

Most service chihuahuas will stick to their owners/handlers to perform their duties. From walking to sleeping, expect these tiny dogs to always be by your side. So, if you don’t want a chihuahua to follow you all day, getting a service dog isn’t the best choice.

✔️ Service Chihuahuas need Maintenance and Care Too

Although service chihuahuas are there to help and assist you, they need care too! These tiny dogs need nutrition and physical and mental exercises. Aside from that, chihuahuas need regular grooming. So, as committed as your service dog is to you, you must reciprocate this!

✔️ Regular Training

Service chihuahuas require regular training to maintain their efficiency and skill set. Remember, they aren’t pets and must meet behavioral and training standards! So you must be ready to support your service chihuahua long-term. 

✔️ Service Chihuahuas Require Handlers to Be Assertive

Owning a service chihuahua leaves you with the responsibility of being assertive. That means you must stand up for yourself and your chihuahua. It would be best if you kept your chi happy, responsive, and focused to help you long-term. So, the next time someone asks to pet your service chihuahua, say no. Remember, these dogs are here to work, not entertain. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a chihuahua be a service dog for anxiety and emotional support?

A: Chihuahuas make excellent service dogs for emotional support. After all, they’re tiny, adorable, and vigorous, and you can bring them anywhere! So, it’s to see why chihuahuas have become a famous service dogs for anxious individuals. Aside from that, these dogs can also bring you things like medicine or smartphones during a panic attack. 

Q: What tasks do chihuahua service dogs do for anxiety?

A: Chihuahua service dogs can help people with anxiety by giving things to them. Aside from calming the person, chis can deliver their meds or water during panic attacks. These dogs can also be trained to bring a phone to the person during their episodes. That way, anxious individuals can call their preferred support systems for assistance ASAP.

Q: Do I have to be diagnosed with anxiety to make a chihuahua my service dog?

A: Not everyone diagnosed with anxiety disorders will qualify to get a service dog. It often depends on the severity of the condition and the person’s well-being. So, unless you can’t function without one by your side, you can’t make your chihuahua a service animal. 

Q: How difficult is it to get a chihuahua as a service dog for anxiety?

A: You can only get a chihuahua service dog from specialist organizations, where you must meet their specific criteria. And these may include having a debilitating mental illness or physical disability. But you may increase your chances of getting a service dog with a recommendation letter from your doctor.

Q: How to make my chihuahua a service dog?

A: You can make your chi a service dog by enrolling them in a training program or train your chihuahua to be a service dog. But it would be best to consider your chi’s personality and abilities beforehand. After all, not all chihuahuas are capable of being efficient service dogs.


Final Words

Can a chihuahua be a service dog for anxiety? Despite their small sizes, chihuahuas can be excellent service dogs for those with anxiety. They have the innate social skills that let them help people with mental illnesses. Aside from that, these tiny dogs warm up fast to their host families, ensuring comfort for the owner. And even without training, a chihuahua can help reduce stress!