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I’ve seen my fair share of service dogs walking around various stores but I always wondered, why don’t I see any Shiba Inu service dogs?
Despite their notoriously stubborn nature Shiba Inus are also loyal and affectionate toward their people along with quick learners, making the friendly and less stubborn Shiba Inus excellent service dogs. As long as they are able to get through the lengthy training process.
While I didn’t know much about service dogs before, I’ve since spent some time talking to people and researching the topic more. You’d be surprised how much is expected of service dogs, along with the wide variety of specialties they can take.
What Makes A Dog A Service Dog?
Service dogs are animals that have been specifically trained to perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. The specific training each dog goes through depends heavily on the type, or types, of disabilities they are expected to help with. Service dogs are also trained to ignore distractions.
All of which is a tall order to ask of any breed, including Shiba Inus, but isn’t impossible. Service dogs are expected to stay calm and focus intently on their handler’s needs. If a dog isn’t able to do that, it will not qualify as a service dog.
What Disqualifies A Dog From Becoming A Service Dog?
Service animals are expected to remain calm (non-reactive) in a wide range of social and environmental settings. They’re also required to remain quiet, focused, and dutiful toward their handler. If a dog isn’t able to meet those baseline requirements it will be disqualified as a service dog.
Do Shiba Inus Make Good Service Dogs?
Shiba Inus are compact, intelligent, quick learners, and highly alert which are all great qualities in service dogs, but they have their fair share of downsides. Shiba Inus are infamously stubborn, commonly ignore commands, and quickly jump into action thanks to their high prey drive.
All of which could leave their handler stranded. Even with all that Shiba Inus can make excellent service dogs if they’re able to pass the lengthy training process. And they are by no means recommended for this line of work.
Do Shiba Inus Make Good Therapy Dogs?
While Shiba Inus are notoriously stubborn, that isn’t the case for all of them. This loyal breed is incredibly affectionate towards their people, meaning they could be good therapy dogs if their owner is also their handler. Even with that, most trainers don’t recommend they become therapy dogs.
The Struggles Of Training A Service Shiba Inu
Most Shiba Inus, and owners, will struggle with one of four common things during the training process.
- Socializing – Shiba Inus aren’t known for getting along with other pets, or even strangers. And because service dogs must remain both calm and attentive to their handler, most Shiba’s aren’t cut out to be service dogs.
- Prey drive – Shibas are highly alert and have a strong prey drive. So strong in fact most regular and first-time pet owners really struggle to manage it.
- Are they capable – If you’ve stuck to a regular training schedule for a prolonged period of time and aren’t seeing much progress, your Shiba may not be cut out to be a service dog.
- Are you training them right – Training a Shiba Inu to be a service dog is hard work. Most service dogs require consistent and strict training for around 6 months to have a chance at becoming service dogs.
Advice For Training A Shiba Inu To Be A Service Dog
- Be confident – Your Shiba turns to you when they are scared or confused. If you aren’t confident how could your Shiba be?
- Make your Shiba feel safe – If your Shiba doesn’t feel safe they’re more likely to freak out or become aggressive. Get them used to as many sights, sounds, and situations as early as you can.
- Train every single day – Shiba Inus thrive on habits and routines, even with their stubborn nature. Stick to a daily training schedule, with breaks and everything, and do everything you can to not miss a session.
- Get obedience training – While everyone can train their dog it doesn’t hurt to get a little help or extra guidance if you are struggling with something.
- Regularly take them out in public – Shiba Inus really need to be socialized early, often, and consistently to minimize aggression.
- Travel with your Shiba – Shibas are curious, yet cautious of the unknown. Take them on a car ride to a nearby shopping center or even on a flight to visit family. The more they experience the calmer they’ll be when they grow up.
- Take your pet on public transportation – While the personal travel is nice you won’t run into nearly as many random situations as you would on public transportation. I recommend holding off on this step until you are confident they won’t be aggressive.
Are Shiba Inus The Right Dog For You?
Before walking down the path of training a Shiba Inu to be a service dog I recommend you ask yourself one question. Are Shiba Inus the right dog for me? This question has two meanings.
- For you yourself, as a pet owner
- As a service dog handler or trainer
While Shibas are great, they aren’t perfect. You should really take some time to think if they’re really what you want, or if they’re even a good option for you and your needs.
How Long Does It Take To Train A Service Dog?
Service dogs require a minimum of 120 training hours over 6 months, with a mixture of public and private training. Most professional service dog trainers agree that it’s best to start training your pet to be a service dog when they are 2 years old.
How Much Does It Cost To Train A Service Dog?
Service dogs typically take 120 hours, 6 months, to be fully trained. With professional training falling between $15,000 to $30,000 on average. That cost will go up some with yearly healthcare and upkeep. It is possible to save money on training if you train your own pet.
What Makes You Qualify For A Service Dog?
Your healthcare provider can provide you with a written document stating you qualify for a service dog. Healthcare providers will require you to actively be treated for either a physical disability or mental illness before considering you for a service animal.
Summary Of Service Animal Shiba Inus
Shiba Inus are smart, alert, and quick learners, which are all great qualities to have in a service dog. They’re even loyal and affectionate towards their people, even with their stubborn and independent nature. More positive things in a Shiba’s favor for being a service or therapy dog. But even with all that, I don’t recommend it.
While Shiba’s are great with their owner, they aren’t so great with strangers. Service dogs are required to stay calm, level-headed, attentive to their handler’s needs, and ignore both people and animals around them. All of which Shiba Inus historically struggle with. Their high prey drive, vast amounts of energy, and sometimes antisocial nature make it difficult to train or recommend a Shiba Inu to anyone as a service animal.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for a Shiba Inu to become a service animal. With enough time, training, consistent effort, and a bit of luck on your Shiba’s specific temperament it is possible, albeit unlikely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is There A Difference Between Service And Therapy Dogs?
Service dogs have protected public access rights by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), while therapy dogs do not. Service dogs are specifically trained to help disabled individuals throughout the day with difficult tasks. Where Therapy dogs provide additional affection and comfort to people.
Is A Dog For Anxiety A Service Dog?
Dogs trained for those suffering from anxiety are service dogs. They are called psychiatric service dogs (PSD) and are trained for a wide variety of mental illnesses, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia.
What Are Shiba Inus Good At?
Shiba Inus are highly regarded for their intelligence, loyalty, high levels of energy, curiosity, and clean-freak nature. Shiba Inus are hunting dogs that were bred to be independent. Making them excellent at chasing small game but they’re also natural escape artists that can’t be trusted off-leash.