The Siberian Husky has long been one of America’s favorite dog breeds. Huskies have served many different roles over time, including acting as sled dogs, guard dogs, service animals, loyal companions, wild pack dogs, etc. They share links with their ancient wolf ancestors, but are now a common companion for a dog owner.
Huskies are a beloved breed, but are not necessarily the easiest breed. They are known for their talkative nature, and they are not afraid to let a pet owner know when they are displeased. The Siberian Husky is a stubborn breed, but also a very loved one. Huskies make great pets when they are kept in conditions they can thrive in. Siberian Huskies love attention, mental stimulation, and being entertained. They are an intelligent breed who love to please their owners, but they do require a decent amount of work to stay entertained and avoid their destructive tendencies.
Huskies love the company of an owner or a fellow dog, are intelligent, love to be a member of a family, and have many great qualities. These traits make them a candidate to be a service dog. Husky service dogs are not the most common type of service dog, but they can definitely excel in the role if trained properly.
What are Service Dogs?
The definition of a service dog according to the U.S. Department of Justice as “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities.” This is a very broad definition, and doesn’t quite clearly differentiate service animals from regular dog ownership.
Luckily, more legislation was provided on the definition of service dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 gave a more specific definition for service dogs: “dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, alerting owners to a panic attack, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.”
Types of Service Dogs
There are many different types of assistance dogs for different disabilities, both physical and mental. Let’s discuss a few various types and see how service dog handlers could benefit from a service dog, especially Siberians. Some common breeds for service dogs include the Labrador Retriever, the Golden Retriever, the Border Collie, etc.
Service dog: A service dog is the most common type and is the broadest category. A service animal can help with many things, but in this category, it is most often pups offering assistance with physical disabilities or impairments.
- Guide dogs: These dogs are also known as seeing-eye-dogs and help people with vision loss navigate the world. A guide dog will help their handler avoid obstacles, open doors, maintain a steady pace, board public transport, etc. These are the oldest forms of service dogs, and date back to Pompeii, where illustrations show a blind man being led by a dog, and are also by far the most common type of assistance animal.
- Hearing dogs: These intelligent dogs assist their deaf handlers with sounds they cannot hear. They are trained to help their owners receive vital cues of sounds, including smoke or fire alarms, doorbells, door knocking, phones, alarm clocks, and even the person’s name. These smart pups are not as common, and not everyone who is deaf has one, but they do help their handlers greatly.
- Medical alert dogs: These service dogs help owners suffering from a medical condition know when an incident is happening or guided them through it. Examples include: seizures or epilepsy dogs, blood sugar alert dogs, autism dogs, and more.
- Mobility assistance dogs: A mobility assistance dog is a type of service dog that helps humans with any injury or ailment that makes walking, standing or balancing difficult. These are typically larger breed dogs since they provide balance support for their handler. They help their human stay standing, open doors, walk, retrieve items, etc. when they are not using their walker, crutch, cane, or wheelchair.
Psychiatric service dog: This special service dog assists people with mental disabilities or mood disorders. They have all the same rights as all the mentioned service dogs, but undergo specialized service dog task training to help their owners with mental or mood disorder needs. Some examples of this could be retrieving medication, providing comforting touches, finding a quiet place for their owner, making sure no one touches their owner, etc. These service dogs help with mental health issues rather than mobility issues.
Therapy dog: A therapy dog is not a service dog, but instead a dog that provides emotional support and comfort to people in stressful situations. This is often a hospital or nursing home, but can also be schools, natural disaster sites, etc. They are not service animals as they don’t perform specific tasks for people with disabilities, but they do undergo specialized training, including passing an American Kennel Club Good Citizen test. Then, they visit anyone who could need comfort. They have a home and are a pet at the end of the day. Find out more about training your dog to become a therapy dog here. Therapy dogs provide important comfort to the patient, their family, and all around them. They have a very important job, but are not service animals.
Emotional support animal: An emotional support animal is a companion animal that provides emotional benefits to their owner. They do not undergo any special training, and are not a service animal. They do not provide assistance to any other people besides their owner, and mainly stay at home or can sometimes accompany their handler during travel. Any animal can become an emotional support animal with a doctor’s note, but they do not have the same rights as service dogs or assistance dogs. Newer laws have become more strict with emotional support animal’s ability to fly with their owners due to people pretending their emotional service animal is a service animal.
Emotional Support Dog vs. Psychiatric Service Dog: What’s the Difference?
While both emotional support dogs and psychiatric service dogs provide support to their owner, only a psychiatric service dog is a recognized service animal. These dogs undergo specialized task training and have federally protected rights, such as the right to accompany their owner anywhere, including businesses, schools, non-pet friendly housing, on airplanes, etc. They learn specific tasks to help their owner. Emotional support dogs and others do not go through task training, so they are just pets who provide comfort to their owner the way all pets do. To get a psychiatric service dog, you must be diagnosed with a disability and prescribed a service dog, who you will work with a trainer to train or train yourself, though we recommend working with a professional.
An emotional support dog only requires a letter of recommendation from a doctor. They are a pet who offers mental and emotional benefits to their owner, which can be very helpful, but they can’t accompany their owners in public places, nor do they have access on flights, in schools, etc. and have no federally protected rights. Dogs and cats are the most common types of ESAs, but any animal has the chance to become an ESA with a doctor’s note.
Emotional support animals are a hot topic due to their loose regulations and misuse. People commonly pretend their therapy dog or ESA is a service dog. They cite AKC papers or fake paperwork as proof of service dog status, which are just cons. They’ll bring their puppy or dog into stores with fake vests and cause disruptions and damage. Service dogs wear vests to set themselves apart, as they have a very important job and should be recognized as working dogs. Pretending a dog is a service dog is actually illegal in 20+ states and is very damaging to service dogs’ reputations. It makes life for people with disabilities much harder, and poses a challenge to service dog owners, making the conditions of service dogs worse.
As we said, Huskies are not the most popular breed to be a service dog. Service dog Huskies are actually quite rare, but are becoming more common thanks to the breed’s popularity shooting up in recent years. A choice like a Lab or Golden is more standard, but Huskies do make a case for themselves for a number of reasons.
The Siberian Husky is a working dog, Though they can be a good pet, they have exercise and mental stimulation needs that must be met. They greatly benefit from obedience training, as they can be stubborn. But that stubbornness is also a good trait, as they are very devoted to their job. This is a reason why they could make a great service dog.
Siberian huskies are classic northern dogs. They are extremely intelligent, but also somewhat independent and stubborn. The Siberian Husky loves to run, and is known as an escape artist. They must live in a home where they can be contained properly and exercised to help reduce the urge. They have guarding instincts, so it’s important to train resource guarding out of them. The breed is very friendly though, especially toward children, as they feel the need to guard them.
Siberian Huskies tend to be good with other dogs as well, as they are pack animals. They do have a prey drive though, and may not be good with cats, small animals, or livestock. They thrive in colder environments because of their thick coat, which does require regular grooming. Ever heard of Husky shedding? It’s a real thing. So is the Husky howl.
With all that said, the Husky still has many great qualities, they just require devoted training and must have their needs met. They thrive when they are mentally stimulated, kept in ideal conditions, have a job to do, and have an owner willing to work with them. If you put the time in, a Husky can be a perfect pet or service animal.
Huskies as Service Dogs
As we’ve mentioned, Huskies are not the most common service dog breeds, but that is not to say they can’t be. They’ve excelled as guard dogs, sled dogs, and more, so becoming a service dog is certainly possible.
There are pros to Huskies as service dogs. They are intelligent, a good size to support their owners, perceptive to human’s feelings, eager to please, and very loving. With that saids, there are some cons. The breed is known for being stubborn, does not do well in apartments, and is quite vocal. They have a prey drive, and can find it difficult to focus at times on their owner or anything at hand. All of this can be combatted with proper training though.
Our advice if you are considering a Husky service dog is to be very devoted to training and work with the dog from a young age to maximize their learning time. They require a firm, but gentle, owner to show them the ropes. With proper training, Huskies can learn just about anything they want to be their mind to.
A Husky’s coat should also be noted. Huskies are notorious for shedding and require a lot of grooming. If an owner is disabled or does not have the mental capacity, this should be considered. They must be brushed daily, and require monthly grooming to help blow out their undercoat. This is essential to help keep them cool, especially if they live in a warmer climate.
Huskies thrive in the cold. Though they have adapted to live in warmer areas, everything will be better for you if you live in a colder environment, as your Husky will be happier there. Huskies make better pets and service animals when they are in their ideal conditions.
How to Get a Husky Service Dog
Are you interested in having a Husky as a service dog? Huskies may not be the number one choice for service dogs, but their size and beauty makes them a commonly asked about breed for service dog programs. Not many programs will feature Huskies, as they are not as receptive to training as other breeds, but many private trainers will work with a Husky to become a service dog.
Before you consider any of this, make sure you are able to receive a service dog. Service dogs are only given to people with disabilities that hinder their quality of life. For a psychiatric service dog, you must consult with a licensed mental health professional. This is the only legitimate way to acquire a service dog. For physical disabilities, you must consult with a doctor in your area. This is not a light decision to add a working dog as a member of your family.
If they recommend a service dog, the next step is finding a service dog for you. Look at rescues in your local area to see if they have any Huskies or Husky mixes. Huskies are commonly surrendered to shelters unfortunately, as many people adopt the breed for their beauty, and are not aware of their needs. For you, this means there are plenty of great Huskies who just need one good owner to take the time to develop them into a great dog!
Another option is to get a Husky from a breeder. Find a Breeder who is knowledgeable of the breed and does genetic health testing to avoid common medical issues for Huskies and dog breeds like them. Be sure to ask to see mom and dad to ensure the breeder is ethical, then immediately sign up for training when first made possible. It’s best to work with Husky puppies young to teach them good behavior.
Huskies are not the most popular types of service dogs, but they can still be excellent service dogs if trained properly. It’s important to understand the breed and all of their special needs before diving into having one as a pet or training it to become a service dog. If you put the time and resources into a Husky, you can have a lifelong companion.
Are you looking for a psychiatric service dog?
Here at CertaPet, we can help. CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that improves access to mental health care in the U.S. with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.
We are currently coordinating with dog trainers who specialize in the service animal space and who will soon work in tandem with our network of licensed mental health professionals to make the process of getting and training a psychiatric service dog affordable, convenient, and hassle-free. We’ll have more information available soon about our Psychiatric Service Dog Training options. In the meantime, you can take our FREE pre-screening below to see if you qualify for a PSD!
Why do Huskies make good service dogs?
Huskies are intelligent, loyal, loving, friendly, and devoted to their work, which are all great traits for a service dog to have.
Should I get a psychiatric service dog or emotional support animal?
Start by talking to a licensed mental health professional. Explain your symptoms and they can diagnose you with anxiety, PTSD, or any other ailment which may lead to a service dog. If you are not diagnosed with a disorder, you could still be prescribed an emotional support animal and benefit from that.
Can I handle a Husky?
Huskies are not the easiest breed to manage. Many rescues only adopt out to former Husky owners, but if you are dedicated to giving them the stimulation they need and being serious about training, Huskies can be great companions.