When you think of service dogs, you probably think of the bigger breeds. These dogs normally are great for training as a service dog but they aren’t the only dog breeds that are capable of lending their paws to helping humans in need. If you are in need of a service animal but would prefer a small dog over a big one, you can be rest assured that these small, but mighty dogs can provide you with the help you need.
What Small Dogs Do As Service Animals?
Help The Hearing Impaired
Dogs in general have excellent hearing, any type of dog can be a service dog to a person with a hearing impairment. When a person with a hearing impairment needs to be able to hear a sound, such as a door bell, the service dog alerts their owner to the sound. When they hear the sound, they will give a little nudge to their owner as if to say, “Hey, something is happening.”
These service dogs not only alert people to door bells, they can also alert their owners to fire alarms, crying babies, ringing telephones, as well as other people trying to initiate conversations. Once they have their owner’s attention by nudging them, they will then walk toward the noise to let the person know what they are supposed to be checking on. You don’t need a big dog to do this for you. Even small dogs can perform this task.
Alerting Health Problems
Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels
Some people rely on their service dogs to alert them to an impending medical crisis. If a person suffers from a medical condition such as diabetes, a service dog can be able to detect when they have blood sugar levels that are either too high or too low.
These dogs are amazing because they can pick up on the smell of chemical changes to a person’s body long before the person senses the change in blood sugar levels themselves. When a service dog smells this chemical change that isn’t detected by a human nose, they alert the person so that the person can check their blood sugar levels. They might not even know that something is wrong if it weren’t for the dog alerting them. Small service dogs that sense changes in blood sugar levels are incredibly important to those who suffer from diabetes.
Similar to sensing blood sugar issues, some dogs are able to detect if a person’s heart is beating too fast. When a person’s heart beats too fast, they might feel dizzy or weak and may even pass out for a short time. This condition is called tachycardia. This can be a scary condition because you are unaware of when or where you might pass out at any given time.
If you have a small service dog, they can alert you to any change in your heart beat as well as your blood pressure. They are trained to detect these small changes and they can help you to know that you need to sit down or get to a safe place in case you experience fainting. There are many big dog breeds that offer this service to their humans but small dogs have also been known to detect these heart rate changes.
Small dogs are great at being emotional support animals. For people who have bad anxiety or who need support in going out of the house, having a small dog that they can keep close is imperative to keeping them calm. Service dogs are essential to those who suffer from emotional or psychological conditions.
Some people can get very anxious if they need to leave the house and go out into a crowded area. Having a small service dog with them can help them overcome their fears so that they can be a member of the public again. Even things like going to the grocery store can be hard for people with certain emotional issues. Small dogs fit in carriers that can be worn on the person’s body so the dog can pretty much go with them wherever they go. Having the dog close by gives them enough peace of mind to go about their day.
There are even some small dogs that are trained to be support animals in places like hospitals and nursing homes. Big dogs can do this too but smaller dogs are better at it because, well, they aren’t as big. For older people and children who are sick, a big dog jumping on them could hurt them. To avoid this, small dogs are used to bring joy to those who have to be in the hospital.
Much like low blood sugar or a high heart rate, small service dogs can alert their handler to an impending seizure. They are trained to watch for physical signs a person may have before a seizure that can go unnoticed otherwise. When they notice these signs, they will alert their handler and help them get to a safe location.
The dog will stay with the person having a seizure until the seizure passes or until help arrives. Sometimes they will even run to get help from people nearby if it is needed. Seizures can come out of nowhere sometimes and it is important to be in a safe place if they do happen. By having a small dog as a service dog, people with seizure disorders can feel confident that they will remain as safe as possible if one should occur.
Helping Those With Physical Disabilities
Bigger service dogs are more known for helping people with physical disabilities than small dogs. Big dogs are great for the more physical activities that people might need help with. They can open doors, help a person sit up in bed, push things out of their way, or pull a wheelchair.
This doesn’t mean small dogs can’t get the job done though! They can just as easily obey commands such as “sit, hold, bring, or give”. If a person needs help with completing daily tasks such as making the bed or doing laundry, little service dogs are a great help. If a person with a disability doesn’t need assistance with physical activities, small dogs can be an invaluable assistance.
Sometimes people with physical disabilities are what they call “medically fragile”. A big dog could be too much weight for them to handle and could cause them physical pain. In these cases, they would better benefit from a small service dog that won’t injure them.
Another great benefit of small dogs being trained as serve animals is that they are small enough to either ride on a wheelchair with their human or they can be carried in a small carrying bag. When you have your service dog right next to you, you can feel more secure knowing they are there to assist you if you need them. Small dogs aren’t known for this service but they defiantly rise to the challenge when trained properly.
Allergy Alert Dogs
For those children with deadly allergies to foods such as peanuts, an allergy alert dog can be a great asset. The dog can alert a child to the fact that there might be something they are allergic to in the food they are about to eat. Kids aren’t always great at checking these things and that can have dire consequences. These dogs can give parents peace of mind, knowing their child is being looked after, even if it is by a dog!
What You Need to Know About Small Service Dogs
Just like bigger service dogs, small and little service dogs need to be taken seriously. They are not there for you to play with. They have a job to do and cannot be distracted by people petting and playing with them. These dogs have gone through rigorous training to be able to support their handler. While they are very loved by their person, they are not a typical pet. If a person is lucky enough to have acquired a small service dog, chances are they have paid a lot of money for it.
Small service dogs deserve the same respect that large service dogs receive. If a dog is wearing a service vest, whether small or large, that is your clue that the dog is “on duty” and is busy at work. These dogs are very well trained and normally won’t interact with people if they know they are on duty. Do not distract them. Even if it looks like they aren’t actively doing anything, they really are. It is also important to teach your children that it is not OK to approach a service dog wearing a vest.
Small service dogs are more the exception than the norm, people sometimes do not believe the animal is actually being used as a service. Small and little dogs can of course be extremely cute, and you might not expect to see a small dog providing a service, but it is more common than you think.
If you or someone you know would like to have a service dog but are apprehensive about a big dog, small service dogs are a great solution. They might be small but they can get the job done!