Q: Can a Siberian Husky be a good service dog?
I am looking into getting a service dog so that I can live more independently. I love Siberian Huskies. But a lot of service dogs I see are either labs or retrievers. So could I get a Siberian Husky service dog? If so, do you know of any place that'll train it?
Answers and Views:
Answer by Angel Cauffman
I have been training Siberian Huskies as Service Dogs and emotional support dogs for many years at OnQ Siberians Service Dogs. They can be fantastic Service Dogs if they are from good working lines and are Service Dogs for an active disabled person.
However, if you are the type of person that needs to leave your dog home alone for any period of time EVER, this breed is not a good fit…
They are very devoted though, and to me, that makes them the most ideal Service Dogs!
Photo Credit: randihausken/Flickr CC
Purebred Huskies as Service Dogs
Answer by Emma Ann
I personally have a Siberian Husky as a service dog along with my German Shepherd who is a pet only as 18 months into his training he began showing typical German shepherd territorial tendencies. You can take your puppy to a trainer, however, service dogs need training their entire lives constantly. If you don’t keep up with their training, they tend to wave from their working personalities.
I would highly recommend finding a trainer who is familiar with whatever breed you decide on as well as service dog training. Most trainers, unless specifically focusing on service dogs (which will cost you thousands of dollars) won’t have a clue to any tasks you want to have trained.
Training a service dog yourself will be thousands of dollars cheaper, however, will be like a full-time job. You have no room to screw up because any bad behavior will be the difference between failure and success.
If you get a puppy, task training shouldn’t even start before at least a year of age, and socialization and manners need to be perfect. I also highly recommend doing as much research as possible in the socialization process, training, and perfecting puppy manners.
Also, when raising a future service dog, the puppy/dog needs to be taken out in public and trained under high distraction levels. This means spending at least 4 days a week spending time and training in locations such as pet stores, parks, beaches, and anywhere dog-friendly.
I would NOT get a Siberian Husky as a first dog or Service Dog, especially if you do not have tons of experience with dog training. I also would not follow the suggestion of the other reviewer who suggested a German Shepherd or Belgian Tervuren. All three of these dogs are extremely high energy, high drive, and high need. They all require a different style and approach to training.
The percentage of dogs who pass after two years of training is low and you won’t be doing yourself any favors by starting out with dog breeds who need A LOT of work.
All three breeds are prone to high prey drive and need at least 2 hours of high physical and mental exercise per day. That doesn’t mean just walking either. If you are sick or it's raining, it doesn’t matter. They NEED to get that exercise.
Siberian Huskies are also independent breeds, which can be great for intelligent disobedience but bad for a first-time service dog owner. And while German Shepherds and Tervurens are technically easier to train, they are a herding breed and can be prone to going after small animals and becoming protective of their owners, especially those who are getting service dogs for psychiatric needs.
You need to constantly be in charge, be firm and dominant yet not aggressive to show you are the leader and can protect yourself. If your dog shows aggressive or protective instincts then they are not fit to be a service dog.
Breed-wise I would recommend either a Labrador or a Golden as a first-time Service Dog. You can always get a husky later. If you want something a little less common, consider a standard poodle or a Labradoodle or Goldendoodle. If you are dead set on a husky, and you understand the high exercise (mentally and physically) and the high amount of training it will take, do some research on people who have Siberians as service dogs.
“Kim and the Dogs” on youtube has some videos on her training her service dog Voodoo, a Siberian Husky. I fully agree with her use of an e-collar with Huskies, and she only uses the vibrate setting with positive reinforcement. I would definitely stay away from “Lexie Godbout” on youtube as she constantly shows training and behavior that aren’t promoted for Service Dogs and behavior by Service Dog Handlers that are frowned upon.
Again, just do as much research as you can. Also remember there is a good chance, no matter how good a breeder you get a puppy from, that your dog can fail as a service dog. All it takes is something as small as a fear of thunder. I would be happy to answer any other questions you have along with other unknown breeds that you could use.
Answer by Kai Amari
My service dog is a full-blood Husky and we have been a team for 8 1/2 yrs. His training includes mobility assist, hearing assist, med alert, seizure alert... His training started at 6 months old, both because of the extensive list of skill sets I needed, and the tendency to be so self-guided/strong-willed.
Somethings you can't get rid of... He's an escape artist and the running instinct you're not going to overcome. If they run, they're not listening to you or coming back until they're tired, unless someone else plays on their extremely social nature to distract them so you can catch and recover them. As to how well he handles the public access side, we've been thanked and complimented by hotels/restaurants/conference venues in multiple states.
If I had a dollar for every compliment we received for how professional and task-oriented he is, we'd go to Disneyland lmto. Do they make good guide dogs, no. Other types of training and tasks like emotional support dogs - they can provide a whole new level of excellence in service.
Be prepared to answer tons of questions when they're on the job... Most common, "is that a wolf?" And you'll be showing the dog's ID or Carry Letter more than other teams. They can be amazing at their jobs, but huskies are... Complicated dogs, a lot of work, with a lot of personality/instinctual differences from other dogs.
Just remember, separation anxiety is not an occupational hazard with service dogs, but a professional necessity. If you plan on trying to leave your service dog out of going some places with you, you don't want a husky or malamute as the other half of your team.
- Will Siberian Husky protect you from an attacker?
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- How much and what does a Siberian Husky eat a day?
Answer by pobrecita
I have an 8-year-old husky and he is a wonderfully loyal dog. The only problem I can think of with a husky is how stubborn they are. My dog is very well-behaved and would do anything for me, however, if I give him a command that he doesn't want to do, he protests. If I tell him to lie down, for example, and he doesn't want to, he will do it, but he will go down very s-l-o-w-l-y and whine all the way down.
I have heard that this is extremely common in the breed. But they are very smart.
I would be interested to find out if anyone has ever used a Husky as a service dog myself. They have soooo much energy that they need to expand and if you were not able to walk him/her daily that might be an issue. Also, they shed A LOT. Twice a year they shed, so it seems like once they stop, they start all over again. They need to be brushed very frequently.
That was a great question. I would scour the internet and see what you could find. I hope you find that you can train Husky as service dogs. Good luck!
Can a Husky Mix be a Service Dog?
Answer by Gayle
My husky mix is a very good service dog. Training took lots of patience, but he made it. Tomlin retrieves dropped items, gets other people in the household when needed, and steadies me if I fall. He also lays on top of me if I have a seizure. One absolute is frequent brushing. You cannot take a husky in public if he’s blowing his coat. High prey drive is a breed trait, so squirrels may be a problem.
I strongly suggest that you start talking to a trainer yesterday. You’ll need help selecting a puppy that *might* have the right personality. Then work with the trainer until yours has the skills to be a service dog.
Answer by electrophile19
I love Huskies too (one of my favorite breeds! I own a husky/Rottie mix and have fostered several purebred huskies and mixes) but they aren't the easiest dogs to train. Depends on what you want them for. If you need them to perform specific tasks, they might not be the best choice, but if you need something like a seizure-alert dog, they would probably be fine. You might be able to find a white German shepherd as a service dog or a Belgian Tervuren shepherd. They both have the wolfy look, but are higher on the trainability side.
Know better? Give your own answer! (*non-AMP version)
Comments ( 8 )
I am training a service dog for myself right now. I got a labrador retriever.
I have owned huskies and with their independence, their strong prey drive, and their ability to rival Houdini in escaping from anywhere I would not choose a husky as a service dog. For me being truly physically disabled is already extremely difficult.
I do not want a dog that will make my life more difficult, more stressful, and more likely to wash out! Training a service dog is expensive and difficult. Also, I noticed people saying that if you want to leave your dog at home then you will have a problem because huskies are prone to develop separation anxiety.
If you are disabled then you like me probably end up in the hospital more often and more unpredictably than the average person! I don’t even know how you would expect to take a dog to the hospital and take care of him while you lay there so sick you’re unable to care for yourself much less take a dog to relieve itself and fits is not something you can expect from the medical team, they are busy caring for their patients.
My energy level are never very great so I don’t understand how a person that is disabled enough to require a service dog would be able to give a husky the kind of exercise they require. When I had huskies I was a young woman with boundless energy and in the summer I wasn’t able to exercise them enough so we took the pickup and they ran behind it with me in the back making sure they followed and didn’t get sidetracked or get in front of the vehicle and put everyone in jeopardy.
They probably ran a good 40 miles that way until it snowed again and they could get back to what they loved, pulling the sled. Fortunately for them, winter came early in Alaska. They were great sled dogs but they had a high prey drive.
My mother decided she wanted chickens, in the end, they killed guted and ate every one of her chickens only burying the intestines. The one I loved most nearly killed a baby goat, if I wouldn’t have been close he would have. He did kill the neighbor’s small dog.
Every so often you hear of a husky killing a baby. It’s not because they are bad or viscous they just have a very strong prey drive and the way they stare so lovingly at that baby was them stalking the infant, not them being mesmerized and loving it!
They are also notorious cat killers. Unless you raise them with cats and then don’t fully trust them. So no if you’re disabled and you aren’t living independently then you will want a dog that is easy to control, that has the best chance of successfully becoming a service dog and that won’t make your life any more difficult.
If you only need an emotional support animal that can help you feel better and give you love and kisses to help you with depression or even anxiety then get a husky but please keep him home and don’t try passing your ESA off as a service dog! It’s just so unfair to the people who are truly disabled and NEED that dog to pick up the things that are dropped, help hold the door for the wheelchair, bring water when they are unable to get up and all the other things that people need them for.
If you are suffering from PTSD you might not be physically disabled but you already know that you’re energy level is not great sometimes and then you will want a dog that can focus on your needs not their needs for exercise! A dog that won’t pick up on your nervousness and fear and think they need to provide protection for you!
Service dogs are not guard dogs and getting a guard dog is as big a mistake as getting a dog that was bred to be independent. Even if you have someone train your dog completely you will stop needing to maintain that training and having a difficult dog will take away from your life not add to your independence!
Thank you, Rose, for your great comment. We wish you all the best!
Emma Ann says
Remember, having a service dog is like having a baby for the next 10-15 years of your life. The following link is a great place to start as the website has much information from people who are actual puppy raisers for service dog agencies: https://puppyintraining.com
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Kai Amari says
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June Ryan says
We trained our Alaskan Husky sled dog breed to be both emotional and physical support for My daughter. She was eager to learn, and, been great at getting my daughter out and more social. She suffers from anxiety, depression, and developmental coordination disorder. So her girl helps her feel safer outside. Helps steady her and pulls her up hill’s and eases her down them. When she is having an anxiety attack she either sits with her or pulls her to where she can recover. If she fall’s or is unfocused she will bark for help. She got trully blessed with her husky.
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Service dogs are trained from very young puppies and it takes a several of years of intense training, depending on why you need a need service dog and what he will need to learn.