Huskies are beautiful animals. With their sweet and loving temperaments, they make great pets.
And if the service you need is pulling your sled across the snow, it’s hard to imagine a better service dog.
For other kinds of service activities, however, training a Husky will be challenging at best.
Some deal-breakers for Husky as a Service Dog
There are situations in which a Husky simply cannot be a service dog.
If you need a service dog for only part of the day, and you will be engaged in activities where dogs are not permitted most of the time, a Husky won’t work as your service dog.
Huskies need constant attention from their humans or other Huskies. If you are going to leave your service dog alone most of the day, you need a different breed.
If you need a dog with a sharp focus and a long attention span, a Husky may not be for you.
A Husky may be great for guiding you across an intersection, but your walk through the park with an inadequately trained Husky will be interrupted by every other dog and squirrel.
Canine ADHD can be a deal-breaker for training a Husky as a service dog.
Another consideration in choosing a service dog is the fact that all service dogs need professional training.
Many trainers just aren’t available to spend the extra required to train a Husky for questionable results.
All of these deal-breakers aside, there are many Huskies who have been trained as service dogs. Huskies are a high-maintenance breed, but there are people for whom they are a perfect fit.
What do you need in a service dog?
When you are choosing a service dog, temperament is what matters.
Temperament is more important than which breed your dog is, or whether your dog is a mixture of several breeds of dogs.
In some ways, you have an advantage with a purebred Husky as your service dog:
You know what you are getting.
But think carefully about whether the temperament of the dog you are thinking about training matches your needs.
Huskies as Alert Dogs
Alert dogs let their handlers know when they are experiencing diabetic changes, psychiatric changes, or signs of an impending migraine or seizure.
An alert dog might let its handler know of impending medical emergency by:
- Staring at its handler intently
- Putting its head down on its handler’s foot
- Placing its paw on its handler’s knee
- Nudging its handler’s hand with its nose
- Tugging on a piece of clothing.
Alert dogs are taught to escalate to seeking help when their handler falls unconscious or ignores their signal.
They have to be trained to respond to danger every time, in the same way every time, and only to use the signal they are taught when a danger is imminent.
Alert dogs give the people they serve additional time to deal with a medical emergency.
It is possible to train Huskies to be alert dogs, but the process will take longer than with some other breeds.’
Huskies as Allergen Dogs
Allergen dogs let their handlers know when they are entering an environment that contains a substance to which they are highly allergic.
An allergen dog can be trained to warn of the presence of peanuts or shellfish, for example.
Huskies were once used as hunting dogs.
They can be trained to be excellent allergen dogs for their handlers. However, there is the issue of being allergic to the Husky itself.
Huskies as Diabetic Alert Dogs
Huskies can be trained to be excellent early warning systems for diabetic ketoacidosis.
This state of super-high blood sugars generates distinctive odors in the handler’s breath.
It is more challenging to train them to respond to low blood sugars and to escalate to seeking help when a diabetic falls unconscious due to hypoglycemia. But it can and has been done.
Huskies as Psychiatric Alert Dogs
Psychiatric alert dogs let their handlers know of the earliest stages of an impending psychiatric crisis. True psychiatric alert dogs are rare.
A Husky’s empathy for its handler can make it a good service dog for certain kinds of exacerbations of underlying psychiatric problems, such as anxiety, OCD, PTSD. depression, or personality disorders.
The greatest success of Huskies as psychiatric alert dogs is helping people with anxiety or PTSD.
A Husky can create a space in front of their handler experiencing an anxiety attack in a crowd, or wake up a person with PTSD from a nightmare
Huskies as Autism Support Dogs
People with autism, especially children with autism, can feel overwhelmed by sensations of the world around them.
They can find relief in a hug. Huskies are physically demonstrative, loving dogs, who sometimes “hit it off” with people of all ages on the autistic spectrum.
Huskies demand attention, and people on the autistic spectrum usually need structure. Taking care of a Husky can meet both of their needs.
Huskies can be trained to keep autistic children in the home and yard or to track them if they do a Houdini and leave the house on their own.
They can gently interrupt stimming, the repetitive motions that some autistic people use to express emotions.
Their leashes can become socially acceptable tethers that help guide autistic people through a safe environment.
Huskies as Brace and Mobility Support Dogs
Brace and mobility support dogs are dogs that are trained to help and support a mobility-challenged person’s movement from place to place.
Brace support may be as simple as keeping a door open or helping the handler stand in place to arrest.
Mobility support helps people with impaired balance, coordination, or gait avoid falling or get back up when they fall.
Brace and mobility support dogs may also pick up items from the floor or open and close drawers, doors, and cabinets.
But that’s only the beginning.
Brace and mobility support dogs are expected to be able to perform in emergency situations:
- When a handler falls, the brace and support dog is expected to nose them over into a recovery position.
- When a handler is unconscious, the brace and support dog is expected to elevate their legs to increase blood circulation to the heart and brain.
- Brace and support dogs support unsteady handlers as they get back into their wheelchairs.
- Brace and support dogs alert bystanders to emergency situations, and lead them back to their handler needing medical attention.
- A brace and support dog may be trained to retrieve an emergency medication that is stored in the refrigerator.
- There are brace and support dogs who are trained to hand EMTs a folder of medical information when an ambulance arrives.
These expectations are usually too ambitious for Huskies.
It’s not that Huskies don’t care. It’s that their attention can’t be directed to these tasks.
Huskies as Guide Dogs
Guide dogs help people with varying degrees of visual impairment navigate their surroundings. Guide dogs don’t really “see for” their handlers.
They take directions from their handlers. They help them avoid obstacles like potholes, debris in their path, water hazards, and traffic.
When a handler gives an order to the dog to follow a route that the dog sees is unsafe, the dog disobeys the order. The handler then chooses a new path.
The organizations that train guide dogs don’t just train dogs.
They also train the handlers that will use them. Most organizations require people to get training before they are considered for a trainee guide dog.
There aren’t just seeing eye dogs. There are also hearing ear dogs.
Hearing support dogs are trained to nudge or paw (or sometimes lick) their handler when they hear a telephone ring, a fire alarm go off, or a knock at the door.
They might alert their handler out for a walk of a car speeding toward them from behind. Hearing ear dogs continue alerting their handler until the sound is acknowledged.
As a practical matter, your seeing eye dog or hearing ear dog will need professional training, and professional trainers aren’t usually enthusiastic about training Huskies.
It’s not that trainers don’t like Huskies. Who doesn’t like Huskies? It’s about the general qualifications for service dogs of any breed.
What are the general qualifications for service dogs of any breed?
Being a service dog is hard work. Serious service dogs need to be calm and controllable in every situation, so they need to start their training as a puppy.
With one exception, that we’ll mention next, you really can’t take the Husky you’ve had for years and give it the training needed to be a full-fledged service dog.
But you can, with a lot of work, train even an adult Husky to help you with special needs.
Can I Get My Siberian Husky Certified as an Emotional Support Dog?
A lot of us who already own Huskies — or is that we are owned by Huskies — have had these kinds of thoughts:
- Wouldn’t it be nice if I could take my Husky on the plane for free?
- Could I use my Husky as a service to get to the front of the line at Disneyland.
We won’t judge your motives. We’ll just tell you about the process of getting your Husky certified as an emotional support dog.
“Service Dog” isn’t a magical term
It’s true that Federal law protects the unfettered right of anyone with a disability to have equal access to public accommodations.
You have a right under US law to have a service animal accompany you when you go to public places.
Individuals with a disability are allowed to have their service animals accompany them everywhere they go.
However, US Federal law also protects business owners. A business can refuse entry to you, without violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, if:
- Your dog urinates or defecates on the floor or any furniture or fixtures in the business. (Don’t try to nitpick the definitions of this. If your dog pees or poops on the premises, a business can ask you and your dog to leave.)
- You can’t control your dog. Out-of-control behavior is grounds for removing your dog and charging you with trespassing if you refuse to leave.
What’s out of control behavior?
In addition to failures of house training, certain other behaviors are not acceptable in service dogs:
- Your dog can’t steal items from merchandise displays. Picking up items from the floor, unless they belong to you, is also unacceptable.
- Your dog cannot sniff staff members, other customers, counters, tables, chairs, shelves, products, or other service dogs. The only exception to this rule is an allergen detection dog. You would have a certificate for that professionally trained dog.
- Your dogs must never drag or pull you unless you have fallen or you are unconscious and your dog is pulling you to safety.
Your service dog must obey your commands to stay, sit, or wait. Your service must not be antsy, anxious, aggressive, or agitated in any way, no matter what transpires around you.
Your service dog may greet a friendly child if you permit it, but that has to be your decision, not your dog’s.
Only allow your dog to interact with strangers on your command. Your service dog must not nudge, lick, paw, or lean on passersby, no matter how “cute” they seem.
How can I prove my Husky is well-behaved and an acceptable service dog?
You won’t ever have to prove your Husky is an acceptable service dog unless its behavior gives evidence that it is a fake service dog.
To avoid legal problems over bad dog behavior, you need certification of your dog’s good behavior before you use it as a service dog.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification is a two-part course you take with your dog.
You and your dog will master 10 areas of good canine behavior.
When you both successfully complete the course, you will have a certification that your dog is well-behaved and you care about its behavior in public.
Both you and your dog will be happier in public after you complete the course.
No business is legally allowed to ask you for certification of service animal status before you and your dog come in, but AKC CGC certification is still a good thing to have.
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