Are Akitas Good Service Dogs? (Explained and Quick Facts)

Are Akitas Good Service Dogs

The combination of loyalty, intelligence, and strength in Akitas makes them excellent service dogs. Their unwavering dedication and gentle nature allow them to effectively provide both physical assistance and emotional support.

If you’re considering an Akita as a service dog, this article has essential information for your decision. It details the specific services Akitas excels in and other reasons they are great service dogs.

Are Akitas Good Service Dogs?

Akitas can make excellent service dogs due to their loyal and resilient temperament, trainability, and adaptability. As large, powerful dogs originally bred to hunt bears in Japan, Akitas possess many traits well-suited for service work.

Akitas can concentrate on meeting their owner’s needs, ignoring distractions around them. Their loyalty and resilience make them suitable for assisting people with disabilities.

What Makes Akitas Ideal Service Dogs?

Physical Strength and Stamina

The Akita’s large and sturdy build, combined with their high pain tolerance, enables them to offer vital mobility and stability support:

  • Their well-muscled frame can brace and support owners weighing up to 150 lbs.
  • Akitas can handle challenging terrain and long work hours without getting tired.
  • Their ability to endure pain allows them to lift, pull, and continue working despite injuries.

This excellent mix of strength, stamina, and resilience makes them ideal for demanding disability assistance tasks.

Deep Devotion and Protectiveness

An Akita’s deep loyalty and strong desire to please their owner lead to high attentiveness to the owner’s needs:

  • They are eager to serve and find a great purpose in helping their handler.
  • Akitas will intuitively notice signs when their owner needs help.
  • Their natural protective nature makes them highly alert to environmental dangers.

An Akita’s strong urge to guard and protect their owner helps them anticipate and meet disability-related needs.

Intelligence and Trainability

Although Akitas are independent thinkers, they are highly intelligent and respond well to training with positive methods:

  • Akitas are eager and capable of mastering complex service tasks.
  • They quickly memorize routines when taught with repetitive positive reinforcement.
  • Their strong cognitive abilities enable them to rapidly learn new skills.

Their dedication to their handlers and tasks allows them to be trained for a wide variety of assistance roles.

High Adaptability

Akitas often do well in new environments and situations if they are properly socialized:

  • They are comfortable in crowds and chaotic environments.
  • Akitas enjoy traveling and exploring new places with their handler.
  • They quickly get used to new people and remain loyal at all times.

Their calm and flexible nature fits well with the varied and unpredictable role of a service dog.

Service Needs Akitas Can Meet

Akitas can be taught numerous complex tasks to provide assistance:

  • Mobility – brace/balance owners, pull wheelchairs, retrieve dropped items
  • Stability – help handlers walk, stand, or transfer safely
  • Alerting to sounds like alarms, timers, crying babies
  • Medication reminding and delivery
  • Interrupt harmful repetitive behaviors

Any service tasks that utilize their strength, protective instincts, or trainability is a great skill match between Akita and the handler.

The Multitude of Service Roles for Akitas

Mobility & Stability Assistance

  • They help handlers to stand, walk, and transfer safely.
  • Akitas can pull wheelchairs up ramps and over difficult terrain.
  • They can pick up and retrieve dropped items, such as phones, keys, and bags.

Their strength and resilience to injury enable them to provide extensive mobility and stability assistance, a task that would tire most other dog breeds quickly.

Diabetic Alert Assistance

Akitas can learn to notice subtle changes in their handler’s breath and sweat, which indicate dangerous blood sugar levels. They can learn to perform certain actions when their handler’s blood sugar reaches dangerous levels, such as:

  • Bringing their handler the glucose monitoring kit.
  • Activating an emergency alarm.
  • Finding another person to help.

Such early alerts can be life-saving for a handler with frequent and severe blood sugar fluctuations.

Hearing Assistance

With their protective and observant nature, Akitas are excellent in hearing assistance roles, such as:

  • They alert owners to important sounds like alarm clocks, oven timers, doorbells, and baby cries.
  • They lead their handler to where important sounds are coming from.
  • Akitas responds well to hand signal instructions.

They provide vital sound alerts for deaf and hard-of-hearing handlers.

Psychiatric Assistance

Akitas naturally excel in psychiatric assistance work, including tasks like:

  • They interrupt repetitive self-harming behaviors.
  • Providing tactile stimulation to help reduce panic attacks.
  • They guide their handlers to a safe, quiet place during meltdowns.
  • Retrieving medications needed for controlling psychiatric symptoms.

This work suits sensitive Akitas who seek a strong bond with their handler.

Akitas as Emotional Support & Therapy Dogs

While less considered for these roles, Akitas can be highly effective as emotional support animals (ESAs) and therapy dogs. Their ability to form deep bonds and their sensitivity to human emotions make them ideal for offering comfort, reassurance, and joy to those in mental or emotional distress.

Devoted Companions and Emotional Support Dogs

For someone with depression, PTSD, or severe anxiety, an Akita ESA offers:

  • They give their owner a reason to wake up every morning and the motivation to keep going.
  • Their presence is stabilizing during stressful episodes or suicidal thoughts.
  • They offer physical affection and comfort through cuddling and snuggling.
  • They provide the courage to go outside, overcoming fear and loneliness.

An Akita ESA’s complete devotion and companionship can provide life-saving emotional support.

Intuitively Nurturing Therapy Dogs

Akitas naturally excel in therapy work, offering comfort and uplift in hospitals, schools, crisis centers, and more by:

  • They can read emotions and intuitively sense what each person needs.
  • They provide a soothing touch by nuzzling, kissing, and laying their head in laps.
  • Akitas motivate people to engage in group therapy activities.
  • Their goofy, affectionate personality lifts spirits.

Their empathetic and nurturing nature makes Akitas excellent at coaxing and comforting in therapy work.

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Akitas as Service Dogs

Myth 1: Akitas Are Too Aggressive

Fact: With proper socialization and training, Akitas become devoted companions. While naturally wary of strangers, they form intense bonds with their owners.

Early and regular socialization teaches Akitas that not all new people or animals are threats. If trained for service tasks from a young age, Akitas use their protective instincts to ensure their handler’s safety everywhere.

The right upbringing results in an Akita that is bravely protective without being aggressively uncontrolled.

Myth 2: Akitas Are Too Stubborn

Fact: Akitas are independent thinkers, which should not be confused with being stubborn. Their habit of first assessing new situations can make it seem like they ignore commands or are stubborn during training. However, Akitas do aim to please and are great at tasks that require a lot of thinking.

Forming a strong bond with their handler builds trust and motivates them to complete tasks. Training with positive rewards makes the most of their intelligence and loyalty.

If treated with compassion like partners, not just given orders, Akitas focus well and learn new skills quickly. With the right handler, what seems like stubbornness becomes determination.

What is Required of Service Dogs?

There are a lot of specific tasks a service dog is required to do. These tasks are numerous because of the various categories of disabled people. They can be divided into four broad categories; visually impaired, hearing impaired, mobility impaired and mental conditions.

For the mentally impaired the Akita can be trained to:

  • Stop them from harming themselves through repetitive behaviors such as injury with items.
  • To notify the handler of a potential anxiety attack.
  • To bring medication when symptoms start to show.
  • During a crisis, they retrieve emergency phones
  • Performing trained therapy to calm their companion.
  • They always, turn on the lights and search rooms before their handler enters.

For the visually, mobility and hearing impaired the Akita service dog offers guidance and hearing by performing the following tasks:

  • Notifying visually impaired persons when elevation has changed.
  • Helping the visually impaired to navigate around obstacles.
  • To help identify and locate objects when requested to.
  • Help retrieve dropped items for the visually impaired.
  • Help alert alarms and doorbells for the hearing impaired.
  • Opening and closing doors for the visually impaired.
  • Offering balancing support for their handler.
  • Helping carry items.
  • Helping a partner move from a wheelchair.

If you have the skills and patience you can train your Akita yourself or take them through a training program.

Training Akitas as Service Dogs

You can choose to train your dog on your own or take them through a training program. How you do it depends on what you wish to achieve through the training. Only attempt to train your dog yourself if you feel confident enough in your skills.

The best time to train an Akita is when they are 7-8 weeks old. As puppies, they are more responsive.

The Akita’s demeanor and temperaments are different from most dogs since they are more closely related to wolves than regular dogs. That said, you can still follow the following steps to train your Akita dog:

  • Train them young.
  • Train the mind, a trainer will achieve much more if they focus on the mind first, then combine that with physical behavior training.
  • Train the do navigate the outdoors especially frequented streets.
  • Give your puppy clear rules, set boundaries through clear marked signs and behaviors.
  • Remember to reinforce confidence by rewarding the dog for positive feedback through treats and toys. Additionally, they can be given verbal praise when they show improvement in task delivery.
  • Ideally, the best training should last about 10-15 minutes. The training should be done with new and fun-filled things. Also, you should start house training when the puppy gets home.
  • Also, ensure that you help the dog socialize gradually. Remember the Akita is quite reserved around strangers.

Types of Services Dogs

From the four categories of service dogs above, there are 8 specific types of service dogs;

  • Guide dogs: they assist people who are visually impaired to navigate both outdoors and indoors.
  • Hearing dogs: assist the hearing impaired by alerting them about important sounds such as doorbells, timers, and alarms.
  • Diabetic alert dogs: warn the owner about their sugar levels, either when they are too low or high.
  • Mobility assistance dogs: assist people with mobility issues by opening doors, retrieve dropped items or even help them pay.
  • Seizure response dogs: they are trained to assist an epileptic person in the event of a seizure.
  • Autism service dogs: these dogs work with children with autism as part of the support system. They help to build confidence in autistic kids.
  • Psychiatric service dogs: this is a collection of dogs that assist various people who have psychiatric issues including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. They alert their owners when there‚Äôs a sign of anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and even flashbacks.
  • Allergy detention dogs: help in picking scents that might cause allergic reactions to the owner. They warn them so they can avoid it.

Common Service Dogs

As stated earlier, the most common service dogs include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, poodles, and German shepherds.

Golden retrievers are popular because of their gentleness. They make great service dogs. Plus, they are good at retrieving stuff and even carrying them around. They have an infectious attraction to people making them the right fit too.

Labrador retrievers, or labs, are easy to train and have an impeccable work ethic. They are a strong and quite sociable dog breed.

Poodles are popular because they are one of the most intelligent dog breeds. And they are good as allergic service dogs because they do not shed much. Plus, their smart wits mean they are easy to train. The only downside is that they are not as large as most dogs in this list. This means they are not a good fit for larger and taller people.

German shepherds were the first service dogs. The first service dog was a German Shepherd called Bubbly. This breed has a well-developed, large body that is perfect for a service dog, especiall for people with mobility issues. 

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