Are Shiba Inus Good Service Dogs? (Explained and Quick Facts)

Are Shiba Inus Good Service Dogs

Shibas have traits that make them excellent service animals. They are affectionate and devoted to their owners. Their small size allows for easy travel, even on airplanes. Additionally, their agility and athleticism are ideal for mobility and medical assistance tasks.

In this article, you’ll discover realistic insights into Shiba Inu temperaments and trainability as service dogs. We’ll discuss the challenges of training this willful breed. Additionally, we’ll guide you in assessing whether a Shiba Inu’s characteristics and needs are a good fit for your lifestyle and abilities.

Shiba Inus as Service Dogs

Generally speaking, most wouldn’t purchase a Shiba Inu to have them become a service dog. Mainly because Labradors or Retrievers are more commonly known to excel in such areas…

However, for the select few wanting their Shiba Inu to become a service dog; They’ve proven it isn’t impossible!

Properly trained Shiba Inus working as service dogs can provide unique qualities to the people seeking them. Their natural “stubbornness or feisty nature” can be easily dissuaded with the right trainer and handler.

Although the process of training a Shiba Inu to become a service dog can be exhausting and time-consuming, many people have attested to their abilities and assistance they can provide.

For example, the Shiba Inu can make as a great PTSD Dog or Disability Assist Dog. Given they receive the proper training.

Shiba Inus serve as fabulous service dogs, specifically for owners seeking a service dog for themselves. This is due to a Shiba Inu’s respect, loyalty, and trust that they build with their owners.

This is not to say that a Shiba Inu will not thrive as a service dog when being trained only with a training company, but instead have a higher success rate when trained from their owners as well.

Which Type of Service Dog Would a Shiba Inu Be?

The best service jobs for a Shiba Inu align with their intelligence, athleticism, and protective nature.

Hearing Dogs

  • Their alertness and attentiveness make them excellent at alerting their deaf or hard-of-hearing handler to important sounds such as alarms, timers, crying babies, and doorbells.
  • A Shiba can be taught to lead their handler to the source of a sound or retrieve items that are making noise.
  • Their ability to pay close attention to their handler along with their intuitive nature allows them to discern when an alert is needed.
  • Their small size and agility help them avoid hazards and navigate various environments with their handler.

Medical Alert Dogs

  • Shibas can be trained to detect subtle scents and changes that signal impending medical events such as low blood sugar in diabetics or oncoming seizures.
  • Shibas can alert their handlers to early signs of seizures or panic attacks before the symptoms worsen.
  • Once trained, they can retrieve medication, activate medical devices, summon help, and perform other emergency response tasks.
  • Their loyalty ensures they stay close to their handler, enabling quick alerts in emergencies.

Mobility Assistance Dogs

  • Their athleticism, coordination, and petite size allow them to easily retrieve dropped items such as phones, keys, or small bags.
  • They can learn to hit handicap buttons to open doors or elevators.
  • Bracing harnesses let them aid with stability while standing or walking.
  • Their intuitive nature helps them figure out the best way to position themselves to assist their handler while moving.

Psychiatric Service Dogs

  • A Shiba’s extreme loyalty and dependency on their favorite person make them attuned to signs of anxiety, depression, PTSD triggers, or panic attacks.
  • Soothing behaviors like nuzzling, pawing, or squeezing calm anxiety and grounds handlers during overwhelming episodes.
  • Their wariness of strangers keeps unfamiliar people from invading a handler’s personal space bubble.
  • Shibas do well with conditioning training that helps redirect negative behaviors.

However, due to their independent thinking, high prey drive, and wariness of strangers, Shibas tend to struggle in certain service dog roles such as:

Guide Dogs

  • Shibas are easily distracted by sights, smells, and sounds, which interferes with their ability to focus solely on guiding their handler.
  • Not suited for safely leading handlers across busy intersections amid traffic.

Autism Support Dogs

  • Sensitivity to touch and unreliable tolerance of a child’s grabby hands or unpredictable, loud behaviors.
  • Shibas perform better in focused one-on-one relationships rather than with constantly changing household members.

Courthouse Facility Dogs

  • Shiba Inus in courthouse facilities often show wary and even aggressive tendencies towards unfamiliar people when handled by strangers.
  • Strong recall requirement to keep from bolting after prey or other animals.
  • Their independent thinking often leads them to focus more on their surroundings than on their handler.

Ultimately, Shiba Inu service dogs excel in roles that require intuitive work with a single handler, thanks to their focused loyalty and attentiveness.

Key Traits That Make Shiba Inus Excellent Service Dogs

Their Loyalty and Bonding

  • Shibas become intensely attached to their favorite person, showing a level of loyalty that is comparable to the well-known devotion of Golden Retrievers.
  • This loyalty motivates them to closely monitor their handler and respond quickly during medical crises.
  • Focusing solely on one person helps them minimize distractions during their assistance duties.

Their Innate Intuitiveness

  • Shibas have an impressive ability to detect medical events before physical symptoms are evident.
  • They seem to inherit supernatural powers to alert, guide, and assist their person even without specialized training.
  • This uncanny ability springs from their incredibly close bond and attention tuned to their favorite person.

Athleticism and Agility

  • Shibas are always ready to leap into lifesaving action with swift and skillful movement.
  • Their petite size paired with physical abilities allows them to perform tasks like opening doors or retrieving medicines with speed and efficiency.
  • Their ability to stay agile into old age enables them to serve handlers effectively for many years.

Intelligence and Trainability

  • Shibas are part of the Spitz family, known for their high intelligence among northern dog breeds.
  • They can master complex service skills with the right motivation and training approach tailored to their independence.
  • Excel at problem-solving duties and interpreting handler’s intricate medical needs.

Protective Nature

  • Warriors at heart, Shibas take guarding and protecting their person seriously.
  • This makes them highly alert to changing environments and potential threats to their handler.
  • Their willingness to sound the alarm and defend against dangers makes Shibas suitable for many service dog roles.

Time Commitment for Training a Shiba Inu Service Dog

The total timeline breaks down into distinct phases:

Early Socialization Period

  • Starts as soon as you bring home your Shiba Inu puppy
  • Focuses on positive exposures to sights, sounds, handling, environments
  • Sets the foundation for temperament and trainability
  • Average Duration: 8 weeks

Basic Obedience Training

  • Teaches critical life skills like potty training, crate training, leash skills
  • Uses reward-based methods to establish rapport between handler and dog
  • Sets groundwork for public access behaviors
  • Average Duration: 6 months

Task and Public Access Skill Training

  • Grounds specialized disability assistance skills like alerting, retrieving
  • Refines advanced obedience for working in public environments
  • Uses high-value rewards to motivate Shiba’s strong will
  • Average Duration: 6-9 months

Public Access Certification and Ongoing Training

  • Final test to ensure suitability for public access
  • May require some adult maturity, around 18 months old
  • Handlers find tune tasks with dog’s abilities
  • Duration: a lifetime of dog

The average total timeline for training a Shiba Inu from puppyhood into a fully qualified service dog is about 18-24 months. Working with an experienced service dog trainer helps streamline the process and prevent frustration.

Shiba Inus as Service Dogs Are Not For Everyone

It is true when said that Shiba Inus as service dogs are not for everyone. But why? Simply for the fact that training them is nothing like training a Labrador or Retriever.

Just like owning a Shiba Inu breed as a household pet isn’t for everyone, the same rule applies for owning a Shiba Inu to train as a service dog.

This breed possesses traits such as independence, boldness, and willfulness. All behaviors which may be difficult or viewed as undesirable for some. Especially in a training perspective.

In which instance, an owner may opt for a more “easy-going breed” such as a Collie or Greyhound.

For Shiba Inus and his owner in particular; Tackling stubbornness, dominance, and possessive issues as the dog grows up can be a challenge. That also does not account for the required socialization skills for which a Shiba Inu will need to obtain to thrive as a service dog.

Considering all the odds, training a Shiba Inu to become a service dog is not for everyone. However, the few who can possess such skills, receive helpful and wonderful benefits acquired through their efforts.

Training Struggle You May Face When Preparing Your Shiba to Become a Service Dog

Depending on the circumstances, you may face a few difficulties when training your Shiba to become a service dog. On the other hand, you may face numerous difficulties, causing training to become a struggle.

Lack of Self-Belief

When presented with something new or challenging, you may find yourself doubting your capabilities to handle such a task. It’s important to remember when training your Shiba to believe in yourself and your capabilities.

Identifying If He Is/Is Not Capable

You want your Shiba to succeed, however, if you’ve been training him for a prolonged period it may be time to reevaluate the situation. Although I believe all dogs are capable of becoming service dogs, it is only if they show such willingness and ability. If your Shiba is lacking in such areas, you may want to reconsider.

Ignoring Other Dogs (And Carrying On)

If your Shiba is in his adolescent stages or beginning to mature, it may feel like a setback when another dog (without a leash) runs up to your Shiba. For trainers, this is extremely difficult because depending on your Shiba Inus reaction, you may need to start from the beginning. As long as you continue to preserve and teach your Shiba to ignore, and carry on is the only way around such struggle.

Decide If a Shiba Inu Would Suit You Best

When deciding if a Shiba Inu would suit you best, you’ll want to weigh your options and answer a few questions first:

  1. Do I understand, accept, and willing to embrace the Shiba Inus breed history?
  2. Am I confident enough to train a Shiba Inu?
  3. Will I be able to listen to a trainee and carry on their recommendations at home?
  4. Am I prepared to take on the challenges associated with training a Shiba Inu in particular?
  5. Would I prefer this challenge over an easier-going dog breed?
  6. Can I commit my time, and consistency in shaping a Shiba Inu to become a wonderful service dog?

If you answered YES to the questions above, it’s safe to say a Shiba Inu would suit you best if preparing to train a service dog.

As mentioned throughout this article, there are both pros and cons of training a Shiba Inu to become a service dog. And although there are much easier dogs to train for such tasks, if you’re willing and able to train your Shiba Inu in becoming one then nothing should stop you!

General Public Reaction to A (Trained) Shiba Inu

For the most part, expect a Shiba Inu to be welcomed with curiosity and questions. Whether it’s a curious child or an intrigued adult, most people are respectful towards a Shiba Inu (and vice versa).

Many questions may be exchanged such as “What breed is he?”, “How did you train him!”, “Do you have any tips to share” – so be well prepared.

Unfortunately, however, on the other hand (and like most dogs)… there are many uncontrollably excited people who behave variously to dogs. With most people wanting to pet your Shiba Inu.

At the end of the day, it is entirely up to the handler to decide whether someone can pet a service dog or not. And thankfully, most of the general public respect service dogs and the unwritten rules around interacting with them.

Method You Can Use for Picking a Shiba (Genetics, Temperament, etc.)

Although choosing the perfect Shiba to become a service dog is considerably difficult, there are a few things you can look out for. To begin, it’s best to identify what you want in a service dog. That way you can relay that information with the breeder and you’ll work together in picking a suitable Shiba.

For example, an ideal Shiba service dog is one which:

  • Has an even temper.
  • Is personable.
  • It can adapt slightly easier than the remaining litter.
  • Come from friendly parents.
  • Was raised adequately from its breeder.

As long as both yourself and the breeder are completely transparent, you’ll hopefully find the right Shiba for your needs.

Shiba Training Advice as a Service Dog

Shiba training can be a hard, long, and time-consuming process. Apart from choosing the most suitable Shiba, here is some advice to consider and remember when you begin training your Shiba as a service dog:

  1. Start as young as possible.
  2. Never yell, hit, or shout at your Shiba.
  3. Remain consistent.
  4. Listen to the training company’s advice.
  5. Socialize your dog.
  6. Constantly work on obedience.
  7. Don’t give up!
  8. Believe in your Shiba’s ability.
  9. Form a healthy bond with your Shiba.
  10. Be firm yet fuzzy.
  11. Reward when required.
  12. Trust yourself.

Remember, it isn’t impossible and with perseverance comes reward!

How to Choose a Training Company?

To choose the best training company for you and your soon-to-be Shiba, you should consider what type of service your Shiba will be used for.

If your Shiba Inu will be an all-round service dog, then choose a company that specializes in all breeds of dogs. Especially Shiba Inus! This way you can feel assured that your instructor has had first-hand training experience with the breed of dog.

As for a Shiba Inu becoming a specialized service dog, seek a company (or non-profit organization) that specializes in the area you require.

Many services train dogs for specific services, such as PTSD, Seizure Response, Autism, or Allergy Detection.

You Might Also Like:

Scroll to Top