When we talk about serving dogs, the first thing that will come to mind is large canines. Over the years, the likes of Belgian Malinois, Golden Retriever, and German Shepherd ruled the service dog job. But can a Yorkie be a service dog? As a cutie pie with a small body, Yorkshire Terriers are not the best candidates for service dogs. Still, your Yorkie can be of help in a different field.
Below, I discussed whether a Yorkie could be a service dog together with other facts you should know.
Can a Yorkie be a service dog?
Unfortunately, Yorkies are not the best pick for a service dog post. First of all, Yorkies are small canines, so they cannot physically support their handler. If you’re not familiar with service dogs, these canines are tasked with guiding blind handlers and providing mobility assistance to disabled individuals. There’s no way a Yorkie can provide balance support for a geriatric handler.
Aside from that, service dogs are supposed to have the ability to pull wheelchairs. Yorkies are just not cut for this task. While there’s no size limit to service dog registration, the physique is often a deal-breaker for Yorkies.
Although Yorkshire Terriers have a decent intelligence level, they are not as bright as Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds. They can be stubborn, and they will easily fail the service dog exam.
Take note that your dog should pass the following criteria to qualify for service dog training:
- Quiet and focused when in public
- Well-behaved in public or crowded situations
- Strong enough to perform physical tasks
- Exemplary intelligence
- Tried and tested obedience
Most Yorkies will not pass most of these criteria. If you’re planning to get a service dog, you might as well consider the following breeds instead:
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- Bernese Mountain Dogs
- American Staffordshire Terrier (subject to BSL)
Aside from that, the personality of a Yorkie doesn’t fit a service dog. This pooch is aloof of strangers and has a watchdog personality. They can be pretty sensitive outdoors and in the presence of strangers.
Most service dog trainers will tell you the same upon bringing the idea of enrolling your Yorkshire Terrier. But if you want your Yorkie to be a productive member of the canine community, there are other avenues you can explore for the pooch.
Yorkies as medical alert service animals
Although Yorkies won’t pass as a service dog, they are excellent options for medical alert service animals. In fact, Yorkies are a valuable and top choice for this job because they are highly trainable to detect chemical changes in a person’s body. They can detect such changes through smell and help the person take medications even before the adverse symptoms occur.
Yorkshire Terrier dogs can be trained to detect the rise and fall of glucose levels on a person. Once the Yorkie detects such change, it will paw, bark, or lick its handler as a warning.
The following are the conditions where medical alert service animals are helpful:
- Heart attack
- Epilepsy and seizures
Take note that medical alert service dogs are just aids for patients. They are not cure or replacements for proper and professional treatments. Yorkies can make mistakes, too, which is why you should keep consulting your doctor for guaranteed recovery.
Also, Yorkies have to undergo intensive training to be certified as a medical alert service animal. If you have a Yorkie that you want to be a medical alert service animal, you must seek a legitimate trainer and certifying center.
Yorkies as emotional support dogs
Aside from being a medical alert dog, Yorkies also thrive as emotional support dogs. These dogs are not required to be trained professionally. What they do is offer companionship and comfort to individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental issues.
Moreover, Yorkies are active canines, which encourages their handlers to keep moving. It helps affected individuals keep their minds off possible triggers.
Sometimes, emotional support dogs are also called ‘service dogs’, but it’s not really an accurate term. Emotional support dogs are different from service dogs in terms of skill level, duties, and training level.
In general, the following are the responsibilities of an emotional support dog:
- Detecting signs of an anxiety attack
- Preventing strangers from approaching the distressed person
- Providing physical stimulation during PTSD attacks by pawing, licking, etc.
- Providing deep pressure therapy to calm down a person
- Being a companion
- Retrieving medication
Depending on how trained the Yorkie is, this dog can also switch lights off given physical access.
Sometimes, therapists will recommend any dog as emotional support animals, regardless if it’s trained or not. In this case, the mere presence of the dog is already a big help to the patient.
Are Yorkies hard to train?
Yorkshire Terriers are not dumb, but they are not the brightest in the canine bunch either. This breed can be strong-willed at times, which makes them difficult to train. Patience is needed, especially for potty training.
Yorkies are notoriously difficult to housetrain. Since they have small bladders, they are more susceptible to accidents.
This is also the same reason why it’s quite difficult to train Yorkies as service dogs. They get distracted outdoors because of their playful attitude.
Still, professional dog trainers can help transform a rowdy Yorkie into a disciplined and behaved canine. The proper techniques, positive reinforcement, and patience will go a long way for this breed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: At what age can I start training my Yorkie?
A: Training should start early for Yorkies and any dog for that matter. Once your doggo reaches 8 weeks old, you can start introducing basic training drills. Take note that pups have a short attention span, so you should keep training sessions short but sweet. Also, be gentle with your dog since they are new to training.
Q: Why are Yorkies so hard to train?
A: Yorkshire Terriers are strong-willed canines, so they can be challenging to train. You have to be consistent with the best results when training this doggo. Most of all, you should perform short yet multiple sessions per day.
Q: How smart are Yorkies?
A: Yorkshire Terriers are in the mid-level in terms of intelligence. They are not the brightest, but they will yield to consistency and patience. Still, each dog is different, so some Yorkies might be easier to train while others will take more time.
Q: Are Yorkies loyal to one person?
A: Yorkies tend to run favorites in the house. They will get attached to one person with whom they spend more time. Nevertheless, they are more than willing to shower all family members with love. Despite their small size, Yorkies are brave guard dogs that will not hesitate to snarl at a burglar.
Can a Yorkie be a service dog? No, but these small doggos make great emotional support animals. They also fit as medical alert dogs, given proper training. Still, patience is necessary, so your Yorkie will become a well-rounded and productive canine. It’s also important to know and accept your pooch’s limitations so both of you will leave harmoniously.