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Choosing a dog to be a service dog

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

  
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Member Since
10/03/2004
 
 
Barked: Tue May 7, '13 9:24pm PST 
Hi all! I'm new here...well kind of, I actually joined dogster back in 2005 I believe and was an active forum member for a few years.

I'll try to keep this short. Anywho, I've been planning since December 2012 to train a service dog for my son who has a few special needs. I started with a 1-year-old shelter dog which had some bad habits that needed corrected but that wasn't the issue. After having her for 3 weeks, she started showing aggression towards my son, me, and my sister-in-law so I decided that it was too much of a liability. I was sad and confused as to why she started acting that way.

I've been giving it a lot of thought and research since then. I'm not wanting to start this process again until this fall/winter. I've already contacted local dog trainers who I'll take their different obedience classes and then they'll help me with the specific service dog training.

I was wondering though what would be best, meaning having the highest success rate. Getting a puppy from a breeder or getting a puppy/older puppy/young adult from a shelter?

I'd love to rescue if possible but you do have to usually undo their issues that their previous owner(s) created or how they're going to act when you have them home (or in the last case, 3 weeks after having them home), etc.

Any suggestions?smile
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Bella

Bed warmer
 
 
Barked: Tue May 7, '13 9:41pm PST 
My service dog is a rescue that came from a shelter but I whole heartedly believe that we were meant for each other but realize that this isn't the case for many people. If you're hoping to rescue I would contact local rescue groups in your area, they have a much better idea of temperament with the dogs that they have instead of a shelter. Once you pick a trainer I would have them help you test the dogs that you are looking at and do an evaluation with that dog before choosing. I've worked with a rescue group in the past when I fostered and they were incredible in helping place the dog because we were able to see how he behaved in a home environment and with other dogs before he was adopted.
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Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
 
 
Barked: Wed May 8, '13 8:31am PST 
Sadie and I sorta choose each other... I really did not have a choice I just found her in the uncle henery's cause; I had given up trying to look for one in the shelters and had to exsplain over and over she was not going to be a pet. They kept on insistaning to talk to a Landlord that did not want me to get a Dog in the first place. I had found I needed a good strong dog (large breed and she wanted me to get a small 15lb dog). So I found Sadie listed in the uncle henery's she was 7 months old and weighed 35 lbs at the time. The guy said she was not going to get any bigger but she did thank GOD! But by then my Landlord fell in love with her and she every now and then spits and sputters about her being a big dog but still loves her. It is just hard cause she really was hard core about NO ANIMALS ! in the apt. house. I did need a large dog and I don't feel bad but I do also feel bad I had to do it the way I did it. It is a complicated situation. Anyway the guy brought her down for me and I loved her cause she was just what I had asked him about she had this kissy lil face that even till this day looks like a puppy. She dose not shed bad and that is a good thing and what she sheds is easy to manage with a good bushing. She is now 75lbs and a good hefty size for her breed being that we think she was a runt. She's not as big as she should be, but not too small that she can't do what I need her to do.
Witch is all good.....
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Iris vom- Zauberberg

Service Werewolf
 
 
Barked: Wed May 8, '13 8:50am PST 
Short answer: I believe that your highest chance of success if you are going to use the owner-training model is to find a puppy from a breeder that has bred many puppies that have become service dogs. Have the breeder and your trainer evaluate the puppy's temperament.

Puppies should be gently exposed to a huge variety of stimuli so that as they grow, they can adapt to unexpected noises and situations. Service dogs need to be able to remain calm in chaotic circumstances in order to do their jobs.

What makes a service dog is not merely the work or task training, or even the public access training, but also the ability to remain calm and focused when people or situations are not.

Edited to add: Welcome, and best of luck to you in your journey! smile

Edited by author Wed May 8, '13 8:51am PST

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Isaac

1278829
 
 
Barked: Wed May 8, '13 1:53pm PST 
The best chance of success would actually be to get a dog from a program that trains and places service dogs.

If you have a lot of experience training working dogs, then training the dog yourself may work out. As you've already experienced, though, it's not uncommon to have to wash a dog out. If you go with a program, you get a fully trained dog and don't take that risk.

If you are going to train the dog yourself, your best chance of success is to have a professional trainer with experience with service dogs select the dog for you. They would know what to look for and how to best evaluate the dog to make sure it's a good service dog candidate.
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Donovan Rest- in Peace

Donovan - the happy- pretzel dog
 
 
Barked: Thu May 9, '13 2:47am PST 
While it is possible for you to find just the right rescue dog, getting a puppy and training it up to be a service dog is "safer." By safer I mean that the puppy will not have any bad traits you need to train out of it. The worst it will be is completely spoiled by the breeder. I am saying this because I just put a deposit on a puppy from a breeder. I had a seven month old puppy to train the first time I had a service dog, and even he as young as he was had bad traits that had to be trained out. I guess it's up to you which you want to do. Cope with all that a puppy needs to learn. Or take a chance on a rescue. I have a friend who has only used rescue dogs for his service dogs. He always uses labs and golden retrievers though and they are the calmest of dogs. Whichever you do remember it is up to you what happens with the dog.
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Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
 
 
Barked: Thu May 9, '13 6:27am PST 
Inspite your resent down fall of that shelter dog I still believe in rescue form shelter etc.
I still believe a lot of dogs out there deserve a chance to shine in a SD situation.
There are so many dogs out there that are being put down that could do a lot of things that are
the same as we use our SDs for.
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Member Since
10/03/2004
 
 
Barked: Thu May 9, '13 7:27pm PST 
Thanks everyone who responded. It gave me a lot to think about and I'll continue doing lots of research.
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Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
 
 
Barked: Fri May 10, '13 12:08pm PST 
Glad you are doing a lot of research I just have strong feelings about shelter dogs cause I have a
lot of reminders on face book about it. Thousands of dogs are put to sleep cause no one thinks about the idea that there just may be a place for them in the SD world....
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Princess- Shalimar

Little service- dog doing a big- job
 
 
Barked: Sat May 11, '13 4:46pm PST 
I have been looking for a dog to begin training as a service dog for a while to take over the duties of my present service dog, who is getting older. She will be 11 years old in August and, being as it takes nearly two years to train a dog completely, I wanted to find a dog and start training now. I have contacted several shelters within 250 miles of where I live, and have put in applications for several dogs that I was very interested in. As soon as they found out that I wanted the dog as a service dog, my application was rejected. Here I thought rescue shelters wanted to help dogs, and now I find that they do not want their dogs to be service dogs. One shelter called me and said I could have a dog, but when she learned it was going to be a service dog, they changed their mind. They hadn't noticed it on my application. When I told them, they said no. I just don't understand why. Can you give me some insight into their reasoning? My dog is a PTSD dog. She is a Maltese. I wanted to replace her with a similar dog. It's not like I'm going to make the dog do hard labor. A PTSD dog does minimal labor, especially when it is only 8" tall. dog
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