Service dogs

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by Paige, May 2, 2013.

  1. Paige

    Paige Let it be

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    Who has one? What does it do for you? Do you know someone with one? Have you trained one? Were they procided by an agency or were they self trained? Talk to me about it.

    Through this diagnosis process with Briggs to find out if he is on the autism spectrum I have done so much reading. Something that came up was an assistance dog.

    My biggest issue with Briggs is he bolts. He nearly got ran over by a tractor the other day because I was holding his brother and he ran away from me. Bandit has learned a nifty little command of "GO GET YOUR KID" and he runs after Briggs, grabs his sweater sleeve and does a sliding stop keeping a firm grip on Briggs' coat and stopping them both. He also cuts him off and bumps him back over to me. The joys of owning a herding breed who hates his family unit split up.

    Anyways, Bandit is by no means cut out for service work. He is jumpy, skittish, going blind and a little senile. I was just curious what other people's experiences with service dogs were. I am so nervous leaving Briggs at all because of his bolting. Seems to be the most common reason autistic children get service dogs.

    Talk to me about this chazzers. :D
     
  2. Fran101

    Fran101 Resident fainting goat

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    I have an in-training one, hope it's ok that I chime in!
    Merlin is in the training process now, I chose to NOT go through a training school (the wait was just as long as training myself and I wanted something more..personalized. My needs are weird, I live in a weird city, I wanted something more suited. if that makes sense, plus I had never had a puppy, and since Merlin is likely going to be my only dog for a while, I wanted the puppy experience)

    My first step was finding a trainer willing to help me, I found an independent trainer with experience and we had a discussion about what I wanted to train, regular private lessons and enrollment in his group and his curriculum.
    (Here is a thread with the curriculum: http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133074)
    Merlin attends private focused training as well as "basic dog training" with a regular trainer/group classes. I think it's a nice balance.

    One of the first steps with the trainer was writing two lists. One of behavioral/general manners Merlin needed (basic things: leash walking, laying down while I'm in class, how to ride the train, etc..)
    and the other were commands I needed him to know (from basic obedience to how to wake me up from a seizure, how to get my meds, how to stay with me etc..)
    Merlin is in step 3 now (pre-teen basics)

    Then finding a breeder. I didn't choose a "breed" really, I mean, I had an idea.. but I found the right breeder more-so. Health was my top priority, followed closely by dogs that knew how to work/perform and had the right temperament (obedience, showing, any sport really that involves handler orientation and focus and drive) and where temperament where PARAMOUNT. Behind health and temperament, there were some other factors but really, those were the two most importance. With of course finding a breeder I trusted enough to work with me on what to look for, what I wanted etc..

    These days, Merlin is well on his way. He is more than I could've asked for.
    I mean, he is a brat training wise sometimes when it comes to manners (9 months old and just..ugh)
    but he has started alerting to my seizures pretty regularly (which is AMAZING and totally unexpected) and many may disagree, but I do think a huge part of that is that I raised him and I guess that made it easier for him to pick out whatever he picked up on.

    The thing about owner training is that of course, nothing is a sure thing. Especially with a puppy. I am still not sure Merlin will grow up to be a service dog, I don't know how his temperament/training could go, even with how great he is now. And that can be a bit nerve wrecking because I am not in the position to get another dog.

    What Merlin (will) do:
    - Alert to my seizures (not that you can train that but he already does that already, we just need to work on how he alerts, barking is NOT appropriate)
    - Lick my hands to get me to wake up from a seizure
    - Sit next to me closely so I can hold him while I get my sense of balance back (he is not a balance dog, but more of a stable thing to touch so I feel less dizzy)
    - Get my medication and a water bottle and my phone (which will be in my backpack using a tab he can open)
    - Stay with me when I'm unconscious
    -if I am down for longer than usual, we are thinking perhaps to teach him to bark (because the sound would also help wake me up but also to get attention from people) but that isn't a sure thing
    - And of course the basics.. come with my wherever I go.
     
  3. RBark

    RBark Got Floof?

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    The best thing for the vast majority of people is to find one through an agency. Typically they are free, though some places have a long wait-list.

    The reason this is the better route is because it is incredibly hard to find a dog whose personality is suited to service dog work. The dog has to be just right in everything, and the agencies who train those dogs have a high rate of failure- even when picking the best of the best bred and rescue dogs.

    So it's not something anyone can just go around trying to find a good dog for it, without experience.

    I trained my dog, Priscilla, who passed away before she was old enough to be a Service Dog. It was a lot of work, hours of work most days. And she was from breeding lines that made her a great candidate for being a SD, but wasn't quite there even after a year of training.

    I hope that helps. I should note, that I am deaf, I trained her to suit my purposes, I have absolutely not a clue what an SD trained for Aspergers would require. I know there are a couple members with that disorder here and have service dogs, they would be of much better help than I.

    That said, you should be aware of the significant downsides to having a SD. There are inevitable harassment issues by business owners and people around you. There are maintenance issues, since you would need to keep your dog clean more frequently than everyone else's dog... since everyone else's dog won't be in public areas where hair and grooming is an issue.

    It's more work. Some people find the disadvantages of having a Service Dog outweight the advantages, even if the advantages are significant. It's not a decision to enter into simply. Dogs, even service dogs, will have off days, and that can be frustrating and life-interfering.

    It can also be more expensive than other options, as it is an living thing who will have issues all living things do (sickness, injury, etc).

    Hope this helps.
     
  4. MandyPug

    MandyPug Sport Model Pug

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    http://www.dogguides.com/autism.html

    You can start looking through the link above. Our kennel club sponsors a couple assistance dogs in our area, a couple guide dogs for the blind and an autism dog. I believe they provide assistance affording one for people who can't.
     
  5. Julee

    Julee UNSTOPPABLE

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    I have one. Em is trained to mitigate symptoms of my PTSD, Schizophrenia, and Tourette's. I trained her myself, and now train for other people.

    Not many programs are free, and most programs are absolutely horrible. If you do not train yourself... tread with caution.
     
  6. Paige

    Paige Let it be

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    Interesting! Thanks for the replies so far. I don't even know if Briggs would be a good fit for one as he is still so young (two and a half). Just on my simple google search it came up and I was like oh, thats interesting.
     
  7. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    First off, WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT TIE YOUR CHILD TO A DOG. EVER. This is NOT what a service dog is for. It's not good for the child, and it's not good for the dog. If you need your child leashed, then leash the child and hold the leash yourself, don't make a dog do it. Please, please, PLEASE do not ever tether a child to a dog!


    I do :)


    Logan is my autism service dog. His primary tasks are guide work and mobility/balance/counterbalance work. He also signals me to certain stims (NOT interrupting them, just letting me know they're happening), finds bathrooms/car/home/entrances/exits/class/etc, and a variety of other smaller tasks. I'll go into more detail if you're curious :)


    Several people, most of them I know online, though.


    Yes, I trained Logan. It took just over 2 years, which is typical. I have trained dogs before, and had the support of 2 other trainers, both who have trained service dogs and other working dogs in the past.


    Logan is owner-trained (NOT self-trained; a dog does not train itself). Why? Because there were no programs at the time willing to train an autism dog for an adult, since adults actually require tasks and not just an anchor/babysitter. I have since found a couple potential programs, but hopefully it'll be a LONG time before a need another dog! Anyway, every single autism program I contacted said no because I was "too old" (as if autism just goes away, HA!). Every non-autism program said no because they don't deal with autism - even though the tasks I need/use are the same as for several other disabilities.



    How old is Briggs? Service dogs can be properly used with older children (10+, the older the better). A young child does not need a service dog - that's what parents are for (or in school, the staff). A service dog is NOT an excuse to not parent. Tasks are to help the CHILD be more independent, not to make life easier for the parent. Remember if they're too young, they don't even get a choice.

    ETA: I see you just said he's 2 1/2. That is entirely too young for a service dog, period.

    If you find a program you're thinking about applying to, I'd be more than happy to check it out and tell you what I think. More places have popped up since I was searching, and I haven't kept up with them all.

    I don't go there anymore, but servicedogcentral.org is a fantastic resource. There are just certain people to avoid.
     
  8. Paige

    Paige Let it be

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    Yeah at 2 and a half or even older than that it doesn't even make sense to me. Honestly Bandit does enough help on our park trips just being our pet. I was more thinking of him when he naturally grows into wanting more independence.


    Tethering Briggs to anyhting sounds like a bad idea.
     
  9. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I think that (obviously, especially when developmental delays are a factor, it can vary a lot) for most children who could benefit from a service dog, middle school age is an appropriate time to start looking into a service dog - talking to doctors, looking into programs and trainers, discussing what responsibilities come with being a SD handler. But I think even a non-developmentally delayed high schooler's readiness to handle a SD is questionable...certainly some kids are responsible enough, and some aren't (same goes for adults too, really).

    Here's a pretty good article: http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/259

    I think at this point, instead of even thinking about service dogs, if you think Bandit might soon be unable to handle his current "responsibilities", thinking about how train the next dog to do the same tasks, and what breeds/temperaments would be best suited to that, would be a great idea. While it won't help in a lot of environments and situations, it might make things a little bit easier on you (and Briggs, to have slightly more freedom) to play in the yard, the park, the farm, etc - in safe situations.
     
  10. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    You might look into a skilled companion dog from a reputable program. These are trained pet dogs that have some tasks on them to help out at home. They're generally a good choice for kids.
     
  11. joce

    joce Active Member

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    Ask his dr about it and see if he would say he needs one.

    I just found out recently some of the insurance companies are now paying for them. I am sure it depends which one you have. I have heard it takes a while though.

    A coworkers daughter just put her dobe through training and he can detect her seizures, bring her pills and water, and all kinds of other stuff. She worked with a program near her in I think north carolina. She is very lucky that he can detect her seizures since thats not really something you can train.


    I have heard of younger kids getting them for autism because it helps them come out of their shell.
     
  12. Paige

    Paige Let it be

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    I like the sounds of a companion dog knowing some helpful tasks more so than an actual service dog. I do t think at anywhere in the near or distant future he will require, if ever, a full blown service dog. But teaching a companion dog some helpful skills see a to be a great idea for us.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  13. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    That's not what a service dog is for, though. That can be done with a pet or a skilled companion dog. A service dog is to provide independence through trained tasks. Not to be a friend or to socialize a kid - those are side effects of a service dog that can be done with any dog.
     
  14. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    Won't go into too much detail, but if anyone wants to know ask me privately.

    I've been really looking into a service dog in the future as well whether it be that I train Cricket (provided she ends up being a good fit and learns the tasks, etc) or a separate dog. I'm still talking more about it with my pyschiatrist and I need to talk to a doctor more about it. Already have a trainer that is experienced training PSDs that is willing to work with me (and knows Cricket really well) if it is a route I end up going. It's been something that's been on my mind for quite a few years and my situation has gotten so much worse.

    Right now I'm still learning more, researching the laws, etc. I definitely agree with holding off on really considering an SD for Briggs until he is older, but until then having a pet dog trained to help out the way Bandit helps out would be great.

    The servicedog forum that was mentioned has been my go to for a lot of what I've been learning about service dogs. Definitely recommend checking it out.
     
  15. joce

    joce Active Member

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    Hmmm. Lots of people with autism have service dogs. They don't need them to turn off lights or let them know when thy can safely cross the street. Person may be a mess and they bring meds drink blanket etc. a dog for the family is not going to be allowed shopping or on a cruise. Or they shouldn't be anyway. I like the idea of certified dogs personally. Supposedly the cost is over ten grand when ins pays. They wouldn't do it if it wasn't needed.

    If it helps the child at a younger age why wait? I know some have said the dog is what keeps the kid able to sit through class or jus focus when it's next to them. Really who cares what the label is.
     
  16. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    I know lots of people with autism have service dogs. I have autism. I have a service dog. I am very aware of what my service dog does for me, and what they do for people with autism in general. Bringing a blanket is NOT a task. For most people, bringing meds and a drink is not a task (it's really not as common of a tasks as most people think, though it is a common bonus). As I said, my autism service dog does guide and balance/mobility work, finds bathrooms/exits/entrances/cars/home/etc, and some deep pressure tasks, etc. with several bonuses. I'm really NOT the person to be lecturing to about how service dogs can be used for different disabilities. I KNOW.

    A pet dog is not allowed on a cruise or in a store, because it is a PET. A service dog is meant to provide independence. Not to be a security blanket, babysitter, or a source of entertainment. It's not appropriate for a younger child because the child cannot handle the dog on its own yet. Until the child is fully capable of providing for the dogs needs during its working time (and ideally is the one feeding and caring for the dog all the time), the child is too young. The service dog works for its disabled handler, not for the kid's parents. If the dog is not task trained, there is no reason to be taking it everywhere.

    Insurance doesn't usually pay for a service dog. The only time I've heard of insurance paying is when it's a veteran, and then it's the special veteran insurance that does it (I really forget the name of it, which is awful, because I've told me dad about using it as an option for him before...). A service dog costs in excess of $10,000 to train and place, but the handler should NOT be paying that much. Under $2500 is normal. Anything over $5000 makes me suspicious. Anything over $10000 makes me automatically think scam. Why? Reputable programs are able to raise money and get donations to help fund the training and placement of the dogs.

    No reputable program is going to give a dog to a toddler or tie a dog to a kid. Those that do generally don't put as much training into a dog as they should, then sell it for tens of thousands of dollars. Because kids are cute and people pay for cute.

    Here's a video of what a tether dog REALLY does. Keep watching through to the end. It gets really bad. That dog does NOT deserve that sort of treatment, and it's not helping the kid any either. It's parents being lazy.

    http://youtu.be/yRNyRi3BOk4


    And then here are some videos of what real autism service dogs do:

    http://youtu.be/EwPIgChIChE

    http://youtu.be/WiSB-AFnWHc

    It's pretty simple to see the difference.
     
  17. AdrianneIsabel

    AdrianneIsabel Glutton for Crazy

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    While possibly not as common as the babysitter dogs I have seen medical alert dogs for young children that I am very comfortable with(as if that even matters) even if they live outside of your definition of providing independence and being inappropriate unless the child can do all of the work. They have and continue to not only better but save those children's lives, I doubt the parents were stressed about labels when seeking assistance.

    I really do think that is a great logic, particularly about not using dogs as a tie down for children, but I wouldn't write off dogs and their help for children under the age of being the sole caregiver entirely.
     
  18. joce

    joce Active Member

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    Disagree. But your not going to see why.


    And I'm a nurse. I am seeing the insurance company paying for the dogs. I know one was caresource. Others have to.
     
  19. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    The thing is, service dogs DO NOT give children independence. CHILDREN do not have independence, because they're CHILDREN. They're constantly under supervision when in public (or at least they should be), whether it's parents, guardians, babysitters, teachers, etc., some adult is always supervising in public. So IMO, I can't think of one situation where a child will not be able to cope in public without a dog helping, considering he constantly has an available adult to help.

    In addition, dogs in public are a nuisance. Yes, even well behaved dogs. I know people who are phobic of dogs and avoid going to pet stores and other places where dogs are allowed because of that; but they can't help going to the grocery store. Why should my friend have a panic attack every time she goes to the grocery store, just so that your 5-year-old feels more comfortable? I know people who have the same problem because they're allergic to dogs. I know businesses who are seriously inconvenienced because of dogs. If the dog is there to help someone who truely needs the help, that's one thing, and that's why there are laws protecting those people. But is it worth all the trouble so that a child, who does not have or need independence and is accompanied by a capable adult, can bring their dog in?

    BTW, I'm a professional service dog trainer. My organization trains dogs for adults with disabilities - hearing dogs for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, and service dogs for people with mobility disabilities.
     
  20. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    Disagree with what? What tasks an autism service dog does? Or the legal definition of a service dog? There are laws governing this sort of thing. It's not a free-for-all, though some people are trying to make it into one.
     

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