|Barked: Sat Mar 15, '08 3:29pm PST |
|Oh, and I forgot to mention two more things that are specific to your situation. Before starting training as a service dog, you should get your dog checked over by a vet to make sure they are fit for work. A service dog walks a LOT on hard surfaces like concrete and pavement and it is very important to make sure their joints are healthy and can take that kind of strain. You don't want to cause a service dog to have to retire early or to be in pain due to structural problems like this. I remember Drake has a twisted front leg, so it is important to get a vet to check that out before starting with any training for service work and clear him specifically for service work. His joints need to be very good for him to be able to work pain free, concrete and pavement are hard on joints!
Also, while there is no age limit to starting a dog with service training, it usually takes 1-2 years to train a dog. Most service dogs seem to retire by the age of 10, which means you'll want to start training a replacement service dog when your current service dog is about 8 or 9. If Drake is 6 now, that means he won't be fully trained until he is at least 7 or 8 years old. That means as soon as he is fully trained you'll need to be getting a new dog to train to replace him. So it might be more cost and time effective for you to start with a younger pup (under 2 years seems to be preferable).
I have personal experience with starting training late. I started training Sabrina when she was about 4.5 years old. She passed her public access test when she was about 6. She's been working as a full service dog for two years and in a couple of months I'm bringing home a new puppy to train to take her place when she retires. Two years is an awfully short time to be working a dog before retiring, personally I won't do that again and I don't recommend others to do it, either. It is a lot of time and money invested for a short working life. I'm not saying it can't be done, but talk with your vet about your dog's health and with a trainer about how long realistically it will take you to train Drake and discuss with them what your options are and what would be best.
I think Discovery Dogs is close by you, and they run an owner-training program. If you want to travel to the SF area, my trainer Nancy Frensley can also help train. I know that there are several other SDs in California who might also be able to provide names of trainers for you to talk with.
Edited by author Sat Mar 15, '08 3:30pm PST
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