|Barked: Sat Oct 10, '09 8:58am PST |
|GSDs are wonderful dogs, however generally speaking these dogs do better with handlers who don't have mental illness. GSDs are bred for protection, and when you are in a panic attack or flashback or dissociating or hallucinating, their instinct is to protect you. This can be dangerous for you, your dog, and others. If your dog when you are in these states starts barking and trying to actively protect you, you will not be able to get the disability related assistance from your dog that you need. Passing people and/or their dogs may become the target of your dogs protective instinct, causing harm to them. If you are in a situation when an EMT approaches to assist you and if your dog is barking or otherwise appearing threatening, they can ask the police to shoot your dog in order to get to and assist you.
I think that GSDs are really smart dogs and can be good guide dogs etc, but I think that their protective instinct is extremely difficult to control, especially for someone with MI. There may be the one in a few hundred GSDs who doesn't have this issue, but I would encourage you to stack the odds in your favor by picking a breed of dog that generally does not tend to have these issues.
You want a dog that when you are in a panic attack or flashback or having hallucinations, who will take in the environment around them and realize that you are the one having problems-- that they don't need to actively protect you from anything, but rather comfort you. This is extremely important. A dog like this will be much easier to train to situations where you ahve EMTs giving you CPR etc (which can look very violent to a dog). You want a dog that will not interpret your fears as a reason for them to be afraid or protective, but who will instead see your fears and give you comfort because tey realize there is nothing to be afraid of.
I have met several GSD PSD or PSDITs in person. Only one that I've met has not had these tendancies displayed. One of them has been successfully retrained of these protective instincts with a LOT of work from her handler. Two of them have gone after Ollie with zero provocation whatsoever, and have gone after many other dogs as well. I also know several other GSD PSDs on line- most of them admit to having aggression issues either in general with other people and/or dogs, or only when the person is having a mental illness episode. Online I know of only two GSD PSDs or PSDITs (yourself included) who say their dogs have never had any issues like this. Of course I cannot personally verify peoples' claims on the internet.
Again, the best behaved service dog in my area is a GSD guide. So I know they can make really nice SDs. But in general I feel that a dog bred for protection work is not a good choice for a psychiatric service dog.
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