Going to train my own PSD, could definately use some help.

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Barked: Wed Nov 14, '12 3:50pm PST 
So my therapist has said that she suggests that I get a Psychiatric Service Dog, and when I looked around for trainers , they were all WAY out of my price range, and also I would prefer to be involved in the dogs training 100%, and so I thought I could train my own with some help. I have done training with a pet dog in obediance, but that's about it. Does anyone know of books or websites that can help me out?

Also, how would I do training in public if a SDiT does not have access rghts like a full fledged SD does?

Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Wed Nov 14, '12 9:16pm PST 
Also, while your therapist may be involved in this, you really need to ask yourself how your issues are actually disabling; just being diagnosed with something doesn't make it disabling. Most therapists don't have a clue as to the difference between a PSD and an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).

You should also keep in mind that a PSD is NOT a cure; it is a tool that is best used in combination with other tools (CBT, medication, etc). Far too many get wrapped up in Lassie Syndrome.

Myth #1 Doing it yourself is cheaper. Since you don't have the experience, you will most likely have to get with a private trainer to assist your owner/training endeavor. Over the two years it takes to train a SD, it will cost several thousand dollars. Even those of us with experience still take our pups to group classes as it is a great place for them to be socialized and get their first introduction to ignoring distractions.

One of my friends added it up (she's a very experienced trainer). Between her time and the use of a Pro, she easily had $7,500 in her dog. A similarly trained dog from LEK would have been $5k.

Myth #2 Books and Websites as a substitute for real assistance. It doesn't work well as it can't give you real world feedback. In the case of training for mobility, it can actually cause irreversible physical harm to your dog. While I'm a fan of Sue Alisby's “Levels” training, there isn't anything in it that would harm a dog unlike someone attempting things in the Team Work series without the technical support of a professional.

Myth #3 (the current fad of those providing PSDs for Vets) Rescue/Shelter dogs do it better/are more appreciative. The object is to stack the deck in your favor. If your prospect is a rehab case you aren't doing yourself any favors. If you know nothing of choosing the right pup for the right job (a la Volhard or other testing) it's best to find someone who does. Guide schools wash out 20-30% of candidates; those that choose their crop from rescues are lucky if they have an 85% wash out rate. Most Owner-trainers have a 95+% rate.

If you live in a state that doesn't allow for OT'ing, you have to get creative at first. The pup goes to nothing but pet friendly locations. You do a lot of work outside of strip malls. When it's behavior is ready, you call ahead and ask permission to bring the dog in for training sessions. Most places will allow it. In the meantime, you practice for restaurants by setting up a table and working on the basic behaviors (going under the table, holding the down/stay, ignoring dropped food. You can also practice maneuvering around other commonly found situations (dog goes under a short table instead of a chair) by a little creative thinking. Bottom line, it can be done, but it just takes more work on your part.

Member Since
Barked: Wed Nov 14, '12 9:35pm PST 
The reason she suggested the dog, is because she has noticed that I get along better with animals than I do humans, not to say that I don;t have any friends, but I mostly just like someone I can dote on, and animals take that better, and they never think you're weird.

But on the subject of training the dog, I didn;t mean exclusively on nmy own,I just meant that I wasn't going to go to a program, and that I would rather have a personal trainer instead. I can't afford to travel, and I would not be able to travel without a trusted person, all of whom wouldn't be able to travel due to work and whatnot. The two programs I havebeen able to find thatare within driving distance of where I lve, one does not train the type of SD I need, and the other acted so unprofessionally I wouldn't train my dog there even if it was free. I haven't found a personal trainer yet, but then again, I'm not positive on what to look for, so that in itself may be the issue.

Though I did want to train the dog myself tobehave in public, because I want to make sure the pup knows how to behave, I'm a little paranoid about that kind of stuff.


Captain Three- Legs
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 6:15am PST 
Being doted on is not a task, and being unsociable by choice is not a disability. Please ask someone with clinical training whether you A.) Have a disability and B.) One that can be mitigated through the use of a SD.
Iris vom- Zauberberg

Service Werewolf
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 6:59am PST 
Training your own SD is a huge project. Mine took two years and requires fine tuning every so often.

Scooter makes excellent points, so please take them into serious consideration.

Do not walk into this without doing an amazing amount of research. Owner-training is a very serious commitment of time, energy, money and heart. Some dogs do not make it through training. Are you prepared to deal with having to wash out a dog you spent over a year training? Success is not guaranteed.

You could start your research by pinpointing what a SD could do to mitigate the symptoms that disable you. List the symptoms that disable you.

For example, I live with Bipolar Disorder I with psychotic episodes and with non-combat related PTSD. My most disabling symptoms are audio and visual hallucinations, flashbacks, disorientation and nightmares.

My dog awakens me from nightmares, which allows me to interrupt that terrible cycle and get more sleep, which in turn is critical in maintaining stability with BPI.

When I am disoriented, she takes over, gets bossy and removes me to a safe place where I can become re-grounded.

Also, when I have flashbacks, I use her steady presence to re-ground myself in the present. She will lick my face until I respond to her.

For hallucination discernment, I piggyback upon her natural responses to the environment. I sometimes will hear screams that are not real. If I hear this and her ears do not flick toward the noise, I know it is just me. It is immediate feedback that helps me orient myself and calm much more quickly than if I had to stop and ask someone if they heard someone screaming.

Some people report being able to reduce medication when using a SD. I am not one of those people. I use medication, therapy and SD.

Perhaps others will respond and share how their SDs help them mitigate the symptoms of psychiatric disorders.

I don't mean to discourage you. Simply alert you to the scope of the task of owner-training. For me, it has been worth the effort. I am able to maintain a minimal level of functioning in society, for which I am extremely grateful.

Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 9:23am PST 
There are several issues when it comes to OT'ing a dog. First, most people are kennel blind. That means they can't see most issues that their dog has or they can't see how extreme the issues are. The other main issue with OT'ing is that with the low success rate, chances are you will wash out a dog before you are successful in training one. What are you going to do with it? Most people get too attached to consider re-homing. Realistically speaking, what happens if you have multiple washouts? We've seen it happen (on here).

As for the reasons your therapist has suggested a SD, none mention or show anything to do with your condition being disabling. Initiating social interaction isn't a task; it (along with a long list of other items) are something that pets/ESAs will do. Having something to dote on is what an ESA does. You'll find that a lot of therapists and P-docs don't understand the difference between an ESA and a PSD. A PSD assists you with doing things that you cannot do for yourself because of a disability. While they may also do some things that an ESA does (initiating social interaction, needing to be exercised/walked, making you feel better by just being there), that is not the bulk of their work and are considered “perks” or extras. I'd suggest taking a close look at what you need; you may find that an ESA is a better match.

There are good programs, bad programs, and everything in between. The bottom line is that most dog trainers don't have the experience to train a SD. There is a world of difference between training competitive obedience and for SD work, just as the skill set to choose a puppy is very different for each. By going with a program, you can eliminate the heartache of a washout, generally save $, and have professionals on hand to assist with maintaining the dog's training throughout its working life.

A PSD prospect has be willing to allow you to cuddle it yet not freak out, get scared, or otherwise feed off your mood/symptoms.

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 12:09pm PST 
You do realize that if you have a PSD, everytime you go into public people are going to ask you about your disability, ask to pet the dog, challenge your access, etc. So the one thing that people with SDs need is...: People skills.

You are setting an example for the rest of the Service Dog community. Many people here on this forum have laws memorized, have pamphlets that explain SDs and the work put into them, educate about real vs. fake SDs.

A 15 minute trip to the store could easily become an hour.

Member Since
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 4:24pm PST 
I apoligize forr any miscommuncation, you guy seem to think that I want a service animal to dote on, when what I mean is that is the reason I tend to hang around animals more than people.

As for my disability I would prefer not to share all of them because it's a very sensivite subject for me, but one of the issues is severe anxiety while surrounded by unfamilar people, which typically causes me to have an episode where I become disorentied, dizzy, and I sometimes faint, and it keeps me from leaving the house in fear that I'll have an episode and that someone will mug me or worse while I'm passed out. I haven't seen my friends in months, and I haven't been able to get a job because the one time I tried to ride a bus by myself, I nearly had a episode at the bus stop. I'm really sick of people underestimating my condition and think I'm overeacting. Yes I have been researching for 6 months, yes I know people will ask about my disability, and people will want to pet the dog. I came here for help and half of you guys assume I want the dog for fun. If you guys really want proof I'd be more than happy to show you a picture of all the pills I have to take every day to keep myself from hallucinating, to keep myself from having an anxiety attack, to deal with the depression. I've been dealing with this for years.. I'm only 19 years old, I should be outside having a life, hanging out with my friends, working, going to college. I only recently started seeing a therapist, an I wold do anything to get this sh*t under control.
Thor CGC

God of Thunder
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 4:27pm PST 
I was in your position about 3 years ago, and let me tell you, you have a HUGE journey ahead of you if you decide to do it.

I was excited and thought it would be all fun and games. I didn't go with a program because of financial reasons and I wanted to have the dog from a puppy.

I got my first puppy, Karl, who was a rescue. After a year and a half of training I ended up having to put him to sleep for health reasons. Overall Karl cost me around 2,500.

Once I realized Karl was never going to make it as a SDIT I started to research breeders. I decided to get a well bred pup this time. I found a breeder through a local SD school and purchased a puppy. I actually am interning at a dog training facility, so I don't have to pay for training. Without paying for training Thor has cost me AT LEAST 4,000 in the first year I have had him. If I had been paying for training you can add on another 1,000 at least.

Overall owner training has been a heart breaker and pocket breaker. Overall it has cost me over 7,000 in the three years. That is as much or more than most schools. Is it worth it for me? Yes. I learned from my mistakes the first time and now am working with an amazing trainer.

I won't even go into the issues with PA and the day to day life of a service dog. But I can tell you that going with a program will in the long run be cheaper and have less heartbreak than owner training.

Work hard; Play- harder.
Barked: Thu Nov 15, '12 5:22pm PST 
No one is underestimating your need. Most of us have run into too many people who confuse ESAs with PSDs and honestly, and there are certain phrases that raise red flags. Also, while you think you may have an idea of how intrusive the public can be, you really don't have a clue until you live it. If you aren't at the point in your treatment where you can stand up for yourself and your dog, then you aren't doing either of you any good either.

As I mentioned before, a PSD is a tool; a tool that works best in combination with things that come along with therapy (and may or may not consist of medication). Guide schools don't pair the recently blind with dogs for a reason; they need to learn certain skills before they are ready. Service Dogs for other disabilities are the same way; something to jump into.
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