Mobility service dog options

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.

Layla CGC

As long as there- is life, there- is hope.
Barked: Thu Jul 17, '14 12:42am PST 

So, this might seem a little jumbled. My brain doesn't function as well as normal people, so bear with me!

I currently have an almost 2 year old service dog. I got her just under 3 months ago, and in that time, we've done over 200 hours of training. When I first got her, I had no idea that I was going to need a service dog. It crossed my mind, but I didn't think it would be this soon. My health has gone downhill since. She is 100% owner trained.

Unfortunately, she is 38lb. I have been considering a mobility support dog, as when my migraines hit or my intracranial hypertension is just *too* much, I am wheelchair bound or stuck using a walker. However, when I am having a good day, I am having a good day! We go on walks and runs whenever possible. She's even learned to ride a bike with me!

I have been considering breeds, and some help would be quite nice.

The top 3 breeds I am stuck with are:

Dutch Shepherd
Belgian Malinois
Australian Shepherd

I know how high energy all of the above are, especially Mals. The rescue I got Layla from had one, and I *almost* got her, but she wasn't good with cats! Plus, Layla is a border collie/german shepherd mix (presumably), I'm sure I could handle a Mal.

Before I picked Layla, I was meant to get an Australian Shepherd. But the foster owner kept putting up block after block after block... And then we found Layla, and I couldn't be happier.

I tried to enlist the help of a trainer, but the trainer who *said* they knew stuff about service dogs, was "intimidated" by my 40 pound collie/shepherd... She would do nothing but lick your face off! So, I said screw it and then did it myself!

I am 5'0 and ~95 pounds on average. I honestly would rather NOT get a large shepherd simply because of their size versus mine, not because I know I couldn't handle it, but because if they were sick, injured, or simply old... assisting them would not be easy!

I'd prefer 55 - 75lb. 60 - 65 is ideal for me, but I honestly can handle any size dog as long as I am fully prepared for what I am dealing with.

Layla came from a shelter, and I love her to death, but it's taken me 3 months to get her into a car by herself (today was the first time in the entire time I've had her... she got steak cubes for that!), and there are some things that I will never be able to rehab her for, I'm afraid. I do not want to do this again, so I will be getting a breeder dog, but only for this reason!

If/When I get this second dog, Layla will be retired to be a therapy dog once the second dog's training is over and I can rely on them. My baby isn't going anywhere!

Does anyone have any experience with any of the 3 above breeds that I listed? Pros? Cons? Any feedback at all?

PS: This is what Layla is trained in.

She's trained in (primarily) seizure alert/response, migraine alert/response, (secondary) blood pressure fluctuations, and blood sugar.

We did 'train' her in seizure and migraine response. She would paw at me and pace around me in circles before either one hit. We encouraged this, and now she knows that left paw means seizure and right paw means migraine.

I might be a late teen, but I know how to train my dogs!

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Sat Jul 19, '14 6:18am PST 
First off I apologize I did mean to get to this sooner but not surprisingly Dogster has been giving me trouble.

That said, welcome to the boards, or what is left of them at least, and congratulations on getting as far as you have with your first dog. Looking at your issues I can easily see why you would be looking for a larger breed however I think you're completely aiming in the wrong direction with the breed selection. Hang in there with me because I get the appeal. I Have worked all three breeds you mentioned, as well as other high energy breeds, and as a whole the three you've picked would be ill suited for the kind of service work you would need. There is a far cry of difference between high energy, and high energy of mal's and Dutch shepherds.

They are both awesome breeds but they've been bred to nearly have no off switch which means on bad mobility days they would be crawling out of their skin (and driving you out of yours).

I always recommend to look for a dog that can hang with you on your worst day, when conditioned (which a mobility dog needs to be) they can keep up with you on your best.

While I know you aren't looking at shepherds, if you're interested I know of a litter due this summer or fall that would be great for service work from lines that are known for producing smaller 50-70lbs dogs. They are working line dogs so not low energy by any means, both parents are active in herding as well as other sports. The breeder has produced service dogs from her lines before, even mobility dogs so she has an idea the kind of temperament to look for. If you looked for a female you'd be on the smaller end of that range.

Now I know you didn't mention them but if you're looking for a dog that can go out and do things with you but still be a great service dog I would also add labs and golden's to your list. Well bred they are going to be well within your range, and have the added bonus of being well recognized as a service dog by the public. If you're interested I can give you the names of a few breeders who are well used to producing nice well bred dogs that are healthy and have a history of producing dogs that do all manner of service work for several programs.

Of the three breeds you listed the one I would first consider as service dog material is the dutch shepherd, but very Very few breeders will breed for the type of dog that you need to do the work, that will be stable and easy going around the public, not protective, as well as laid back enough to work reliably for you. I can really only name one or two off the top of my head.

My point with that is that it is just as, if not more important to make sure you find the right breeder as it is the breed. Even within breeds there is a wide range of breeders who breed for different types of work, and temperament. Service work is very different from protection work, or herding.

As for the mobility portion of things, I highly recommend that you get in touch with a good trainer, while you can train most everything it is always better to have a second set of eyes, and be willing to listen if they have anything to say (I agree that the trainer you talked to would obviously not be a good idea) Doing mobility training on your own can be very dangerous and it is very easy to cause serious harm not only to your dog but yourself when done incorrectly. Very least I can hook you up with some other handlers and trainers through facebook that could help you along on your journey.

If you'd like me to give you the names of any breeders or help you find groups/trainers to help with training just shoot me an email. My email addy is listed on Happy's Profile page.
Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
Barked: Thu Aug 7, '14 4:20pm PST 
My dog Sadie is about 65 to 75 lbs she is a bully breed and very strong for her size.
I use her for mobilitie and the other stuff you mentioned she pretty much trained her self.
She dose just about everything I need a service dog for. I like her breed though if I had a choice I would have gone to a shelter to. I will be doing that for my next dog.