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Will it be impossible for me to try to train this puppy as a service dog for my Son's autism

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.

  
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Reginald

The Love Machine
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 10:51am PST 
We recently rescued a hound mix puppy that we named Reginald. He has already done so so much to open up my 4 year old with autism in the two weeks we have had him. Its been amazing to watch. I really would like to try and train him to be a service dog and to help locate my Son if he wanders away which has been a problem for us. He is a very young puppy, about 6 weeks and already well on his way to being house trained. He will be a large dog from everything we can tell and has a very strong tracking instinct and distinctive bell already. I think this could be such a good thing for my family if we could do this. The problem is time. Both my Husband and I are full time students with three kids and my husband works as well. Is this doable or are we just being silly. Please be honest.
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Min

pink min (pink- pen)
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 12:50pm PST 
i don't agree with searching work. i just feel that as a parent it is your responsibility to watch your own kids, plenty of people work and have other children, that's just no excuse...

you will find the topic of autism service dogs to be very debatable here. many do not agree with some of the things the dogs are trained to do. i think that jenna will have some better answers for you, she is an autism service dog, but i don't think she does searching work. i think jenna is a wonderful service dog, i know that jenna's owner, from a former post, has other wonderful methods put into place to ensure that the person with autism doesn't wander out of the house. i suggest you talk to her for alternative methods of finding your lost child and to discuss other possible alternative tasks.

there's a lot more to being a service dog than just a strong tracking instinct, many hounds don't have the temperment for service work because of their high prey drive, and they are easily distracted by sights and smells. but again it all depends on the individual dog, so you never know.

i'll give others a chance to weigh in now.
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Abigail

Whatcha doin'?
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 2:25pm PST 
I think it would be an excellent idea to train this guy to be a service dog for your child. I've read many places where autism service dogs have done a lot to help keep an autistic child more "grounded" and participatory in his/her environment.

Keep me posted on how things go. I look forward to hearing about your experiences!

Happy New Year to you as well.
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Reginald

The Love Machine
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 2:34pm PST 
Do you have a child with autism? I ask this because if you do not, you have absolutely no idea what it is like as the Mother of a runner who is completely unresponsive to you as a parent. I can call all day long and he will never answer. We already use a safety harness when out and about. The thing is that he will go from holding my hand to running off in three seconds. I have 2 other children including an infant that make it very difficult to chase him down. And while at home, I do in fact need to use the bathroom from time to time. He is just that fast, quiet and capable of unlocking all the locks and running out of the house in the 2 minutes it takes me to pee. This isn't a debate on whether or not service dogs are appropriate for all autistic kids, it is appropriate for MY child. The dog has already created a line of communication that did not exist before he came into our lives. And furthermore he is a hound dog mix, he needs to have an outlet for his already very obvious developing instincts. I fail to see how training him in search would be a bad thing? *sigh* I'm here 5 minutes and I'm already making "friends" lol.
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Abigail

Whatcha doin'?
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 2:39pm PST 
I don't have a child with autism, but have known people with autistic kids.

I think that teaching the dog to specifically find your child would be an excellent idea. The dog needs to find your child in order to help keep him grounded. Makes sense to me.

"Find (insert child's name here)!"

smile
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Reginald

The Love Machine
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 3:13pm PST 
I think so too, I mean he is already scenting the kids out in the house and telling me where they are. Its not hurting him any. I was mostly responding to Min. Having an Autistic child is a whole different ball game than a Neurotypical child. DS just does not get the concept of staying with his family. he does not understand the concept of family. He will literally just walk away. He does not understand consequences to actions. I already tether him to myself 99% of the time, its the 1% that he somehow manages to escape me and I can't find him that scares me to death. Its not actually about what I should or shouldn't do as a parent. Its about having a mechanism in place in case the worst happens. Isn't that the same concept behind seat belts and airbags? If we were all perfect drivers we would not need them, well...
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Abigail

Whatcha doin'?
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 4:02pm PST 
I was a childcare provider for several years and had a couple special needs kids in my care during that time. I've also worked with developmentally disabled adults.

Anything that helps them get through their day with as little drama as possible is always a good thing.

/hugs
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Member Since
07/14/2011
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 5:34pm PST 
Some things to think about.

It takes about two years for a dog to become a fully trained SD, whether it is owner trained or a program dog. At this point your son will be 6. Have you spoken with whichever professionals you work with as to whether or not this behavior is likely to be with him in 2 years?

Assuming it is, and your dog doesn't wash out in training, what do you want your dog to do when he finds your child?

Does your son close door/gates after himself? If he does, the dog will not be able to follow him, unless he trails your son all the time, in which case how will you know where your son and dog have gone?

How will you maintain the dog's training? A guide dog, for example, guides every day. Other SDs turn on light switches and pick things up every day, many many times a day. How often does your son run off?

Do you have experience in training dogs, especially search and rescue dogs? If you don't, definitely get in touch with a trainer. Keep in mind that all hounds love to sniff, and are good at it. Many are not cut out to be SAR dogs, or SDs. Are you willing to stop if it becomes apparent that becoming an SD is not in the best interests of your dog?

It may be cheaper and faster to go with a program dog.

I don't know what the legalities are of having a search dog as an SD in terms of public access. It is the disabled handler who has the access rights, not the SD. Since you will be the handler, you will need to check with people familiar with the ADA to see if it is even legal for you to bring a search dog into public non pet dog friendly places.

I can't imagine what it is like to parent a child who runs away all the time. I hope you have a good support network, and that they can help you figure out if a SD is appropriate, and legal, for your son, and if it is not, I hope they can help you figure out other ways of keeping him safe!

Edited by author Sat Dec 31, '11 5:39pm PST

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Abigail

Whatcha doin'?
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 5:42pm PST 
I believe that in this case, the "search" behavior is in addition to his duties as the boy's service dog. The dog isn't "just" going to be a search dog.
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Zoe

"Those who are- loved are never- lost"
 
 
Barked: Sat Dec 31, '11 5:56pm PST 
I think you should definitely get in touch with a trainer, or even see if their is an autism dog program in your area. You can also try contacting a local assistant dog program and see if they are able to help you. Learn as much as you can and see if going the service dog route is really what you want to do.

Also, keep in mind that having a service dog is a LIFESTYLE. You have to commit to the training and taking that puppy everywhere with you. Having a service dog means that there are no quick trips to the grocery store, the dog has to have potty breaks, the dog has to have a water break. You have to fully commit yourself to the training and it is hours on end of training. Exposing the puppy to countless people, situations, noises. It can be exhausting. There is dealing with the public and realizing that not everyone likes dogs and some people try to sabotage you and try to kick you out. The service dog has to be nearly bomb proof (again lots and lots of training) and have perfect manners when in public.

I am emphasizing the fact that a service dog requires a lot of training because you stated that you are a full time student and don't have a lot of time. I just want to make sure you realize that training a service dog is a lot of work and you can't just slap a vest on the puppy and call it good. I wish you and your son all the best and if you want to go the service dog route I highly encourage you to do so but going in knowing that it will be a lot of work and that it is a lifestyle.
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