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Old 05-15-2010, 01:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Psychiatric dog training for PTSD dog for myself

In Afghanistan last year I was wounded recieving a brain injury and of course PTSD. I was told by my psychiatrist that a service dog would help in the recovery but its unsure right now if I techincally qualify for a dog through a dogs for vets kind of program.I've always had German Shepherds growing up and feel most comfortable with that breed of dog. Now that I'm done with the back story, on to the questions....

If I wanted to get a GSD and train it for this type of service dog what's the basic first steps?. Is it best to start from a puppy, or go for a rescue dog? What if the training cycle, like basic obedience and then onto the technical training? How many hours of training is needed to get a certification? What type of cost would this be to me in the end in total roughly? Does anyone have any resources for this type of training that they know of for the Eastern North Carolina area?

Also how much does an already training dog cost? I've heard many different figures. I'm prepared to pay a fair amount for either.

Thanks in advance for any responses,
Dan
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Old 05-15-2010, 01:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
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A puppy would probably be your best bet, searching for a breeder that has had dogs go on to be service dogs and can pick the pup for you. Getting a pup from a rescue though or even an adult dog is still an option. No matter what you do though, you may find out the dog isn't going to make it to be a service dog by the end. If that happens, are you prepared to keep the dog anyway and start up again searching for a service dog?

My dog Tessa is my mobility assistance dog. She was a rescue dog, I adopted her at 1 year. To start you just want to work on TONS of socialization and basic obedience. Take the dog EVERYWHERE you can. Sit outside stores and get people to pet the dog or give them a treat. Go to pet stores, feed stores, outside restaurants, etc. At these places work on obedience. Have the dog sit, down, heel, etc. Do as much of this as you can for the first year. When your dog can remain entirely focused on you in these places and respond to all basic obedience start working on public access training which is the term for places on service dogs and service dogs in training can go.

Do you know the rules for SDITs in your state? Federal law leaves the requirements up to the states. Some give SDITs the same access rights as SDs, some give them none, and some give them access rights if accompanied by a trainer. Then to go further, some states will or won't define trainer! I live in Indiana, state law gives SDITs the same rights as SDs but when accompanied by a trainer. They do not define trainer; and so owner trained dogs can fall under this. If your state does not give SDITs rights, you still have the option of calling stores and restaurants and asking if they allow SDITs.

Training usually takes about 2 years to complete. and unfortunately it may not be until the end of the 2 years to find out your dog just isn't going to make it. Most do not start teaching service tasks until after 1 year of training and obedience is down solid.

There is no certification for owner trained dogs. If you do a search and find places that offer certification this is just a scam to get money from you. Federal law does NOT require any certification. Dogs that have it, are certified through the individual organization that did the training and NOT anything by the state. Keep a log of all training hours to have a record in case its needed down the line.

As for the money, it really depends on the costs of the trainers you use to help you. If you go through an organization for a trained dog it could be anywhere from free to up to 25,000 I've seen. Some organizations place dogs for free but may have long waiting lists. Others can charge any range of money and may ask for you to pay or fundraise the money.

It can be hard to find organizations that use GSDs, some have phased them out due to how attached they become to their person. This makes it difficult for the dog to move from puppy raiser to trainer, and then to SD partner.

How much does your pdoc think you are going to recover? Getting a service dog is a lifetime commitment, lifetime change. There are negative sides to having a SD; especially with some psychiatric disorders. It can cause people to stare at you or approach you.
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Old 05-15-2010, 07:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply Lin. I had a feeling this was going to be a long road either way. It's a lot of good information, I will just have to keep researching, looking for a dog and asking questions.

My provider has no set amount on how much I will recover or how long it will take yet, it's only been a little of seven months since it happened and I have only been seeing her for about three and a half months. As far as people staring and approaching its okay, as long as I have space. I'm trying to work on being more social myself, this might help. The SD I've seen in person for this also help keep them away at certain times with different cues that they were trained on.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well, I can't tell you anything about PTSD service dogs but I am pretty sure that just caring for a dog will help you a lot already.

You get in contact with people easily, especially at a club you can meet many new people and socialize.

Another thing I wanted to add I applaud you for the courage to go through all of that. It's definitely not easy and a long time commitment but I have a lot of respect for people that do want to go that road. Who knows, maybe you can even help other Soldiers with PTSD one day.

Good luck, I wish you all the best.
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Old 05-16-2010, 12:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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or go for a rescue dog?
While rescue dogs are more likely to be a source for Hearing Dogs it is less likely that a suitable candidate can be found there for a PSD. For a PSD candidate you need to find a good SD trainer and let them help you find a dog.
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Old 05-31-2010, 04:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You could see if there are any retired show dogs out there that are available. Sometimes a show prospect doesn't turn out as expected. You can also purchase an obedience trained GSD from places if you look. If you have never had a service dog you might be better off going with a program. There are still a few that will do GSD or you might be able to find a program that will help you select a dog and then teach you to train it.
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Old 07-07-2010, 01:04 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thumbs up GSD mix

My dog Kelsy is a rescue, I adopted her from my mom's shelter. She's a mix between Shepherd and we're thinking Golden Retriever. She is an outstanding dog. Very smart and I'm trying to get her certified myself as a PTSD Therapy Dog. Thanks for the input that's been posted, glad I was pointed to this page.
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Old 07-07-2010, 08:03 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by amy23army View Post
... I'm trying to get her certified myself as a PTSD Therapy Dog.
Just to clarify a PSD and a Therapy Dog are two different things.

A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) is a true service dog. Unless a SD comes from a training facility it will probably not be certified. PSDs like all service dogs are trained to mitigate a legal disability of their handler. Federal Law does not require "certification" for any type of service dogs.

A therapy dog is a pet dog that is trained to work with its handler who may or may not be disabled. The team works for the benefit of others. Not all therapy dog organizations certify dogs - at most they register them with their organization.

The reason that most owner trained dogs are not certified is that certification is more of an in-house thing. Certifying means that an agency or organization is standing behind the training of a dog and by giving it certification they are putting their reputation on the line. If the dog misbehaves or acts in an aggressive manner it is naturally a reflection back on the certifying agency. This is why many facilities that certify and release SDs require recertification by their evaluators at set times to make sure the dog and handler are meeting that facilitie's standards.

I came back to add that this is the reason paying and purchasing "certifications" for any type of dog on-line is a waste of money and all you end up with is a piece of paper that in reality says nothing. No dog can be certified sight unseen and without being evaluated by someone who knows what they are doing. When you see a business on-line offering to certify your dog just stop and think -- is someone from this group willing to go before a judge and state that the dog has been trained for your individual needs and they have the documentation to show how and the timeline involved in this training. The Internet is full of such scams all willing to take someone's money and in turn send back a worthless document.

There are some lovely owner trained service dogs out there who meet all the legal requirements to be a service dog. Just be careful of people who offer to help but are more interested in your money then in a desire to assist you.
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Old 07-14-2010, 09:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I just wanted to comment, the main issue I have seen with people training their own service dog is if you get a puppy there is no guarantee they will be suitable for a service dog. Many puppies "wash out" of service dog training organizations (even those specifically bred to be service dogs) and getting your own puppy the same thing could happen. So if you do plan to raise and train your own dog please keep in mind that it is possible you may go through a lot of raising and training and spend a lot of money and end up having to wash the dog out.
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Old 07-17-2010, 02:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Talking Kelsy

I have been working with Kelsy, GSD mix, for almost a year now. I was diagnosed with PTSD and she has been very helpful with my emotional needs as well as sensing my anxiety and becoming my "protector" by taking on the hyper vigilance for me. Because of what she has been able to do for me, I have begun working with her to prepare her as a therapy dog for others. I gained approval from the clinic I am seen at to bring her in for the patients to visit with. She has done exceptionally well and responds positively to everyone around her. She is patient and allows them to pet her for however long they want. She's very submissive while in the facility, observant yet does not force herself into anyones space. She waits for them to come to her and then just throws on the charm. She loves going up to the facility with me and spending time with the Soldiers there. They have permitted me to have her on sight during this part of her training. Which is an amazingly large step in the right direction. We are hoping that her presence will encourage the military to incorporate this into the Soldiers therapy regimen.

I just wanted to let you all know how she's doing. If you wish to keep track of her progress, you can follow her blog: The Four Legged Therapist

thanks for this topic, it has helped me out a great deal.
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