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  Topic Review (Newest First)
01-29-2013 01:43 PM
Need to breed Service Dogs

Originally Posted by ladylaw203 View Post
The retriever breeds are universally used for this endeavor as well as for scent detection by police and military. I have several as well as GSDS. So articulate if you will with regard to "cookie cutter" training
Also why do you feel retrievers are cheaper to train?
I feel a GSD takes requires more individualized attention for both the dog and handler for them to be successful in this field (in general). This can translate to additional training time for both the dog and the handler. More time = more cost.

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01-27-2013 02:29 PM
Originally Posted by ILGHAUS View Post
That is not correct. A Psychiatric Service Dog is allowed to fly in cabin.
I suspect the confusion comes from a topic that I often see discussed in the service dog forum but isn't well understood in the general public, which is the whole companion/therapy vs. service dog thing. From what I understand, some states even make allowances for psychiatric companion dogs, which are dogs that help their owners cope with a mental illness but aren't service dogs. Those dogs may at most have housing rights in some states/locales, but they're not given the same public access rights as service dogs are, and they're not protected under the ADA or similar laws pertaining to service dog.

A service dog is (simplified definition here) one who is trained to do specific actions to help its owner. So, a psychiatric service dog doesn't necessarily have to be a PTSD dog, but it does need to have something it is trained to do, such as reminding its owner to take their medication, getting help if the owner becomes non-functional for a time, keeping people away from its owner in crowded areas, etc. A companion or support dog is one who doesn't have specific training like that, but whose very presence may help its owner deal with mental health problems like depression, anxiety, etc. The latter dog wouldn't be able to fly in cabin (unless the airline specifically allows it of course), but a service dog would.

I know you know that, ILGHAUS, but I figured I'd give some additional detail since I imagine a lot of people read this forum who might not read the service dog forum.
01-26-2013 12:14 PM
Also, a LAB/GOLDEN (So I have heard) is easier for the public to accept VS a GSD as they view a GSD as thetening in general by false perception IE Police Dog.
This is a big factor at least for the women's prison service dog program. They don't like "pointy eared" dogs for service dog work, I was told. This isn't a rule I made up so please nobody slam me (as some like to do). This is what we were told, and we donated a number of dogs to the program when I volunteered at shelters. The director specified no dogs (or dog breeds) with pointy ears.
The flop ear of the Golden and Labs are much preferable
01-26-2013 12:09 PM
ladylaw203 The retriever breeds are universally used for this endeavor as well as for scent detection by police and military. I have several as well as GSDS. So articulate if you will with regard to "cookie cutter" training
Also why do you feel retrievers are cheaper to train?
01-25-2013 08:35 PM
Originally Posted by msvette2u View Post
This is actually my opinion too, and in fact the Women's prison who trains SDs for the public prefers Goldens. Not only are they temperamentally suitable for the work, they are more "public friendly", apparently.

I'm not saying GSDs are not good for SD work but it's just "easier" with other breeds, Labs and Goldens do spring to mind.
In this case it is not the dog more than it is the training methods used. In general I agree and so do other Orgs that the LAB/Golden is easier to train for this work. Truth is IMO the GSD does not adapt well to cookie cutter training methods of a lot of orgs. They need more personalized attention for both the dog and the disabled handler. On the flip side IMO when you are able to give the dog (GSD) and the handler personalized attention that is tailored for both of them specifically, the results with the GSD are just amazing in comparison to the cookie cutter trained LAB/GOLDEN SD. More time and versatility = more costs associated with the raising and training of a SD. That is also a factor with a lot of SD orgs. LABS/GOLDENS are cheaper to train and adapt better to a mass production format. Also, a LAB/GOLDEN (So I have heard) is easier for the public to accept VS a GSD as they view a GSD as thetening in general by false perception IE Police Dog.
01-19-2013 03:50 AM
Originally Posted by Cheyanna View Post
... Please be aware that psychiatric dogs don't always get the same treatment as a service dog. For example, cannot fly on plane, unless PTSD dog.

That is not correct. A Psychiatric Service Dog is allowed to fly in cabin.
01-17-2013 12:23 PM
martemchik My point was that its a great goal...but I know people that work with service dog organizations that have their own breeding programs and they've told me that they do not place 100% of their dogs in working environments. These aren't GSDs but they are realistic and understand that they aren't going to get 10 dogs a litter with the temperaments they're looking for.

Even the best breeders in the world can't do this, have litter after litter of dogs that get placed into public service in some way. The military doesn't even get this kind of retention rate with their breeding program. So I just don't want the OP to be set in their way that they will not put any dogs in pet homes. I'm guessing its inevitable that some dogs will end up as pets.
01-17-2013 12:15 PM
Originally Posted by carmspack View Post
"SAR people will tell you how hard it is to find a dog with the drive for SAR, and service dog trainers and handlers will tell you how hard it is to find a dog with the temperament to be a service dog. Personally, I think you'll have a very hard time breeding for both of those."

why? we've done it with guide dogs, SAR and RCMP dogs coming from the same litter - genetics .
I don't think it's impossible, but I think it would be difficult for an inexperienced breeder to reliably turn out dogs who are suitable for both purposes, even with good mentors (particularly if the mentor didn't know much about psychiatric service dogs). The temperament and drive you look for in each is very different. I know that some bloodlines can be very versatile, but from my experience with both, it seems like you're breeding for nearly opposite temperaments if your goal is to produce PSDs and SAR dogs.

Also, psychiatric service dogs and guide dogs are kind of different, and some of those differences make GSDs overall somewhat less suitable IMO. One of the big ones is the protective aspect, as the OP's own quoted description noted. Psychiatric service dogs, especially ones for people with PTSD, may have to assist in keeping others away and "guarding" their owner during anxiety attacks--but it isn't really guarding, the dog can't be aggressive or dangerous to well-meaning but ignorant bystanders during this. Because of this, I've met some people who train psychiatric service dogs won't accept breeds known for guarding, including GSDs.

The other issue is one of physical and mental activity. Guide dogs tend to get a lot of exercise throughout the day. It's not necessarily high-energy work, but it's constant. A psychiatric service dog may have a very different life, especially one for a young child or for a veteran who may be suffering from physical injury as well as mental trauma. I've seen more than one psych dog placed with an owner who is confined to a hospital for months while going through physical rehab. The dog's job is mostly to chill out with the veteran and provide emotional support. Further, people suffering from severe mental illness may be largely confined to their homes even with a service dog, due to fear, anxiety, depression, etc. The dog helps with that, but it still may take time for the owner to gain enough confidence to have an active life outside the home.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think GSDs are unable to be psychiatric service dogs and I have even met one who was very good at his job. I also know that in any given litter, you're going to have a variety of different temperaments regardless of their breeding. I just think the OP needs to be realistic about the drawbacks of this particular breed for this particular job overall.

And this isn't a knock on GSDs either. My other favorite breed, ACDs, are also largely unsuitable as psychiatric service dogs because of this as well, and for largely the same reasons (guarding instinct, significant exercise requirements). My service dog is Scooter, my ACD/BC cross, who I trained for it while I was dealing with PTSD after a violent crime was committed against me. But, he's also a very unusual dog and not at all like most ACDs and mixes I know. So I'm not even saying that it's impossible to find suitable dogs from a breed that is generally unsuitable, but since the OP has some hurdles here, I think she needs to be really realistic and careful about the potential problems with her plan.

I also don't want to discourage her from pursuing it though. We need more support and awareness of psychiatric service dogs and I'll support anyone who wants to try to help. I just think she needs to be very cautious and probably spend more time learning about breeding before she jumps in headfirst.
01-16-2013 08:45 PM
Chicagocanine You also should find someone who is experienced in training psychiatric service dogs, to help mentor you as well...

Also I am a member of a forum for service and therapy dogs and I've seen several conversations there that GSDs are not the best suited for this job, due to the reasons mentioned in this thread, and this was from trainers and handlers who are experienced with what psychiatric service dogs are required to do...
01-16-2013 02:58 PM
carmspack Erich Renner with his Bodo Lierberg did exactly that . Dogs became Seeing Eye Dogs , SAR dogs , and police dogs .
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