HELP!! New to training my service dog.....having issues! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 08:36 PM Thread Starter
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HELP!! New to training my service dog.....having issues!

Hello all, I'm new to this forum. My name is Jessica and I have an 8 month old GSD. I am trying to train her to be my service dog. I just rescued her from a family 2 weeks ago and I don't think she was being taken care of/ being abused. She listens pretty well to commands right now, but is TERRIFIED of people, especially men, and noises like fireworks, firetrucks, window a/c units, skateboards....etc. She acts like there is no way out of the situation. She is such a good dog for us, but barks like there is no tomorrow when people enter my home and then she just paces through the house and avoids them at all costs. I took her to petsmart and the minute we walked in she started looking for the door. The trainer suggested I take her everywhere and just reward her for a while until she gets used to it, but she refuses the treats and just wants out of the situation. I really want her to work out for me. I am thinking I am going to teach her commands in German as well so that she will focus on me. I cannot hold her attention the minute she hears people even walking down the street or a noise she doesn't like. Can anyone help me? I really want her to work out for me since I can't afford to pay a company to train her or buy a dog already trained. The companies around me that train and place are asking a minimum of $7,000 and then to spend weeks at their site. I am currently still working and I also have small children that I am responsible for so leaving for several weeks isn't an option.
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:13 PM
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Hello and welcome to the forum! I have been a service dog trainer for over 10 years and I think that, STILL, after all these years one of the hardest things to do is pick the right dogs/puppies as prospects for potiential service dogs. It is almost an art form...and just when I think I have it down and have perfected the protocols that I use...I always have something new to learn with each pup/dog chosen!

With that said, I think you may have chosen the wrong dog to be your service dog. Of course, I have not physically evaluated/temperament tested your dog but from the anecdotal evidence you give...I think you may end up having to spend more time and money trying to rehabilitate this dog than you would if you bought one from an organization.

A service dog needs to be absolutely, 100% sound in mind and body so that they are able to perform the functions that you need them to as effortlessly as possible. If your dog is seemingly fearful of most things in public, as you state, your dog will not be able to perform for you and you will end up being quite frustrated.

It sounds as if you have a lovely pet...and I applaud you for rescuing! Perhaps you could have this dog with you and your family as a great, loving companion...but maybe work with a breeder to choose a dog with a suitable temperament...or work with a rescue organization that can find a dog for you that has been fostered so that they are able match you with a dog that has a suitable temperament?

Having a disability is stressful and frustrating enough (I know, I use a wheelchair), but when you have to potentially spend years trying to rehabilitate a dog just to get it to be able to walk into a store with you, you may be giving yourself more stress and frustration...and potentially heartbreak.
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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:21 PM
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What kind of service will your dog need to perform? What state are you in? I know a GREAT place in CA that uses high school kids to train service dogs and they place them for free. Your rescue may be much happier as a family pet and "homebody" nice and safe and loving. As for a service dog, as said above, it is quite difficult to find a rock solid, 100% sound in every situation, out-going but not so much that they forget their focus on you kind of dog. If a CA aquisition is an option for you, you can PM me and I can give you the contact and maybe they could help you.

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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Mom2Shaman View Post
What kind of service will your dog need to perform? What state are you in? I know a GREAT place in CA that uses high school kids to train service dogs and they place them for free. Your rescue may be much happier as a family pet and "homebody" nice and safe and loving. As for a service dog, as said above, it is quite difficult to find a rock solid, 100% sound in every situation, out-going but not so much that they forget their focus on you kind of dog. If a CA aquisition is an option for you, you can PM me and I can give you the contact and maybe they could help you.
Great suggestion! The organization that I use to train dogs for is based in Chicago and does take out of state applicants. All of their dogs are free...including vet care for the rest of the dogs life (if you live near the participating vets of course). If you are closer to Illinois, I could give you the information for that organization as well.
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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:31 PM
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OP...where are you located?
Would you mind telling me a little about your "condition" and what service this dog would be to you? I am always in support of service dogs and their many uses...I would like to know more about you.

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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:32 PM
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i have no suggestions for you. Just wanted to say welcome to the forum and you're in good hands. Hillary is a VERY knowledgable person and always has some pretty darn good advice. Best of luck!

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:32 PM
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Sorry Hillary...we must have posted at the same time...

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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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I am in PA...I wish I was in CA right now though, it sounds like a great group
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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:41 PM
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What part of PA are you in? That will help narrow down an area so people can recommend trainers.
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 07-06-2011, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Ok so as far as my disability, it is called RSD or reflex sympathetic dystrophy. I have nerve issues with my whole right side, symptoms range from swelling, burning pain pretty much all the time, ice cold extremities, muscle spasms. I am looking for a service dog to help with things right now like picking up things that I have dropped or can't hold on to, helping with laundry and opening and closing doors, I do have some minor mobility issues at times right now, I would also love to have a dog that can help me retrieve objects ( such as medications), help with undressing on bad days. Eventually I will need the dog more and more for helping with my mobility. I currently am still trying to work but do have days were getting out of bed is impossible due to the pain. The dr is unsure of how long it might take, because it is a rare disease and there aren't many treatment options, but he says it may be one day I'm walking and the next day I'm stuck in my wheelchair permanently. I'm just taking things day by day but I'm not letting it get me down or put me out. I have an organization that is about an hour away from me asking for $7,000 (um, I have a disability and I work one day a month if I can so having a sole income for a family of 5 makes that IMPOSSIBLE unless they are going to wait 30 years) and then they want me to be at their facility for 3 weeks...my kids are still in elementary school, it's not like they are older and can do without mommy for 3 weeks. Other organizations are either hours away or won't take out of state. I'm devistated that people are less than helpful when you have a disability. I understand that it takes money and support to train the dogs but I also know that alot of places have things donated to them, from money, to food, training, vet care..etc. As I posted before, I am from PA. I can't afford to pay trainer after trainer, class after class, and all of the extras but I am capable for paying for vet care, food, supplies, shelter and things of that nature. My current pets are spoiled rotten, I wish I could find anything or anyone in my area that could help me some way some how. I also have a black lab puppy that I thought was going to work well initially but she pulls me when walking (i've tried collars, harnesses, gentle leader, stopping when she pulls) and she doesn't seem to get it. She also doesn't listen to commands well and is VERY easily distracted . I'm starting to wonder if it's even worth it all . I love my puppies and hate that they aren't working out.
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