Getting a GSD puppy soon, will be training her as a Service dog. . . HELP!!! - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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Getting a GSD puppy soon, will be training her as a Service dog. . . HELP!!!

Hello everyone, I am a disabled veteran with PTSD and this has caused be to become home-bound unless accompanied by someone that I can trust which is family or my fiance. I ask my psych doctor if it would help me if I got a service dog, she said yes and wrote a letter about recommending me that it would be very help to get a service dog. So I have been in contact with a German Shepherd breeder and she is willing to give me a puppy when one is available.

Now once I get the puppy I know that I would have to train her the basics which should be pretty easy and also I plan on getting her CGC certified. I have been thinking about getting the "51 Puppy Tricks" and "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance for starters but I also want to know how I can teach my puppy how to search my home before I enter and to watch my back as I'm using the ATM or some thing like that sense. Please help me...
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 07:37 PM
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First thank you for your service and sacrifices. A GS puppy sounds like a great idea, I know my boys have helped me through some tough times and picked me up when I was down. The unconditional love they express is great to experience and come home to. Training is not hard just be patient and use positive reinforcement. Expose the pup to as many new situations, people and other dogs as possible. Good luck and enjoy the new pup.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 07:42 PM
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I have to say that a puppy may not be as good of an option for you as an adult dog, or better yet an adult dog already with some training. With an adult, experienced eyes can tell you exactly what you are getting, while puppies have a lot of room for change as they develope. Simply put, the odds of getting what you need are much more in your favor when getting an adult. Best of luck to you.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 08:00 PM
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I am sorry to hear about your PTSD. My son has been struggling with that. Our GSD is a comfort to him and makes it easier for him to interact with people although he is not a service dog.
I really like the Sundance books. They are fun and trick training really helps with communication.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-22-2011, 09:13 PM
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Hello! I am a service dog trainer and have trained several dogs for people that have very debilitating PTSD. The service dog that you are describing a need for is called a psychiatric service dog.

A psychiatric service dog should be trained in three areas: Basic Obedience, Public Access, and Disability Related Task Training. If you intend on doing this training yourself, as opposed to having an organization place a dog with you, you MUST keep a detailed training diary that is kept accurate and organized. This is an esstential and important record in case there is ever a legal dispute over your dog for any reason.

Since it sounds like this will be your first time owning/handling/training a service dog, have you considered contacting a reputable psychiatric service dog organization (particularly one that trains dogs for veterans...there are many good ones out there that provide dogs for no charge)?

The reason I ask is because training your own service dog is a HUGE undertaking that requires a lot of persistance, responsibility, obstacles and, sometimes, great disappointment. Lin is a member on here that has done this several times and is a competant and skilled owner/trainer...hopefully she can chime in here too!

If you decide that training your own dog is the route you want to go, I suggest you MEMORIZE this website:

Psychiatric Service Dog Society

specifically:

Psychiatric Service Dog Society

Also...on choosing a puppy...make sure this breeder does health screens on the dog (particularly hips and elbows) and that the dogs he/she is breeding have impeccable temperament and the puppy that you pick is temperament tested for working suitability (but, even when doing an accurate temperament test on a puppy, there are no guarantees!)...do not pick this puppy yourself!

Work with the breeder on having him/her pick the right puppy based on what they have observed in the puppy for the first 8 weeks. Preferably...have/hire a reputable dog trainer to pick the puppy for you. This will be the most important thing you do in ensuring this dog works...and doesn't just end up being a pet.

Also, as mentioned earlier, for what you want the dog to do you will probably have a HIGHER chance for success if you choose a young adult or adult dog instead of a puppy.

Good luck!

Last edited by Hillary_Plog; 10-22-2011 at 09:17 PM.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 02:37 AM
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A Psychiatric Service Dog (PSD) needs to be the most rock solid of all types of Service Dogs. Chances of someone picking out a suitable pup for this without the knowledge and experience are very low.

Many make the mistake of choosing as they would a pet dog or even an Emotional Support Dog (ESD). A PSD needs to be able to not be sucked into a handler's meltdown. The majority of really good PSDs are not as cuddley or show affection like what most people want in a companion. These are more serious dogs that can work and carry out their training even while their handler may not be in the proper thought process needed.

Quote:
Now once I get the puppy I know that I would have to train her the basics which should be pretty easy and also I plan on getting her CGC certified. I have been thinking about getting the "51 Puppy Tricks" and "101 Dog Tricks"
It is all well and good to teach your dog "tricks" but none of this has to do with the 18-24 months of training that it averages to train a working SD. And contrary to some advice it is not easy to train any type of SD and to do it properly. A CGC is all well and good but consider it just part of moving your dog from a SD Candidate to a SDIT (Service Dog In Training). The training is not recommended for anyone without prior experience. A large number of "good" dog trainers don't have the experience which is needed.

Not everyone with PSTD is the correct choice for a PSD. If you have been working with your medical team for awhile and they now believe you are ready for a dog then that is step one. Many people decide on a dog before they are deep enough into their treatment and have some type of stability to take on the stewardship and continual upkeep of their dog's working ability.

I am glad to see that you are getting a puppy from a breeder vrs. a pup or young adult from a shelter as it is much harder picking a rescue with the proper temperament and background for this particular type of SD. I am not saying that there are not good service dogs that begin as a shelter dog. I am saying that it is harder to pick a SD prospect with an unknown background, unknown family health issues, and unknown family temperaments. And on top of that this particular type of SD, like I previously said, needs to be able to act calmly when there may be a lot of stressful goings on happening around it.

I know several people who are looking into new PSDs and are going with a 2nd or 3rd GSD. One thing they must look into is a dog who will not over react or be "protective" when the handler is unresponsive or having a meltdown. In a discussion I just had yesterday with a lady, who is very knowledgeable in this area, she made the statement that when choosing a dog from one of the herding/guardian type breeds such as a GSD you have to be very careful in picking one that not only has a solid temperament but also one with a high threshold to react to a situation based on actions of their partner. Her example was with a handler who sees danger lurking around every corner or expecting an attack from people they pass on the street you can not have a reactive dog picking up the handler's thoughts and fears. Your dog must be able to make a decision that even though you may think someone approaching is a threat, the dog must be able to process the situation and notice the person is not acting in any aggressive manner and to shrug off your reaction.

So you must make sure your breeder knows exactly what type of pup you need. You do not need the pup looking for attention but the more relaxed confident pup. To work with and develop this trait you must nurture it by making sure your pup is over time socialized to many types of people (especially if you have a fear of people who have a particular look or mannerism) and habituate it to different situations. All of this must be done slowly and with planning and not just dragging the pup out "everywhere you go".

An inexperienced trainer screwing up the training of a pet companion dog has a second chance - with a PSD especially there may not be many chances to fix a more then minor mistake.

So while of course you are excited, please take the time to really educate yourself on the training of your pup. Always take the time to stop and research and find the correct way to proceed. Also, be very careful of websites (no matter how professional they may look) or other info on the Internet. When you read something try to research to find out if the info is correct. You may find plenty of sources that repeat back to you what you want to hear and the easy way to do something, but it is important to know that you must be open minded and listen to people with experience even if it isn't what you want to hear. The easy way is hardly ever the proper way or the best way for the long run.

You also need to make sure you know the laws both Fed. and your state and how they will effect you and your future SD. You will need to make sure that you know and carry out the responsibilities of owning and working a SD.

Quote:
PTSD and this has caused be to become home-bound unless accompanied by someone that I can trust which is family or my fiance.
Having a companion to help you go outside is not always what a SD if for. The Dept. of Justice has clarified somewhat on this. The DOJ is the agency mandated by Congress to oversee this particular section of the ADA. They have stated in what a SD is, " ... The crime deterrent effects of an animal´s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.” So this reason while important is not a strong legal type of task. Make a list of things that you can not do for yourself but that need to be done. Speak with your doctor. Put them in order of importance. (Remember these are not things that would be good or helpful but things that are needed.) Start at the top and find out if a dog can do this for you. Don't try and make a list of things that you can teach a dog to "make it more of a SD". These tasks are things that a friend or family member or some type of caregiver must do for you that you are not able to do for yourself.

Best of luck to you. And thank you for your service to your country.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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Last edited by ILGHAUS; 10-23-2011 at 03:03 AM.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 03:16 AM
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huynhje, since you are new you may not be aware to check for incoming personal messages ..... but I sent you one with some additional info that I thought you might find helpful.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 09:01 AM
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thanks Ilghaus. I am corresponding with her too.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ILGHAUS View Post
The majority of really good PSDs are not as cuddley or show affection like what most people want in a companion. These are more serious dogs that can work and carry out their training even while their handler may not be in the proper thought process needed.
I agree 100% - when I choose a puppy from one our litters that I plan to keep and train as a therapy dog, I go with the alpha of the litter. I know that he/she will be easy to train, unflappable and rock solid in any condition. Therapy dogs are not service dogs but they are subjected to all sorts of "goods & bads". Believe me I know - we are now visiting two schools (Pre-K to 6th grade) and three psychiatric centers.

I've never trained a service dog but I would assume that you would look for the same qualities. I think you should discuss this point with the breeder if you still decide to go with a puppy.

LASTLY - THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY - YOU GUYS AND GIRLS ARE THE BEST!!!!!!

ARABELLE vom Garringer CGC, TDI

BRYNNA vom Garringer AKC STAR PUPPY, CGC, TDI (crossed over February 15, 2018)
AHREN vom Garringer (crossed over December 30, 2011)
B'ELANNA vom FlaglerHaus CGC, SAR (crossed over March 4, 2011)
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-23-2011, 03:19 PM
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All this is dependent on the genetics. The Alpha of the litter may well NOT be easy to train. They may be dominant and buttheads in general. Depends on the bloodline
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