Training Our Own Autism Service Dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 61 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 04:19 PM Thread Starter
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Training Our Own Autism Service Dog

We just got a puppy who is 8 weeks we have a daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder called Aspergers Syndrome and we are wondering where we start in regards to training this puppy to be a service dog for her we have all the time in the world this puppy comes from great working lines and he is very confident and very smart it will take 8 years and $30 000 where I live to get a dog for our daughter we didn't want to wait so want to train ourself but not sure where to start
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post #2 of 61 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 04:45 PM
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You need to determine what tasks you want the dog to perform for your daughter.

Start raising the puppy as any normal puppy - positive training, lots of social experiences (going out and about in public) and basic obedience.

Once the puppy is mature enough you can start the service training.
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post #3 of 61 (permalink) Old 03-31-2013, 04:53 PM
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I don't really know anything about the service dogs, but perhaps you could contact these to ask advice and who works in the area in Alberta.
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Don't know if that helps at all, but they may be able to put you in the right direction and let you know if there are trainers in this area that work in that field.

Was your breeder aware of what your plans for the pup are and did they choose this particular pup for you as the best prospect for this kind of work
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post #4 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 03:57 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys the breeder has a few families dogs that are in the service field she let me pick our dog but what happened was we had originally picked the more layed back pup but he didn't seem to have much intrest in us and this little guy came right up to my daughter and layed on her lap it was almost like he instantly connected with her he follows her every move. The breeder said he would be better suited as he is a fearless pup and very brave she assured me that the other pup if I wanted would just be just as good of a dog for us either way as all her dogs are o an even temperament however she said it is my h better when you let the dog pick you instead o you picking the dog so I really think we made a great choice this pup comes from great lines from the German and Czech line and most all of the dogs in his pedigree are titled however I am complete aware that any dog given the right amount of time as training can be a service dog but it helps knowing past family members of his are in the same line o f work
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post #5 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 04:02 AM Thread Starter
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We need him to keep her calm and collective in public places and to be ok with people being around and also not to have meltdowns in the middle of the store she does not feel pain and is extreamly strong so when she gets upset she can and has hurt herself wether it be biting herself, banging her head or pulling her hair out our hopes are that he will keep her mind on her dog instead of what else is going on
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post #6 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 08:03 AM
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I have Asperger's; I believe there are a few members here who do. I don't consider my dog a service dog by any stretch, but I have trained him a bit to help me out. I respond well to touch and pressure, so when I'm having a meltdown (or on the verge of one), the dog will come lay on me. The combination of the sensory stimulation of his fur, and the pressure (many Aspies respond to a firm 'hug' that sort of re-sets the nervous system that's freaking out... weighted blankets are also helpful) helps tremendously to bring me 'back' to the moment and calm down. I think helping calm during meltdowns is probably the most important thing for an Autism service dog. He's actually become pretty good at picking up on anxiety stims (wringing my hands, etc) and will come sit with his weight against me, which is also really helpful when I do bring him in public. Definitely come up with a list-- what sort of things does your daughter respond best too? Is she a touch person, like me? A sound person? Good luck!

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post #7 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Unfortunately when she is in the middle of a meltdown she wants the complete opposite not to be touched or talked to the only thin that calms her down is giving her something high in sugar or being with an animal she gets overstimulated if she has been to more than one place in a day we usually just try to avoid bringing her out altogether because when she does have a meltdown it is nearly impossible to keep her safe and calm while trying to make sure all our other 3 children are safe
As well she is extreamly strong and can fight off 3 full
Grown adults when in the middle of a meltdown
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post #8 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 02:43 PM
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You should have a plan in place for the other children to follow when her meltdowns occur. But not knowing their ages, not sure what to recommend for that. They key here would be to recognize the first sign of stress and avoid the meltdown altogether. They dog may be able to be trained to recognize this and then do something (ie lean on her, get an adult). Full moons always seemed to bring on a meltdown in the one student I had in my classroom. Try to track that with your daughter. Do you have noise cancelling headset for her to wear? That might help in public places to reduce that stimuli. I guess you need to find out what is going to work to bring her down from her escalation and go from there in training the dog. Definitely a long down stay is priority.

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post #9 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 02:53 PM
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I am training Fiona as my service dog with the help of a trainer. Is there anyone local who could help you? The first thing is to socialize and get the puppy obedience trained. Can your daughter be responsible for the pup? Feeding, walking, grooming? It was necessary for Fiona and I to bond that way, because part of her job to help me with chronic pain. See if your local library has books or videos on training.


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post #10 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-01-2013, 05:47 PM
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Hi, I also have Asperger's - I hope you find some experienced help for training your dog. the advice from others to socialize and do basic obedience for now is great. Teach your pup with positive, reward based techniques, and make him feel like he is the best, brightest smartest pup in the whole wide world to build his confidence.

I'm one who has much difficulty with pressure and human touch. Though my dog's presence and non-invasive energy has been very healing. I also have been challenged to overcome autistic tendencies by staying more present, even when stressed and over-stimulated, in order to be a constant and grounding source of energy for my dogs to rely on. Keeta used to get distressed when I drifted off into my autistic mental retreats - my energy going somewhere else she could feel it, and it scared her. Not wanting to scare my dog and wanting to make her feel safe and secure, I made the effort to stay more present at all times, and not drift. Over time the need to drift away just went away.

As for the sugar calming your daughter - she is probably very sensitive to low blood sugar, and a drop in blood sugar may be causing panic attacks in her and precipitating the melt-downs. Low Carb, high-protein (a la Atkins) diet has done wonders to help me stabilize.

Lucia


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