Needing help in regards to SD - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 03:18 PM Thread Starter
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Needing help in regards to SD

HI, I was wondering if anyone here knows the ins and outs of service dog training? Thoughts on getting a puppy from a breeder for service work, but then the issues of picking the right one, if you work with a service training place do they help the client select a good prospect pup, how long usually are the puppies in training? Is it a ongoing process for months and is the will be handler involved in any of that? Will breeders usually work with someone who is seeking a pup for service work? Things to look for in the parents that lends to good temperament? Any links, forums or anything I can research or you could tell me would be greatly appreciated Thank you
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by sarahmac View Post
HI, I was wondering if anyone here knows the ins and outs of service dog training? Thoughts on getting a puppy from a breeder for service work, but then the issues of picking the right one, if you work with a service training place do they help the client select a good prospect pup, how long usually are the puppies in training? Is it a ongoing process for months and is the will be handler involved in any of that? Will breeders usually work with someone who is seeking a pup for service work? Things to look for in the parents that lends to good temperament? Any links, forums or anything I can research or you could tell me would be greatly appreciated Thank you
Depending on what you need the dog for, GSDs are not always best suited as service dogs. I feel the need to say that off the bat because I feel like a certain category of people choose this breed for the wrong reasons and wind up with a dog who can't work or a less than ideal dog because of it. So that's one thing.

Again depending on what you need the dog for, doing a lot of the puppy raising yourself may not be possible or ideal. Some physical disabilities will make it hard to keep up with and train a puppy properly. Some psychiatric disabilities are such that the person should not be the primary handler during socialization or other training endeavors (in my opinion)

As for program specific questions, it will vary wildly depending on the program you go with and do vet your program very carefully because the whole service dog scene is ripe with scammers of all types right now.

My first SD went like this: I applied to a program, was accepted. Next came puppy selection. The program and I both agreed I should not do the early puppy raising. I wanted a GSD, had experience with the breed and adamantly wanted to use this breed over others despite recommendations from the trainer that we'd have a better chance at success with another breed. I was lucky enough that the trainer had a relationship with a GSD breeder, who just happened to have one of their very last litters on the ground a few months after I was accepted into this program. I was able to get one of those pups. The whole thing was rather miraculous, complete with the fact that one of the few programs who trained dogs for this specific issue in the whole country was two towns over in my state.

The pup went to a puppy raiser from the breeder. I saw her weekly, and attended all her group classes as her handler, even puppy k. By the time the pup was 6 or 7 months old I got to keep her on weekends when the raiser was trialing.

I believe she was 9 months old when she came to be with me permanently. She acted as if she always very clearly knew that her raiser was not her "person", I was, and the transition was smooth and like it was all meant to be. The puppy raiser was a dog trainer too and I continued taking classes with my dog, with both the head trainer of the program and the woman who had puppy raised for me. She and I are still friends to this day and I owe this woman an incredible debt for starting this pup for me.

As we continued group classes we also worked privately with the head trainer and I task trained on my own with her guidance. She got her CGC in 2008, followed pretty closely by our public access test which was pretty rigorous. It was a day long test which consisted of taking both the commuter rail and the subway into the city, spending the day in the city going into all sorts of places including a meal at a restaraunt. The dog was in harness and working all day, and had to perform her trained tasks and demonstrate all her manners without anything worth failing us for. We got a team certification badge from that organization, which is not required of any team to have but for us it was just evidence of the work we had put in and being judged by a third party to have met certain standards.

As for breeders I'd be looking for breeders who have more than one dog working in this capacity.

It usually takes about 2 years to produce a finished dog, from a baby puppy. Most organization that provide fully trained dogs have a waiting list of 1-2 years or longer.

Service Dog Central is another forum that is specific to these types of dogs. Hope that helps
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-25-2017, 08:59 PM Thread Starter
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oh that helped immensely. Thank you so much for your time. I use to have a wonderful all black GSD. Between my Raven, a K-9 I took a liking to (his handler was one of my instructors) and some other lovely people that had great GSDs; I love the GSD breed. I whole heartedly agree with you they are not for everyone. I don't want to sound half cocked or anything so I hope it doesn't come off that way, but like you it is the breed I prefer over others due to many reasons. Can they dual train in shellshock and autism? I've researched quite a bit on the vets who get SDs for their shell shock and has helped them more then any counseling, medication, etc has. I've been trying to pull BBB reviews, general reviews, youtube videos on these training places and breeders. Do you know a better way to go about it? Or how to find out if they actually carry the certifications and all? Also do good breeders work with you to get the right puppy with the right temperament? Sorry, I have calls and emails into these places, waiting on responses. I figured I'd ask you incase you knew. I.m trying to learn as much about this initially and continue learning. This is something not to take lightly so trying to really educate myself and I greatly appreciate your story and information. I am so glad that lady could help you out like that, well how all of them could and you got a great working dog. I'm very grateful you got a good SD and again for responding to me and helping me out. I'll check out that other forum as well. Thanks again
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:41 AM
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A good and reputable breeder should help each of her clients find a pup which is best for them. If the breeder does not think that any of their pups from a current or future litter will make a good SD then they should tell the puppy buyer that up front. There of course is no guarantee that even a tested pup from strong SD lines will make the final cut, but the odds do rise.

Owner training (OT) is either the owner doing all of the training or with the help of a professional trainer does a bit of the training. Just as with Program Dogs (those picked, raised and trained by a group and then turned over to a disabled handler) can be washed out at any point.

The training and raising of a SD is a bit different than that of a pup which remain in a home and family as a pet. Not to say that a SD Candidate, SD-In-Training or even a fully trained and working SD is not also a much loved member in its family. The basics may be the same, but there a slight variations that should be done.

Task work is usually the last "formal" part of the training, though the groundwork is being layed from the beginning. This is why if you are participating in any manner with the dog's levels of training (which also includes potty training and such) you must know what tasks you need your dog to do for you. Some tasks can and will be added as life goes on, but you need to know what particular tasks that you need assistance with.

Some people buy a pup and then look around for a task (practically any task) so they can have a SD. An ethical handler will know what they need so they can find a pup that has a possibility of fulfilling those needs.

I am also glad to see posts such as yours in which you ask questions first. As you gain knowledge you will do a lot of facepalms wondering why you did not ask others, but as with any topic you must know that something exits before you can ask more in-depth questions. Try to find a good mentor to help you through. Be aware that even the most professional looking website or business cards etc. can be bogus. If something doesn't make sense to you or look or sound not right, then do more research before going any further. You must advocate for your own needs and then later for the needs of your partner.

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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