I know I’m coming in here late, but unless you have experience training dogs (without harsh corrections) and a good trainer/support group, I would recommend an agency- trained dog.
If you’re a self-trainer, at the very least, I recommend:
Start with an adult dog that you can test hips and elbows. Adults also have established temperaments that you can evaluate. Puppies are a crapshoot.
Get dialed into trainers now. You need an obedience trainer AND a service dog trainer. Many people who call themselves service dog trainers are pretty scammy. You want to attend obedience classes as an observer. (They shouldn’t charge you to do this) You shouldn’t see corrections used. Learn clicker training now so you can watch trainers With an educated eye. (Pat Miller is a good resource.)
Teamwork and Teamwork II books and DVDs (both) will help you understand how Obedience and tasks for service dogs are trained. Many “service dog” training books are pretty useless. These two are good ( they don’t use clicker training, but the trainers are PWD, so you can see how it’s actually done).
GSDs can make good service dogs if you’re fortunate enough to land one with the proper temperament and solid health. (although, yes, they’re long and can be big, so we have to train them to curl up, and either pray our seat mate is super accommodating, buy them their own seats on Planes, or we leave them home).
Proper temperament and solid health are not as easy as they sound. I’m training my 3rd SD. My second had to be retired extremely early for health, after I invested a lot of time and energy into him though.
This round, I have a breeder who is standing behind me if anything doesn’t work out.
I’ have to build up a rock solid retrieve, and let me tell you, a retriever is easier. Don’t forget, it’s not just retrieving, but also the soft mouth. I have specific reasons why I think a GSD is The most suitable breed for my SD, but it’s not for many PWD.
(Quickly as an aside, I’d be cautious with guard dogs, particularly Danes if you’re self-training Unless you have time, energy and excellent trainers. You can’t have a guardy service dog, even just at home. If you need emergency care, that dog may prevent EMTs from approaching you.)
Is it possible to self train a service dog? Sure. Is it a ton of work? Sure. I get up every day, planning several short obedience sessions, a short task session, daily exercise session split into two, at least one public training session, usually two, so, for example, the outside mall that allows dogs and then the playground area at the park where children play. Plus, working with my trainer, and classes.
And all training should be logged.
Also, service dogs have to be immaculate, so we wash them often (weekly or so). I rake & brush mine out before I leave the house, taking particular care if I’m going to a restaurant, grocery store, any healthcare facility. People don’t want dog fur in their soufflé!
That’s daily. I’m self employed, so other than keeping everything straight, it’s manageable usually.
But my disability usually doesn’t prevent me from sticking to the schedule too.
Agency dogs may be expensive, although some agencies don’t charge at all. Self-trained dogs always cost quite a bit of money. I have gear that’s handed down from one dog to the next, but most of my expenses like food, Training, insurance, maintenance vet care, are unique to that individual dog.
It’s a lot to think about. I’m glad you have time to research your options. I’m sorry you’re in this situation.
I wish you the best. ❤️
(Typed on my phone so please excuse all the typos! )
Tuxtla, Service Dog in Training
Ixtapa (GSD, ACD, Samoyed mix)
Plus several feisty independent beagles
Forever in my heart:
Celestún, CGC, Service Dog
Campeche, CGC, Service Dog
Last edited by 4K9Mom; 10-17-2019 at 12:47 PM.