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Discussion Starter #1
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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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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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.
Welcome to Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides

Assistance Dogs International : ADINA – North America

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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Discussion Starter #4
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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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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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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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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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.
 

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My step-son has autism/Asp. and is bipolar. He lives in a group home now, but when he was with us our Golden doodle, Gus, was terrific with him. He would walk around our backyard with our son and hang out with him. When our son got anxious, Gus would put his big, shaggy head in our son's lap and lean into him and it helped calm our son down. We didn't teach Gus any of this . . .he is just a sensitive dog who instinctively knew this boy needed him.

Unfortunately, our son can't own a dog himself as an adult because of the bipolar component. He gets really violent when it gets bad. A dog wouldn't be safe with him . . .neither are people. :( He has to go to the hospital a few times a year when things go wrong. It's very sad because he is a genuinely sweet young man when not in the grips of his illness.

People are giving you good advice here. Teach your dog obedience and socialize the pup a LOT. And of course expose the pup to your daughter a lot. Some dogs are scared of the odd movements of people with autism because they don't understand how to read the body language, which is often a bit different. But a pup raised with your daughter will understand it fine!
 

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I think Castlemaid summed it up better than I could in terms of the touch/pressure... I don't like it from humans, but find it soothing from the dog. It's enough to keep me present, and has helped me to learn how to deal with them on my own before I sort of "fall off the edge". Before I had him, because I couldn't stand the contact from my husband or a friend, I would withdraw but I would continue to spiral out of control. Echo sort of short-circuits that, so in addition to making me more aware of when it's coming, I can also actively seek him out. (As a side note, the high protein-low carb has also worked extremely well for me).

As part of her socialization, expose the pup to loud shouting, etc...anything that will help her not be fearful during meltdowns (this took a long time for me to overcome with my dog, as he's a bit nervy)-- a big part of that is to reward, reward, reward and train with a lot of positivity.
 

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however I am complete aware that any dog given the right amount of time as training can be a service dog
This is so not true. Even the largest and best known Assistance Dog organizations with thought out breeding programs, professionals who pick out the candidates, monitored puppy raisers, and excellent trainers do not have a 100% record.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks everyone for all the information we have a very good trainer here who is know as Canada's ceaser millan his name is Larry Nielson from Konfident kanines he however cannot help in the training of he service aspect but is a very good obedience trainer.

I have looks several places here in Alberta I live in Calgary and no one is willing
To help because service dogs and not trained they are born which I think is not very fair but whatever I continue my search for an ADI accredited school for us to take him to.

My other children are 11, 5, & 2 my little girl with Aspergers is 3 and my 2 year old is also special needs and my husband is also so when we get this pup certified he will have a lot of people in our family that could benefit
 

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A service dog is meant to have only one handler, not multiple
 

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The trainers you have talked to are right - not every dog is service dog material, even if the pup 'chose' your daughter. Most trainers will wait until a dog is older, about a year old, to assess the dog's suitability and temperament before making the investment into training.

Even many of the Seeing Eye Dogs, that have been bred for generation for service work, wash out of the program for many reasons. When raising a pup for service work, you have to always keep an objective view as to their suitability to do the work they were selected for, and not be swayed by your emotional tie to the pup.
 

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Start raising the puppy as any normal puppy - positive training, lots of social experiences (going out and about in public) and basic obedience.
Taking a dog in public in no pet areas should be done after the dog is well socialized in pet friendly areas and at least obtains a CGC. If you have not trained a service dog before, contact a professional when you want to start training the dog in public in no pet areas. A lot of dogs cannot handle the stress of no pet areas and may react in a way that could make the handler liable. Having a professional with you to recognize the instant trouble may escalate before it happens is something you cannot learn in a book or website. It is in your best interest to seek professional help.


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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks everyone for all toe help
I will keep researching everything for the next few months before starting training if it will even be possible as I live in Alberta and all service dogs here need to be certified by an ADI accredited school however all waiting lists are closed so in reality our hopes for training our own service dog for our daughter is slim to no chance even though j have all the time on my hands and don't mind paying for a professional trainer it seems like its nearly impossible to train your own service dog which is a so upsetting for us it shouldn't be this way I don't think it's very fair but I guess that's life and just for info this pup would only be used for my daughters assistance no one else hopefully one day it will be easier to get your own dog certified until then I guess we have a new best friend for our kids and family to grow up with and we love him unconditionally either way
 

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How old is your daughter? Handling even a fully trained service dog in public is a lot of responsibility. Service dogs are for independence, and as such as generally not used by children. Autism dogs for children is a rather new thing. Children do not need independence, and therefor there is no need for a service dog in public. A parent of an autistic child is already required to work much harder than a parent of a child who is not disabled, and adding in a dog to control as well makes things more difficult.

Now, companion dogs in the home can do WONDERFUL things for children, especially those with development disabilities.

I highly recommend against tethering which is very popular these days.

I also have Aspergers. I have a mobility assistance service dog, and am a member of the Assistance Dog Advocacy Project working mostly in education.

ADI accredited schools are not necessarily better than anywhere else, the ADI accreditation program is based on money and the schools paying the fees, not any type of independent testing to verify the standards of the organization. I'll also reiterate that very few dogs actually have what it takes to be a service dog. Even the most well bred dogs of the best service dog breeding programs have frequent wash outs. Unfortunately with puppies its a complete toss up as well, no guarantees on what the adult temperament is going to be like. A dog may wash out at any point in the process as well, I had quite a lot of training in with my girl Emma before I had to wash her out.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks Lin for all the info I will take it all into consideration my daughter is 3 and not the only child I have with special needs my husband and I are both stay at home work from home parents so have all the time in the world to train the dog properly the reason I want to train my own service dog is because I am not fond of the lab or golden breed and think that the GSD is much smarter and all around better dog I would have to go through an ADI accredited school because I live in Calgary AB and your dog cannot be certified unless it goes through one of these schools.

Although I will try my best to get him certified as her service dog I and I would only tether if I was walking with my child and I had complete control over the dog. I am aware that it may be nearly impossible to get him to be a service dog but that doesn't mean I am not going to try as it would really be helpful to my daughter as she only has issues when in public so much so we cannot even take her into public anymore.

Again I appreciate everyone's help and will take it all into consideration for future reference thanks again for everything if all else fails I am sure he will be a truly amazing companion and we may end up just have him start agility so he can channel his energy elsewhere.
 
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