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Autism - Support Across the Spectrum Autism - Support Across the Spectrum

Therapy/Service Dogs

Posted by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM
  • 26 Replies

Do any of you have a therapy/service dog for your ASD child?  I am absolutly against medication, unless extreme circumstances, so my husband and I were looking into getting a labradoodle or goldendoodle trained as a therapy/service dog for our son.  He is starting to elope more and more and his anxiety is getting worse.  Do any of you have a therapy/service dog? Any advice or detail you can share with me on picking the right puppy, and or trainer?

by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 8:56 AM
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Replies (1-10):
EthansMomma2010
by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 9:28 AM
1 mom liked this
Sorry. I don't know anything about getting one. Just know our cats have been great for Ethan. I hope you find a great dog!
LicParaMommy
by Member on Sep. 30, 2013 at 9:48 AM

We have a 3 legged kitty, but he likes the kitty more than the kitty likes him!


Quoting EthansMomma2010:

Sorry. I don't know anything about getting one. Just know our cats have been great for Ethan. I hope you find a great dog!



Charizma77
by Carissa on Sep. 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

I have heard some great success stories but we personally haven't had one

EthansMomma2010
by on Sep. 30, 2013 at 10:45 AM

 lol

Quoting LicParaMommy:

We have a 3 legged kitty, but he likes the kitty more than the kitty likes him!

 

Quoting EthansMomma2010:

Sorry. I don't know anything about getting one. Just know our cats have been great for Ethan. I hope you find a great dog!

 

 

 

JTMOM422
by Brenda on Sep. 30, 2013 at 6:37 PM

I would really love to have one. They cost about $12000 around here. I am thinking that by the time my son is around 8 I will get him one. I am going to have to start saving now. We have a place here in Tn that trains them.

kajira
by Emma on Sep. 30, 2013 at 6:44 PM
2 moms liked this
Disclaimer : I'm autistic and I use a service animal for tasks related to being autistic, I can give more in-detail examples of tasks related to autism, but with all the links I give, I think it explains how the dogs are trained and the tasks/services they provide better than I could babble on about.

ADA information : http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

A list of different psychiatric disabilities and tasks associated with them. These are resources I find valuable because you can pick and choose tasks that fit you and what your family needs. The nice thing is you'll see that the tasks for different disabilities that aren't for the blind or deaf, are often very similar.

You customize the tasks based on what YOU need, and how your issues manifest in you or your child.... that will be unique to you/family members.

As long as the dog is trained in tasks (that you can specify or talk about), you're pretty set with out having to give more examples of tasks if anyone ever asks - please read the ADA, they are allowed to ask what tasks, but not ask for performance of said tasks....

Keep in mind, they are not allowed to ask about your disability, just an example of a couple of tasks your dog is trained to do.

In my case, My dog helps with sensory overload - that would be an example of a task, I use my dogs to stim in public or when in a stressful environment, this allows me to stay more present of my environment and reduces stress levels

I've also taught my dog to keep itselfs between me and non family members. I don't like to be touched by strangers, and this personal space allows me to be more comfortable in social situations.

These are all examples of tasks. My dogs are trained in ways to do 100's of daily little things for me in a way that i'm not even sure I could write a full list of how my dogs interact with me and the ways they help. My 12 week old puppy already knows to lean against me when I'm in public with him.

He did this naturally, and I encourage it. I like to be squished and the pressure of him leaning on me even at 12-15 weeks helps. When he's 120+ lbs, it will be even more awesome. ;)

Animals when raised in the environment where it's just "what they do" and "how they interact" generally enjoy having a job and the constant interaction with their humans. A working dog generally enjoys being a working dog.

A service dog is not considered a pet, and while they can be  beloved member of your family, they are also a tool that allows you to be more functional. They serve a multi-purpose part of your life.

Dogs require a lot of care, attention, training, but the cost and benefit they provide is usually worth it.

How you choose and train a dog is up to you to decide, but I prefer getting them young, so I have more working years with them (theoretically - dogs can and do die young sometimes, cancer is a pain in the butt and it afflicts more dogs than you think.) I also like younger dogs because they tend to adapt to your personality and it's just "their way of life with you".

Some rescue dogs will make great service dogs - but I've worked with my share of rescue dogs and the amount of trauma you sometimes have to overcome will often really slow down the training process.... it doesn't mean that some dogs aren't worth the effort, or investment though... so when you search for a dog... really make sure it's the right dog, dog breed, and age/situation for what you are capable of handling.

So, on to my lists - this list is primarily geared at mental health service dogs. While I know many autistic and other disabled folks have physical disabilities on top of mental issues - these links may not cover all the potential tasks for physical disabilities. Adapt as needed.


Some tips on training and getting started : 

My rule of thumb is look up the AKC good citizen ship test - if your dog can perform that, it's safe to be in public. the task training would be on TOP of that obedience qualifications.

If your dog cannot pass the basic AKC good citizen ship award, to prove it's health and soundness as a animal - It is not safe (or at least not READY) to use as a service dog *in public*.

If you cannot take the AKC good citizen test to prove your dog's soundness, take a look at the area's they test and if you can make sure your dog *could* pass the test - Your dog is ready to be in public.

Here is the AKC good citizen list requirement they have to pass to get their certification :


I personally don't usually go out of my way to get an AKC good citizen award, but I do follow their testing guidelines to ensure my dog *could* pass it if I were to do it with them. Socialization and training is very important to a safe, and healthy dog.

If you'd like to volunteer to train a service dog for someone else, there's lots of programs, here's an example of what some of them would require of a training/foster family :


If you have *any* questions or comments, feel free to let me know. This list is not perfect, but you can always google your own resources, read books, watch youtube tutorials, and ask others what they found worked for them.

Paying a trainer is a expensive option, but is very viable if you have the money to spend. I prefer to train my own dogs because I can't really bond to a dog that I didn't invest all that time and energy into myself, but that's a personal preference.
kajira
by Emma on Sep. 30, 2013 at 6:52 PM
I gave you a ton of resources, I've had I've had 4 service dogs I've trained since I was 18. 2 of died pre-age 2 from various issues. One I got at 18 months and he died at 8 from cancer... I personally don't like labs, or poodles. Both of which are higher energy dogs who lick a lot... For autism sensory stuff, a heavier dog often works better, and I prefer Mastiffs, bulldogs, or rottweilers for that. Mastiff's are awesome, they are slow and mellow and aren't as likely to go after flapping hands. I flap a lot and the only dogs who've ever tried to bite me, have been labs... they didn't like the noises I made or the way I moved or flapped. Pick the right dog, regardless of breed, not just any dog will bond to your son, you need to take the time to match the right dog with him.
HippoCat
by Hadley on Sep. 30, 2013 at 8:36 PM

Thank you so much for the information and links above. Have you ever had an Austrailian Shepard? Ours seems to have a way with our son. They are both 4 and I've been wondering if I could train him to be more of a therapy dog, but didn't know where to start. 


Quoting kajira:

I gave you a ton of resources, I've had I've had 4 service dogs I've trained since I was 18. 2 of died pre-age 2 from various issues. One I got at 18 months and he died at 8 from cancer... I personally don't like labs, or poodles. Both of which are higher energy dogs who lick a lot... For autism sensory stuff, a heavier dog often works better, and I prefer Mastiffs, bulldogs, or rottweilers for that. Mastiff's are awesome, they are slow and mellow and aren't as likely to go after flapping hands. I flap a lot and the only dogs who've ever tried to bite me, have been labs... they didn't like the noises I made or the way I moved or flapped. Pick the right dog, regardless of breed, not just any dog will bond to your son, you need to take the time to match the right dog with him.



kajira
by Emma on Sep. 30, 2013 at 8:40 PM

Aussie's generally make good working dogs, it just depends on their prey drive. If you've got one now and it's working and she(he?) is intune with your child, there's no reason you can't.

Therapy dogs aren't allowed public access though, so the goal would need to be a working service animal if you want to take your dog with you in public for your child.

Therapy dogs are allowed access to places if they are given special permissions, but it's not legally required.

Quoting HippoCat:

Thank you so much for the information and links above. Have you ever had an Austrailian Shepard? Ours seems to have a way with our son. They are both 4 and I've been wondering if I could train him to be more of a therapy dog, but didn't know where to start. 


Quoting kajira:

I gave you a ton of resources, I've had I've had 4 service dogs I've trained since I was 18. 2 of died pre-age 2 from various issues. One I got at 18 months and he died at 8 from cancer... I personally don't like labs, or poodles. Both of which are higher energy dogs who lick a lot... For autism sensory stuff, a heavier dog often works better, and I prefer Mastiffs, bulldogs, or rottweilers for that. Mastiff's are awesome, they are slow and mellow and aren't as likely to go after flapping hands. I flap a lot and the only dogs who've ever tried to bite me, have been labs... they didn't like the noises I made or the way I moved or flapped. Pick the right dog, regardless of breed, not just any dog will bond to your son, you need to take the time to match the right dog with him.




TheJerseyGirl
by Michele on Oct. 1, 2013 at 5:03 AM

 I don't have a service dog, although we have 2 dogs. Pets are great for any kids and my male dog is in love with Dillon. He's so sweet and gentle with him!

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