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Good breed for psych. service dog?

This is a discussion on Good breed for psych. service dog? within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; An older dog has advantages in that you can see the personality, with a puppy it is hard to tell BUT if you are training ...

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Old 07-01-2015, 02:28 PM
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An older dog has advantages in that you can see the personality, with a puppy it is hard to tell BUT if you are training a service dog, it is better to start getting them used to things as a puppy, for an example, my dog will go pretty much anywhere as she was walking past building sites and going up and down in elevators and anything else I could think of weird to do with her all before she was 3 months old.
You need a dog that is confident, and while some confidence is innate, a lot stems from what they are exposed to while young.

As Tracie said, find out about the parents if you get a puppy, that will help determine a bit of the dog you are likely to end up with.

I really wonder sometimes, what % of a dogs final personality is nature, and what % is nurture?
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Old 07-04-2015, 12:14 PM
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I'm not going to suggest a breed--I'm going to suggest a book: The Possibility Dogs by Susannah Charleson. The reason I'm suggesting it is that the author writes about training a dog to help her with her anxieties, particularly OCD. The book also includes a lot of interviews with other people with psych service dogs, and since you're interested in having/training a psych service dog, you might enjoy reading it. It's not a training manual, though it does go into a lot of the work she goes into with regard to her own rescue dog whom she trains to be her service dog. In addition, Charleson has done search and rescue work and therapy work with dogs, so you get a bit of that as well. Her style is very readable and she's quite immersed in the working dog world, so she's had a lot of practical experience.

She also has another book specifically about search and rescue work that's called Scent of the Missing.
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:45 PM
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I would very much not recommend a husky or a visla. Tollers MIGHT work, but they'd take quite a bit of training. Some breeds are morse suited to service work due to temperament, and while of course every dog is an individual, it'll be easier to find a dog that has a service-type temperament as a breed standard. Tollers (from the ones I've met) are very energetic and will need a bit more training to reign that in. It's the same reason a border collie typically doesn't make a great service dog.

Labs and goldens are great. Standard poodles (wonderful dogs, athletic, intelligent, fast learners, and very versatile and adaptable) are less common, but also fabulous choices. Rottweilers as well, but wouldn't suggest it as a first since lots of Rotties are slower to pick up these skills than labs, goldens, and standards. Since this is your first SD (I assume you'll be owner training) it'll be much easier to start out with a more common SD breed, as there will be breeders who can help you pick the puppy with the proper personality for service work, and who will have had experience with SD training and can probably answer some of your questions! If you work with a breeder who knows her dogs and knows the nature of the work, there's less of a chance of the puppy washing out of service dog training, which is sad to think about, but always a possibility.

I'm currently looking for an SD as well, (mobility though) and have spent a good year and a half researching breeds and training, reading blogs and all that jazz. The conclusion I came to was that, for your first owner-trained SD, you're going to need all the help you can get xD

NOTE: In my experience, you'd do best to avoid any sort of doodle as a service dogs. There are some bred and trained specifically for the task, but those are few and far between, and with the amount of rubbish and bybers out there, it's best not to push one's luck. You want as few wild cards as possible with a service dog, as they are quite a large investment, mentally, physically, AND out of your wallet.
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Old 09-04-2015, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by violetdelusions View Post
Flat coated retriever
Golden retriever
Chocolate lab
Black lab
Greater swiss mountain dog
Siberian husky
Nova Scotia duck retriever
Entlebucher mountain dog
German Shepherd

Breeds/types we don't want:
Aggressive types
Akita/other kens
Chow chow
Small breeds

I know some of our choices are rare and probably unavailable, but I wanted to add them to give an idea of what we're looking for. Ideally, we'd like a lab or retriever for their disposition and love of water (we spend a lot of time near rivers, lakes, and the ocean).

Lastly, anyone know any reputable breeders in Oregon/Washington/Northern California? XD
I'm a little lazy in going through all the posts so if i repeat something someone said, sorry!

For a PSD I would not recommend a GSD. They're GREAT workers BUT being protection dogs, it's very common for GSDs to get washed because they end up feeding into their owners emotions. Ideally you want a dog than can see you in your lowest point and not feel those emotions. Quite a few people have reported needing to retire or wash their GSD PSD because it fed off their anxieties and ended up trying to protect their owner from strangers because it felt the owner was upset and thus it's natural instinct kicked in. Although, if you find a line that has successful history in PSD work or a good trainer, you can work on this. I just heard from a trainer to had to ask her client to wash her GSD out because the poor woman is so anxious her dog became dog aggressive but only with her. When the trainer handled her, she was phenomenal. But as soon as the feels the anxiety her owner has, it's like she's a completely different dog.

Retreivers have an AMAZING work ethic. Very food motivated, very play motivated, love to please, etc etc.

I have a lot of friends who have a difficult time training their huskies. Not bad dogs, just very independent and love to roam. Again, a good trainer to help with this but just something to keep in mind.

I've met some great Viszla's and know a few people who use them in SD work. Be aware of their prey drive. I would try and get a show line, it can be really tough working a dog out of their natural instincts.

I know you don't want an "aggressive" breed but please please please don't look past these breeds just because of their reputation. I see way more bully breeds in SD work than any other breed these days. They're phenomenal, really.

Same with herding dogs for the above. BCs, Aussies, and ACDs make amazing working dogs. But like every other dog, they have quirks. If you have the time for high energy and to work out of their herding tendencies they make great SDs, though they are a little out of your suggested size range.

I have a PSD in training, she's what we believe to be an am staff x acd x retriever mix. Honestly, probably the perfect starter dog for an active person. She's absolutely nuts about the outdoors, I take her hiking every week and she's in heaven there lol. Great swimmer and loves the water. She's great with kids and we aren't really around kids very often. She was actually the hit at my soon to be sister-in-law's baby shower. This kid about 7-8 wanted to pet her so i asked him if he wanted to give her a treat and after that first treat he fell in love. I also had a black lab there and he dissed her for my mutt lol. She takes treats extremely gently, she can take treats from my mouth without scratching, nipping or anything. She had never met him and listened to every command he gave her (granted he only asked her for 'down' 'paw' and 'sit' :P) and at one point they were rolling in the grass together and she smothered him with kisses. He was so excited he had her follow him all around the party showing all the adult how 'cool' she was and showing off her 'tricks.' It was adorable. She's also great around babies. A friend of ours has a 1 y/o who met her for the first time this year. She sat for the mom and let the baby pet her, even gave her a kiss, and when they baby was walking around (still a little stumbly) she gave her space not to knock her over. I never spent time really teaching her to be around kids, this is her natural instinct with them. She's also great energy. Not as crazy as a lot of the herders I meet but not as lazy as a lot of the bully breeds i meet lol. She's quiet when I need her to be and attentive when i need her to be, all the while being the most social dog I have every encountered. She loves all things. She has been attacked 3 times and thankfully has never once shown an ounce of aggression or even uncertainty with other dogs. She's polite in that she will offer her belly to anyone who's unsure of her, she's great at reading body language and energy. I will admit though she has been extremely socialized since we got her at 7-8 weeks. I am a little biased because she is like my guardian angel. She's currently starting her task training and PA, had her first PA outing last weekend and did way better than I expected. I thought she was going to sniff everything in sight but she was able to contain herself.. for the most part :P. She's also gotten a great start to medical alert and response, behavior interruption, dpt, grounding and crowd control. Honestly, her biggest fault is that we need to tone down her friendliness. She did just turn a year last month so I know this will take more time and maturity, but she's not the best at ignoring drive-by pets lol.

Rather than pick by breed I really would recommend writing a list of what you want the dog to do, not just socially but with task training. Some breeds may be a better choice based on what you NEED vs what you WANT. It's always a good idea to look for a trainer with SD experience, they would have some great suggestions based on your needs and lifestyle. They would also be a great resource on picking the specific pup from a litter. Not that you HAVE to hire a trainer to pick out your pup, but it is recommended to ensure you're heading in the right direction. Plus, washing out a dog is no fun

I hope this is helpful for you, feel free to ask any questions and I wish you the best of luck with your search and training!
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Old 09-04-2015, 04:39 PM
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I finally went back and read the comments :P

Everyone who suggested a poodle, that's also a great choice. Poodles are the up and comers in SD along with bully breeds.

As for breed restrictions, SDs are covered by the ADA which specifically states places of business can NOT deny your SD because of breed (the only exception is housing if the insurance will either drop or change significantly and I've heard from many bully owners that it's very hard for them to prove but if you own your own house this does not apply to you, only for renters). You might have a little harder time than trying to go somewhere with a lab, but legally you have every right to anywhere (excluding personal properties and churches, but that's for all SDs), including places with a city ban, with your SD. I wouldn't stress too much about a breed restriction as long as your okay standing your ground. If you think the confrontation might impact your disability, that's a valid reason to re-consider. And honestly, no one bat an eye at my girl on her first day of PA and she wasn't even all out vested, I use a home-made bandanna that reads "service dog in training" nothing more.
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