Public Access with an "In Training" Owner Trained PsychService Dog

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Public Access with an "In Training" Owner Trained PsychService Dog

This is a discussion on Public Access with an "In Training" Owner Trained PsychService Dog within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; A family I know has a little boy with Autism and some mobility issues that are steadily getting worse. I've participated in some of their ...

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Old 08-05-2014, 05:04 AM
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Public Access with an "In Training" Owner Trained PsychService Dog

A family I know has a little boy with Autism and some mobility issues that are steadily getting worse. I've participated in some of their family discussions and watched their son around the animals he's come in contact with and we're all hoping that there is a way for it to pan out that he gets a Psychiatric/Autism Service Dog in the future. Unfortunately, finances and some other personal factors are in the way. It has crossed my mind, nothing definite, that I could attempt training a Service Dog for them. I am a psychology major and will be pursuing my PHD next year in a field relating to Autism and have had a lot of success training my own pet dogs so I do feel it is a reasonable thing to attempt, knowing I would find the dog an excellent home if he or she didn't end up making it.

This is super tentative and I am mostly asking this question simply because I couldn't find an answer for it. I came across the statement that under ADA a dog simply has to perform specific designated tasks to qualify as a service dog--but my question is what if the dog is still in training with me rather than his/her owner? I would want the pup, even after knowing tasks, to go inside stores etcetera with me before his owner but I do not have autism and thus wouldn't need the dog to perform the behaviors. Would this cause my access to be denied?

Legally, I know no one can force the owner of a claimed service dog to state their disability, but I wouldn't want to fib or flub my way through if challenged with an in-training young service dog. I also wouldn't be eligible for any sort of medical doctors note, considering I would be training the dog myself and for long interludes not in the presence of his future disabled owner.

I want to restate this is just an idea, and I'm really just looking for an answer to my question although of course supportive comments are appreciated. I've asked this question a few other places I will leave anonymous and was not welcomed at all and in some cases actually violently insulted. People here are almost always sane though, so I figured it was worth a try

Last edited by RoughDiamond; 08-05-2014 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 08-05-2014, 05:42 AM
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I can take a guess at where you may have posted before. I haven't been on some forums in quite some time due to the politics of it all. While the comments there can be extremely rude, they do offer concrete information regarding laws in your area, so I'm hoping you can take what they say with a grain of salt.

I'm no expert, nothing like the experienced people of service dog forums, but what I feel should be emphasized is just how difficult it is to not only train a service dog, but a psych service dog, and for autism at that. Some tasks that are trained for austistic children are controversial. Also, it can be very difficult to teach psych service dog tasks, period. The safety of the dog is also always a big concern with autism, I don't just mean because of their tendency to grasp things too hard or be too rough, but I think you've probably gathered that.

Laws for public access rights for trainers and owner-trainers vary by state, and possibly even by city, i'm not sure. The Service Dog Central forum's homepage is a very good resource for different laws by location. (State Laws | Service Dog Central)

Find out what your local laws are, and make sure you adhere to them, as well as making sure your name is not attached to a dog that isn't a candidate, or training that is not up to par. Again, it can be difficult to truly, properly train a service dog, and being that you would be training the dog for someone else, and not assisted by another trainer at a facility/through a program, it's going to be much more challenging, and this isn't the type of thing you want to just give a shot without a good amount of education and experience in the field of training, behavior modification and of task work.

Being a private trainer of a service dog also holds you somewhat liable, as I'm sure you know. If you truly feel it's within your expertise, I'm not going to tell you you can't, or that you'd be in the wrong for doing so, but I again just want to caution you about how serious not just training a service dog is, but an autism service dog. Training pet dogs and training a service dog for something like autism is a whole 'nother ball field. The dog has to not only be absolutely bomb-proof with an autistic disabled person, but has to learn to perform complicated tasks under what can be extremely stressful situations for the dog.

Kudos to you for wanting to find the right information, and wanting to know the laws. I would highly suggest learning the ins and outs of the ADA, the FHAA, and the laws in your area regarding trainers and service dogs in-training, as well as finding a service dog trainer to mentor under.
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Old 08-05-2014, 04:57 PM
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I understand how difficult it can be, although of course no one can know how difficult something truly is until they attempt it. That's one of the reasons I listed the assurance that if it didn't end up working out I would find the dog a pet home.

I wouldn't be training the dog until I got my PhD, which will be in ABA.

My biggest issue is that all the laws I'm finding regard Service Dogs being trained by either their owner or an official organization, which I am neither, so my question still stands :/ I'm hoping some of my my academic advisors/professors may know, when I start back in the Fall.
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Old 08-05-2014, 07:23 PM
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I believe you have to be licensed dog trainer to be considered legally a trainer.

I don't think any random person can just say they are one. But idk. I would contact training organizations and ask them for info on that. They would probably be the best ones to know.

Besides that it is still based around your state laws. Some do not allow dogs in training in public.

I know owner trainers can if the law allows but I have never seen any info on non owner trainers that were not through an organization.

One of the things I have learned is that going in public is easy to train without the need to take them in nondog friendly places. You can take them to events that allow pets, pet stores, hardware stores, tractor supply stores, etc.... Train them to ignore people, food, distractions all without having to be in a normal store.

By the time they are ready to go into a store they should already be proofed enough to act like a normal service dog and not cause any issues. Most stores are not going to raise a fuss if the dog is obviously well behaved and a common breed.
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Old 09-07-2014, 11:41 AM
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I have no personal experience with training psych/service dogs, but I'm currently reading The Possibility Dogs by Susannah Charleson, which deals doing exactly that as well as with many personal stories about the assistance with which such dogs have provided their owners. It might be something worth reading if you're considering pursuing such work--and I'm not, yet I'm still finding it an interesting read. Perhaps it's something the parents of the autistic child might want to read as well, because while it does not deal specifically with autism (or at least hasn't yet, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book), it does explain the way psych service dogs have helped people with panic attacks, OCD etc. as well as dealing with some of the problems people who depend on psych service dogs can run into with the general public because their disabilities are not as obvious and the idea of psych service dogs is a new one compared to service dogs who help the blind, the deaf, and the physically impaired.
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Old 09-09-2014, 01:17 AM
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This is a state by state issue. In my state, anyone can declare a dog a "service dog" and there is no certification process required. "Service dogs in training" are allowed the same access as service dogs in my state, regardless of who is training them.

Many states have much more restrictive laws. Some do not allow public access to service dogs in training. Some do. Some require service dog trainers to be certified through the state. Some do not. To get your question answered, search your own state's laws.

I don't know the extent of the autism of the child in question, but in almost all cases, I personally would never train a dog to be a service dog in such a situation. The stress encountered by the dog would counter balance the good being done by the dog, if you understand my meaning, IMHO. You have to beings here. The needs of the child are great, but the needs of the dog are as well. If the dog can help the child with minimal stress, then great. But if the dog's service involves stress (and thus emotional harm) to the dog, then the relationship needs to be examined carefully.

I'm not judging. I don't know the particulars. I'm just saying tread carefully.
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Old 10-01-2014, 05:54 PM
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Here are some links to various organizations that train Autism support dogs: They may be able to help clarify things for you and give you some insight as to what exactly would need to be done....

Autism Assistance Dog - 4 Paws For Ability

Autism Support Dogs

Our services | Autism Service DogsAutism Service Dogs
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