Autism - Dog Training

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by ajh, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. ajh New Member

    I'm doing my homework on dog training. I am going to be getting my son a Service dog soon and am trying to educate myself as much as possible. My son is 7 years old and has Autism. I want to get him a Labrador. I am a full time student and cannot afford/wait for one of the agencies that trains them. My plan is to get a dog, have him trained (basics) and then find a trainer that can work with him for advanced training. right now my biggest concern is keeping my son from bolting across the street and calming him when he throws a tantrum.
    Tâmara Vaz likes this.

  2. fickla Experienced Member

    I would be very careful in doing this plan. I understand the wait for an autism assist dog is huge, it's over 2yrs at the organization I work for (although many place for free). But keep in mind that there is also a high drop out rate for service dogs and organizations have already weeded out those dogs for you. Plus they will be able to provide you with the support you need in working with the dog and your child as a team.

    Service dogs, for any type of work, have to BOMB PROOF. They have to be very relaxed out in public and able to handle all sorts of things. You will be shocked at the number of people who will try and poke your dog in public, kids who run up to it waving bats, all sorts of noises, different floorings, people in costumes, and the list goes on and on. The plain truth is your average pet dog can not handle the stress of going out in public and dealing with crazy crowds.

    For an autism dog they not only have to be able to deal with the craziness of those public outings but also be completely calm in the face of an autistic child's tantrums. Many dogs will tolerate children but most dogs WILL get freaked out by little kids running by and screaming, let alone a full blown tantrum.

    If you say you are in school full time how will you have the time to care and train the dog? Keep in mind that while you are getting a working dog you also need to remember that it is still a dog and needs exercise and mental stimulation. How will you exercise it on a daily basis?

    None of what I said above is meant to offend you in any way. I just want to make sure that you are fully aware of the type of dog that is needed for service dog work.

    If you do decide to get your own dog I highly recommend taking a professional trainer with you to the shelter/breeder and pick out the dog. I also recommend that the dog already be 1-2yrs old so that you know what you are getting in terms of temperament. Be VERY picky in who you are choosing.

    Then, you will need to invest a lot of time in basic obedience and I strongly advise that you work towards the minimum standards in the ADI public access test:
    http://www.assistancedogsinternational.org/publicaccesstest.php

    Good luck!
    jackienmutts likes this.
  3. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Welcome to the forum, ajh. It sounds like you really have a lot on your plate. Fickla really gave you lots of good advice, and said it well. It may not have been easy to hear - but what she said is all so true. There's so much to consider when asking a dog to do what will be asked of this dog. You want to be very sure that whatever dog you find is the right dog - both for your son's well-being, and that of the dog. Fickla also brought up another good point - you do have so much going on, with being in school full-time and caring for your son - the dog will not only need training (which is very intensive), but he/she will also need time to just be a dog. He/she will need play time - walks, ball, time off from service work, to just "be". You won't only be looking after your son, but now taking on yet another family member. Please don't forget that.

    Maybe others on the forum can be of more help to you, share info and help guide you. I also don't mean to offend in any way - I'm only reinterating what was stated above because it's good info and I'm sure, not easy to hear. I can only imagine that being in your situation, there's so much to learn and digest, and there are many knowledgeable people here, who will hopefully chime in.
  4. mewzard Experienced Member

    Hi ajh, wow you have alot to deal with! I commend you for trying to do the best for your son, it's not an easy job being a parent and especially when you have a child who is 'different' from the norm (i know this from my 2).

    Fickla has given very good advice. It's hard work training a dog, I've spent 30+ hours in the past month just teaching my 'pup' (10 months) a solid dependable, in many situations, recall.
    A service dog would have to have so much intense training and time off. But i'm sure you can find a solution that will work for you. Maybe you can look/approach a few trainers now before you find a puppy to get ideas on what you need to look for?

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