In rare circumstances a person with a disability may own a dog that has the traits to make a good Service Dog. It takes a Very special dog to have what it takes to qualify for Service work. Even through large organizations, where dogs are specifically bred and raised for this work, the failure rate is very high. If you have already purchased a puppy, we need to get started immediately to insure we don't miss critical early lessons and to set the pup up for the highest chance of success. We will run your dog through our evaluation process, and if they pass, we will start training! You and your dog will work towards rock solid obedience, impeccable manners, and task reliability to reach certification.
Scholarships are available for income qualified people.
Steady temperament, no fear or timidity, no aggression, strong desire to please & have a job, ability to relax/ settle for long periods of time, confident in any environment and situation, able to focus on handler and not be distracted by dogs or people, and more.
Service Dog Breeds: “TRIED-AND-TRUE” or “IF/THEN”?
by Martha Hoffman
When considering the breed of your next Service Dog, there are some “TRIED- AND-TRUE” breeds, and some “IF/THEN” breeds. Your skill as a trainer may allow you to choose just about any dog, but the amount of work you have to do, and the time it takes to train the SD fully can depend a lot on the breed and its basic temperament. If you are looking at mixed breed dogs, their predominant breed can give you some clues.
Many experienced SD trainers will recommend well-bred Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles, or carefully purpose-bred SD-function Doodle-type mixes between Labs, Goldens, English Cockers, English Working Cockers, and Poodles. I think it has been proven that our chances of success are far better with these. The key is “well-bred”. Greater success is possible from breeders who specifically select for Service Dog temperament. The primary features of this temperament are:
1) low fearfulness
2) low aggression
3) empathetic social interactivity.
Very few breeds combine these essential traits.
But some of us want our childhood dream-dog breed. I dreamed of Dingos as a kid. If you look online, you’ll find photos of the only successful “Dingo Hearing Dog” in the world. You can start to believe that if one Karelian Bear Dog or Anatolian Shepherd Dog can be someone’s successful Service Dog, why not get one and train it?
So, why do all the experts advise you NOT to try out your favorite?
The answer lies in “IF/THEN”. The more “IFs” there are, then the greater your chances of success. Evaluate your chances before you make a decision.
A dog of the breeds not traditionally used as SDs might be successful IF all these “IF”s are present:
IF well bred for health and a SD type temperament: (low fear, low aggression, medium empathetic social interactivity) THEN success is possible.
IF raised properly by the breeder until 8-12 weeks, THEN success is possible.
IF tested/selected by a professional, THEN success is possible.
IF raised by someone with (breed) knowledge or professional trainer help, THEN success is possible.
IF training and socializing are carefully progressed according to the pups’ temperament, THEN success is possible.
IF the owner avoids trauma from negative experiences such as dogs terrifying the pup, THEN success is possible.
IF no breed-specific health issues arise, THEN success is possible.
IF the SD is still successful when it is two or three years old, THEN success is possible. This is the Heartbreak Age, the age at which many non-traditional breeds start to show territorial aggression to strangers, dog-aggression, aggression to the owner, or intensified fearfulness.
IF you are incredibly lucky and fate smiles on you, and you completely accidentally get a wonderful suitable one of your dream breed,
You have a great and wonderful IF/THEN” Breed SD. Treasure this unique dog dearly, because you might never find another of that breed that could make it as your SD!