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  #21  
Old 06-14-2010, 07:46 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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do service animal laws vary by state? I thought they were federal civil rights laws or something? I also know they'll likely be changing in the next few years.
Just as Corgipower said, laws covering service dogs are federal, but as far as service dogs in training, it's state.

A service dog in training is NOT the same thing as a service dog. A PWD with an SDiT does NOT have public access rights under federal law. Some states choose to allow program trainers, owner-trainers, or both have SDiTs in public. Some don't. Some have special requirements or limitations.

Even some service dog laws vary from state to state, but all they can do is give more rights. For example, some states grant public access to ESAs, but under federal law ESAs are only allowed on planes and in no-pets apartments. Some states give benefits to certain service dogs, such as free licensing fees, etc.

Also remember the SD or SDiT never has access rights on its own, it's always the PWD that has the rights.
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  #22  
Old 06-14-2010, 07:49 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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I just thought Pyschdog had a good example of the tasks those dogs can do, most of their info seems pretty reliable, to me, actually, but I haven't read even close to all of it yet.
The thing with Psychdog is that it encourages "task shopping" and creating a list of tasks to try to justify a service dog, while the proper way to go about it is to think what problems you have, and then go from there deciding what a service dog can do for you.

Psychdog also encourages tasks that aren't really tasks, such as hugs, kisses, comfort, and tactile stimulation. Of course those things can all be helpful, but they're not tasks on their own.
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  #23  
Old 06-14-2010, 10:13 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Originally Posted by Saeleofu View Post
I would go with an adult dog from a breeder.

The bottom line is a PSD MUST have a rock solid temperament. They, above all other service dogs, need to be flawless.
My vote is that you get an adult dog; an adult from a breeder would be the best case scenario, but an adult from a foster home and a good rescue group could also work.

My organization gets all our dogs from shelters/rescues. We do not evaluate puppies because our evaluations are not accurate on puppies. Our evaluation is not terribly accurate on adolescent dogs, either, so we try to at least judge that the dog is full-grown before we evaluate him.

The service dog shelter evaluation doesn't particularly require a lot of skill - besides being good at reading dogs and making quick decisions in an unpredictible environment - but it does require a LOT of experience. I saw and assisted in probably over 5,000 dog evaluations before I got to do my own, and even more before I finally got to pull dogs on my own without my trainer seeing the evaluation. I would not suggest someone without a LOT of experience with shelter dogs to do the shelter evaluation on their own.

As far as a puppy, like was mentioned above, you really won't know the dog's temperment or suitability to be a service dog until you've put over a year's worth of training into the dog. Even the organizations that breed dogs for their programs only have a 20-40% success rate among the litters that they raise. IMO raising a puppy as your first service dog would be setting yourself up for failure.

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Originally Posted by Fransheska101 View Post
so it would be help if you could give them a bunch of ways to JUDGE if they have potential.
"how does he do in public places?"
"quick to learn?"
"easy to please"
"ok with other people"
"dogs?"
"loud noises?"

and of course a description about what your dog would need to know how to do
I'd HIGHLY suggest talking to some service dog organizations and/or visiting to spend some time with their dogs, to get a better idea of temperment qualities you would be looking for. For example, I personally do NOT like service dogs that learn quickly; if they learn training skills quickly, they will also learn how to get into trouble in the home. Smart dogs are difficult for our clients to live with; I'd much prefer a dog that learns slowly.

There's also a HUGE list beyond this one of qualities you'll have to look for.

I often send a long description of our selection criteria to rescue groups, which they use to determine which dogs to recommend to us. Still, about 95% of the dogs they recommend to us will not pass our evaluations. I'd imagine breeders would be the same way, unless they happen to have experience with service dogs. So I do think it'll be immensely important that you visit the dog and evaluate him yourself before deciding to bring him home.

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Originally Posted by Saeleofu View Post
Small dogs are typically huggers or fakers. Sure, there are some legitimate service dogs that are small, but they're rare, and so I think people will assume that a small dog isn't really a service dog, and you'll have more access disputes.
My org uses small dogs as hearing dogs. 30 pounds is our ideal - large enough to see on the floor in public places, but small enough to fit easily in restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes, etc. 15 pounds is the absolute smallest we will go, though, because they are difficult to see in a crowd.

Not that it matters, since the OP needs a tall dog; just FYI.

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Originally Posted by Saeleofu View Post
Also, I really, really suggest going with a program for your first SD.... I've heard Susquehanna Service Dogs is a great PSD organization.
I didn't know that Susquehanna did PSD dogs (will have to go look that up!), but I do know that they do a great job with their service dogs; I'd recommend them as well.

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Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
Also, I'm not sure about not taking the dog into public until it's a year old....I live right near an enormous guide dog foundation, work with people who work there, and often see them training in public.

Puppy walkers take those pups into public wearing a cape starting at 12 weeks old. And by four or five months those dogs are pretty rock solid in public about not being distracted, barking, etc.

I'm starting to think puppy is the way to go. I think a rescue puppy is the riskiest option, though. But also at 2 or 3 months a puppy wouldn't have had a lot of trauma or developed many negative behaviors.
Again, if you rescue you won't know the genetic history of the puppy, which is extremely important. The genetic history will help you determine not only the temperment, but also the health of the puppy; you'd hate to train him for three years only to have to retire him for HD (which, in a tall dog like you said you will need, is much more likely).

Like was mentioned, puppy raisers do usually have to have permission to take their dogs into public. Socialization is EXTREMELY important for service dog puppies, though, so if you get one you'll have to get him out into public several times a week. You can, of course, go into pet stores, hardware stores, and other places where pet dogs are allowed, so that is still an option even if you can't take the puppy into most stores.

And even guide dog puppies go through adolescence. The "rock solid" 4-5 month old puppies you see, I assure you, do not necessarily remain rock solid when they grow to adults.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saeleofu View Post
The thing with Psychdog is that it encourages "task shopping" and creating a list of tasks to try to justify a service dog, while the proper way to go about it is to think what problems you have, and then go from there deciding what a service dog can do for you.

Psychdog also encourages tasks that aren't really tasks, such as hugs, kisses, comfort, and tactile stimulation. Of course those things can all be helpful, but they're not tasks on their own.
The whole "task" debate is a huge soapbox for me, so I just wanted to repeat these two statements.


Oh, and BTW:
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Here, a lot of stores have a sign in the window (at least big corporate grocery stores and wal mart and costco and stuff) that say "Service dogs always welcome" and a number you can call to report if they give you a hard time.
If they won't let you in with a legitimate service dog, the number you should call is the police office. It is a misdemeanor offence, punishable by fine and/or jail time.

If you train your own service dog, one of the MOST IMPORTANT things you should do is to familiarize yourself with the state and federal laws regarding service dogs; know your rights, know what to do if your rights are violated, and stick to it.
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  #24  
Old 06-14-2010, 10:22 PM
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Dekka Dekka is offline
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I say adult dog, as both a breeder and trainer (though I don't train service dogs) Seeing eye dogs stay with puppy raisers till they are a year. Yes they go out in public but so do many breeder owned dogs. Basically the real training waits till the dog is an adult.

An adult is going to be a safer bet. Lets say you get a puppy and it washes out. You then have to start again having now lost a year (or more). At least with an adult you can see how it does in public, how stable it is etc.

And yes breeder's dogs can have already learned the 'how to learn' deal. There are breeders out there who also train and compete in dog sports. Their pups tend to be highly socialized and some start introducing clicker training when the pups are still nursing!
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  #25  
Old 06-14-2010, 10:39 PM
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I'm going to vote for an older dog, preferably from a good breeder. Especially if you are looking into any breeds that have a history of becoming DA at maturity (dobes, rotties, bullies, etc.) . If it's a breed with a history of HD, I would at least want the dog old enough to have prelims done. I would also find out the longevity of the dog's ancestors if possible, and what they died of. If their ancestor's health tests are in the OFA database, even bigger bonus.

We got Strider at 9 weeks. His breeder had already done a bunch of temperament testing on her litter and selected the top three prospects, and then she socialized the patooey out of them in preparation for a SD career.

We picked Strider because he was the most "in the middle" for temperament. He had a great rebound from being startled, was inquisitive and friendly, but not TOO friendly (one of his bros is the most social zoi puppy I have ever laid eyes on). The other two zois ended up washing and Strider was the only one of the litter to become a service dog.

I think a lot of that was luck, a lot was training and socialization, and a lot was him. We were originally going to use an organization in Tucson that mentors owner/trainers, and oversees the training. Then we moved and we got a private trainer for him to mentor us as a team. It worked out extremely well, she is VERY strict with even her casual obedience students. We went through the ringer. lol.

And Sael is right. The MOST IMPORTANT trait for a PSD is emotional/mental stability. If they become emotionally dependent on you, and feed off your emotions, then they are going to cause more harm than good when you're in a crisis.
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  #26  
Old 06-14-2010, 11:01 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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If they won't let you in with a legitimate service dog, the number you should call is the police office. It is a misdemeanor offence, punishable by fine and/or jail time.
I've always been told that sure, you can call the police, but they can't necessarily do something. However, IF they can help they'll be more immediate help than other numbers. The number to call is the DOJ hotline...I'd have to go dig the number up (once Logan starts public access it will be programmed into my cell phone). They are the "enforcing agency" of the ADA. As far as I know local police can only help with local SD laws. The ADA is a civil law.

The only place I've seen with their own SD help line and thus a number to call is Walmart, and if I remember correctly it's part of a settlement.


Also, about hearing dogs - small dog are ideal for hearing dogs, though that is one of the major exceptions to small dogs not generally being used. The other thing is a lot of hearing dogs are only used in the home (there are people that use them in public, though). As Lizzy mentioned, small dogs are more prone to being stepped on/missed than larger dogs, so too small isn't a good idea if you'll be working the dog in public. A little piece of trivia is that there is no hearing dog breeding program, as they all fail miserable. Apparently the only place to find a good hearing dog prospect is in a shelter, unlike other types of service dogs. Other dogs can do hearing alerts, but small rescue dogs seem to be the BEST at it.
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  #27  
Old 06-15-2010, 06:26 PM
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lizzybeth727 lizzybeth727 is offline
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Originally Posted by Saeleofu View Post
A little piece of trivia is that there is no hearing dog breeding program, as they all fail miserable. Apparently the only place to find a good hearing dog prospect is in a shelter, unlike other types of service dogs. Other dogs can do hearing alerts, but small rescue dogs seem to be the BEST at it.
Yep. I know of an organization that bred papillons for hearing work, but I don't think they are doing it anymore... don't know what happened.

Of course there are lots of organizations - particularly the larger ones - that breed all their dogs and use hearing dogs that they breed. But in most of those cases, they breed with the intention of raising service dogs, and take ones among those that are better suited to be hearing dogs.... if that makes any sense. So not all hearing dogs come from shelter/rescue.
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  #28  
Old 06-15-2010, 06:35 PM
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SO.MUCH.INFO.

I think I'm back to square one, with adult rescue. I don't want to risk another puppy with an unknown background. I'm not 100% decided. But probably.

I think as far as SDIT my state's laws are pretty lax.

Oh, and Sael...licking and nudging and kisses and stuff can absolutely be a task. If it's done on command, and it prevents you go from going into or returns you from a dissociative state, keeps you from fainting, etc., how is it not a task? It's not different than bringing medication or doing anything else that would prevent an episode.

What about dogs that do things like lie across their owners body or chest to keep them from going into a state like that?
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  #29  
Old 06-15-2010, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
I think as far as SDIT my state's laws are pretty lax.
Where are you located?
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Originally Posted by milos_mommy View Post
I think I'm back to square one, with adult rescue. I don't want to risk another puppy with an unknown background. I'm not 100% decided. But probably.
Let me know if I can help!
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  #30  
Old 06-15-2010, 07:58 PM
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New York. I'll check in to the laws, but we're a pretty good state for dog lovers (or at least where I've been, out on the island and Manhattan). No BSL, strict animal cruelty laws, special investigators for animal cruelty, etc. And honestly most places, even food places and stores and stuff, will allow a dog inside. And while I've never seen any badly behaved or probably not legit service dogs around, I see a good deal of people with service dogs of all ages and SDIT around.
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