Sunday, June 5, 2016

Service Dogs vs Puppy Pets

There seems to be a lot of confusion over service dogs, beginning with why they are so expensive. If our experience with our puppy Murray helps you understand, then maybe donate to help service dogs get proper training. If nothing else, then please understand how much work goes into training them properly.

Our German Shepherd puppy was two months old when I knew I met my match. Now at three months he already weighs 27 pounds and will reach about 100. He is my sixth dog, so I am used to training large breed puppies just as pets. 

With Murray, it was obvious he was very smart. The problem is he only does what he wants to do when he wants to do it. Our biggest issues with him were barking because he felt like it and bitting. (Guess he thought we were chew toys.)

We got Murray right from a local breeder after we had to put down our five year old Harry. He was Rottweiler-Rhodesian Ridgeback-Hound. In other words, a handful.

He was the palace guard and pillow prince. No one could get near our house. It was not so much we were worried about him bitting someone.  We were worried he was thinking dinner just arrived. As soon as someone came over, he had to go into the cage. Harry was actually easier to train than Murray. 

During a visit to our veterinarian, she looked at our arms and asked what was going on.  We told her what we tried to do to get him to stop bitting.  The last straw was taking coins, putting them into a container and shaking it.  While it worked to frighten him, Murray ended up getting mad and bit me.  The vet said, "You're getting a trainer now."

We knew he was smart because my husband had him sitting, giving his paw, laying down and even rolling over on command.  He also knew what several words meant.  No dummy here however far from ready to learn he isn't the alpha male.

John McGrath of JM Canine Services was recommended and we are glad we called him. It isn't cheap but worth every penny.

Puppy Training $575
This package is for puppies under one year of age and includes an evaluation of your puppy, 5 private 1 hour in-home sessions (covering obedience training, problem solving, housebreaking, etc.) and the 6 week Basic Obedience class.

You did notice how long we're talking about. Eleven weeks of training just for a pet, not a service dog. It can take up to two years to train a service dog properly. Keep in mind that there is also constant work going on with these dogs, just as with canine pets, it ain't easy.

The AKC explains the difference between therapy dogs, service dogs and support animals. With service dogs, they are allowed anywhere with the disabled person they are trained for.
Service dogs have full public access rights. Actually, to be technically correct, the rights are given to the person -- the service dog user who has a disability. If the dog were being handled by a non-diabled person, public access rights don’t apply. Service dogs are dogs that are individually trained to work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service dogs have specialized training. Examples include guiding people who are blind or alerting a person who is deaf to a sound.

PTSD dogs are service dogs. There is a category of service dog that is gaining a lot of attention and that is the PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) dogs who are working with people with PTSD. PTSD can result with any major trauma; this is not only military veterans as the caller above thought. PTSD can be the result of war, rape, witnessing a violent crime, being the victim of a violent crime or abuse, etc.

While some veterans seem to think that they do not have to assure business owners their dogs are actually training and are actually service dogs, you need to keep in mind that anyone can buy a vest and even a certificate online with absolutely no right to do so. They make real service dogs look bad because they are clearly not trained. Think about how you would feel if you allowed in a dog you thought was trained only to have that dog bite a customer. Until Congress gets their act together, there will always be a doubt you need to remove. 

Your dog is supposed to help with your stress. Not add to it. While the law protects your right, you have to consider other people.

The only way to get folks to relax over dogs is to be a good example. Once they see how well behaved your dog is, they will be able to spot a fake a mile away.

Another issue that pops up is with veterans traveling with their dogs and checking into lodging without telling the staff you have one. There are people staying in rooms who are allergic to dogs and no amount of cleaning will remove everything left behind. Most are "pet friendly" and have special rooms for people with animals. That includes service dogs. You cannot just stay in any room you want and yes, often you do have to pay a pet fee. 

Be considerate of other people and set an example for the staff about how responsible a true service dog owner really is.

What does the VA say about PTSD Service Dogs?

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