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Thread: Training your own service dog?

  1. #1

    Training your own service dog?

    Are there places that will train a dog for you? My sister knows someone that has full blood great dane puppies. I'm thinking of getting one, and I'd like to train it as a service dog.

    I did teach my last dog to sit, shake and high five, but I never could get her to fetch. I wouldn't know where to begin to train a dog to do "service dog" things.

    What are the requirements for claiming a dog as a service animal. I'd like to teach it to help me with the groceries (pull/pushing a shopping cart, carrying in the gags, etc...)

    My other sister knows a woman with MS that has a great dane service dog. It helps her with the groceries. She said he has a saddle bag thing on his back and he carries stuff for her. He can also tell when she's tired and he will stand beside her and brace her so she doesn't fall down.

    I know about orginazations like canine companions where you can apply for a service dog. The rehab center where I was had a canine companion dog that I worked with. I was told there is a two year waiting period for a dog though.

    Learn from the mistakes of others, you won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

  2. #2
    Sent you a PM (not a prime minister)

  3. #3
    I don't know of any places but there is more than just training that makes a great service dog. NEADS, where I got my dog, picks their dogs using certain tests that help determine the dog's temperament and characteristics. Unfortunately, many dogs regardless of how many tests are performed fail to make service dogs. That's why organizations like Canine Companions and NEADS are so great. When dogs fail to become service dogs these organizations are able to find families that want just pets, to adopt them.

    A friend bought a puppy to be trained. After much effort and money spent, the dog was unfit for service. Fortunately, he didn't mind just having the dog as a pet.

    There is great risk when you do it on your own.


  4. #4
    You can train your own service dog. Not all dogs are tempermentally suited though. The ADA defines a service animal as defined by the user...if you say it is a service animal, it is.

    Of course you still should provide the training.

    You can get materials on this from this website.

    Here is a book that the Delta Society sells:

    You might want to work with a regular dog trainer who has some experience though.

    Here is some additional information:

    Here is a resource for purchasing your own insignia, backpacks, etc.:

    The waiting list for CC and other "official" service dog training programs can be years. You might still want to put yourself on their lists, but meanwhile go ahead and train your own dog.


  5. #5
    Sounds like you are very set on getting a
    wonderful Dane pup.

    As far as training for service work...I know
    very little in this arena.

    But..before purchasing a puppy of purebred
    status. Get all the facts.
    Be sure the pup is tested for predisposition
    to hip dysplacia. There is a test available
    now for this.

    Have a reputable giant breed expert vet..check your pup over.
    Get educated on what nurtritional factors are necessary to help the pup grow up structurally as sound as he can be.

    Realize they age much faster then a mixed breed of smaller sizes..any mixed breed really. And also much more rapidly then the smaller purebreds.

    They are a marvelous breed of dog..can't deny
    that..but with the giant breeds there are alot of things to consider.

    Honestly when we humans greedily bred dogs
    too big..too small...too odd shaped we performed a terrible injustice to animals.
    All for us it seems. But no matter what we
    and our ancestors have done..they just keep
    on loving and forgiving us. What an amazing
    species they are.


  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Great danes are rarely trained as service dogs partly because their average life expectancy is only about 8-9 years. In comparison, the most popular breeds used for service dogs, golden retrievers and labradors have an average life expectancy of 12-13 years. They are also easier to train than great danes. It might sound cold to look at it this way, but it takes on average two years to train a service dog. It's a considerable time investment...

    One advantage of great danes is their height. They're very tall dogs and sometimes reach over a person's center of gravity, which makes them very good as "bracing dogs". This is of value if you are still able to walk (with or without assistive devices).

    It's certainly possible to train your own service dog. I trained mine in the late 80s. I taught her to keep doors open for me. I needed this to deal with the naughty surelevated doors. The kind with a small step that requires you to pop a wheelie to enter. I had difficulty doing the wheelie while keeping the door open at the same time, so I taught my dog to help me with that. She could also get items from hard to reach places, like stairs, under tables and so on. I didn't need a strong dog so I picked a crossbreed (a mix of terriers) weighing about 30 pounds. Female dogs that size are also easy to train to use a litterbox (males tend to shoot over the litterbox walls when they pee), which can be useful during winter or on days I feel ill or to lazy to take her outside.

    You only really need one of the big breeds if you plan on training your service dog to pull your wheelchair, use it for support or to carry grocery bags or backpacks. I don't really need any of that, so I prefer small dogs. They live longer. My mixed terrier lived 16 years on a diet of pizza and other assorted junk. Had I been a better caretaker and provided her with a healthier diet, she might still be alive today.

    I'm going to get myself a new dog this summer. I'm still weighing the pros and cons of getting a puppy versus getting a young adult from an animal shelter, but I should have made that decision pretty soon. If you'd like, we could start a thread about "service dog training". I'd be happy to discuss training programs with you. I have general outlines and step by step guides I use and would be eager to share with you.

    You could also check with service dog training associations near you to see if they offer training classes. I learned most of what I know about dog training in such a class.

    Good luck to you whatever you decide!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Clipper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Portland, Oregon
    I good friend of mine has owned several Great Danes. As others have indicated, this breed has a short life expectancy. My friend's Danes have had numerous health problems as well. Her current Dane is not yet a year old and already has had surgery on two of its legs, and on its stomach. As I understand it, Danes are prone to hip and skeletal problems.

    Good luck finding a best buddy!

  8. #8
    How does your friend transport one of these
    giants if it becomes injured or sick and
    unable to walk?

    Any deep chested dog can get bloat..and that is one serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
    Even our Dachshunds..being small yet very
    deep chested suffer from this malady..although not as often as the larger

    A dog that is built for pulling and a very good pack the Bernese Mountain
    Dog. If you ever have the chance run your hands down the body of one of these guys.

    Pure muscle.
    They have dog pulls like humans have tractor
    pulls..Some of these wonders can pull a ton
    of weight without flinching. And they don't
    like to give up..they will pull themselves
    into the ground. Amazing breed also.
    Most likely too large to be considered for
    service..and alot of hair to be groomed daily..but a nice cross might be something
    to be considered. They appear to have wonderful temperments and quite trainable.


  9. #9
    My Bernese Mountain Dog is great for pulling (when its above 0 degrees with no snow on the ground...still waiting!). He's also great for meetin all the pretty McGill girls. The MIRA foundation (a Quebec 'canine companions' org)actually cross-breeds Labs with Berners and have created the 'Labernese'. check it out. They give me an awesome deal on dog food too! $140can for 8 20kg bags of Eukanuba every year!

  10. #10
    Have you gotten to see a cross?
    How exciting.
    I couldn't find any photos on the website
    of a labernese.

    I was fortunate to be able to meet one of the
    Berners as you call them at a dog show.
    Amazing structures.
    What is their life expectancy?
    Any serious health issues?

    They do have such great faces too..eyes that
    do look right through you.
    Your boy is awesome.
    Is he a service type dog?
    Do you have him pull you?
    Sorry for all the questions..dogs are a real passion of mine.


    [This message was edited by Lindox on 03-19-04 at 04:51 PM.]

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