Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Deciding to Owner Train

Owner training your service dog is not a decision to make lightly. There are many variables that go into such a decision including:

  • Energy levels
  • Health status (are you healthy enough to keep up with a young untrained dog?)
  • Funds for buying/adopting a dog
  • Time to assess potential candidates
  • Funds to care for the dog
  • Funds for training
  • Full support from family/friends
  • Time to work with the dog
  • Ability to wait for the skills you need to be trained
  • Ability to learn to train then train the skills you need
  • Ability/resources to train the skills you need from a service dog
  • Accept that the dog you picked very well may not make it as a service dog
  • Willingness to start from scratch if a candidate dog turns out to be poorly suited for service dog work

Many people choose to owner train, because they believe they will get the dog and assistance they want and need faster than applying for a program. The average wait for a program dog is one to three years. Owner training to get a dog faster is a rediculous notion. It can take months sometimes years to find an appropriate candidate, and this potential to make it as a service dog may not turn out to be cut out for the work. Then you spend several months to a year, depending upon the age of the dog, the person's skill as a trainer, and the ability of a dog and human to learn and work together(in other words are you and the dog a good match). Then you spend at least six months training the specific tasks you need to help you with your disability. If you have a dog who cannot pass the Canine Good Citizen, is fearful, is aggressive towards people, children, small animals or other dogs; the dog you have is not an appropriate service dog candidate. All in all you are at at least two years to owner train your dog.


Rebecca and Molly the Border Collie said...

I just want to mention that if you have a dog who is willing to work and the time to put into it, you can train a dog faster than you say.

You also have a chance of working through a dog's issues, but it depends on the handler, the dog, and how deeply rooted they are.

It is important to go into the situation prepared to accept that it might never work out. No work you do on the dog is wasted because it always helps the dog be better adjusted to its environment, but you should never push the dog into something it can't handle or set it up for failure. Small steps, encouragement, and the right attitude can go a long way, however.

Melissa Mitchell said...

Dear Molly,
you said it yourself you have to be willing to put the time in an many people jump into owner training with out really having any experience working with dogs or how much time they would really need toi put in.