Service dog handler lobby

Cypress

Confident
So has anyone had experience training a SD yourself? I just adopted a newly retired explosive detection K9. She is 7 years old and we served together overseas. She is my best support now that we are finally back home. I had her approved as an ESA in my apartment after a long hard process that involved a lawyer. Now I would like to have her trained to be my SD so I can take her to work but because of COVID no one in my area is doing in-person training.
 

Rainman8772

MyPTSD Pro
So has anyone had experience training a SD yourself? I just adopted a newly retired explosive detection K9. She is 7 years old and we served together overseas. She is my best support now that we are finally back home. I had her approved as an ESA in my apartment after a long hard process that involved a lawyer. Now I would like to have her trained to be my SD so I can take her to work but because of COVID no one in my area is doing in-person training.

I trained mine but with the help of another person that trains dogs for veterans and having a lot of experience training myself. Given the length of time to train a service animal I would not try to convert a retired bomb dog over. To be somewhat bulletproof is going to take you around 1-2 years depending on what all task they MUST perform for you. Also service animals in training in most locations do not afford the same rights as a trained animal so will not become a service animal just by slapping a vest on it. Remember to qualify as a service animal it must perform a task that you can not do for yourself. As for taking one to work that is a rather difficult thing to do. Title 1 when it concerns a service animal at work and past case law is not really on your side. Especially if you have been doing the job for any length of time without the need of the animal. Generally speaking the courts side with an employer if they do not agree with it. adata.org will give you the requirements in the workplace and past case law.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
So has anyone had experience training a SD yourself?

No personal experience myself (yet), but check out youtube as a start. There's a lot of helpful videos with tips out there.

I guess for owner-training a really crucial first step would be to a:

a) really focus on obedience. However, since she's a retired K9, I'm certain this point is mute (just putting it here for others looking into owner-training)

b) identifiy the *specific* tasks that *you* need. Not every SD needs to be able to do every task for every one. I think narrowing it down and defining it helps to identify the best resources afterwards because you can look more directed.

Also, while you're asking about owner-training, consider spending some money if you can. There's a bunch of trainers out there that offer platforms with lots/specific information and virtual advice/training specifically for owner-training.

Good luck! :)

(I'd like to second rainman's concerns, though. 7 is already quite old and not an un-common age when SDs retire...)
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Remember to qualify as a service animal it must perform a task that you can not do for yourself.

Nope. That's not the requirement. The task must help with your disability/be specific to your disability. You do *not have to* be disabled to the point of not being able to do the specific task on your own, completely. (remember, the ADA definition of "disability" allows for remission and/or remedy through therapy/meds/... and you'd still be considered "disabled")

Unfortunately one of the common misconceptions.

https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm said:
The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability.
 

Rainman8772

MyPTSD Pro
Nope. That's not the requirement. The task must help with your disability/be specific to your disability. You do *not have to* be disabled to the point of not being able to do the specific task on your own, completely. (remember, the ADA definition of "disability" allows for remission and/or remedy through therapy/meds/... and you'd still be considered "disabled")

Unfortunately one of the common misconceptions.
You are correct. We are on the same train of thought but your wording is better suited on it.
 

siniang

MyPTSD Pro
Trying to get away from following single individuals on IG ...

Can any of you recommend good SD groups on FB?

I realize you might not be willing to share because it could potentially impact your anonymity. And I'd totally understand. But no harm in asking, right? :)

(When looking for social media groups, I'm usually overwhelmed with all the various choices - particularly if there's like a gazillion of groups - and I prefer to go through recommendations rather than potentially ending up in crappy ones)
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
So has anyone had experience training a SD yourself? I just adopted a newly retired explosive detection K9. She is 7 years old and we served together overseas. She is my best support now that we are finally back home. I had her approved as an ESA in my apartment after a long hard process that involved a lawyer. Now I would like to have her trained to be my SD so I can take her to work but because of COVID no one in my area is doing in-person training.
Yes but 7 is REALLY late to train a service dog. It takes 2 to 3 years to fully train a service dog and service dogs usually retire from service work from 8 to 10 years old. 8 ish for those doing mobility work.

I would look for a younger prospect if you need a service dog and keep this dog as your ESA. I understand the bond but you need to ask yourself can your dog do the work you are asking of it and how fair is that to your dog?
 

Sideways

Moderator
She is 7 years old and we served together overseas.
I'd explore this aspect of it. You're not retraining a dog from scratch. You're not building a new relationship with a dog. This is a dog that already knows you, how your distress levels present, how to work with you individually as the handler...

I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and may be way off, but when you're out with this dog, as opposed to out on your own, does that change the presentation of your ptsd symptoms?

At 7, this dog will probably react to bomb detection for the remainder of its working life (which is likely 3 years-ish). But if you work with a qualified trainer, they could tone those responses down, and amplify the way the dog works with you already.

As an example: having the dog probs may make you naturally feel safer, and the dog standing between you and other people, keeping them at a distance? That's called "blocking", it's a cinch to teach (especially a dog that has a history of working like this one). If that, all by itself, alleviates your ptsd symptoms? That's an SD task right there.

If this dog has been trained to display aggression in certain circumstances? Then it's a wash. Not gonna work. Not in the timeframe you have.

If you were to make a list of the major symptoms you experience, and the things that an SD could do? There's probably at least a few that you could teach this dog quite easily to qualify as an SD.

Because this isn't an ordinary dog. And you already have a working relationship with the dog. The dog knows you, and you no doubt know this dog and what they're trying to communicate to you pretty well.

I can't disagree with the "check out Youtube" suggestion more strongly. It's idiot central. Go to professional organisations that specifically certify SD trainers and get references from them for someone in your area. You will save a heap of time.

Youtube is now awash with every idiot with a dog and a phone that thinks their way of doing things is the shit. Go to the organisations that have accreditation and animal behavioural certifications. You'll more likely find someone that trains dogs using the same methodology that this dog is used to. Which is important if you want to work with a dog that's had a pre-existing worklife.

Once you've found a trainer that has the right skillset? They'll often have a Youtube channel or FB page that can refer to to supplement your work with them. But a random Youtube search? Unfortunately there's trainers on there that just don't know that they don't know squat. But there's also trainers who are so bad that they've had professional reprimands, licenses banned etc - but they get to keep using forums like Youtube and FB irrespective. Anyone can tell you "I've got formal qualifications and been doing this for 30 years...". If that's true? They'll have professional certification to back those claims up.

Working dogs switch careers very often. A professional, qualified trainer will be able to pull this off probably without a whole lot of hassle.
 
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lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Youtube is now awash with every idiot with a dog and a phone that thinks their way of doing things is the shit.
Hard agree there! And the service dog community on youtube is even more of a shit hole of poorly trained or not trained at all "service dogs" and young teenage handlers that won't take even the slightest bit of help let alone seek out a professional.

A professional at 7 yrs old is most certainly needed at this age. I agree that tasks are easy to train and take no time. Public access is the hardest to train and take the longest. If the dog is great in public, then maybe just train the tasks as you go and freshen up on the public access stuff.

In the US, dog training is unregulated. Any dope can just pop up one day and call themselves a dog trainer and take clients and money and have never trained a dog in their life. Personally? I would look for ones that do train service dogs. There are some good dog trainers that only train service dogs for veterans and some that will do so for free. And yes, look for the certifications. They are out there to get. They just aren't required. Which is sad if you are talking about a life.
 

Sideways

Moderator
In the US, dog training is unregulated.
Yeah, it's fundamentally unregulated most states here as well. But I think you guys at a minimum have a Canine Council (or similar - state branches etc)? Organisations like that are a great place to start for a referal, calling them up, checking their websites etc. Because legit trainers will be members or organisations like that. And shit trainers will have been banned from organisations like that.

It's a big community and a small community at the same time. People who do harm and have trainers come in to fix their mistakes? Word gets around. The people behind the scenes will often have a rough idea of who the idiots are and who the quality are.
 
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