1trueearthmama (1trueearthmama) wrote in dogtrainers,

Advice on suitability of breed for service dog work

Hello. We will be training a PSD, psychiatric service dog, for my fiance who is an Iraqi War veterin. He served in the USMC, United States Marine Corps, and now has PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as major depression. We are working with an organization that usually gets it's dogs from shelters, fosters them for 2 weeks in the homes of volinteers and then trains them with the veterins, using a guided owner trainer approach. However, with a 3 year old child, 2 Siamese cats who were tragically born without either balls or backbones, I.E. they are super passive, gentle cats, and 2 Seeing Eye Dogs who cost upwards of $67000 each to breed, raise, train and place in our home, so I just didn't feel comfortable bringing a shelter dog into our home. The trainer, who is also the head of the program told me that if I wanted to purchase or adopt a pure breed dog from a breeder or from a very reputable breed rescue with a much more extensive screning, temperment testing and fostering process that we were welcome to do so. I've been looking around for an adult dog between 2 to 4 years of age, male or female from breeders and breed rescues for the following breeds: golden retreavers, labrador retreavers, german shepherd dogs, dobermins, rough coat and smoothe coat collies, boxers, and standard poodles, which comprise 99% of the guide dogs in the US and are commonly used in service dog work. I have had the most success with finding adult collies, of the smoothe and rough varieties, note, not boarder collies, and have several perspective dogs that I am looking at. I didn't have a spacific preference, but the collie breeders have been the most helpful, had the most possible candidates and it's just sort of worked out this way. I am very familiar with GSDs and labs and somewhat familiar with goldens, dobermins and far less familiar with boxers, poodles and collies, so I am here to ask a few things.
1. Are there any training tips spacific to the collie breed that you can recommend that we keep in mind? This program uses primarily positive reenforcement, clicker training, verbal correction, capturing and shaping with it's dogs.
2. Do you think that this would be a suitable breed for the work? PSDs do things like go into a dark room ahead of the handler to turn on a light, pick up dropped objects so handler doesn't have to expose their back, walk a little ahead of heal through crowded areas to help descourage people from entering the handler's personal space, moving to body block approaching individuals from the front, side or behind to help maintain a comfortable distance for the handler, wake handler from a nightmare by sensing cortosol levels or other chemical or hormonal olfactory cues, comfort handler after a nightmare, interupt repetative or self harming behaviors like compulsive nail biting, paw and lick handler to bring them back to reality during a flash back, go and get help and or stay with and draw attention to handler if a flash back causes them to become unresponsive or to take cover, and so on.
3. Are there any particular benifits or problems associated with the breed that we should keep in mind givin the type of work we want to train this dog to do?
Thanks so much for your help.
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