Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 3 of 3 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
97 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wanting to get a dog to train to help my mom but more importantly serve as a companion. She has trouble getting around it would be great if I could get a dog to pick up things she drops, fetches stuff, etc.

Here are the kickers:

Her place has a tiny yard;
She can't take them for leash walks (unless they are brilliant on leash) as she can't walk well;
The dog will spend the majority of it's life in the house, in a tiny yard, or in a car (so no herding, hunting, etc.);
The dog can't be too rambunctious as she isn't steady on her feet.

Her current dog is 9 and about 40 lbs. He is a mutt I got in the South Pacific.

Thoughts? First and foremost is a dog that is a companion, but personally I'd like to keep it for a year, train it, then give it to her to do basic tasks like sit, stay, pick it up, fetch, etc.

I have a pretty good handle on larger dog breeds, but have never been interested in smaller breeds so don't know much at all about them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,405 Posts
There is a reason that Labs, Goldens, and GSD are used as service dogs: They are strong, tough, smart, easy to train, and they want to please. All can be taught to walk loose leash and off leash ( retrievers were bred as hunting dogs meant to walk with the hunter quietly and then retrieve ducks). Each individual has a slightly different personality type within a breed, with lots of overlap across breed lines. A Lab might be tough and 'indestructible', forgiving of owner mistakes. A Golden may be a little more sensitive and happy to be inside with the owner. Ditto with a GSD. I think a 1yo GSD may be calmer than a 1yo Golden or Lab. I have a preference for Lab mixes b/c I like how a 3yo Lab grows into a companion that learns my habits and becomes part of my lifestyle. But, Goldens can be softer and less rambunctious. And, GSDs want to be trained, they love to work ... making them excellent Service dogs.

None of these dogs needs a large yard, they can be taught to 'fend' for themselves, and may be able to help/support your mother walking.

If you know big dogs, you already know this. We have some folks in the forum who are experienced with GSDs as service dogs. I imagine there are some Service dog centers near you that might tell you about their experience with Labs and Goldens.

Jennifer Arnold of Canine Assistant near Atlanta, Ga. has written a few books [ Through a Dog's Eyes etc.] about her experiences.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
173 Posts
So, you're looking for a dog to offer assistance. Are you looking for a dog that will also be able to accompany her in public? Or does she not really go in public alone enough for this to be needed?

Are you just looking for a dog to pick up light-weight dropped items? Or are you wanting a dog that can help with things like loading or unloading laundry, taking off clothing, possibly offering an opportunity for bracing to get up/down, or offering stability in balance?

How much exercise can she give the dog, aside from letting it out into a small yard? Is she willing to go out of her to do things like play fetch, hide treats/toys for the dog to find, offer enrichment opportunities through feeding toys, etc?

Does she have any size/color/coat/temperament preferences? Is she OK with a dog that's likely going to be following her around the house, or does she want a more independent minded one, for example?

Are you willing to buy a puppy from a breeder, and do you have a restrictive price range (most breeds go for a minimum of 1,000-1,500 for a dog from health tested, proven parents)?

I always say that the most common breeds used in service work are Labs and Goldens for good reason. This is largely because of their combination to be easy to train and motivate and be naturally trusting of strangers, usually with very little tendency toward defensive behavior. For mobility work (especially picking up dropped items) they also have a strong natural inclination to retrieve and to find retrieving rewarding in its own right, which makes it very easy to teach them to pick up something that was dropped or to go get something the owner needs (like the remote off the couch or a bottle of water from the fridge). In talking to people who have attempted the same work with other breeds, I've come across a lot of stories of people struggling to get the same reliability as in natural retrievers. It's harder to teach and they tend to find it less rewarding.

That said, it doesn't sound like an ideal situation for a large breed dog. I would probably suggest a smaller breed dog that can be adequately exercised in the house, and perhaps given a small size and training actually be walked. I do know of people who use smaller breed service dogs. I would be looking for small breeds known for being more biddbale/engaged in training, that have a reputation for enjoying their work. Also keep in mind that they are only really going to be able to retrieve small objects, and even something like a wallet might be challenging. Something really small like a Havanese or a Papillion could work temperament-wise, but would probably be too small to pick very much up. Something like a Corgi would be bigger and better able to retrieve, but might be too large to be walked, which IMO should be done at least sometimes.
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
Top