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how large should a balance dog be?

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analyn:
If I get a dog to assist me with balance and mobility--how large does the dog have to be?  I am on the small side--5 feet 3 inches tall, but a little over weight about 148.  My condo is fairly small--and although I love GSD etc, I just can't imagine that much dog in my little space.  Can I get away with a medium sized breed?  Does anyone here use a smaller breed for balance and stability?  And if so--what are good breeds for it?

Kirsten:
It depends how you intend to use the dog for balance and stability.  How are you picturing that working?  What kind of gear are you picturing using?  Are there some kinds of balance work a smaller dog, say 50 pounds can do?  Sure.  There are others they cannot.  But in all honesty if you need balance work from a dog that a 50 pound dog cannot do, you most likely should be using a walker instead of a dog.  Well actually, if all you need is help with balance you should be using a walker instead because they cost a lot less, take up less space, are more reliable, cause less problems with access and fitting places like planes and restaurants, and they don't get sick and barf or need to toilet in the rain.  So I'm kind of assuming there are other things you need the dog to do that a walker cannot and those things may also factor into size. For example, size affects the weight and size the dog can retrieve and carry, and where he can retrieve it from and where he can put it.  It affects things like operating door knobs and light switches.

Is there a reason why you aren't going through a program for your first service dog?  Because a good program would evaluate your lifestyle, living situation, worplace needs and disability needs and do all the figuring for you of what is the right kind, size, shape, temperament, etc. of dog to match your needs.

meeshymoosh:
I agree with Kirsten about going through a program to see if they can assess your needs well.

I use my 80 lb GSD for mobility, which includes me bracing up off the ground, down to the ground, and on stairs. I'm 5'8.  He's very big and hearty, and I wouldn't feel comfortable doing the same to a smaller boned dog. Then again, I wouldn't know what a particular dog could do if it weren't for my program's experience and knowledge.

analyn:

--- Quote from: Kirsten on September 08, 2017, 10:31:18 AM ---It depends how you intend to use the dog for balance and stability.  How are you picturing that working?  What kind of gear are you picturing using?  Are there some kinds of balance work a smaller dog, say 50 pounds can do?  Sure.  There are others they cannot.  But in all honesty if you need balance work from a dog that a 50 pound dog cannot do, you most likely should be using a walker instead of a dog.  Well actually, if all you need is help with balance you should be using a walker instead because they cost a lot less, take up less space, are more reliable, cause less problems with access and fitting places like planes and restaurants, and they don't get sick and barf or need to toilet in the rain.  So I'm kind of assuming there are other things you need the dog to do that a walker cannot and those things may also factor into size. For example, size affects the weight and size the dog can retrieve and carry, and where he can retrieve it from and where he can put it.  It affects things like operating door knobs and light switches.

Is there a reason why you aren't going through a program for your first service dog?  Because a good program would evaluate your lifestyle, living situation, worplace needs and disability needs and do all the figuring for you of what is the right kind, size, shape, temperament, etc. of dog to match your needs.

--- End quote ---

If I get a dog, I intend to go through a program.  However, I have not yet decided if I will get a dog yet, which is why I am reading/asking questions.

A walker would be a great solution if my problem was consistent.  I have a vestibular disorder and 85% of the time I am fine.  I have periodic episodes of extreme vertigo.  When I am not having an episode I move normally, which means I am loath to haul around a dog (or a walker) all the time.  However, my doctor recommended it--so I am looking into it.   I know zero about gear etc. I had never considered a service dog until about 48 hours ago when doc brought it up. 

The reason the doctor pushed the dog is because some daily activities that involve head movement can bring on or worsen vertigo--like bending to pick up a dropped object--a dog can be trained to do those activities--so that I would theoretically have fewer episodes.  Also--the best treatment for Meniere's is cardio--and although it would not be a "trained task" walking a dog would force me to get the exercise that I need--which also means fewer episodes.  Additionally, I work from home--and stick pretty close to home.  Since I don't routinely need balance assistance, it may be difficult for me to get in the habit of consistently lugging a walker from room to room in case I need it--but with a dog it would stay by my side--or I could call it if I needed it...

a bit smaller dog would be able to pick up things but could they occasionally balance me when I need it? 

Meniere's is a lifelong condition, it can only be managed not cured (at the present). 

Kirsten:
Okay, so I fall over when I look up or down or bend up or down too.  The thing is a 50 pound dog probably isn't going to be able to retrieve to hand for a standing person without that person bending over.  My 85 pound 26" inch at the shoulder dog could do it, but my 80 pound 25" at the shoulder dog cannot.  I'm 5'4" plus an inch for shoes.  Not without bracing a paw on the handler, which is in itself a problem for handlers with bad balance.

In home use only, dog could be smaller yet because dog could retrieve walker instead of doing balance work itself.

See this is what I'm saying about talking to a program.  You're getting into detailed specifics of your situation that affect how you would be accommodated by a service dog that you aren't anticipating because you haven't done it before and though I can anticipate a lot of it, I don't know your full situation (which is not my business).  I can answer in generalities but I don't think those answers in this specific situation (trying to figure out if a service dog will work in your unique situation) are really going to give you the best guidance.  I think you'll get the best guidance, the answers that are most useful to you as an individual person, by talking to a program that is willing/able to work with people similar to you.

And frankly, it may take some time to find a program, especially the right program and you're going to have to ask them a lot of questions to determine that.  By the time you sort out whether this is a good move for you, you'll probably have a really good idea of what program you want to work with too, if you put these questions to likely programs.  If a program doesn't want to talk to you to help you determine whether this is the right choice for you, then they aren't a program worth bothering with because you're going to have a bleepload of questions not just prior to placement but during team training and very much so during the first year after placement.  They need to be very good at answering questions and very willing to answer them

Instead of you trying to figure out what size to ask for, they'll assess your situation and tell you what you need.  They've been at it so much longer than you that they'll be in a much better place to work out the details.  What you need to focus on is what you cannot do without assistance and what assistance you need, then talk to programs about whether they can produce a dog for you that will provide all or at least the least that is absolutely necessary assistance that you need.

So that's why I assumed you were planning to owner-train.  Usually when people start talking about choosing characteristics in the dog that is what they are doing.

I think I recall you mentioning a smaller home and that was a main reason for considering a smaller dog.  But your program might decide a less active but larger dog is the better answer, one that doesn't mind being in a smaller space for long periods.  Their job is to try to match what they have with what you need.  The match doesn't always turn out the way you might expect or assume.  The thing is, if you try to make decisions now about things like size, you tie the program's hands to an extent.  So it's in your own best interest not to try to plan anything about the dog yourself, but to discuss it and negotiate it with your program so that you both agree together not necessarily on a type of dog but on a specific individual dog that can get the job done.

Does any of that make sense?  I'm a little distracted trying to multitask and on a deadline.

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