Author Topic: Question about owner trained service dog  (Read 873 times)

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Offline Isangformischa

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Question about owner trained service dog
« on: March 02, 2017, 11:03:54 PM »
Hey all, my name's Trish and I am 26 years old. I have been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in which I experience hypermobility which results in easy bone breaks, heavy fatigue and dizziness. I have also been diagnosed with anxiety disorder as well as bipolar disorder.

Now that there's background, my question. I have a dog, 3 year old American Staffordshire, who I originally got as an ESA for my anxiety. I've had him about 6 months  and spend a majority of my time with him. I'm pretty much either at school or with him. Now what Ive noticed he's begun doing: I tend to disassociate during a panic attack and can wander, he's been holding me down not so much as a hug but to keep me from going. We had an incident where we were attacked by another dog which made me panic, he actually led us back to our apartment. He will also in a way squish me between say him and the counter if I'm getting dizzy to prevent me from falling.

The above is nothing I've specifically taught him, he's just started doing them. My question is would those count as tasks? I am also sending him to training to refine his outdoor manners. He's great indoors but very excited outdoors and I'm hoping to have him pass the Canine Good Citizen test. 

Thank you!

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2017, 01:28:27 AM »
The definition under the ADA specifies "individually trained" so things that dogs do naturally, even if beneficial, aren't going to meet that part of the definition.  So if you're having other training done, why not do some task training as well?
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Offline Isangformischa

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2017, 09:50:03 AM »
I mean it'd be nice if he could hand me things from the ground. Sometimes my condition causes my back to, for lack of a better term, go out and I can't bend and that will happen for days at a time. If I'm having dizziness happening at the same time it doesn't help. I know he can't help me get out of bed, that type of stuff my fiancé does when he's home but getting stuff I may have dropped or just need from the ground would be a big help. Would that count as a task?

Offline Azariah

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2017, 02:03:26 PM »
I know of at least one member on our forum that has has EDS and has benefited from task work that a service dog does. Hopefully she will see this post.
Invisible physical and mental disabilities.
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Offline Ariel

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2017, 12:40:15 AM »
I have Classical Type EDS but also experience frequent subluxations and dislocations, though I only dislocate my right shoulder. I am most affected in skin sensitivity and hip laxity when walking. Sometimes these are more of an issue than others. I have a nearly 18 month old SDIT named Jubilee. I'll do an overview of her tasks that relate to my EDS.

Pull off clothing: My dislocations happen the most when I rotate my arm backward at the elbow beyond a certain degree or when I pick things up and my shoulder falls out of socket hanging and does not go back in and needs reducing so I can regain function. Jubi will pull my jackets off at the sleeve with the commands "Take It", "Pull", then "Out" to immediately release the sleeve when my arm is freed. She will also pull off my socks or pants on command.
Directed Retrieve: I can ask Jubilee to "Get It" and point to an object and she will go pick up the object and bring it to my hand. This reduces strain and saves energy, as well as further prevents dislocations with having to bend down and dangle shoulders to reach for things since my left is weak and my right dislocates easily. She also knows some item names specifically and can get the "Purse", "Leash", "Keys", "Shoe", "Flip Flop", "Bowl" and "Phone" on command out of a pile of things.
Phone Find/Retrieve: Jubi will search anywhere in the house (or hotel room as we are tonight) and locate my phone by scent and bring it to my hand. This came about after I tripped and fell once and so severely dislocated my shoulder that I could not self reduce, nor could I get my legs under me to stand. I had to scoot 6' or so over about a half hour time span to get to my phone on the dresser top to call 911. I live alone and never wanted to be in that position again. Doesn't matter if I'm sitting, standing, laying down, if I'm in the shower, Jubi will "Find My Phone" and bring it to me with that command.
Passive Block: Jubi will stand about 18" behind me, perpendicular to my back on her "Block" command. She's the cute spotty beardy creature in my avatar, so people notice her. I'd rather they do, they either notice and give us space or walk up and start petting her. I prefer people not pet her, but I prefer even less when people brush past me or knock into me in lines and other tighter spaces because it hurts, and it can bruise or scratch depending on how I get hit and if it's exposed skin or not.
Stairs/Curbs: Jubi is pretty good at waiting at curbs and stairs fairly automatically now. She knows "Step" as her command to advance two feet forward up or down the incline. I do not need to brace on her, but it is helpful to be able to touch her withers at times for proprioception.

In the works are:
Item Hold: "Hold" is a command she's got down but we're now adding duration and difficulty level to. Eventually I'd like her to be able to hold objects that are bulky or weigh up to 4-5 lbs potentially for fairly short distances for me to free my hands and not weight my shoulders any more than is needed.
Car Find: Jubi is now in the adding difficulty and generalization phase of "Find The Car" which is locating my car by scent and sitting next to it to mark the car she's searching for. I have difficulty with memory and mental mapping a lot of the time so it'll be helpful for her to lead me straight to the car.
Leading: Jubi is getting better at "Forward" which is her leading out with a harness with a pull strap attached. This will be useful with "Find Outside" and "Follow" as well as "Find The Car"
Following: Jubi is learning "Follow" where she trails a person I designate. This is especially helpful when I'm having walking difficulty and needing to focus on foot placement rather than looking up and where I'm going.
Hitting Handicapped Buttons: Jubi is somewhat there on her "Press" command, where she forcefully nose bumps a handicapped button or elevator button. This will prevent lifting my arm at a potentially awkward angle that would make a dislocation likely and flare my muscle spasms and nerve pain. I prefer the nose bump to paws because then there are no nails digging in or flailing on the wall. Helpful most when I am using my wheelchair.
Counterbalance: As Jubi gets a little older she'll start doing counterbalance with a harness with a soft handle. So far we've only worked on her leaning into me, which is useful when I'm at a stopped position and she can lean into my left leg (she heels on left) which is my weaker one and the hip I most recently had surgery on.

It's almost 2am and I'm tired, but I do know there are others, I'd have to reference Jubi's task list. I hope this was helpful.
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Offline Isangformischa

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2017, 01:00:17 AM »
This is very helpful, thank you. I wasn't aware of the follow command but that would help being sometimes I'm having weak walking days where I can't look up and I need to watch where I walk. I've broken my ankle off of a one inch step so I'm starting to do that more frequently. Pull off clothes with pants would also help, while my fiancé does help I can't use him as a "service human" forever. Thank you for providing those that I didn't know my dog would be able to help with. Side question, have you noticed your condition getting worse as you get older? Iim noticing the older I get, the more things are starting to dislocate and the harder it is to stand due to dizziness and such.

Offline Charlie Ann

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Re: Question about owner trained service dog
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2017, 03:33:02 PM »
Hi I am Charlie and finally got a diagnosis official for HEDS recently , depending on where you live this may or may not be something you need, right now i starting to teach my pup to slowly and gently pull off my gloves. (I live in Minnesota over half the year I am wearing gloves, due to my issues with cold, and the weather).
 The tighter the glove the more likely a dislocation is. Due to his young age, all the tings we are doing are behaviors he has displayed but simply need to be slowed down or down softly.
  Right now it's gloves, socks, stopping a curbs and stairs, as well as labeling doors, cars and trash cans (I have a visual impairment as well), so he will find them as he ages and at times now, when I have enough vision to show him it if he can't.


My eyes have four paws, she's a golden girl, who thinks nothing is better than a kind word and a ear scratch. With her harness in hand I remember what I didn't even realized I had lost, total freedom, without roadblocks or canes.
  Born in the month of pride with the name to match, June.