Author Topic: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?  (Read 816 times)

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Offline mrsprincesslily

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Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« on: May 05, 2017, 08:51:15 AM »
My son (7yo) has ASD-1, and is high functioning.  Outside of the home though can often trigger stress (fidgeting/pacing, overstimulation leading to meltdowns/shutdowns, and on occassion disorinetation).   During school hours, my son had a lot of difficulty with overstimulation which caused many shutdowns to occur.  Also during loud auditory tests (fire alarms), my son can become quite disoriented.  Due to this we turned to homeschooling, because the school wasn't supportive with his needs.  I am happy to say that he is doing well both academically and emotionally now, and while meltdowns could occur, they are not to the extreme that we saw in the school system.  He also does quite well regulating when deep pressure is applied however cannot process when to help self regulate himself.  Public settings to tend to be difficult for him still, and am wondering if a service dog would be the right fit for our family.


I have been around dogs my whole life, and currently own (since he was a puppy) a very well rounded and behaved 14yo dachshund, however he would never have been a good service dog due to his anxiety.  Because of training, and outlets for stress
we have never had any behavioral issues with him and the kids (we have two), I also helped both kids learn how to behave around him and have never allowed them to climb on him, pull his ears, etc.  I also used to take animal behavior classes in school, so I am familiar that a lot of factors both environmental and genetic components go into the outcome of a good service dog. However I know with all of the testing (ATTS), etc. there is never a true guarantee of a "perfect" service dog.

While I have the time and energy to help train a service dog, and feel that owning/training one would help establish a bond with them as a pair, I am just concerned about taking on that responsiblity - I don't think I will do it right now as we simply don't have the room for a service dog right now, however we are in the process of moving to a larger home with a large yard.  However I would like to take the time now to look into this as an option. 

Since I am looking into OT (Owner-Training), do you think this would be a possible option?

Here are the steps I am looking into:
I would like to consider screening for a good service dog breeder
Basic obediance training and socialization
Training for service

Since this would be our first service dog, I may outsource disabiliity training because this part is unfamiliar for me.
Do you have any concerns/questions?  While I think this would be a good idea, while the service dog is a medical tool - he is also a living breathing animal and a commitment, which I take very seriously and so I don't want
to be irresponsible with this decision.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2017, 09:07:10 AM by mrsprincesslily »

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2017, 12:28:51 PM »
A 7 year old is not going to be mature enough to handle a dog by themselves.  That would mean it would have to be a triad team with a designated adult to supervise the dog.  What happens then at school?  Our schools are under funded as it is, so asking them to supervise a dog on top of the children is not reasonable.  Do you then send a parent to school every day or leave the dog home, and how do you address that with your child?  I've seen it get very messy.

If it were me and my child, what I would do instead of a triad service dog is a skilled companion.  YMMV.

Please do not tether and use the dog to stop the child from bolting as we have seen this go very badly.  I don't think you mentioned doing that, but it's so often done with children on the spectrum I thought I'd mention it up front.  I've done extensive interviews with adults who were tethered to their parent as children and animal behaviorists as well as journal research and personal observation.  This is a very dangerous thing to do because it puts the dog in a high stress situation where he may be forced over a threshold and into fight or flight and it puts the dog in control of a human child, something that should never be permitted.  The child should always rank higher than the dog (dog obeys child, not the reverse).  I know I'm jumping the gun on tethering and apologize.  You probably aren't intending to do that.  I just worry.

Are triad teams legal?  Yup.  For some people they work but for a lot it turns out to be more work and stress than it's worth.  It will almost certainly increase stress in the adult from having to supervise what amounts to another toddler on top of human family members and may exacerbate social issues for the child because of an increase in confrontations over the dog (businesses or members of the public objecting to or interfering with the dog).  It works for some people.  It's pretty awful for others.  So I suggest an exit strategy like not telling the child the positive expectations but going very slowly and playing it by ear so you don't wind up with a child attached to having the dog along and then finding out it's not actually workable.  That's how I would do it if I were in your place.  Start out with places that permit dogs, like pet stores or some home improvement stores.  Don't take the dog everywhere, just selectively add new places very very gradually so that you can continue with those individual places only if you decide full public access is too much of a nightmare without ripping the rug out from under the child.

I also wouldn't start with a puppy but with a young adult.
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Offline Kirsten

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2017, 12:34:56 PM »
I didn't complete my thought on tethering.  The consensus among those I've interviewed is that the child should be tethered to a responsible adult human if bolting is a problem.  Adults who were tethered to parents as children have confirmed they understood what was happening and why and that this was the best solution.

So if a child is tethered, it should be child to parent and then child holding on to dog harness and parent holding on to dog leash.  This significantly reduces the risk of the child getting dragged or bitten by significantly reducing the stress on the dog.  Responsible adult is in control of both parties and can keep both safe by refusing to step into danger themselves.

If tethering is not needed, great!  Have the parent hold the dog's leash and the child can hold the dog's harness.  A kid doesn't need to be on the spectrum to think holding the leash is an awesome thing to do and it does help to keep the procession going in unison.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline c.geoffroyi

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2017, 02:50:10 PM »
I think the child is currently home-schooled, based on the first post.
Due to this we turned to homeschooling, because the school wasn't supportive with his needs.  I am happy to say that he is doing well both academically and emotionally now, and while meltdowns could occur, they are not to the extreme that we saw in the school system. 
So at least for now, unless this changes in the future, a decision of how to supervise the dog at school is not an issue.
~~Carolyn~~ (Ehlers Danlos, migraine, dysautonomia, sleep disorders, a scary mystery lung problem, and lots more fun stuff!) +Currently responsible for 1 pre-teen human, 3 cats, and a bunch of fish
https://www.razoo.com/story/aservicedog4carolyn

Offline Kirsten

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2017, 03:46:15 PM »
Thanks.  I missed that.
Kirsten and Tardis
In loving memory of Cole (1/11/99 - 6/26/12)  He gave me back my life.

"The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog." -George G. Vest

Offline cabinetofcuriosities

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 05:52:17 PM »
Something you didn't address in your post that I can see (or maybe you did and I just missed it) is what do you want a dog to do for your son? Like Kirsten said, tether dogs are very not good. But maybe you had something else in mind. What is your goal for the dog?

Offline swimmergirl247

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Re: Do you think my child (7yo) is a good candidate?
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 05:41:36 PM »
if it were my child I would wait unlit they are about 13 or so. kristin is right on the triad approach with the unlitmate goal being teh child eventually take control of the dog slowly as they adjust to each other and working together.

IMO I think too many parents jump the begun on Autism service dogs. this is the time wher eyou would will learn how to cope, in all service dog specialties the goals is for the dog to pick up the slack of what the person with the disability can't do for themselves. at this age your child may have a lot of things they can't do but with help and patience he could become even better using other approaches. techniques a methods,

I would also like to here what task you want the dog to learn to help your son with. tooo many parents (and I'm not saying you are one of them) get a Austins service dog to effectively act as a babysitter for there child, not taking into account the safety of the child or dog into account.

So I'd wait a few years then se where the pit fall as. is the ulitmate goal for you child to return to school? or do you think college is a realistic hope? then training a SD working as a tridad team and gradually "transfer" full control over to your son.

this could both is would be a several year process (raise the puppy, train the tasks, prooffing them, then involving your son though triad work) during which time you would basically be rasing as second child. it would be very time consuming and expensive. but the end gaol could very well be worth it.

th reason I say wait until your son is older is because at 7 you would Have to stay a triad team for safety purely because of maturity. I mean you wouldn't give the leash of a service dog to a average 7 year old and ask them to walk the dog though a mall would you?  likely until at least teh age of 10 or 11, which could stint his personal growth. but if you wait and focus on making him the best he can be now and then think about this down the road you should only need to be a triad until your son is confident and able to take full "command of the dog, without a safety net.

now you can get a rescue dog and start setting down the ground work (feeding the dog, making sure it gets out to pee, play, teach basic obedience etc) gradually make you son responsible for each step one by one until he does them all by himself. that will lay the ground work for owning and handling a SD and having to care for something other than himself.
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