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Are my spouse and our spoiled Eskie deal breakers?

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I am a middle aged woman with MS, who recently developed balance and mobility issues.  I am able to walk if I have something to hold on to.  I also suffer from overwhelming fatigue.  I am considering a BMSD to help me maintain independence.

I'm not sure this would be a wise move for me or for the dog.  My husband and I have owned several dogs.  It has been impossible for me to maintain discipline with them because my husband refuses to participate in training.  He has spoiled every dog we have had.  He gives them snacks and table scraps.  He encourages them to chase after squirrels.  He actually trained one of our dogs to chew on his socks and to run out the door to the back yard before him!  She did not have these behaviors when we first adopted her.  Imagine trying to extinguish unwanted behaviors in a dog while your spouse encourages them.  It just doesn't work.

I thought I might have some success with a service dog if I make it crystal clear to my spouse that the dog is mine, and he is not to interact with it.  Even if that works, I worry that a well-trained service dog could pick up bad habits from the spoiled American Eskimo Dog who we have now.  What do you all think?  Is it a fool's errand for me to try to partner with a dog in this chaotic environment? 

I don't let any of my friends or family members interact with my service dog in public except for the few times I need someone I trust to hold her leash for a brief period of time during specific types of medical procedures. When she is off duty in the house she is free to interact with everyone just the same as my pet dogs. I do her feeding and grooming unless I'm unable though and I issue her commands.

A pet dog with bad habits definitely can influence a well trained dog to pick up some of those bad habits as well. A service dog is even more likely to pick up bad habits if it is not coming fully trained from a program but rather being trained by the disabled person themselves. This is because an untrained, often young dog will not have the understanding of why it should refrain from the bad habits. It would be less about behavior slipping and more about not having a good frame of what to do and it being difficult to enforce good behavior with one dog and not with another. A service dog is going to be much more successful if you work with your Eskie to retrain some of those nuisance behaviors.

I think the biggest issue is going to be your husband. If he is absolutely adamant that he will touch, talk to, engage with, feed, and spoil your service dog whenever and wherever he pleases, it almost certainly will not work out long term for you to have a well trained service dog who maintains that training. It will be crucial that your husband truly hear the necessity for him to not spoil your service dog or encourage bad habits. It will make maintaining and furthering training extremely difficult and many programs would not consider placing a service dog in a home where not all family members are on board with complying with rules set out by the handler and/or program.

I'll give you my viewpoint but I'd encourage others to participate as well. I'm pretty experienced with obedience dog training but newer to service dog work. I have an older dog (almost 13), a 3 year old dog, and a 1 year old service dog in training.

Generally I've let my husband and kids be pretty laid back at home with our 3 dogs. There are a few things that I've made sure they agree too and are consistent with. An example would be if you give the dog a command to make sure that it is only given once and that the dog follows through on it. They can always choose not to ask the dog to do something. When we are eating I won't let any table food be fed until everyone is done eating and we've cleaned up. And I generally don't let the dogs stand in front of us begging while we eat. But I'll allow for table food to be given at the end of the meal.

As long as I'm consistent with my training with my service dog I haven't found the family to be a major issue as long as they follow a few boundaries. I can't think of everything right now as I'm pretty tired.

All of that being said - keep in mind that the other dogs in my house are very well behaved obedience dogs with a lot of training. My puppy does watch them for cues on how to behave and does mimic some of their behavior. So I think on the question for your Eskie it kind of depends upon how unbehaved it is. I'd assume you'll be getting a dog from a program and they can probably give you advice as well.

I'm not sure how much this helps...


--- Quote ---I don't let any of my friends or family members interact with my service dog in public except for the few times I need someone I trust to hold her leash for a brief period of time during specific types of medical procedures. When she is off duty in the house she is free to interact with everyone just the same as my pet dogs.
--- End quote ---

This would be true for me as well. If we are out in public my husband and kids are not allowed to interact with Serenity. The one exception that I make is when we leave someplace - like a restaurant - I'll allow them to interact with her briefly after we exit. I try to draw a pretty solid line that when we are out in public she is working and more like medical equipment/robot. At home if she's off duty she's basically a pet so they can play and interact pretty freely with her.

I do think that the Eskie could be a problem. I suppose it'd be possible to work around it, if you're very meticulous and careful, but I think it'd be extremely, extremely difficult.

Perhaps you can experiment with your Eskie? Think of it as practice for the future service dog. Decide what your rules will be when you get the service dog and start enforcing them with the Eskie. Practice training the Eskie. This could be a way for your husband to learn SD etiquette in a situation where it's not vital for him to know; so when you get the dog he already knows what to do, but if he makes mistakes with the Eskie it's not really a big deal. It would also be an opportunity to practice some training skills and to retrain the Eskie's bad habits so that it won't pass them along to the future puppy.

That's just a suggestion, though.

I personally never let my family interact with Max while he's working. That doesn't stop them from trying :dry:. It's difficult to be insistent, especially with family members. My family are literally worse than most of the obnoxious MOPs that I've met. And it's so much worse because they're much more distracting to Max than random strangers. So if your husband isn't willing to follow the SD rules, then it definitely might be a problem.

At home, Max is just a pet. He gets loved on, snuggled with, 'illegally' fed by family members when I'm not looking (:mad:), cooed at, played with, teased, and so on. But in public, I ask that they pretend he's not even there, other than to not step on him.


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