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Border Collies as service dogs


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I would like to know if border collies can be used as a companion dog for handicapped child. The child is autistic but smart, high energy and likes outdoors activity, has no sense of danger. The dog would basically track right with child and go where ever child goes and keep child safe as opposed to wandering off or be distracted away. BC's have some interesting herding qualities which could be useful ie., keep child from leaving property boundaries and keep child from entering any road where vehicle traffic may be encountered, keep strangers away, etc. Additionally the relationship between dog and child would have a desireable therapeutic value and the dog may also be registered and licensed as a service dog. Anyone with any knowledge regarding the subject please respond. Thank you

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It sounds like you are wanting a fully trained service dog. There are organizations that train dogs for autistic kids. Some even teach them to keep kids from wandering into roads. Even then, I wouldn't trust the dog to be 100% responsible for keeping a child safe.

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I would like to know if border collies can be used as a companion dog for handicapped child. The child is autistic but smart, high energy and likes outdoors activity, has no sense of danger. The dog would basically track right with child and go where ever child goes and keep child safe as opposed to wandering off or be distracted away. BC's have some interesting herding qualities which could be useful ie., keep child from leaving property boundaries and keep child from entering any road where vehicle traffic may be encountered, keep strangers away, etc. Additionally the relationship between dog and child would have a desireable therapeutic value and the dog may also be registered and licensed as a service dog. Anyone with any knowledge regarding the subject please respond. Thank you

 

When I was a toddler, "Ring" did exactly that for my mother -- kept track of me, kept me out of trouble. He had known me from birth and had nothing better to do all day than ensure I stayed within certain boundaries, once the dairy cows were sold. We were real pals, Ring and I. And it pretty much worked as planned. But there was a day when I announced, "Ring and I are going to the pond." Mom said, "Sure" absentmindedly, as she was working in the greenhouse - thinking that he wouldn't let me out of the yard. A half hour later she found me teetering on the edge of the damn, Ring right by my side.

 

The BC would need a great deal of specialized training -- the first potential trouble spot I see is that BCs can very easily develop a wheel fixation and end up in the road on their own.

 

It's expensive and a long process, but for the highest degree of safety (both for child and dog), there are other breeds that might be more suitable for your purposes. You could locate a service organizations in your area and start researching there.

 

Wishing you all the best

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I think that its possible that the right dog could be taught to move a child who was paying attention away from the road, but I doubt any dog could stop a human from going where he wanted without side effects you probably don't want as a family pet. Not to be mean, but I think your description of the dog you want sounds a bit unrealistic and Disney-esque. :(

 

Thats not to say that having a pet dog wouldn't be nice for the child, or that a well loved pet might not have a propensity to try to keep your kid safe, but I would never count on a dog alone to keep a kid from wandering off, and you would not need a herding dog to do these kind of tasks...in fact one who had the habit of rounding up people and trying to control their movement would not likely be a very good pet.

 

I think if you really want a SD you would be better off seeking a trained service dog rather than getting a puppy and hoping he has the right personality to undergo the rigorous training he would need to be competent at them. Not every dog has the right stuff to be a SD. I also wouldn't fixate on a breed.

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look for the member desertranger (up at the top under members) he has trained his dog to be his personal service dog and seems to be learning allot about service dogs in general. You can send him a private message, I don't think he's on here much lately. If you can't find him, you can message me and I will find another way to get you intouch with him.

Good luck

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I think a well bred Lab would be better for your needs. Have you contacted any service dog organizations?

 

Not to be mean, but I think your description of the dog you want sounds a bit unrealistic and Disney-esque

 

I agree with this. You're asking the dog to make a lot of complex judgment calls and perhaps even doing something that isn't possible - if the child is determined, they'll leave and short of threatening the child (biting, growling) there's not a lot that the dog can do to stop them.

 

A dog can have a lot of theraputic value to an autistic child and it's well worth looking into, but the child will still need supervision.

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The dog would basically track right with child and go where ever child goes and keep child safe as opposed to wandering off or be distracted away. BC's have some interesting herding qualities which could be useful ie., keep child from leaving property boundaries and keep child from entering any road where vehicle traffic may be encountered, keep strangers away, etc.

I have to chip in here and agree with those who have said that these expectations of a dog are not realistic at all. What you have written above is, actually, not what a Service Dog does. I recommend that you get in touch with the Service Dog organization in your area and find out from them what a service Dog actually does, and whether or not one would be suitable for your family and your child. As was said by others, the qualities that would be required in order to "keep child from leaving property boundaries" and "keep strangers away" are not really qualities that you would want to have in a pet. What would the dog do in order to accomplish these things? Snarl? Nip? I think that if you think this through and get some good information from a Service Dog organization you will understand better what would be most helpful for you.

Best of luck to you.

D'Elle

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We have adopted out adult dogs that have been trained as service dogs. One adult aussie has been trained not to let the autistic teenager out of the house, near the stove, and various other dangerous activities. I'm unsure of the scope at this point of his training but, he as an adult learned this stuff in about a month or 2.

 

We have another adult that alerts the dad to low blood sugars on the teenage daughter but, he exhibited this on his own. I'm unsure how they have worked this into furthering his training but, he broke down a screen door to alert the dad working next door of it and 2 other times.

 

Our last adopted adult just passed away (hemangiosarcoma) but, for 4 years he lead the son with Cerebal palsy(blind gait disturbance)around safely and kept him from danger.

 

We have others that do minor tasks some who have even come from bad situations first but, with the right owner and good training are wonderful service dogs. (border collies)

 

You may want to contact the rescues in your area for a safe adult to consider.

 

I came back to edit this and add that these dogs are also not pure bred border collies. The first is an Aussie possibly a mix. The second is a sheep dog and the third was a border collie mixed with Mal Husky?? as he was too huge to be a pure bred border collie in our opinion.

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Puppies in general are a roll of the dice as far as temperment and ability. I have a couple friends who are heavily involved in puppy raising/training for Guide Dogs for the Blind. They tell me that the wash out rate is close to 50%. And these are dogs from a breeding program that has been run specifically for temperment and health.

 

The dogs Dal and Mad's Mom spoke of were adults who had shown already that they had the right temperments, and happened to have other traits, (recognizing low blood sugar, for example) that made them good service dogs. This a happy accident, so to speak.

 

Please contact some of the established service dog organizations - Guide Dogs for the Blind, Canine Companions for Independence, Assistance Dog Institute, to name a few - and take a look at their programs and the work the humans and dogs put in to become useful.

 

I hope you can find a companion for your boy that helps him and your whole family. The tv shows and other media make it seem that finding a Lassie is as simple as picking out a puppy, but it's a lot more complex than that.

 

Good luck in your search, please let us know how you get on.

 

Ruth

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We have adopted out adult dogs that have been trained as service dogs. One adult aussie has been trained not to let the autistic teenager out of the house, near the stove, and various other dangerous activities. I'm unsure of the scope at this point of his training but, he as an adult learned this stuff in about a month or 2.

Do you know how exactly did the dog keep the teen away from the door and stove? Blocking? I would assume he also alerted a responsible person who would then come and intervene with the teen. Because otherwise, as others have said, what is the dog supposed to do-- snarl, snap, bite to stop the unwanted behavior? I do think a trained dog can be very helpful in working with an adult to keep an autistic child safe but not on his own.

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I totally agree with pp regarding the infeasibility of wanting the dog to prevent the child from leaving. First, the (admittedly few) autistic children I know are sometimes very very stubborn about something they've set their minds to do, more so than non autistic children who can be stubborn enough. The idea of using the "herding instinct" to control a child gives me chills now that I have both a child and an adult border collie who has been trained on sheep. Part of the herding instinct is that when the stock is not responding to more typical means of exerting influence, such as eye and pressure, which a child is not likely to respond to, a "grip" may be needed. And a grip equals a bite that could permanently disfigure a child.

 

Also, I insist that my dog to obey children that give clear commands. So I don't understand how you would incorporate this with an idea that sometimes the dog should obey the child's commands and in other situations the dog should understand that it is in charge of the child and should basically be issuing commands to the child (don't leave, don't go any farther, etc). Even if you could somehow train this, which I don't understand how you could, I don't understand how the dog could possibly carry it out. The best thing I could think of would be to train the dog to bark to alert the parents when certain situations occurred, and depending how far away that could be too late.

 

I think we've all read or heard of miracle stories where a dog prevents a toddler from entering the road or leads one out of a burning house it something. I am sure such things do happen, but they are not something I think anyone could reliably TRAIN or anything a parent should rely on to keep their child safe every day. If wandering is an issue, that child requires close human supervision.

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Do you know how exactly did the dog keep the teen away from the door and stove? Blocking? I would assume he also alerted a responsible person who would then come and intervene with the teen. Because otherwise, as others have said, what is the dog supposed to do-- snarl, snap, bite to stop the unwanted behavior? I do think a trained dog can be very helpful in working with an adult to keep an autistic child safe but not on his own.

 

 

Yes the dog is trained to block and bark if needed. He is a huge aussie and she is a very petite teenager.

 

I understand he does very well at his job. I also think he was trained more professionally by a certified trainer. I never said they were natural jobs but, the people had a service dog who died of old age and finances didn't allow a few thousand for another trained dog. Not to mention that the wait for a dog trained specifically for the childs needs would be long.

 

I also want to stress that these dogs werent chosen for hearding instinct but, their temperment. None of the teenagers are left unsupervised but, the dogs adjuncted their parents ability to make things safe plus the dogs enriched the childs life.

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Link, one of my border collies, is my psychiatric service dog (at home only, we are working on public access). He is a GREAT PSD, I hardly had to do any task training at all, because he naturally responded to my symptoms. That being said, I don't think I will choose a border collie for a PSD again after Link is retired, and I generally wouldn't recommend one. Border collies care TOO much about their owners, and it's hard for them to see them in distress. This might be different for other people that have physical disabilities, and in those cases I think BCs would make great SDs. However, I have a brother that is autistic, and know several people that are autistic, and I would definitely not recommend a border collie for them in any case.

 

That being said, many breeds make great autism service dogs. Labs, goldens and poodles are known to be great all around service dogs.

 

And they can definitely be taught things like blocking a child from entering the street, even leading a lost child home, in addition to many other things. However it's imperative that the child's parents know that this is not something they should DEPEND on. Rather it's there as a safety net. Also, I would definitely NOT encourage herding behavior towards a child. Here are some videos I found doing a quick youtube search of dogs performing blocking:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCJegPpVWkM

 

I am in the process of training Link to do a modified form of this behavior, where I can get him to block other people from getting too close to me on command. This especially helps in lines at grocery stores, where I often have a lot of anxiety being close to a lot of people.

 

Autumn

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