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Old 11-25-2012, 08:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Doberman as service dog for 9 year old

Evening all!

I am new to the forum and researching Dobermans as a service dog for my 9 year old daughter. I have read, at length, the helpful details regarding finding a quality and reputable breeder, but would love to know if anyone here has personal experience with Dobermans as a service dog? Also, this is a child, and we have a younger child (age 4) in our home as well.

So, if you have younger kids and Dobermans, I'd appreciate your feedback as well.

Basically, I want to make sure that since this dog and my child will be spending a great deal of time together, that this is the right breed for the job.

Thanks for the input!

(I have located a breeder who has a litter due in the next few weeks. A reputable breeder by the standards posted here, and the grandparent of this new litter was a service dog.)


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Old 11-25-2012, 09:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What are the specifics with regards to your daughter's special needs?
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Old 11-25-2012, 10:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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One thing I thought of--if your daughter's condition might require strangers to be able to help her when she's unexpectedly incapacitated (a seizure, for example), the dog may not want to let them get too close, or they might be reluctant to try to go past him......but it really does depend on your daughter's needs, like EmilyB said.........
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great point I hadn't thought of before. Without going into major detail, her needs closely mimic what a child with autism would need (i.e. calming during anxiety, stress, self harm and self stimulation) it is quite assured that there will be situations where medical personnel would be assessing my daughter in which scenario, we would need the dog to act as a calming factor for her. In this scenario, she will be visibly agitated, so we will need the dog to be calm and evenly tempered.
Secondly, since this is her service dog, the will be times when she and the dog will be unsupervised.


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Old 11-25-2012, 11:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A few points to consider

I own a Doberman Service Dog. I adopted him from a rescue and my own trainer along with myself trained him to work as my mobility assist dog. He is wonderful and I got incredibly lucky with him. Having said that, I didn't adopt him for the sole purpose of training him as my service dog, I adopted him because I wanted him as a pet, the rest is a bonus. Not every dog is capable or willing to be a service dog. Actually very few are. I also adopted a female doberman a few month later. She is smart enough, even more so than my male dobe but she does not have the drive to work as a service dog.

I think there are a few people here on the forum who train service dogs professionally and might have more advise as to how to identify a dogs ability to become a service dog. From my understanding and experience, the doberman as a breed is capable of being a great service dog, but not every doberman or dog for that matter has the temperament or drive to become one. Also even so my male is "working" he still needs alot of physical exercise. His work mostly takes care of his mental stimulation but he still needs to run and play in the yard or at agility classes. In other word, even so he essentially replaces my cane, he cannot be parked like my cane when not in use.

I would think that the chances of you getting a puppy that will be able to work as service dog particularly with a child is slim. Getting a puppy who has a service dog in his pedigree might stack the cards a little more in your favor but is far from a guarantee. Many puppies that appear to have the right temperament wash out later for a variety of reasons.

So you need to know if your families lifestyle allows for the energy output a doberman requires. You need to realize that you will be putting years into this dog without any guarantee that he will ever be able to become a service dog. So are you willing to have the puppy for its own sake or is he simply a means to an end and what happens if he doesn't live up to your expectations. In deciding on the breed of service dog it's also important to consider what disabilities he is supposed to minimize.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Will this be a service dog primarily handled/reinforced by your daughter, or a family-assisted situation?

I think your daughter will be better served (and more quickly) by you guys finding a very good evaluator to help you search for a young adult animal, of whatever breed you end up choosing.

It will likely be a minimum of two years before the puppy you are thinking of acquiring can actually work effectively, especially in public. And there will be a transition period where the pup and your child have to learn to partner each other.

It's really kind of a myth that you have to have a pup to "grow up" with the child, for them to be strongly bonded and work well together. In fact, you can take "kind of" out of that sentence.

While I have had a couple Doberman service animals myself, and they have worked fabulously for me, I don't believe this is a breed that lends itself to the work without a very knowledgeable and proactive owner.

You have to constantly battle public perception issues--that's a heavy burden for a child to have to try to fend off. Even if you fend off, for the child, that kiddo is going to feel the negative energy and reactions that working a so-called "dangerous breed" entails.

And, yes, even if your particular animal is rock-solid in allowing medical personnel to assist the human partner--you will have medical staff who will fear a Doberman, and this can also cause problems.

To sum up, even though I adore the breed, perhaps this plan isn't the best for your daughter.

I think only you, with some very expert help on the ground there, can ultimately make that call, since none of us really know anything but the barest details (and yes, you should keep that private--and the public WILL ask why your daughter has a service dog, so plan on what you will say in answer to that).

"The dog helps her with some medical issues," is one really good response.

Anyhow, straying off track, will end by wishing you good luck and hope you find the right dog, purebred, or mixed.

Please don't overlook some of the prison dogs or shelter dogs--or, if you wind up deciding on a Doberman, find a reputable rescue and ask them if they have any suitable candidates.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:19 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I thought I wanted a puppy before I read about how busy & active & tricky the puppy & puppy teen stages are.

I think you might be better off looking for a young adult - one that is past the teething stage, especially with a younger child in the house. (For most types of dogs - I don't know that there are any calm puppies & you dont want your daughter to be uncomfortable with her service dog before she's even able to use it.)

You might do a forum search on biting, or have a good read through the puppy stages before deciding.
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Having had several of my puppies become medical assistant dogs, guide dogs for the blind, SAR etc I can tell you that it would concern me that a child would be responsible for handling a doberman. Dobermans can become very protective of their children so having someone else step in to assist her could be a problem. There are breeds much more suited for this particular situation.

While I would love to see a Doberman in this capacity I have to say I think it is the wrong breed for this particular situation.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Might I make a suggestion as an SDiT handler of my own future SD? I'm having to spend entire training sessions working on Evan's response when I go down and require assistance. He automatically goes to protect me, and gets very agitated and unhappy when I'm down and somebody is over me. Dobes are also quite the handful as puppies, and they're 80+ lbs of rambunctious, very physical, very powerful animals. I catch alot of flak for my breed of choice, and I'm working with several very good trainers.

Take a look at rescue Greyhounds. They are quiet, calm, gentle, loving and adult. They don't have the major protective instincts, and there's alot of them who really need homes. They tend to make good SDs, and I know alot of people working them
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As much as I love dobermans and will probably always own one, I also think that it is not a good breed for the particular situation. I have met many people, including police officers and medical professionals, who do not want to be anywhere near my dog. In a situation where people need to get to the girl, if the dog won't let them near they will either stay away or find some way to take care of the dog - which isn't always a good thing.

That's not even considering the hurtful things that people can, and will, say to the owners of this breed. That could also be tough on a little girl.
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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While i have never had or trained a SD, I do know of 2 dobes locally who are service dogs for adults.

I DO know puppies, though! They are a HUGE handful, particularly dobe puppies. And what ever service the dog is to provide will be at least 1 year to 18 months or so of intense training. Prior to that you will simply have a puppy, and all the craziness that goes along with it. Considering your situation, and your daughters, I would try to find a young adult who has been evaluated by someone with a great deal of knowledge about SDs who can steer you in the right direction.

Do you intend to train the dog, have you hooked up with one of the service dog orgs to get some more info?
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:42 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thor_Red View Post
I own a Doberman Service Dog. I adopted him from a rescue and my own trainer along with myself trained him to work as my mobility assist dog. He is wonderful and I got incredibly lucky with him. Having said that, I didn't adopt him for the sole purpose of training him as my service dog, I adopted him because I wanted him as a pet, the rest is a bonus. Not every dog is capable or willing to be a service dog. Actually very few are. I also adopted a female doberman a few month later. She is smart enough, even more so than my male dobe but she does not have the drive to work as a service dog.

I think there are a few people here on the forum who train service dogs professionally and might have more advise as to how to identify a dogs ability to become a service dog. From my understanding and experience, the doberman as a breed is capable of being a great service dog, but not every doberman or dog for that matter has the temperament or drive to become one. Also even so my male is "working" he still needs alot of physical exercise. His work mostly takes care of his mental stimulation but he still needs to run and play in the yard or at agility classes. In other word, even so he essentially replaces my cane, he cannot be parked like my cane when not in use.

I would think that the chances of you getting a puppy that will be able to work as service dog particularly with a child is slim. Getting a puppy who has a service dog in his pedigree might stack the cards a little more in your favor but is far from a guarantee. Many puppies that appear to have the right temperament wash out later for a variety of reasons.

So you need to know if your families lifestyle allows for the energy output a doberman requires. You need to realize that you will be putting years into this dog without any guarantee that he will ever be able to become a service dog. So are you willing to have the puppy for its own sake or is he simply a means to an end and what happens if he doesn't live up to your expectations. In deciding on the breed of service dog it's also important to consider what disabilities he is supposed to minimize.
I was hoping you would answer!
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:13 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Wow! I appreciate all the feedback. I am glad to have this information before becoming emotionally and financially tied to a dog, regardless of the breed and outcome.
We will be training ourselves and I understand about the puppy phase. I grew up with goldens, so I understand about the activity level, but the guarding and protective instinct of the Dobermans is an area with which I am not familiar. I cringe at the thought of a delay or interruption in medical care for my daughter in a crisis situation because of breed fear.
Forgive my naive question, but does that protective reaction come as a result of training or is it truly a natural instinct?



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Old 11-26-2012, 07:30 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjh View Post
Wow! I appreciate all the feedback. I am glad to have this information before becoming emotionally and financially tied to a dog, regardless of the breed and outcome.
We will be training ourselves and I understand about the puppy phase. I grew up with goldens, so I understand about the activity level, but the guarding and protective instinct of the Dobermans is an area with which I am not familiar. I cringe at the thought of a delay or interruption in medical care for my daughter in a crisis situation because of breed fear.
Forgive my naive question, but does that protective reaction come as a result of training or is it truly a natural instinct?



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Keep in mind that first responders have the legal right to have police shoot any animal which is considered a threat at the scene.

I'm sorry to go to the catastrophic, but just because folks are in a role of authority does not mean they will automatically have a good dog knowledge base, or exercise reasonable judgement with regard to a dog.

As for the protective instinct--it depends entirely on the dog. Buying a puppy is sort of a crapshoot, you know? Even if you choose your breeder and your lines carefully, and raise the pup the best you know how, that pup may grow into an individual entirely unsuited for service work.

That goes for any breed, but when choosing a high energy working breed, it goes double, and definitely should be considered carefully.

Acquiring an adult is so much more of a WYSIWYG situation. Once the dog has matured to age two-to-three-ish, you have much more of a chance of your expert getting a correct evaluation of the dog's aptitude for the work.

Perhaps you could investigate some breeder re-homes? Sometimes older pups or young adults will be taken back by reputable breeders, if the first home is for some reason unable to keep them.
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Old 11-27-2012, 10:14 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Protecting people was the original purpose of this breed, and many Dobermans are naturally protective. Neither of my Dobermans were ever trained in protection, and both of them have stepped up to protect me on their own. There's a varying range of it, and a breeder can help out with selecting the proper puppy for your family.

But honestly, I'd recommend against using a Doberman for your daughter also. As others have said, Dobes are big, strong, intelligent, protective, and carry a public perception of being potentially dangerous. That is a lot for a child to handle. I used to train service dogs and I can guarantee that she will have access issues to face, regardless of breed. Even though service dogs are legally permitted to be out in public, she'll run into people who challenge that. Adding a breed that's often percieved as dangerous to the mix is going to put even more stress on your daughter, when having a shop owner in your face about your service dog is already hard to deal with.

Dobermans are protective of kids, as others have said, and that will cause a problem if your daughter needs medical attention. A lot of what we do for patient care in an emergency can look very threatening to a dog. I'm always cautious around strange dogs, and being familiar with Dobermans, I'm especially careful around these guys because I know what my own Dobes would do if they thought I was being threatened. I also have dog experience though, but a lot of people don't. What isn't threatening to me could be seen as very threatening to someone else who just doesn't know what the dog is telling them.

Of course, Dobermans can make excellent service dog candidates for the right handler and assuming the right dog is used. But I'd just be very cautious about using a challenging breed like the Doberman for your daughter.

Last edited by River; 11-27-2012 at 10:19 AM..
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Old 11-27-2012, 11:21 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Dobermans are protective of kids, as others have said, and that will cause a problem if your daughter needs medical attention. A lot of what we do for patient care in an emergency can look very threatening to a dog. I'm always cautious around strange dogs, and being familiar with Dobermans, I'm especially careful around these guys because I know what my own Dobes would do if they thought I was being threatened. I also have dog experience though, but a lot of people don't. What isn't threatening to me could be seen as very threatening to someone else who just doesn't know what the dog is telling them.
x2!

When I went through a window as a kid, we still had the GSDs. When the ambulance arrived, they made my sister put away the dogs before they stepped foot in the door. Doesn't sound like much of a delay, but when you've got multiple GSDs freaked out because one of "their" kids is on the ground bleeding and screaming (just about sliced off a good bit of my left hand), and then suddenly tons of uniformed strangers appear at the door and they're freaking out about that too and you ask a 15yo kid (sister) to wrangle them up and put them away before you're willing to come inside... it's a process that takes a while. It was maybe 5 or 10 minutes before all the dogs were locked away upstairs and the medical team was willing to come inside to examine me. My injuries were not life-threatening and, aside from the hand, mostly superficial, and luckily the girls settled once my sister took charge of the problem, but in another situation that could have proved to be very dangerous for everyone involved!

My parents were not home that night, had gone out with church friends and left my sister and I to care for ourselves because they figured that an 11yo and a 15yo could handle being alone for 2 hours seeing as we'd done it before. Needless to say, we were not left home alone again until I was out of middle school, and they checked up on us every 30 minutes for the longest time. Now, these are GSDs and we're talking Doberman, but in a naturally protective breed this is not an abnormal thing to watch out for.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:30 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Puppy As Service dog

As a breeder myself, I have had two dobermans that have worked as service dogs. I would say in your situation I would be less likely to sell you a " puppy"...I would want to grow the dog out some, socialize it well and then evaluate it. I do see the concern of the child having a "seizure" or medical issue and the dog protecting her. I know someone who's husband had a heart attack after he walked to the elementary school to pick up his daughter, people around realized he was having a heart attack, but the dog took a protective stance and no one could get near the man. Needless to say by the time medical and police officers got there, the man had passed away. Sad situation !!
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:40 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Akolade View Post
As a breeder myself, I have had two dobermans that have worked as service dogs. I would say in your situation I would be less likely to sell you a " puppy"...I would want to grow the dog out some, socialize it well and then evaluate it. I do see the concern of the child having a "seizure" or medical issue and the dog protecting her. I know someone who's husband had a heart attack after he walked to the elementary school to pick up his daughter, people around realized he was having a heart attack, but the dog took a protective stance and no one could get near the man. Needless to say by the time medical and police officers got there, the man had passed away. Sad situation !!
How sad.

OP, why Doberman?? Not Lab or GR? IMO Dobermans are too powerful for the child. If a dobe is protective, it might cause another problem like Akolade wrote. These two things are my concerns.
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Old 01-14-2013, 08:41 PM   #19 (permalink)
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