Pro Snake Wiggler
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: New England
Dogs Name: Creed, RIP Skoll, RIP Tiki
Titles: SD, CGCA, WAC, ATT
Dogs Age: 04/12/2014
Gallery Pics: 0 Visit Jazi's Gallery
Thanked 6,879 Times in 1,733 Posts
Just to make sure I have the correct information:
You're looking for a psychiatric service dog, for autism and a panic disorder, plus protection? What sort of protection are you thinking? Service dogs may not act aggressively in any capacity while working, otherwise they are a weapon. This is one of the biggest reasons my own doberman service dog was trained in sports in a way that keeps him focused on the equipment and the ritual, because there is absolutely no situation where aggressive behavior is tolerable while the dog is acting as a service dog. Very few dogs can do both bite sports and service dog work as a result, due to the relatively high chance of that behavior bleeding over.
Additionally, do you have any experience training service dogs? Why specifically a doberman? Dobes are not recommended for service work for a big reason and the instinct to protect is going to work against you throughout the dog's training. Finding a good dog is difficult, they have a very different attitude to this style of training than other breeds, and keep in mind that many dobermans literally drop dead at 4 years old- are you willing to risk that your medical equipment literally drops to the ground and dies as you enter a grocery store? My dog is 6 and I am already looking for my next service dog prospect because the chances that he survives past 8 are relatively slim. That's a lot of work to put into a dog to only get 4 years of "prime" working life out of them.
Additionally, protective breeds are not recommended for psychiatric work that involves any disability that produces meltdowns, panic attacks, anxiety, etc. Once again, your dog has an instinct to protect you. If you begin reacting as though something is attacking you, even if nothing is actually hurting you, the dog will be looking for something to protect you from. This creates a dangerous situation, because if the dog attacks someone while you're indisposed, you likely won't be in the correct headspace to fix the problem before a bite happens. Dobes are big dogs and a mauling could occur- they're more than capable of killing a grown man if dedicated to it. If you have to be approached by medical staff while in that state, and your dog tries to protect you from the EMTs just trying to do their job, understand they will call the cops and they will shoot- and kill- your dog to get to you if need be.
I know I probably seem like a big hypocrite, because my dog is a service dog and we train in bitesport, but as said there was a lot of targeted training to make sure that he stayed highly ritualized and did not have that behavior bleed over into his service work. A few years ago I was hospitalized due to severe abdominal pain everyone thought would lead to emergency surgery- his training was put to the test there as I was writhing and groaning in pain on a hospital bed as a stream of medical staff in a brand new hospital to both of us went in and out of the room to try and figure out what my problem was for several hours. At some points the staff had to take him away from me to wheel me into xray and other diagnostic imaging he couldn't be present for. We were there like that for more than 14 hours before they let me go home, some of that I was highly drugged and sedated. He impressed me that day as I knew that had to be hard for him to see me in so much distress and yet allow so many strangers to have access to me. He did not want to leave me when they took him away, but he did not fight them either. My disability is not psychiatric in nature, but still requires me to ensure that people can approach me when I am incapacitated like that.
Understand this is why your service dog cannot protect you in any way. If my dog had tried to protect me during what I'm sure he thought was all of those strangers hurting me (and sometimes they did hurt me! by stabbing me with needles and other medical equipment!) understand that I would have walked out of that hospital without a dog because they would have called for someone with a gun to take care of the problem. That's the brutal, honest reality of it, and why your dog cannot be protective and be a service dog at the same time. Do you really want to take that risk with your lifeline?
SD Rebholzer Chasing the Moon CGCA WAC ATT; Creed
Jazi's Stalkin the Light Bringer; Skoll [RIP]
Jazi's Tiny Toybox Terrier; Tiki [RIP]