ISO reputable breeder in Virginia for service dog work - Doberman Forum : Doberman Breed Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-23-2020, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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ISO reputable breeder in Virginia for service dog work

Hi! Im currently looking for a reputable active breeder for psychiatric service dog work (for disabling autism and panic disorder, as well as for protection purposes) in Virginia, or even slightly out of Virginia, but not several states over. I myself am in the Richmond/Petersburg area, but im willing to drive a couple hours or more for the right breeder.
Ive tried looking and had some difficulty finding active breeders, let alone reputable ones, considering the sites ive found are from like, 2017 and whatnot. I figured it would probably be most helpful to consult people who are more experienced with finding proper breeders, since frankly, I'm rather new to searching for breeders as I usually adopt, but for service work its pretty important to get a stable, well bred dog.
While I'm fine to wait for the right puppy, it would be really great to find a breeder with litters ready to adopt in about 3-4 months from now, and without a long wait list, but i understand that thats not very feasible a lot of the time.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 10:37 AM
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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?
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 11:19 AM
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And to look at it from the other side, not just the dog's innate temperament and training--if you are out and about and need emergency help, the people around you may be afraid to come near if your service dog is a breed with a bad public reputation for aggression, no matter how well trained the dog is.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 01:53 PM Thread Starter
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My apologies for the confusion, I more or less just meant protection as having a somewhat intimidating looking dog, and not necessarily for protection during work or even taking training for it. I live in a rather bad area so having a dog that "looks" a bit tough makes people less likely to target me here. I had considered dobermans for that reason, as well as knowing that they're very intelligent and friendly dogs. Again I'm sorry for the confusion there, I should have clarified better
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Also thank you for the honest advice, I really didnt realize dobermans had such a short lifespan. That was really a big reason I stayed away from Golden Retrievers, since the one i owned had so many health issues. As for training I'm going to be seeking the help of a professional trainer for assistance. Is there any other breed you would recommend or any other advice?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
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That is very true, I was thinking about public scenarios since I'm in a kinda bad area, but you're very right that I should consider how people would react in an emergency situation. Thank you for the feedback, I appreciate it!
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 03:19 PM
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Part of that might depend on exactly what he will be asking to do--for example, will he be needed to support someone, or to help them get up after a fall? Would he be needed more for emotional support and to provide steadiness for a person having difficulties in a certain environment? What specific tasks will he need to do--that kind of thing might determine what breeds of dog you need to be considering.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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Part of that might depend on exactly what he will be asking to do--for example, will he be needed to support someone, or to help them get up after a fall? Would he be needed more for emotional support and to provide steadiness for a person having difficulties in a certain environment? What specific tasks will he need to do--that kind of thing might determine what breeds of dog you need to be considering.
The sorts of tasks I would be asking for are the ability to detect panic attacks to prevent them, being able to calm and provide relief such as DPT and grounding during a panic attack/meltdown (and also to prevent any self harm during the attack), bringing medication and closing doors when im unable to, providing a feeling of safety and security to calm anxiety in public areas or work places.
Also i apologize if my messages come in late, im new to the forum so I believe they take a bit longer to go through :')
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 04:48 PM
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Posts will come through slowly at first with a newcomer, because the posts have to be moderated, and there isn't always a moderator online to see and approve the post. But you've posted a few times here, so your posts should be coming through almost instantaneously. Of course people who feel like they can answer your questions may not be online at the moment

I'm not really knowledgeable enough to get into the details of service dogs--I'm just asking questions to help narrow down what you are looking for. I don't know enough to recommend someone--but I'm thinking there's other folks here who know more and can give you some specifics.

So something to think about--

Are you planning on having the dog officially trained and certified--do you need a dog who is actually trained and approved to go into places where dogs aren't typically allowed? Beware of fake licensing organizations--if you are expecting to be able to claim that the dog is a true service dog, he will need specific training, not just a certificate of some sort with a cute little vest or collar that you can buy online. There are a lot of groups out there who are perfectly willing to hand you a piece of paper with your dog's name on it, but an untrained or poorly trained dog will reflect badly on everyone who needs a service dog and may even lead to service dogs being banned from certain places. You and your dog will be representatives of all dog and handler pairs--you don't want to mess it up for other people.

Or are you asking for a more casual sort of assistance dog that you're going to hang around with and have nearby who can help you out when you get into a difficult place?

For training and and certification, I imagine you'll need to track down an organization that deals with assistance dogs--I'm thinking they can help you figure out what kind of dog they would recommend once they know the specific tasks the dog will have to do. And of course, not every dog is automatically fit to be a service dog, even if you're choosing from a breed that is generally able to handle the work.

This might be a good website for you to check out for more info...

Assistance Dogs International
https://assistancedogsinternational.org/
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-24-2020, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Posts will come through slowly at first with a newcomer, because the posts have to be moderated, and there isn't always a moderator online to see and approve the post. But you've posted a few times here, so your posts should be coming through almost instantaneously. Of course people who feel like they can answer your questions may not be online at the moment

I'm not really knowledgeable enough to get into the details of service dogs--I'm just asking questions to help narrow down what you are looking for. I don't know enough to recommend someone--but I'm thinking there's other folks here who know more and can give you some specifics.

So something to think about--

Are you planning on having the dog officially trained and certified--do you need a dog who is actually trained and approved to go into places where dogs aren't typically allowed? Beware of fake licensing organizations--if you are expecting to be able to claim that the dog is a true service dog, he will need specific training, not just a certificate of some sort with a cute little vest or collar that you can buy online. There are a lot of groups out there who are perfectly willing to hand you a piece of paper with your dog's name on it, but an untrained or poorly trained dog will reflect badly on everyone who needs a service dog and may even lead to service dogs being banned from certain places. You and your dog will be representatives of all dog and handler pairs--you don't want to mess it up for other people.

Or are you asking for a more casual sort of assistance dog that you're going to hang around with and have nearby who can help you out when you get into a difficult place?

For training and and certification, I imagine you'll need to track down an organization that deals with assistance dogs--I'm thinking they can help you figure out what kind of dog they would recommend once they know the specific tasks the dog will have to do. And of course, not every dog is automatically fit to be a service dog, even if you're choosing from a breed that is generally able to handle the work.

This might be a good website for you to check out for more info...

Assistance Dogs International
https://assistancedogsinternational.org/
I definitely think I would need a dog able to be with me in public places that may not allow dogs, since I have a lot of trouble function in public areas due to my autism and panic disorder. Ive recently had to quit my job over just not having the ability to work without risk of a meltdown or panic attack, which really was a kick in the face about how serious it affects me in public. And luckily I was definitely avoiding the sites promising certification and whatnot after paying a heavy fee, because i know how scammy all of those are.
I greatly appreciate the link, its very helpful, thank you!
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 09:58 AM
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I'm not a service dog handler, so I can't speak to the tasks. I do have several friends that work for an incredibly reputable service dog organization locally, however, so I'm pretty familiar with them. This group breeds their own dogs, and trains them, and places them with individuals, including veterans with PTSD.

They exclusively use labs and goldens for several reasons, many of which Jazi spoke to. Their dogs are bred for health, longevity and temperament. While they may not look intimidating, I do think the presence of a dog alone can be a deterrent for people "bothering" someone, and the overriding need for a service dog to perform their tasks may be the higher priority. Just some food for thought.

Jaz may have some other breed recommendation, IDK. However, breeds that are "intimidating" may have similar issues to Dobermans, in that the reasons they intimidate people are likely the same breed traits as Dobes. Something to consider.

Are you working with someone to train your dog? I have a few friends with self-trained service dogs and it is NOT easy. It's at least a couple of years and you need to be a highly skilled trainer.


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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 02:06 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not a service dog handler, so I can't speak to the tasks. I do have several friends that work for an incredibly reputable service dog organization locally, however, so I'm pretty familiar with them. This group breeds their own dogs, and trains them, and places them with individuals, including veterans with PTSD.

They exclusively use labs and goldens for several reasons, many of which Jazi spoke to. Their dogs are bred for health, longevity and temperament. While they may not look intimidating, I do think the presence of a dog alone can be a deterrent for people "bothering" someone, and the overriding need for a service dog to perform their tasks may be the higher priority. Just some food for thought.

Jaz may have some other breed recommendation, IDK. However, breeds that are "intimidating" may have similar issues to Dobermans, in that the reasons they intimidate people are likely the same breed traits as Dobes. Something to consider.

Are you working with someone to train your dog? I have a few friends with self-trained service dogs and it is NOT easy. It's at least a couple of years and you need to be a highly skilled trainer.
Yeah, I'm definitely considering other breeds as well now thanks to the feedback. I'm not too educated on labs but I'm still very weary about Golden Retrievers(even though I adore them) as mine had so many health issues, but it may have been an issue with the breeder. But I'm certainly still going to consider them, and hopefully find a breeder who breeds for health/longevity.
And yep, I'm going to be working with a local trainer to help train them. As much as I'm confident in my skills, I know that service work is far different than regular pet training.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 04:38 PM
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Jazi really couldn't have said it better than I did.
I similarly got a Doberman as a psychiatric service dog. I also do (sport) protection work with her. Her temperament has been put to the test and I know she is one of a kind. I also specifically worked with equipment differentiation. The big disadvantage with that, is that it requires her to wear certain pieces of equipment for her to be on duty vs off duty when doing public access and it means I can't just willy nilly buy her a new harness or leash or collar or anything I've not generalised.

And in spite of this I'll be a hypocrite as well, I don't think they are ideally suited for this type of work because of issues Jazi has outlined, and even for the select few who have the temperament to do it, I don't think that everyone with anxiety, panic, PTSD and meltdown related disorders will 'mesh' well with those temperaments. It's very hard to explain, but I guess it boils down to the fact the majority of dobermans will feed off their handler's emotions and either mirror them or respond to what they now perceive as a potential threat in the environment. It takes a very special dobe to be attuned and sensitive to their handler's emotions but have a focused, counter-balancing response.

The other two breeds I see often recommended for service work are Poodles and Smooth Collies. In my province the largest guide dog org primarily uses Bernese Mountain dogs and Labs.
In terms of an intimidating looking dog, generally any large black dog will do a lot to deter visually.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 05:26 PM Thread Starter
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Jazi really couldn't have said it better than I did.
I similarly got a Doberman as a psychiatric service dog. I also do (sport) protection work with her. Her temperament has been put to the test and I know she is one of a kind. I also specifically worked with equipment differentiation. The big disadvantage with that, is that it requires her to wear certain pieces of equipment for her to be on duty vs off duty when doing public access and it means I can't just willy nilly buy her a new harness or leash or collar or anything I've not generalised.

And in spite of this I'll be a hypocrite as well, I don't think they are ideally suited for this type of work because of issues Jazi has outlined, and even for the select few who have the temperament to do it, I don't think that everyone with anxiety, panic, PTSD and meltdown related disorders will 'mesh' well with those temperaments. It's very hard to explain, but I guess it boils down to the fact the majority of dobermans will feed off their handler's emotions and either mirror them or respond to what they now perceive as a potential threat in the environment. It takes a very special dobe to be attuned and sensitive to their handler's emotions but have a focused, counter-balancing response.

The other two breeds I see often recommended for service work are Poodles and Smooth Collies. In my province the largest guide dog org primarily uses Bernese Mountain dogs and Labs.
In terms of an intimidating looking dog, generally any large black dog will do a lot to deter visually.
Thank you a lot for the feedback! I appreciate the honesty and information on why theyre not recommended for service work. Also thank you for the breed recommendations! Ill certainly look into those instead. I dont think Ive heard of Bernese Mountain dogs used frequently, thats very good to know
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 05:38 PM
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Bernese Mountain dogs do have health issues so it is a good idea to research a breeder and their lines thoroughly before commitment. That being said there are three other 'cousin' breeds to the Bernese that are healthier - but also less common. Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Appenzeller Mountain Dog and the Entlebucher Mountain dog.

You can take a look at MIRA's website if you want more info on the Bernese as an SD. That being said I want to be clear I don't recommend them as an organisation for a variety of reasons, but I thought you might be interested in seeing it firsthand.
https://www.mira.ca/en/our-dogs
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post #16 of 16 (permalink) Old 05-25-2020, 11:14 PM
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A few things:

Since you are in the US, there is no such thing as a "certification" for service dogs. Reading up on the laws surrounding service dogs as outlined by the ADA is going to do you well in the long run. While ADI is an organization seeking to obtain legal certification status here in this country, the long and short of it is that they do not run the laws of this country surrounding service dogs and that they are not an authority of what is vs isn't allowed. Read the actual ADA pages. Don't worry what organizations say. The law in this country is that service dog "certification" is not worth the paper its printed on because there is no one government standard outside of "helps with disability by specifically tasking, isn't aggressive, is potty trained".

Secondly, it is true that most organizations that put out their own service dogs are going to be using labs, goldens, and poodles as a VAST majority. If you do not need mobility work, then honestly that's where I'd go first. I understand that you hesitate to go back to goldens due to health problems, but I'd also say that genetically the dobe is in a worse position than goldens for health problems, so you're still more likely to have a better result if you stick with the most common three.

Creed's "retirement plan" as I call her is a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog puppy that is yet unborn. She's been in the works for more than two years now and I was supposed to be getting her already but her intended mother only had a singleton boy so now I get to wait for the next litter from the breeder. With the nature of my disability, I need a very big dog for mobility purposes, and even Creed is a bit too small for that at 80lbs. They, and berners and danes, are not uncommon when used by people who need the size, and GSMD are probably the healthiest breed of the three options which is why I chose them. Understand, however, that all giants have a shorter expected lifespan due to their size.

(and, not to fear, when Creed retires he'll still be living with me... just spending far more time lounging on my bed than hard at work by my side so he can be a grumpy old man without having to haul me off the floor for the 7th time that day)

SD Rebholzer Chasing the Moon CGCA WAC ATT; Creed
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