Here is a link to 20 years of research that looks at why specific-bred guide dogs are removed or "washed" from work. This is important to look at as more and more people are owner-training dogs they have chosen as service and assistance dogs. If professionally bred dogs have issues, then it's no surprise that dogs chosen from pet and sport dog lines will have problems. The key is to choose your next service dog candidate carefully. Choose the right breed. Look for parents who are fearless. Look for breeders with mature dogs and multi-generations so you have a better feel for their potential.
A quick summary of the findings:
In the study 83% of the dogs retired. The reason for other dogs being removed from service were:
environmental anxiety, training issues (a lack of willingness to work or confidence) and fear and aggression.
Other reasons were chasing, lack of attentiveness, social behaviour, excitability and distraction.
An average service dog's working life is 3097 days. Dogs removed from service for behavioural reasons lost between 1,580 – 2,286 days of work.
Different issues were associated with dogs of different age categories.
Young dogs under 3.5 years of age were more likely to be removed for fear and aggression.
Training issues were the reason for removal of dogs older than 6 years.
Sex may also affect the type of behavior that triggers removal. Fear, aggression and chasing were more often cited in the neutered males (All guide dogs are neutered).
Breed may as well. Behavioral reasons for Labradors were the least likely reason to be removed from work. German Shepherds showed the most fear and aggression.
Note that this study does not include mention of dogs that were removed for health or other non-behavioral reasons. They are other things to consider.
This research points to the need to carefully choose your next service dog candidate. Not just any dog will do! Check out our FREE Service Dog Selection Class. There are many things to consider!