Choosing a Service Dog (5)
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Many people consider getting a Golden Doodle or other poodle mix. I recently discovered a great book approved by the Gold Doodle Association of North America. It is a fantastic book that provides a great overview of Golden Doodles! I recommend reading it BEFORE you line up a breeder or put a deposit down on a puppy.
It is clear that Golden Doodles and other poodle mixes are mixed breed dogs. They are not recognized as a "breed" by any organization.
Any other breed mixed in can be called a Golden Doodle.
They explain the F1, F2b etc.
Buying from a responsible breeder is key to getting the health, temperament and activity level that will best suit your lifestyle.
Check out breeders who are members or who follow the GANA code of ethics for breeding. They must do specific health tests on each parent. The parent dogs must be 2 years of age and not be bred after 7 years of age.
That there are four coat types: flat, straight, wavy and curled.
Straight and Wavy are the most desirable. Flat are the same as Golden retrievers (shedding) and curly is like poodle but often heavier (and requires more work to maintain and mat often if not brushed out daily).
There are different sizes. They have different temperaments due to different sizes of poodles being used as the parent breed. (Standard, moyen, toy and mini)
There is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. Hypo means "low" allergies, not "no" allergies.
People can be allergic to the proteins in the saliva, urine and/or on the dander of dogs.
There is a new test that can be done for the gene for an incorrect coat type (which is recessive). If breeders know if their dogs carry it they can breed accordingly to improve the probability of getting more of the desired non-shedding coats.
Doodles should not be washed any more often than once a month or the dog's skin may dry out and it triggers skin issues.
They are prone to many diseases common to both breeds, most of which can be tested for:
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (2 kinds)
- Von Willibrands disease (blood doesn't clot properly)
- Addison's Disease
- in the minis: luxating patellas
- congestive heart failure
- subaortic stenois
- heart murmurs
- ear infections ( may be related to allergies)
- hot spots
- interdigital cysts
Puppies should not go to their new homes until at least 8 weeks of age (This is written in state laws in most states).
Golden Doodles may vary in the amount of energy/drive and exercise they need depending on what lines the parent breeds are from. Generally, lines from hunting/sport may have more energy. Conformation/show lines may have less. (English lines may have lower energy needs than American sport lines.)
That positive reinforcement is best for training a doodle.
The book: (also available on Kindle as an e-book)
The GoldenDoodle Handbook Linda Whitwam 2016
GANA Member Breeders
There is also a Labradoodle club but the breeders ethics is optional to membership so do your due diligence when talking with the breeder to make sure to see the results of the health tests. Note that the temperament of the Labradoodle is different than a Goldendoodle due to the parent breeds being different breeds.
What I took away from the book is that golden doodles vary widely and that is because many of them are first and second generation dogs. It is not usually until after about the 6th generation when most lines will be more consistent in the structure and fur of the puppies.
Any dog with the 'goldendoodle' in the name can be a mix of a poodle and any other breed. I know of students who thought they were getting a golden retriever/poodle mix and instead they got a Great Pyrenees mix. Golden retrievers and Great Pyrenees have very different temperament, size and build from each other. Make sure to ask what the foundation breeds are for your specific litter!
The amount you pay for a Golden Doodle is usually set by regional demand for the dogs. Never pay ridiculous prices for pups whose parents have not been health tested. Ask to see the test results. A simple veterinary check does NOT qualify as health testing. The actual DNA has to be examined by experts so blood samples need to be sent out.
Note: They recommend that the breeders use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude test. Many research papers have found that such tests are not a predictor of the future temperament or personality of a dog but instead more of a reflection of what the breeder has already done with the individual pup.
Some breeders also will have the pups spayed or neutered prior to going home with their families. Others will ask for proof of spay or neuter at one year of age. If you plan to use the dog as a your service dog, males should be kept intact until at least one year or age and females 18 mos. This is to prevent the full normal bone development to occur before the hormones are removed. Removing the hormones (especially testosterone in males) can result in longer thinner bone structure, increased risk of cancer, hypothyroid diseases etc. In females spaying reduces the incidence of mammary cancer and pyometra but increases risk of cancer, low bone density issues the same as males etc. See our other blog posts on this. Extensive research has been done on both Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds on the juvenile spay or neuter topic. Neutering a fearful dog before maturation can increase a male dog's fearfulness.
If your dog has a "doggy" odor, check for fungal and yeast growth. They may grow in moist areas like between the foot pads and in the ears. Washing more often will not help. You will need to get a fungal or yeast treatment from your veterinarian. Washing their bedding will though if you treat the dog at the same time.
Curly coats that have a heavy texture can be very difficult to maintain and groom. They are more prone to matting that other coat types.
If you have a disability and are considering a service dog to help you mitigate that disability, here are some things to consider: (whether you self-train or get a dog from a program)
Is a Service Dog the Best way to Mitigate your Disability?
Make a list of your impairments, the things you need help with. Are there other non-dog ways that can help you?
What are your biggest challenges?
There are more and more assistive technology created today that is effective, undetectable and more cost-effective than a living breathing being.
- More portable
- More reliable
- Less intrusive
A dog may not always be available to help you.
Is it cost-effective? One time costs rather than ongoing costs of a dog (feeding, vet, grooming, training, maintenance etc)
- Having a service dog with you in public is stressful
- draws unwanted attention
- accessibility challenges
- emotional toll of failure
While the presence of a dog can help you feel safer, they cannot be protected trained or pose any threat to a member of the public. When you need help, a first responder will need to approach and touch you. A dog needs to be very comfortable with that. Especially if you are unresponsive and cannot direct your dog.
Considering Others Needs
To be fair, having a dog in public with you does affect others. Just as they need to respect you and your needs, you need to respect their needs. Whether it's fear of dogs, allergies or the effect of a dog on the health of other animals, the handler needs to think about the team's presence and impact on other people and animals.
Ability to care for a dog on a daily basis-getting outdoors for 4 X or more a day to potty, one or two exercise walks or training outdoors
Ability to go out into public for acclimation, training and public access work?
Dogs make mistakes in public.
The hander needs to learn to speak dog.
Dogs communicate mostly with body language. To be a successful part of a team, you will learn your specific dog's dialect of dog. His needs will need to be met just as your are.
Being part of a team. Trust your dog that means giving up some control.
It also means giving up privacy. Your dog will spend the vast majority of his life within 6 feet of you. If you enjoy your space, this will feel invasive.
Carrying equipment around. When you travel, it's not just the dog that comes along, but also the equipment a dog needs to function. It's like travelling with a toddler. There is extra gear to bring with you.
With this, spontaneity disappears. Spontaneous people don't do well with service dogs. Unless they are organized. Organization skills and a spontaneous personality don't generally go together. LOL!
Slows you down. Because of the above. Because part of a 2 part team etc.
Must Pick up poop. Even blind SD handlers must pick up their dog's poop in public places.
Not easily accepted in work places or schools.
Access is limited only to places where the public can go. Under the ADA, work places, churches and private schools and universities may have their own rules and you need to get special permission to take them there. Some of these places will not want a dog there for many reasons. Other places like food preparation areas and operating theatres service dogs are not allowed as they are not open to the public. In some jurisdictions such as Ontario, Canada, dogs may be allowed in non-public places. Check your local laws as they apply.
You will have to learn a series of laws: federal, state or provincial and even city or municipal as they apply to service dogs.
Having a service dog adds to the familiar work load. While a service dog may solve one problem, the dog may pose others that the family doesn't want to deal with. If you have an already busy life, adding a service dog (either in training or a program-trained one can push you over the edge of what you can handle. I't more like adding a chid to your life than adopting a dog from a shelter. There is so much more involved in living with a service dog. Even more if you are training your own.
Do you have the space for a dog? Fenced yard or other safe space the dog can exercise off leash. Stairs or elevators to the outside can pose a problem, especially as a puppy or if your dog develops intestinal or badder issues.
Invisible disabilities and a service open up the questions of who you are training the dog for and the public can get personal very fast, watching to know the details of your condition. Do you have the ability or desire to politely rebuff or redirect them from personal discussion?
How is your life going to change in the next 5-8 years? Will a service dog still fit in it? Are you planning a move?
Can you set up your own support system? It takes a community to raise a service dog, from selecting to raising and training and maintaining the dog's every day needs and ongoing training for life. Emergencies arise for both you and the dog and he still needs to be cared for.
You may need to fundraise to help pay for the costs of training the dog. Most programs require that you put sweat equity into the dog and owner-trainers are responsible for all costs of the dog.
Assertive to have your needs met without impinging on the needs of others.
Tolerate being ignored- focus is on your dog and people ignore your communications even if you step between the and your dog to physically block them.
Do you have other dogs at home that are not dog-friendly? Your new dog may learn bad habits from that dog or even get hurt by your current dog. Because dogs are social learners, when they live in a dysfunctional social environment, they learn unwanted behaviours from each other. This is often despite much training. Social learning can be more powerful than other kinds of learning.