Owner Trained, Self Evaluation
Training can alter a dog’s behavior, however, it cannot change their genetics (what they were bred for). Genetics are responsible for your dog’s traits & temperament.
Example: Cattle dogs have a genetic predisposition to herd cattle. They understand how to herd cows while nipping and barking at their heels without getting trampled. Will this breed make it as a service dog? Possibly, as cattle dogs are a working breed. This breed may however prefer to be on the farm chasing cows, as opposed to sitting in a park in the city watching children run by. Keep in mind, every dog is distinct and some cattle dogs may excel at service work.
Solid temperament, does not need constant management, no reactivity or aggression to people, dogs or other animals, comfortable with new places and changes, traffic, stores, noises, tactile, open staircases, public transit, etc. Noise sensitivity, alarms, fire trucks, ambulance, trucks backfiring. If your dog startles and recovers quickly thats fine, however if your dog bolts, flattens to the ground, or cannot collect themselves, they will not make a good service dog candidate.
Sociable and human-neutral with every type of person, even when their personal space is being invaded.
The general public will do all sorts of odd things to your dog, taunt it, stare at it, try to touch or touch it, try to distract it, even bark at it! Your dog must be comfortable around all types of scenarios.
Dog friendly or dog neutral. Your dog needs to tolerate dogs in proximity. Other service dogs, pet dogs, and loose dogs.
Your dog needs to recover quickly and take things in stride from odd or uncomfortable situations.
Most Service Dogs will retire between 8 and 12 years of age. It can take a year to two years to train an older dog, or two to three years to train up a puppy prospect.
Example: Newfoundland’s have an age expectant of 8 – 11 years. Starting a Newfoundland training at 7 may only give a year or two for that dog to work in full capacity.
*Muskoseepi Services Dog’s age cut-off is 6 years for public access.
Size of Dog
The size of your dog does matter. If you need a dog for mobility and bracing, you would not use a Chihuahua, as they won’t be able to do any weight-bearing tasks or reach anything past two feet in height. Be sure the size of your dog can physically do the tasks you require assistance with.
Your service dog prospect needs to be be physically and behaviourally sound.
What about mixed breeds? Can a mixed breed be a service dog? Many mixed breeds will make wonderful service dogs.