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Will puppy help DD with social communication disorder?

(12 Posts)
Ollyoscar18 Sun 05-Jul-15 12:37:10

i am thinking about getting a new puppy for my 9 year old DD. She is really keen and says it can be her friend (she doesn't have any, bless her) and come for walks (she usually hates roads), care for puppy and talk to it.
I know a puppy is hard work and expensive but it might be priceless if it helps my DD to interact more, have a "friend", a focus for her to talk to other people about. I'm just wondering if anyone has experience of whether a pup would help her as she is usually very anxious, socially awkward and quite reclusive. Thanks.

blankblink Sun 05-Jul-15 16:12:29

To be honest, I'd go for a smaller pet first and see how she bonds with it, guineapig or house-rabbit possibly, see how she takes care of it, how much interaction she has with it, before gambling on a puppy, because puppies need a lot of looking after and lots of tlc to turn into loving adult dogs.

The problem with pets is, they choose the family-member that they want to be with the most, it's impossible to buy a dog or cat then place it in the family and say that it's for a specific person. If you're getting a family pet, then that's more generalised, but you can't project your dd's needs onto a pup, it may well prefer your company to hers. It may well obey all your instructions and ignore hers.

I've seen those heartwarming stories too about disabled kids forming a real bond with dogs, horses and other pets. I think in reality, it's likely to go either way a 50-50 split. flowers

Are you an experienced dog owner? Puppies are a LOT of work.. think getting up and out every couple of hours in the night, wee and poo everywhere can take a long time and a lot of effort to house train a puppy, plus obedience classes etc. Plus the expense of innoculations, vet bills and insurance etc. (If you are..ignore me!!)

Rather than leaping in I'd be tempted to do it thegradual way.. offer to be a volunteer walker with Blue Cross or similar.. see how she actually gets along with a variety of dogs... then rehome the one that loves her most smile An adult dog is much easier to live with and you can get a rehoming charity to assess the sort of dog that would suit your whole family's needs.

My DS2 is desperate for a dog but I know that realistically I don't have the time to make that committment at the moment so we settle for loving my friend's instead!

PolterGoose Sun 05-Jul-15 21:02:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WaftingWillberry Sun 05-Jul-15 22:18:10

Getting a dog definitely helped DD (who was 6 at the time) with her overall mood and does provide a talking point. She adores him and he features high on her 'friend' list!

BUT she isn't great at the practicalities of looking after him, and she hates taking him for walks as it ramps up her anxiety, so I do most of the walking.

If you do get one I'd suggest making it a family pet so that there's not too much pressure on her to sort out stuff for 'her' dog which might increase anxiety. It also gets you into the realistic frame of mind in case you end up doing most of the looking after!

Also choose the dog carefully - something like a labrador puppy can be a bouncy, boisterous, toy chewing nightmare which may make life more difficult rather than better. A calmer, more mature dog (can still be young) might be a good option, most rescue centres are very good at vetting dogs and giving you tailor-made advice as to what kind of dog would suit your family.

stressedoutnfedup Mon 06-Jul-15 22:42:45

i got dd a dog from the rescue centre, i asked them to help us to find one that was suitable for her needs, this dog is fantastic, dd couldn't go out on her own, couldn't get her out the front door most of the time, dd can't hear very well she has asd,adhd, and other stuff, this dog has changed dd life, she will take him for a short walk 4 times a day (same route) if a car is coming off a drive the dog stops and makes dd wait till it's safe to carry on, he also pulls dd into the side if a cycle is passing, also if dd gets stressed while out he stops and won't move till she's calm enough to move, he walks with his head on her thigh, if dd is stressed at home he knows if she needs him to cuddle up or keep away. try the rescue centre.

saturnvista Mon 06-Jul-15 23:22:39

It depends. I think the answer is 'probably' if you're prepared to put massive amounts of time and energy into it, choose the right breed and get lucky to a certain extent. There's no doubt that a dog (unlike a hamster or anything you keep in a cage) is capable of forming a friendship with a child. But they're all different. It's not like buying a microwave.

I've had a dog most of my life, starting off with a puppy as a teenager in a family that knew nothing about keeping dogs. There were elements I found stressful. When the puppy didn't naturally become a well-behaved dog, it was my fault and my problem. A dog that will have the therapeutic influence you hope will almost certainly be a restrained, disciplined character. If your daughter is anxious in some situations, a well-behaved dog may well help her because it will be a talking point, will give her something to focus on and may well be intrinsically soothing. With a badly behaved dog, none of that will work and may even be the polar opposite. Buying a dog for a specific child does mean that you are putting a lot of responsibility on their shoulders - in your situation it does feel like a huge gamble. On the other hand, a reasonably well behaved family dog might be a great source of joy for your daughter without doing any of the special doggy things one reads about in books. It could still be a project for your DD. I do think the dog will probably end up worshiping you because you're in charge and prepare meals.

If you aren't experienced in training dogs, I'm not sure you should start with a puppy unless you're prepared to make training it pretty much your life for the first year or two. This will all fall on you, especially if you're going to be training your daughter to train her dog at the same time. I wouldn't get a labrador because it will be chaos. Wouldn't get a collie because you have to get it right with a collie. Wouldn't get a spaniel because they're a bit manic and you want a laid-back vibe. Ditto terriers. Wouldn't get a breed that's big enough and hyper enough to pull her over. What about a golden retriever? They adore children and tend to be more trainable and placid than labradors. I have a retriever and she taught me how to train her, really. They accept lots of fussing but can manage without it. Best friends with everyone in a laid-back kind of way. They tend to get on well with other dogs which is crucial if you're going to relax with it in public. They're also perceived positively by people generally, meaning that strangers smile and chat.

saturnvista Mon 06-Jul-15 23:24:35

stressdout What a wonderful story!

Toughasoldboots Tue 07-Jul-15 12:58:16

I got one for dd when she was four, she has asd and selective mutism.
My God, it transformed her, utterly changed her life and she still adores the dog now.

She does very little to actually help with it though and I agree that maybe an older rescue dog might be better than a puppy?

ChowNowBrownCow Tue 07-Jul-15 16:46:18

We have a little shihtzu , he's 2 now. My ds adores him, cuddles him, walks him, plays with him. But I think the idea should be that it's a family pet for all the reasons others have said. It could be a disaster if the puppy decides he doesn't like ds or prefers other family members. Research the breed very well and take ds along to see how things go when actually looking for a dog. Ditto dog walking, dog sitting etc. the other problem is my ds is obsessed that his dog will eventually die as he read they live to 12! So he's counting Down the years !!!!! hmm

saturnvista Tue 07-Jul-15 21:20:47

Try re-posting in the dog house section.

Littlemisssunshine72 Wed 08-Jul-15 19:02:34

We have a 6 month old schitzu/cavalier mix. Wanted a rescue dog but as they don't give them to children under 10 (at our rescue centres) that wasn't a choice. We did get two guinea pigs first (which we still have) but when our neighbours had puppies we decided to take the plunge.
Puppy is a family pet (the children love her), they don't do any of the 'work', but then have never known any child that has (well at least not me when I was a child) but they do show her tons of love.
It has helped in getting DS outside at times when he would otherwise have been reluctant but has also added new stresses (such as bedtime when DS wants someone to stay downstairs with puppy so noone takes her.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons but you must be a 'dog person' yourself so the extra work doesn't seem like work but enjoyment.
Also, there are a lot of hidden costs such as regular flea treatment, being spayed/neutered, vets bills, etc.
Also, it can also be restrictive socially as you can't just go for a family day out to the zoo, farm etc (unless you don't mind leaving it for the day).
Lots to think about but we can't imagine family life without puppy now!
Good luck with your decision.

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