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dogs for children with autism?

(29 Posts)
thisisyesterday Sun 25-Sep-11 11:40:49

Hi all, hoping you can offer me some good sensible advice here!
DS1 has been desperate for a dog for ages. Neither dp and I have ever had dogs before, so don't know a thing about what caring for a dog involves.

We've always said to DS1 that he can't have a dog until he is old enough to walk it himself and we have a bigger house.
DS1 also has ASD, and recently I have been reading about the benefits a dog can offer children with autism so I have been thinkikng a bit more about getting one.

My worries are that it would take up too much time. I have 3 kids (6, 4 and 2) and I am busy busy busy.
I am worried that in the middle of winter no-one will want to walk it... are there dogs that need/like less exercise?
We only have 2 rooms downstairs (kitchen and lounge) and a tiny hallway... I am worried that a dog would need more space?
Our back garden is tiny too and currently contains 4 rabbits...

How do you balance looking after children and caring for a dog at the same time?

oh and roughly what does it cost to care for a dog?

DooinMeCleanin Sun 25-Sep-11 15:41:58

Greyhounds need less exercise and don't much like bad weather, you might have to wait to find a rabbit friendly Greyhound, but it's not impossible.

Costs vary really, depending on your area and what you choose to feed and what breed of dog you end up with. You need to take into account the cost of food, insurance, flea and worm treatments, vaccinations, training classes, training treats, kennel fees if you holiday, collars etc.

In your position I would contact a reputable rescue and discuss your concerns with them, they'll go through everything with you.

I have three dogs but manage them and the children mainly by using the time the dc are at school to deal with walking and training.

smallwhitecat Sun 25-Sep-11 15:44:09

Message withdrawn

Dreamstosell Sun 25-Sep-11 19:46:08

Dogs for the Disabled run a program called PAWS which is a series of workshops for parents about training pet dogs to work with children with autism. I have attended two of the workshops so far (1 more to do) and they are really interesting and offer lots of advise. I would highly recommend it. I am however 3 weeks in with a new puppy and life is currently horrible! Very hard to balance the all consumming needs of this puppy with the needs of my children. I think it would have been better to get an older dog who was not as jumpy as a puppy and my son would have been less scared of it.

Dreamstosell Sun 25-Sep-11 19:48:34 This is the page for the PAWS info on the Dogs for the Disabled site. Don't know if it will work as a link though as I've never tried to do a link before!

thisisyesterday Sun 25-Sep-11 20:01:57

thank you all for the advice.
my friend has a greyhound and ds1 is a bit scared of him as he is just so big, I was thinking of something smaller really... although friend's is just as you describe! hates bad weather and refuses to go for a walk lol

have come across the PAWS website actually which is what prompted me to start this thread grin

dreams is a puppy really, really, really hard work? I must admit that I'm finding it hard not to fall for the "ooooh cute squishy little puppy" thing. i would SO love a little puppy. But my sensible head says NO get an older, toilet trained, good with kids dog!

If anyone knows any good rescue places in west sussex/surrey kind of area then that would be great.
I'd looked on the epsom canine rescue site already

mel2005 Mon 26-Sep-11 14:37:28

we have 2.9y twins and a 7 and 5year old, 4 chickens and 2 guinea pigs. we were told that the rescue centres wouldnt let a dog go to a home with a child less than 3y, we did ask about a couple of dogs at the rspca and they said that as we were experienced dog owners (before we had children) and had a big garden and woods at the end of the road etc they might consider it. so i would ask their policy before falling for any rescue dogs as most of the centres we called said no. we ended up rehoming a 12 week old puppy we think she is a cockerpoo and she is really calm, quiet, easily trained, great on and off the lead and nice and small so the children can walk her. we did get her from gumtree (please dont shoot me) but i did go and see her with and without the children and the owners had a genuine reason to rehome her that wasnt her fault. westies are also great little dogs for kids. it does help if you have a puppy crate (ours was £35 delivered from a pet shop on e-bay inc bed and bowls) i pop her in there when we go out and at nightime, she also goes in there when she needs a sleep and needs to be away from the children and i cant sit with her. the thing i have found combining a puppy and kids is teaching both to respect each other, puppies play with their mouths which can be scary for a young child and children treat the dog like a teddy. (it doesnt help that ours looks like a teddy.)
we did consider getting an older dog but the problem getting an older dog is finding one used to children and thats going to be safe with children, dogs can be dangerous and you need to keep a good eye on them all the time when they are with children until you are confident with them. i was mauled by a relatives dog at 16 years old and still have plenty of scars 20 years on. dont let this put you off though as dogs can be great companions especially for children with special needs. our dog comes and sits with me when the children are playing and i am not in the room (cooking dinner etc) and she quite likes it that way. i am also consistant and firm about the rules, i dont let her near the kids when they are eating and the kids are not alowed near her when she is eating. she shouldnt jump up or pull the childrens clothes and the children are not alowed to carry her around or pull at her. at the moment she is walked on the school run and small walks in the woods, i have friends with westies who dont walk them in the rain/snow etc and they dont need much walking compared to a lab etc. i am not sure how much our cockapoo will need she isnt really that bothered at the moment. but i will walk her with the twins after the school run.

DooinMeCleanin Mon 26-Sep-11 17:06:51

Maybe a Whippet or a small Lurcher?

Valhalla will probably know of some reputable rescues in your area. Try PMing her.

thisisyesterday Mon 26-Sep-11 19:59:39

thanks mel, that's really helpful. I think if we do get a dog it won't be straight away. ds3 will be 3 next June so it may be that we just spend a while researching it, get in touch with local rescue places and just sit tight for a while until he's that bit bigger.
we're also house-hunting atm so i guess we ought to get that all out of the way before introducing a dog into the mix.

because I've onlyt just noticed it I will give you all some [flowers] to say thanks grin

dooin- yes, i like whippets! not too big, not too hairy, quite cute.. hmmm

lisad123 Mon 26-Sep-11 20:35:30

We have two girls with autism and have a labradoddle who we got from a puppy. They are hard work and only now he is 18 months has he started to calm down!
He is wonderful with the girls but they sometimes find it hard when he gets in their facebut love to stroke him and lay down with him.
I highly recommend getting a dog but just be prepared grin

mel2005 Mon 26-Sep-11 21:06:39

i forgot to say if you get a non sheading dog like the poodle crosses it does save alot of frustration and mess with the hair, our new puppy doesnt shed but i have always had long and short haired shedders before and i dont think i will ever get a dog that sheds masses of hair again, its nice not to be covered in hair all the time.
i think you are doing the right thing getting to know the rescue centres, let them know what you want and they will probably keep an ear open for you, i am sure they will appreciate someone taking their time to make sure they get it right.
there is a lovely wippet pup on the school run, its so cute

lisad123 Mon 26-Sep-11 21:12:22

not all poddle crosses dont shed, will tell you now a labradoddle DOES shed

mel2005 Tue 27-Sep-11 22:34:45

oh no, really sorry i had read that they dont and i have a friend with a labradoodle and she said it doesnt and my friends cockapoo doesnt either, it never occured to me that some do and some dont but i suppose with crosses some will shed, with ours i have seen a couple of hairs when grooming but thats been it.

misdee Tue 27-Sep-11 22:41:09

my labradoodle also sheds a lot. and he is more poodle coated than lisad123's one smile

thisisyesterday Tue 27-Sep-11 22:47:50

shedding doesn't matter too much, i have a cleaner wink

extremepie Wed 28-Sep-11 23:02:21

I know they are the complete opposite of small and 'managable' but I have to recommend great danes, I just love them so much!

I have a 3yr old DS with autism, we got our first dane at 16 weeks and she has been brilliant. As a breed they are not especially energetic and excitable, which was perfect for us as DS would be really freaked out by a jumpy dog in his face but danes are not like that. They are pretty lazy really, if you have a sofa for them to lie on they're happy - they have very short coats so don't really shed, don't really need grooming and don't like wet or cols weather!

Since getting her my DS is calmer, sleeps better and is a lot more outgoing and sociable than he used to be, even the specialist teacher who does 1-1 sessions with him at our house said she was really impressed with his progress!

Luna (our first dane, she's now 9 months) knows most basic commands and does a 'where's 'DS' when we're out in the park where she goes and stands by him, sort of 'shielding' him with her body.

They are so sensitive, and they really seem to know to be extra gentle with him without us telling them to, they leave him alone when he doesn't want to be touched and let him climb all over them when he wants to play!

I can't speak for all of them but I love them, and I notice that they are quite popular as therapy dogs in America smile

NorkyPies Wed 28-Sep-11 23:05:38

Support Dogs provide trained dogs to children with autism, and other disabilities - see

Merle Thu 29-Sep-11 11:51:18

I would second Dooinmecleanin's suggestion re a small whippet/lurcher.

We have a 6-month old Bedlington/whippet. So far, he has not caused the high-level puppy chaos, described by other people on here, with other, more typical family dogs.

He does have crazy times, but in general he us no bother. He is calm and likes a lot of cuddles and stroking. He goes mad fast on his walks. He doesn't need masses of exercise and hates the rain/ water generally.

I don't know if this is true but my theory is that as lurchers were originally bred by gypsies/travellers, they wouldn't want a dog that was difficult in a small space (presuming they were let into the caravans, sometimes). So I think they are good dogs for smaller homes, provided there is some wide space, nearby.

thisisyesterday Thu 29-Sep-11 17:21:56

hmmm my greyhound-owning friend's brother has a whippet and she recommended one as well so that's def something I will look into!

sadly, we simply do not have the space for a great dane!

thisisyesterday Thu 29-Sep-11 17:22:10

<off to have a read of the support dogs site>

thisisyesterday Thu 29-Sep-11 20:06:04

oh i've been looking at puppies and now i want a beagle! (cos i am a huge snoopy fan, what do you mean that's no reason for getting one???)

or a pug!

or a bulldog!

or a miniature schnauzer!!

oh they're so cute

Flamingredhead Fri 30-Sep-11 09:13:27

Can you borrow a dog/puppy for a day we borrow my mums and we gave him this weekend as they are away

Has confirmed a puppy is not for me even though he is really good . But I'm looking into assistance dog at a later date as they are allowed in places to .

TeddyBare Fri 30-Sep-11 17:45:38

If a Greyhound is too big, could you get an Italian Greyhound or a Whippet. They look like Greyhounds but are smaller.

thisisyesterday Fri 30-Sep-11 17:52:48

might be able to borrow a dog, don't know anyone with a puppy.

need to work on dp some more too! lol

bochead Fri 30-Sep-11 18:03:41

We have a whippet and she's wonderful the owner who doesn't want to trek 5 miles in the snow. My lad is asd, and she's been the best therapy he could have had. We went for a young adult rescue as I didn't think I could cope with DS and puppy too.

Our whippet calms my son no end when he gets overwhelmed. She has helped him loads on the social skills side, especially as she's very popular at the school gate ; )

scrupleswhippet rescue or lurcher link are two great rescue organisations if You don't feel up to taking on a puppy (sorry but almost all puppies are as much work as a baby for the 1st year, depending on the care needs of your child a puppy might not be the best choice).

King charles spaniels are also nice and were 2nd on my list if I couldn't find a nice rescue whippet.

Italian Greyhounds have a rep for not being 100% toilet training wise, which put me off as I hate puddles.

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