Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about your pet's health, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.
This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
We are considering getting a dog. I have had dogs before, I lost my Westie in January but she lived with my parents (its complicated).
Our daughter has neurological problems, she is 8. The only 'therapy' she responds well to is animal therapy with a very large lean towards dogs (and horses). She finds them calming and reassuring, also uses them as a buffer in difficult situations for her. Whenever her psychiatrist notices there is something bothering her, she finds a dog and only then is she able to try and communicate. Her psychiatrist has been incredibly impressed at how well our daughter can handle dogs and how she connects with them with in noteworthy especially as this is something she sees a lot in her line of work.
We would need an incredibly trainable dog, and its not something we can just take a chance on, so we are looking at pure breeds that are known for these qualities. So I am just hoping you guys could maybe add to my list? So far, I have Retrievers and Labradors (obviously incredibly well known as guide dogs) German Shepard (Police dogs). I know Border Collies are up there too. Anything else, we are looking at the larger size.
A puppy might not be what your daughter needs. I have a large, intelligent and very trainable puppy, frankly she is a bit of an arse at times (and asleep the rest).
Would you qualify for some sort of assistance dog?
( I may be fantasising about a well trained young dog without the pain).
A golden retriever would be a very good choice!
This is fraught with all sorts of challenges which I think are worth calling out and considering:
- a puppy (any puppy) is a bitey, noisey, scratchy, messy ball of chaos for the first year or so. All puppies are areholes. Real dog-human relationships don't develop until the dog is well on its way to an adult. You'll need a plan for how you all deal with that as your daughter may struggle with it which can sour andy budding friendship between them.
- training a dog to the level you are talking about takes hours of work pretty much every single day. It also takes a solid knowledge of dog behaviour and learning methods. Well worth getting up to speed on those well ahead of time.
- even if you pick the right breed and do the right training, you may not get the dog you want. The dog simply may not be what your daughter needs him or her to be. Guidedogs (for e.g) still have about a 20-30% drop out rate despite controlling the dog's breeding and environment and having some of the best trainers.
By all means get a dog and get one with the hope it might help your daughter. But please don't get one for only that reason. Think also about what you can give to the dog, not just what you hope the dog will give to your family.
Your post doesn't contain any of that info (which makes breed recommends hard). Things like what level of exercise, type of exercise, kind of home, grooming, medical attention you might be in a position (or want) to provide...
I’d add standard poodles to your list
As PP have said intensive training will be required. Al do ensure you get a calm confident pup from a reputable breeder and meet both parents - anxiety and reactivity are common in some lines of border collie and GSD
You can apply to adopt a failed Guide Dog. Just because the dog didn't reach those dizzy heights does not mean it won't be a good fit for your daughters needs.
Take border collies off the list.
The problem with seeing a well trained goldie or lab being an assistance dog infers all labs and goldies can do this.
The assistance dog problem has a well researched breeding program that breeds dogs with the correct temperament etc Even then a lot fail the training.
It is a big ask to get this right first time with the first dog you get - then what happens to the dog and your daughter if it does not work out,
Failed guide dogs may have health problems or a fear that can not be dealt with and again is not a guarantee that this would work for your daughter
Don't underestimate a Lurcher... Our dc spends lots of time with ours. The do think they are lap ddogs! Very loving, trainable, don't bark - unless asked to in our case! Don't need loads of exercise. Fold up small - into the dcats beds in fact! Don't mind a bath! Love a brush but don't shed that much.
Ours make good book ends too!
Thanks, I'll look into Poodles and Lurchers too!
Right now I really just want to research everything I can. Generally speaking we have children who are very animal savvy, we have a huge enclosed garden, I am a stay at home Mum, we live down a quiet road in a rural village, we have a large car big enough for a larger dog to come with us everywhere. I am used to grooming and medical possibilities, my Westie died in January from Cancer and due to a bad first experience with a dog groomer I took on that role too.
Don't be put off by a Lurcher past puppy age. Our oldest one was a poacher's dog. Lived outside alone. Rehomed her at 6 +
Now a family pet, loves our dcats and no longer chases things! Reliable off lead too! She adores ds 5.
Windy thats lovely!
We're not set on a puppy, nor do we want a dog trained to guide dog standards. We would need the basics, walking to heel, good recall, sitting, waiting, good in the car (behaviour, I know some dogs can get car sick which is out of my control), which I don't think is unrealistic.
Temperament wise, we would like a dog who is gentle by nature, active enough to keep up with a family (not a tcup yorkie who might need carrying around), is affectionate and likes human interactions.
I know lots of working dogs, who are housed outside, and they are basically a 'tool' and that's absolutely not something we want.
I have lurchers, and mine are amazing with people with special needs, and we are frequently approached by parents as their children with anxiety etc are attracted to the calm solidity. Lurchers love to express their affection by leaning on you or putting bits of themselves on you, which is very comforting and calming. Their sleep/active ratio also adds to their urge to just be with you.
I'd look at a 6m-1yr old dog who is in foster so you can really see their personality. Puppies are a nightmare, and the unpredictability is v hard
CMOT do you mean when they pretend to be a dcat and land entirely on your chest? - or is that just my 2?
Mine don't sit on your chest most of the time, but one is very fond of his head across your legs (especially in bed which is inconvenient) and the other likes to sit on the sofa with his head up the side of your body
If you're happy with an enormous fluff monster then Newfoundlands tick those boxes you've mentioned. They're highly trainable, LOVE people, mostly calm and gentle, and fantastic with children.
But they're also stubborn and often terrible landsharks as puppies.
You have to be careful with their joints till they're two or so, but after that they're great with exercise. They're working dogs, so although people often give them very little exercise they can take a lot more.