Does it have to be a dog trained specifically for autism?

(13 Posts)
NoFun21 Tue 31-Dec-19 22:51:45

Hello, my son with asd who is 6 would love a dog- knows the colour and the name snd a black lab retriever would fit the bill. Getting one trained to support him would be hugely expensive although I can see huge benefits. Has anyone got a dog and just trained it themselves yk be supportive to their family member with asd? It looks like it would cost me 7k to get a properly selected abs trained dog.

OP’s posts: |
TheLittleBrownFox Tue 31-Dec-19 22:58:26

I wonder if the is any funding available for this?

Are your experienced dog owners?

Mumsnet has quite a lot of stories of a pet dog not turning out to be a good support dog.

I would think it's a massive ask for unity to be able to select the right dog first time (what will you do if despite best efforts the dog you choose isn't suitable for whatever reason?) and be able to train them whilst also cohabiting with your son who will want the relationship with the dog from day 1.

Could you tell us a little more about how autism presents in him? As in, is he sensory-input seeking or hyper-sensitive? Is he able to carry out instructions and control his impulses? Does he make unusual noises or movements? Is he generally quite good with animals he meets?

ClownsandCowboys Tue 31-Dec-19 23:02:30

There are some organisations that advise on this. Dogs for support run courses for parents about training a family dog.

Also Pawtected and Pawsitive CIC.

DICarter1 Tue 31-Dec-19 23:05:46

We’ve got two kids with autism. We have a dog. He’s not an assistance dog but one of my kids with autism adores him. You could look at failed guide dogs. Our dog is a poodle. He’s wonderful.

NoFun21 Tue 31-Dec-19 23:08:25

I’ve had a dog before- I love dogs and I’m a SAHM who won’t be leaning it at home alone. My son needs a calm dog and would need fit from a companion who would calm him when he gets overwhelmed . I would love the dog to prevent him from Bolting too as he can at times. He doesn’t have huge sensory issues . He’s extremely verbal and gets anxious and controlling. I think he would love yo gave a dog and it would be loved by the entire family. My son stims by humming to himself loudly, he talks very loudly and incessantly. He is very bright and a quick m lessened but anxious and controlling.

OP’s posts: |
StillMedusa Tue 31-Dec-19 23:08:29

That's what we are doing.
My son is too old for the charities that have support dogs for autism (young adult) but desperately wanted and needed a companion.. in fact the only thing he has ever asked for is a dog.
So we got one (obviously it wasn't as quick or unconsidered as that)

Went to Discover Dogs at Crufts to get a feel for different breeds, then went away and researched a short list.. then met a couple of breeders and went on a list.

Puppy is now 7.5 months old and has transformed my sons life (and mine!) Just normal training, but we chose a breed that is devoted to family and she is just THERE for him. He walks into the room and her tail starts wagging and my son feels loved. (He'll never marry or leave home as he also has learning disabiltiies)
Once winter is over we plan to do more advanced training with her, but actually the thing he needed..companionship, cuddles, someone who didn't care that he walks oddly, talks strangely.. she provides that now.

A caveat tho.. a 6 year old may THINK they want a dog, but the reality might be different. If you are thinking of a puppy (and frankly colour should be the last thing when deciding).. puppies bite, puppies poo, puppies cry, puppies ruin kids stuff... they aren't remotely useful at first and can be basically pooing peeing sharks! They are SUCH hard work at first.. can you commit to walking a dog several times a day (who will look after your son when you are out at 6am, or 10pm and it's pouring with rain etc),..

We adore our puppy and she has added hugely to our lives, but the committment is HUGE... can't go out unless we have dog care etc.

My son was old enough to be able to take these things on board but a 6 year old would not.

BrownOwlknowsbest Tue 31-Dec-19 23:10:49
A quick search brought up the sites listed above. Might be worth talking to some of them as they will have experience of training dogs for children with autism


NoFun21 Tue 31-Dec-19 23:16:49

Yes trlhabk you so much. No
I do not want a puppy - I want a dog that has already been basically trained if that is possible!?Still
Medusa thank you so much for your insights- it is the cuddles and the attention from the dog that I think wound hugely benefit my son in addition to the calming effect of having a dog next to you in the sofa or at your feet etc.

OP’s posts: |
MabelBee Tue 31-Dec-19 23:20:46

We did the family dog course with Dogs For Good. I highly recommend it. There were a few sessions and the first dealt with choosing a breed to fit your family needs. Other sessions dealt with dog behaviour and training and they provide ongoing support.

NoFun21 Tue 31-Dec-19 23:26:58

MadBeBee does your child have autism? What dog did you get? What does it add to your lives?

OP’s posts: |
MabelBee Wed 01-Jan-20 07:04:59

Yes, my child has asd. She desperately needed companionship at home and that was our main reason for getting the dog, but I was concerned about her perhaps not being able to understand or learn how to behave around a dog, which is why I did the course. I thought I'd have to have an exceptionally well trained dog to keep my child and the dog safe. My daughter had unusual behaviour with other people's dogs, like getting down to their eye level and getting up close to the dogs faces. We were worried because traditionally this type of behaviour would be dangerous.

What I was surprised at is how much of the course is dedicated to this type of thing and how to replace the child's behaviour and keep both them and the dog safe. You have to be extra vigilant. Also how to promote a strong bond and how to engage the dog in everyday routine. We use the dog to get our child to brush her teeth for example.

We got a golden retriever. She has been a godsend for our family. Before we got her my daughter wouldn't walk anywhere but now she will happily go on family walks. The dog heads off meltdowns and comforts her. They have an amazing bond and light up when they see each other! Because our dog is still a bit of a crazy adolescent, we haven't yet trusted her with the full extent of her training, but ultimately she will be able to help my child more with her daily routine, getting up and dressed for example.

Right now my daughter is only 8. But potentially in the future a dog could help her be more independent.

The amazing thing about Dogs For Good is that they are completely non judgemental. Once you have done the course you can approach them about any problems you are having with the dog or the child's behaviour with the dog and they will help you to find a solution.

I wouldn't say it's easy adding a dog to an already tricky household! Training a dog is very, very hard work. At times I have found it overwhelming and wondered why I have added so much extra work for myself when I am already having to do so much more. There is a lot of stress in getting a dog, but also a lot of healthy stress relief! For us it has been worth it.

NoFun21 Wed 01-Jan-20 19:42:19

Wow that’s so encouraging abc inspiring MabelBee thank you
I will contact DogsfieGood.

OP’s posts: |
SansaSnark Thu 02-Jan-20 16:02:09

A lot of dogs fail as therapy dogs for all sorts of reasons- these can be health as well as behavioural. I've seen figures of as many as 70% of dogs failing training. As a family, your bar for success would probably be lower than a charity, however.

If you go through a specific program, you'll know the dog you're getting is suited to the job, and suitable for your lifestyle.

I don't know anything about this charity, but they say their dogs can specifically help with bolting, so might be worth getting in touch?

If you do try and do it yourself, even with professional support, what happens if it doesn't work out?

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in