Hi. I just found out this month that I have Parkinsons though I suspected for several months. At first, I thought it was just my arthritis getting (much) worse. I was already planning on getting a Collie pup that I will train to be a Service Dog, but I’d like to know if there are any books, websites, DVDs , etc. on training a dog specifically to assist someone with Parkinson’s? Thanks.
Hi, JazzyLady97, we are sorry to hear about your recent diagnosis, but glad you are apart of our community. Please, know we are here to help support you in any way we can. Service and/or therapy dogs can provide wonderful companionship, and be a great support system. I’ve included a link to a 3-part series about PD and service dogs here that I think you find beneficial -https://parkinsonsdisease.net/stories/maia-living-pd/. Also, Assistance Dogs International’s website may be another good resource for information. We hope this is helpful. Good luck in your search for the right pup! Please, feel free to let us know how things are going. Kindly, Jessica – Parkinsonsdisease.net Team
This may help. I have a PD dog for last six years.
By Marcia L Aulebach
New pd service dog info: 2018. Marcia Lee Aulebach-Lagomarsino, Jr.
Lots of folks are asking me about about my Parkinsons Medical Service Dogs. Also asking about PD Theropy, task or a Medical service dogs. Please read thought this whole post to get a firm idea as to what it is to own a PD SD. Marcia is Parkinson person a Virginia state lobbyist for Parkinson’s medical laws and also a AKC, ADA service dog lobbyist for researcher and a ADA writer. She is Senior Micheal J Fox speaker and advisor for UVA P4P for the past seven years. We are writing today as to doing the right way to have a medical service dog.
Service dogs for Parkinson.
People with Parkinson’s can benefit greatly from a theropy dog for company and mental support or for advanced PD or for folks with more serious medical PD issues. A medical dog ownership can provide a mandatory opportunity for exercise several times a day as well as companionship, do helpful duties to help assist and alleviate the common symptoms of strength and with depression. They can also be trained to assist Parkinson’s patients with several types of daily activities.
Remember that they are very costly with vet bills and on going care a must have continued training. You the Parkinson owner will also need to be with the dog always on your outings, travel etc… Most org’s with Theropy, task or medical service dogs have you go though several months to a year screening and back ground checks to teach and help you learn to handle and own a service dog properly. It can not be done with two weekend classes. Be sure you go to a reputable organization to get your theropy or service dog and it is fully AKC trained for good dog manners and assistance to your PD needs. Don’t make your pet commit a crime! You are at fault if you fake a service animal and does not have proper training! If you are unaware please read American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and read the service animal rules they change yearly!
Most Parkinson dogs today are large breeds for walking and falling needs also with mobility- impaired PD folks large breeds can pull for wheel chairs, walking freeze needs. The focus is breading and training Great Danes and other large breed dogs to assist balance-impaired people (such as people with Parkinson’s). Some times this is not suitable for small homes and more active Parkinson’s folks. Medium breed dogs about 30 pounds such as lab mixes and or boarder collie mix breeds. Because of there great size and smarts these dogs are great for young on set Parkinsons folks. As Parkinsons progresses a larger breed dog can help with weight balance and wheel chair, these breeds are, Labs, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Standard Poodles. Please note many states do not by law recommend pit bulls, too small of dogs for medical service dogs, but for only therapy services. Please check with your state on this.
Mlee the Owner Marcia Aulebach-Lagomarsino’s, Service dog is Maia.
Both Marcia and Maia have gone through a long arduous two year akc private service dog medical training program together for Marcia and her Parkinson’s needs. At current both are being studied by a private PD group on there relationship and how the larger breed now at 70 pounds helps Marcia. Maia dog is a AKC, smooth coated German Sheppard for her own Parkinson’s needs. Two years into and they are doing wonderfuly. As Marcia’s, Parkinson needs progresses she will grow with her specialized medical dog service needs ( Note: This is Marcia’s second Medical service dog) So her first dog was , Maggie a smaller Lab/Boarder collie mix scent dog. Wonderful dog gave her ten years service and is now retired and a theropy Dog for nursing home PD folks. She is living with Marcia and helps training with Maia).
Maia is learning as a task dog, walkinh skill, fall assitance, medical medication alerts to her needs and with Marcia’s PD changes. Marcia may become mobility- impaired with ther PD in time, so Maia will help her with a wheel chair needs. It is (Marcia ) that is privately funded by Marcia and Maia along with private donations for training and care of Maia. We are always finding proper ways for others with Parkinson’s can benefit in ownership of this sort of a medical dog early on with Parkinson’s. As a Parkinsons medical service dog or a Therapy dog will make a big difference in a Parkinsons persons life. Many service medical dogs today Marcia found are for more advance Parkinson’s needs.
Maia dog is specialized AKA Smooth coat, flat back strong 80 pounds of joy. She is owned and handled by Mrs. Marcia Aulebach-Lagomarsino. A perfect temperament and size for a medical Parkinson’s service dog. Maia was trained at first as a theropy task dog then quickly skilled up at the age of nine months to be a medical service dog for a gentleman in a wheel chair with PD. Maia was then qualified and tested to become a medical service dog after she was used as a PD theropy and then a PD medical service dog during her second year. After her owner had passed away. Marcia qualified for Maia to be her Parkinsons medical dog and was donated to Marcia. She has had grants and dontions for private AKC medical dog training and is her gentle female Shepard. Please know she is just trained esp for Marcia medical PD specialized needs, along with a private group doing research with Mlee Parkinson’s group, Marcia’s organization. Marcia, works closely with her private group with medical & theropy rescue dogs in order to find the perfect dogs to help others in the future to own a SD with PD. So perhaps the future of folks with Parkinson needs and service dog are easier to own. Lots of training and time goes into a service dog. This private organization has former training since Maia’s birth. They are a new program and NOT public yet. We strongly suggest looking into your states service dog programs for perhaps a dog for your needs.
Maia dog is not a pet nor cared for as a house pet. She is owned and paid for privately by Marcia. All her care, training and needs have to be met for a medical service dog American and international travel certifications, it is Marcia the owner/ handle of the dog whom has the full legal responsibility that all these needs are meet. Having a medical service dog can be costly up to nineteen thousand dollars or much more to own and train through out the years. Most medical service dogs can go under home owners insurance to protect the SD in case of loss or damage to the service dog. Please note a big mishap in America is folks think they can train once and call a dog a service dog No!. Yes, it is very expensive but well worth it. Even for folks training with a trainer on there own it is expensive but well worth the cost to you and the dog for safety and your PD needs. This is a on going cost as the medical training for the dog and owner is very important. Grants and loans, fundraising all can be written and be used for the cost, training and purchase of a service dog has to be done right. As a person with Parkinson’s your doctors and physical therapist, movement specialist will all have to be involved with your Parkinson’s dog owner handling of said dog needs as on going needs. So in order to see if you are able to continually able to care for and handle the medical or service dog.
Please note that a medically proven Theropy, task or medical service dog cost can be tax deductible with food, vet cost. Check you state on the facts.
Especially if your mobility- impaired can you handle both, yourself and the dog together. So both owner and dog will need personnel training and be more involved together and with time you both can work as a team. All service dog programs will ask for a patient review, it is a must that the dog is for one person only, the Parkinson person and treated as such in the home and in public. So this is important as a Parkinson’s service dog owner you can handle the dog properly with-out issues, such as lack of control of the animal, stressful situations, weather conditions, environmental conditions hot, cold, city, or country, transportation of service animal. The importance of daily care for the animal and yourself. Again the dog is not a pet but a highly trained service animal.
Please note do not pet, call out or make noises or faces. DO NOT distract a service animal ever, out of respect for the handles medical needs and dog alertness.
Both Marcia and Maia have been through private training to see if she could handle Maia in public. Both dog and owner are doing great. They learn from each other, there surroundings and all weather environmental conditions. Most service dog organizations both public and private ask for criminal background checks, medical background checks, financial needs. It is a extensive process but importantly process legally and for your needs and safety.
There are therapy or task dogs used for depression, PTSD and mental support as well as a task dog for door opening, pick up items when they fall or pull a wheel chair for PD. They can be rescue pups and task, theropy trained dogs available in your local community just ONLY as theropy, task programs needs. These are wonderful animals are very helpful to Parkinson’s needs. Please see if you want to start with one of these wonderful animals. But consider the care of the dog and treatment. Training skills are keep up yearly for the dog and your mobility- impaired Parkinson’s persons health and mental needs have to be meet also over screen by a health care provider. NOT all dogs esp very small dogs are suggested for PD the tripping, care and fall factors can be a large issue. Training is a plus and pls note theropy dogs do not have the same federal ADA rights as Service dogs. Read below the laws.
Maia is a medical service dog there is a big difference. Having a medical service dog is a large responsibility and costly. With all her training, dogs health care and service certificates care have to be up to date constantly, US, international certification for internal one, travel and insurance have to be also up to date. Currently both Maia & Marcia are in a VA, AKC training program to help keep up all of Marcia and Maia’s skillswith a private AKC trainer. The intense training will help both Maia to assist carefully safety for Marcia with her walking gate, ground hazards for walking/run avoidness, sleep disorders, temp adjustments, seizure, stroke awareness, depression, medicine alerts and so much more.
DESIRABLE CHARACTERISTICS OF A DOG
Choosing a dog requires careful consideration to make sure you and your future canine companion can meet each other’s mental and physical needs. Keep in mind that puppies may be cute and fun at the animal shelter, but once at home they will require lots of house-breaking and much basic training. Someone with Parkinson’s needs to be very careful not to trip; a rambunctious puppy is likely to be a hazard for tripping. A good choice is a one to two year old dog that is not skittish. Some key characteristics include:
Smart learner breed
Not easily frightened
Able to go in public areas easily and listen to commands
In public must have four paws on the ground at all times
Consider all weather conditions to work well with you
Be able to assist in safety of PD person needs
Be able to listen to commands and do them easy with out any distractions
Can the dog listen to a task command and do it
Good around both young children and adults, other pets in public
Has mastered basic training (sit, stay, come, no, heel, etc.)
Has gone through AKC training for theropy skills or medical service dog skills, meet the federal ADA laws
Is an appropriate size for Parkinson’s needs
Be certified by the the state license trainers and given certificate AKC as a service dog
Note Now 2015 State of Florida, State of Michigan now require Service dog certificate by law living in said state
Four other state as of 2016 are now asking to have the same laws, VA, MO, NJ, NY
International laws requires proper certificates and medical letters, Always
Have all proper vet continued care and all training papers
Be trained to go in or on public areas and transportation
Consider other animals in the home with a service dog
Be sure to care for your Service or Theropy dog. You have to walk, feed, groom, meets there medical needs and be sure they are well behaved dog if your mobility- impaired.
It is also wise to consider the characteristics of your home as they relate to the dog. For example, some dogs drool, which could cause hazardous slippery patches on a wood or laminate floor.
Your dog must behave with good manners always, show good training behavior always in public. That’s means no jumping up, barking, snap at others, licking, begging and be able to get away from aggressive persons or other dogs wo confutation. No yelling at the dog to do things, Dog should know, no pulling on lead. Voice commands must be met quickly and quietly. The team should always be like the dog is not there always. Good training shows
Before choosing your dog. PLS consider what your current needs are and what you expect your long-term needs to be. Do you see your dog as always being only a Theropy or a Medical Service need dog? As your Parkinson’s changes over time, will you want to expand your dog’s training to that of a Service Dog? Are you or anyone in the home have allergies to dogs? Have you spoken to your Parkinsons medical team about owning and training for a PD SD on your own? Can you afford the cost of training as your PD changes, your walk changes, voice command changes and your health care changes with the animal? You may want to consider working with a certified trainer for the life of the dog and getting a Service Dog right from the beginning.
Please think fairly and think hard before putting on any fake theropy or fake service vest on any dog stating it is a medical or theropy dog is not legal. In the court of law you can get charged for this. This is not fair to others that have taken the careful time and gone through properly trained and certified service medical dogs programs. PLS NOTE that TOO many house hold pets with fake service, theropy dogs vest on are out there today, with poor training or no training at all causing issues and harm. Do not take the chance.
Insurance companies, State and Federal legal issues can and DO happen with lack of certification, bad training with fake untrained dogs. It is a big problem and we do not recommended anyone to go out on your own w/o proper training it takes many years to train a dog not a few classes and lots of time, esp with Parkinson’s. With travel and with in public areas, interaction with other people, kids and with other animals, events in public, a untrained dog can get picked out fast and it does show in public. Most fake or untrained dogs can get out of hand fast, and can hurt you or others around you. You can be fined or charged legally By federal law a out of control fake service dog or hurt others in public with a fake dog is federal offense. Please note that Therapy dog can be denied access to certain places by law. But as a true Medical Service dog has all access. See you state laws on this issue.
Parkinson’s has walking, balance issues and even speech issues so it is not a good idea to do the wrong training or not DO a on going training process. Your are the handler and reasonable for the DOGs care and training, safety. A poorly trained dog it can hurt you badly or the another pet dog and is out right dangerousness situation that you and the folks around you can get really badly hurt. Please note you are legal accountable for your service dog always.
We would like to thank Mrs. Aulebach-Lagomarsino and her team Mlee Parkinson’s Group Maia dog for her love and support in taking good care of her very sick owner Marcia.
Please see your own state laws and federal laws in the manner for owning a Therapy and Medical Service. Also please discuss this with your medical team if a dog can be helpful for your PD needs.