Meet Frodo: Future Service Dog

posted in: Special Needs | 29

Frodo the future service dog is a labradoodle who will be trained to assist my son with FASD.

Meet Frodo, Mordecai’s future service dog.

Frodo is an eight week old labradoodle puppy who we will be training ourselves.

Why a service dog?

Chuck and I have been discussing the idea of getting Mordecai a service dog for a year or two (ever since I found an organization that trains service dogs specifically for people with FASD). The dog will do a few things. He will provide what is called “social lubrication” to ease Mordecai into new situations with new people. These are being used more and more for kids with autism. While Mordecai does not have a diagnosis of autism, he has many of the same characteristics (lack of eye contact, lack of social skills, social emotional deficits, etc).

We will also be training the dog to approach and nudge or lick Mordecai when he begins to get upset. Mordecai often tries to retreat to his room or bed with one of our cats when he is upset, but the cats aren’t always interested in cuddling with him…and a dog can be trained to do that.

Frodo will also be trained to stay with Mordecai. He does wander or run off if he is upset. Frodo will be trained to stay by his side and keep an eye on him.Frodo the future service dog is a labradoodle who will be trained to assist my son with FASD.  

Why train your own service dog?

An already trained service dog for FASD costs about $14,000. This generally requires a whole lot of fundraising (unless a person has $14,000 to spare). There is a two-year waiting list and it requires a trip to Ohio for a week of training. That is a lot to take on.

This spring a friend who raises labradoodles contacted me saying she had a litter of puppies on the way. If we were willing to commit to training him as a service dog, she would gift us a puppy.

Chuck and I talked and I spent hours researching service dogs, training and requirements. 

I have known several people who raise puppies as future service dogs, so the idea is not entirely new to me.

 

Frodo the future service dog is a labradoodle who will be trained to assist my son with FASD.

What if he doesn’t pass the test?

What happens if Frodo isn’t smart or well-behaved enough to become a service dog? As my friend said, worst case scenario we end up with a really well-trained pet. And even that will be a help to Mordecai.

Frodo the future service dog is a labradoodle who will be trained to assist my son with FASD.

Now here is where I need your help.

If you know us in real life, know that Frodo is a service-dog-in-training. He will be out and about with us a lot and we will always been working on training him. Please respect what we are doing with him. Feel free to approach us and ask questions, just remember his training is of absolute importance.

Crate Training: 

Last night was Frodo’s first night home and his first night away from his mom and litter mates. We are planning to crate train him (standard procedure for service dogs). Last night he cried/barked/yipped for two hours straight. He finally quieted down for about 15 minutes. When he started up again, I took him outside to go potty (he is not house trained yet) then slept on the couch while he lay on the floor beside the couch. He settled in quickly this way. He awoke every couple of hour and I took him outside to go potty.

I have read everything I can find on crate training. I am looking for encouragement and personal stories about crate training puppies. I am already chronically sleep-deprived from Apollo. Any suggestions, help, encourage you can give me will be appreciated!

What is your experience with puppies?

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29 Responses

  1. I have had several dogs that were crate trained. the only advise i can tell you is keep putting him in the crate. he will learn to know that is his home. everyone of my dogs would go to the crate when tired, when people were around and they needed to get away. start out a few minutes at a time, go out of the house, come back let him out. maybe leave him there while you take the kids to school? it takes patience and i know you will succeed.
    i would give mine a treat when i put them in the crate and one when i would return.

    • What Vivian said. We have a 2-year old Pit mix (Rosie) we’ve had since she was a puppy. We decided to crate train her. Our vet gave me (the “mom” to this puppers) a lot of useless information. Such as; feed the dog in its crate, give the dog treats in its crate (including bones, teething toys). Put an old washable blanket in the crate…our Pit mix would go pee in her crate until she was potty trained, which meant a lot of laundry. Leave the door open and just let the pup explore. Make it their home. It will take time and you may lose your sanity. But it’s worth it. We can say “crate time!” and point to the crate and Ms Rosie will go right in.

  2. We bought a ticking clock (cheap at a local Dugmart) and put it inside an old stuffed animal. The ticking mimics the heartbeat and out dog slept fine after that.

    • Thanks. I was actually wracking my brain last night trying to think if we had anything like that from Apollo. We tried everything to get hi to sleep.

      • Kara Wyandt

        This is what my grandparents always did only they put the clock into an old slipper or something that had their smell on it. My grandma used to used these little folding travel clocks but I don’t know if they even make those anymore.

        • Maybe try letting Mordecai sleep with something like the stuffy suggested above or tuck it in his shirt throughout the day while he is home then give it to the puppy in his crate, the learning will be threefold … Puppy learns and attaches himself with the scent of Mordecai, gets comfortable sleeping alone, and associates the crate as a safe place. We did this with our dog that was 9 months old when we got her. She was supposed to be for our girls but I mistakenly used the pillowcase off my bed as her comfort object and unwittingly gave her the attachment to me instead of the girls. I pray for good things with your new venture for all concerned.

          • I forgot to mention that she loves her crate, would rather sleep in it at night than be free, and even goes in it in the middle of the day without being told. When we stay at our cabin she sits by me until I go in for bed, then she stands by the crate or nudges the door open, goes in and waits for me to lock it.

  3. Get another crate and move it into your bedroom- or that of someone who can be responsible for overnight potty breaks. Dogs are pack animals- they don’t sleep alone. He will sleep better with someone near- as you found out!

  4. Don’t let him out of he is crying no matter how annoying it may be. He will learn that the only way to get out is to be quiet. Put him in the crate even when you are at hone sometimes in th beginning so that he won’t associate being in the crate with you leaving the house.

    • Guest,
      Thanks. That’s why I waiting until he stopped and then went to him when he started up again. Everything I’ve read said at this age he still needs to be let out at night. If it weren’t for that, I would have just left him.

  5. Khristine Kaber

    Maybe while you are on the couch try putting the crate there beside you with the door open, they like the creation even if not being locked in, it replicates a den so to speak. Also try positive reinforcement with treats and association with the crate.
    We sometimes put a long filled with goodies in with them.

  6. We crate trained our dog. It took 3 days and he was house trained as well. Not sure if you’re looking for just overnight advice or not, but this is how I did it. I put puppy in his crate, every hour I took him out. We tied a small bell to the door handle and I took his paw and hit the bell, then we went outside. I’d say “go potty” and gave him a chance to go. If he did I praised him to no end and let him play and get attention for 20ish minutes. After that I would say “get in your kennel” and back to the crate he goes. In an hour, repeat the process. To this day he knows to go potty when I say “go potty” which has been helpful on long car trips and he gets distracted by other scents. The bell was b/c I can’t tolerate barking/crying/yipping when they want to go out and this also prevented him from scratching up my door. I may be mean, but I also did not get up with him at night. I put him as far away as I could so I didn’t have to hear the crying. He had a stuffed animal from his birth home and he slept with that. It only took 2 nights and he learned to sleep from 10pmish to 6am. I always looked at it as another child. They need to learn that you mean what you say. I did read that he was too small to stay all night in his kennel but I didn’t find that to be true. To this day he loves his crate. He crawls in when he wants to nap or get away from everything. Hope that helps!

  7. Pups can ‘hold it’ for however many months old they ate plus one ad a general rule. So he needs to go out at least every 3 hours at this point. I hate to be a downer but the first month or two are going to be very sleepy for you. Caring for a puppy properly IS like having a newborn. He’s going to cry a bunch at night for a while. Did your friend send him with a toy that smelled like his litter? Our breeder sent us a stuffed heart that had been in wih mom and pups so we put that and a ticking clock next to the crate. I also slept with an old t-shirt and added that in for comfort. If our pup cried really loud before it was time to go out again I would sometimes thump lightly on top of the crate next to my bed and say “no bark.” If she stopped I said “good girl.” I was told no playing during nighttime potty breaks. Take him out, get him to potty and bring hi quietly back in. He should learn that nighttime isn’t playtime or he’ll cry to be let out to play. There is a gal on Instagram training her own service dog. Her dog page is HelperDogHarlow. She might be a great resource for you !

  8. We crate trained ours very successfully and keep them in there when out of the house. Consistency helps a lot, once potty trained it may be nice for him to sleep with mordecai to help them fully bond. I have some anxiety and sleeping with my dogs or cats provides a wonderful reassuring pressure against me that is very calming in the middle of the night and makes me feel better the next morning. I don’t recommend that until the puppy is fully potty trained though or you will have a ruined mattress and a very upset boy in the middle of the night.

  9. I successfully crate trained all my dogs. When they’re puppies I stuck an old stuffed animal in the crate and had the person whos dog it was wear a shirt to bed that could be stuck on the stuffy.
    They can hold it as many months as they are old. I, personally, think leaving them all night is a recipe for disaster and unkind. They will pee and poo in their crate and its laundry for you and uncomfortable for puppy.
    The first week was a difficult transition for all. Cover the crate with a blanket or sheet if possible to create a dark “cave” for them. It feels more safe and secure for them. But no matter what the first several days you’ll be up and down to take them out and they’ll cry some. Its like one really long night and then it gradually gets better. I agree with a treat going in and coming out. Positive association helps it go faster.
    My youngest dog just turned one and while she still has behavior issues she crates well and when the dogs aren’t under my feet they’re snoozing or chewing a chew toy in their crate. It’s their preferred spot.

  10. Watch the dog whisperer. Caesar is amazing! We applied some of his techniques to our cats and found out that they work across species! I highly recommendd watching a few episodes.

  11. Debbie Smith

    We second that Nell! Cesar Millan has so much avaible to learn for free online including videos. We’ve used his methods on all 3 of our rescue dogs successfully.
    https://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/lifecycle/puppies/Puppy-crate-training-made-easy https://www.youtube.com/user/CesarMillan/videos
    This is a link to a full show on how to raise the perfect pup. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJcOAdJFuxM
    Great stuff for the whole family to watch. Educational, entertaining and it works. 🙂

    Debbie a long time visitor here 🙂

  12. I disagree with using Cesar Millan’s methods. Do a little research on him. Off camera he is very heavy handed and crosses into abuse.
    Attachment to Mordecai is essential and while you don’t want your son to be getting up in the middle of the night, the puppy should be spending just about every minute with him. Mordecai needs to be involved directly with obedience training and as much as possible be the one doing any corrections.
    I too am training my own service dog. Bella is 4 months old now – a black lab. I have pulmonary and vision problems and her tasks will include providing me stability, carrying things and assisting me when I fall down.
    We spend virtually every minute together. She comes to work (in a school) and hangs out with me. I have had sled dogs for almost 30 years so I have a fair bit of dog knowledge. Bella is my first lab and oh my, she is so very smart!

  13. Brooke Filsinger

    I agree with the above posters. Please do not use Cesar’s methods. I do, however, highly recommend Kikopup. (https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup) We used a combination of those methods and a local school specializing in dog obedience training. These methods worked wonders for my now 2-year old dalmatian. She has been trained to be a therapy dog to work with kids in hospitals.

  14. At first we had the crates downstairs and had hours of crying, but we found that having the crates in our room where they could see us kept them from crying all night. Still had to take them out but way more tolerable!

    • Thank you for the suggestion. Frodo is doing SO much better. Sleeping in his crate all night many nights (Chucks is up early to take him out). Such a relief. I think the first night he was sad and lonely, being away from his family.

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