With a curly and thick coat and watery eyes, poodles impress us with their “teddy bear face” and various hairstyles and attires. Also, many of poodle parents praise that this dog breed is often attached to owners and gets on well with kids, which makes them outstanding pets in the family.
Some dog lovers, who also have disabilities, said they would be more likely to foster a poodle because this breed prefers to please them and to cooperate with their daily activities, which keeps their disability in a stable condition. Therefore, those individuals wonder if a poodle can be trained to be a service dog, who can stay with them at any place or be certified as an emotional support animal with a legal housing right.
As we know, neither service animals nor emotional support animals are merely household pets to keep company. The presence of these dogs should alleviate your strains and benefit your physical or mental health. Therefore, it makes sense that these animals have good qualities and traits to assist you. Before we discuss whether poodles are good service dogs/Emotional Support Dogs, we will first reveal the facts about poodles from the characteristics side, the temperament to the trainability.
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The facts of poodles
1. Characteristics of the poodle
• Poodles have long but agile legs so they can move quickly and flexibly when they need to fetch something or obey the owner’s orders.
• The fur of poodles is curly or wavy, but very firm, so that they leave no hair in your house and in public places. Their hypoallergenic hair could prevent them from being evicted from public areas due to allergy issues. Although poodle owners can save time by not having to deal with the shedding of hair, they might have to groom the coat themselves or send the animal to the groomer every 6 to 8 weeks (it costs $50 to $100 each time) as this is the average time for regrowth.
2. Temperament of the poodle
• Poodles have incredible high intelligence and are the second smartest dog breed after the Border Collie. This ability is mainly used for learning new tasks and solving unexpected situations. A lot of cases show that poodles confidently and deliberately draw attention to regular events (such as wake-up time and bedtime) and incoming dangers (such as ringing vehicles and physical changes in the body.)
• Poodles are also notorious for their active and strong personality. They require a dose of activity and mental stimulation every day. This instinct encourages them to interact with people and enjoy any form of exercise, including training and working.
• With the hunting instinct, poodles are sensitive to approaching strangers or unfamiliar sounds, making them the ideal breed for seizure alerts. However, this ability may cause a common problem - incessant barking or biting, which can be avoided if they receive obedience training and social skills training from the puppy age.
• An interesting fact about poodles is that they tend to prefer human company to other canines. You may be surprised to learn that this breed is very family-friendly and likes to warm you up in cold winter.
• Poodles are also very sensitive to emotional changes such as stress and happiness, which means they can help with their playful behavior to eliminate anxiety or other health problems.
3. Trainability of the poodle
• The above-mentioned characteristics of the poodle allow it to easily bond with people. Plus, poodles are overwhelmingly curious and eager for new things, so they always learn new skills or tasks quickly.
• In addition, this breed is always focused on something, so that poodles barely break their concentration when they’re training or working.
• The smart poodles can pick up tricks and master obedience skills (such as housebreaking and commands) very fast because of their innate intelligence and eagerness to be the center of attention.
• Most trainers say poodles can agilely accomplish the training and enjoy competitions in training sessions.
Can poodles be service dogs?
When Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers become service dogs, they seem to occupy an important status in people’s mind, compared to poodles which seem to be getting less recognition because of their “toy” looks. In fact, poodles are not only one of the most intelligent pet dogs but also one of the top breeds for assistance work. They come in three sizes: toy (4-5 lbs), miniature (10-15 lbs) and standard (45-60 lbs). The miniature and standard ones are often used for service dogs. Most of the qualities presented above make poodles great service helpers.
1. What is a service dog?
Service dogs are individually trained to work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, including physical and mental impairments. Their tasks are diverse, but are directly related to the person’s disability. For example, service dogs can pull a wheelchair for people with mobility difficulties, alert the owner, or respond, to an impending seizure, or calm down the owner who is suffering from PTSD, autism, or other psychiatric problems. As service dogs act as an indispensable part of their owners, they are always allowed to accompany the person in public places according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The dogs have access to government buildings, hospitals, schools, transportation (vehicles, trains, airplanes, or ferries), as well as businesses/non-profit organizations that are open to the public.
2. Does the poodle make a good service dog?
As service dogs need to undergo a thorough specialized training (about two years) and consume lots of energy to carry out their tasks, the energetic and agile poodles are considered by many professional trainers to be the ideal service dog breed. Plus, their high concentration and intelligence accelerate training and easily build a close bond with their handlers. Due to their curious personality they quickly adapt to a new place, as well.
Unlike the Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, or other large canines, this medium-sized breed (standard Poodles) might find it difficult to perform some assistance work such as supporting a person or pulling a wheelchair. However, their size and strength are good for fetching items for the owner and lying under tables or seats in public areas. Therefore, poodles are a very suitable option for the human partner who requires less physically demanding tasks. People with hearing impairment, diabetics, epilepsy or PTSD stated that the perfect size of poodles allows them to bring their service helper to many places such as the cabin of an aircraft.
3. How to certify a service poodle
A qualified service dog should first go through specific training that directly benefits the owner’s disability. And the training content varies depending on disability or special needs of the person. The common methods to train a service dog are hiring a trainer, sending the dog to a professional school/agency or training it by yourself.
Poodles are usually used to relieve someone’s anxiety, depression or mental issues. Training is relatively simpler than with guide dogs or mobility assistance dogs. Therefore, more and more poodle owners are willing to discipline their domestic dog to be a service dog. You can search for online training courses, set up a training plan and then carry it out patiently. After completion of the service dog training, your pup should pass the public access tests that examine whether your dog can be calm and obedient in public.
The last step before you take your poodle anywhere is the certification as a service dog. If you have a service dog certification, you can prove that your service dog is well trained if you encounter rejections in public areas.
Can poodles be emotional support animals?
Another assistance animal, the emotional support animal, can be any animal but must be able to provide humans with mental support and constant companion. They are not required to undergo long-running professional training, which is indispensable for service animals, and is therefore suitable for people who have a moderate level of emotional problems but do not reach the level of disability. What’s more, these animals are more affordable for a majority of families because they do not require expensive breeding and training costs.
Dogs are the most popular emotional support animals because of their active personality. The poodle is one of the convincing examples. This breed is eager to please humans and loves to be the center of attention. Combined with their high sensitivity to human emotions, the cute poodle will never let you sink into sadness or depression.
The active poodles can stimulate humans to create many positive energies, including responsibility, confidence, courage, and persistence. For example, they can encourage you to leave the bed in the morning once the alarm rings, so you would go to work on time and get rid of “procrastination”, which helps you to learn a sense of time and form a good habit. What’s more, people who have social problems benefit greatly from the emotional poodles, as they have the innate ability to socialize with others. They can respond well to the greeting of others without any thrill or aggression.