Podengo Central

Podengo Central

A place for Podengo owners and fanciers to share information and research the breed in a topical manner. Supported by the APPMGC & APPPC


    Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

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    PADSdogs

    Posts : 2
    Join date : 2014-01-17

    Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

    Post  PADSdogs on Fri Jan 17, 2014 6:04 pm

    I'm posting on behalf of the assistance dog school I work with (Pacific Assistance Dogs Society or PADS -- www dot pads dot ca) a colleague came across a Podengo in their travels and suggested the breed as a potential candidate for our program, and based on the breed descriptions I've read online, they seem ideal.  

    I suspect the Medio would be an excellent size (large enough to be seen as a working dog, small enough to alert without knocking the handler over).  In the past we've used Shetland Sheepdogs, Smooth Fox Terriers, and Schipperkes successfully, as well as a variety of mixed breed dogs adopted as adults. We often will also use smaller labradors and goldens from our own breeding lines, for clients without balance issues (which are common for those who are hard of hearing).

    Our program trains both service (for people with physical disabilities) and hearing dogs (for people who are deaf/hard of hearing) this is where we think that the Podengo would excel.  We look for a confident dog, with high persistence, and an acute sense of hearing.  The dog is raised by a volunteer family for their first year, socialized to the human world (school, work, stores, etc) and then returns to our facility for skills training.  A successful candidate is well mannered and quiet in public, friendly towards strangers, though disinterest is ideal to keep their focus on handler, we cannot place a dog who is in any way fearful or anxious in public or around strangers.  Working hearing dogs alert their handlers physically (though a trained alert behaviour) to a variety of sounds and cues -- doorbell, phone, baby crying, item being dropped, smoke alarm, and by the nature of being a dog act as visual ears to sounds in the vicinity by their body language (for example when walking if someone is approaching from behind, the dog will look over their shoulder).  This makes the world a less startling place for someone who is deaf, and the dog also acts as a signal to an invisible disability to members of the public.  

    We are located in Burnaby, British Columbia, a few hours north of Seattle, WA and also run our program in Calgary, Alberta.  We are fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International and have been operating for over 25 years.

    1.  Is anyone aware of any (or is a) breeders in western Canada or in the Pacific Northwest that would be interested in discussing this in more detail -- or anywhere really if the breeder would be open to shipping the dog (and working closely with us to assess temperament)?  

    2.  I'd also love to hear what those in this forum think of the breed as a potential candidate for this type of work.

    Thanks in advance, Tara

    james ensor

    Posts : 116
    Join date : 2012-02-01
    Location : London, England

    Re: Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

    Post  james ensor on Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:17 am

    Tara

    I cannot comment on training dogs for deaf people. But I can tell you a little about Podengo Medios.  The typical weight of a female is around 13kg or 30lbs.  The dogs with their sharp pricked up ears have the best hearing of any dog that I have ever encountered. Even when sleeping, they keep one ear raised. They never miss a significant sound, night or day.  

    Having said this, they are scent hounds, bred to chase rabbits. They would strain at a leash at any scent, sight or sound of a small mammal such as a squirrel.  At this point they will shriek with a loud and penetrating sound and attempt to drag the person holding the lead after them.  

    I do not know whether they could ever be trained out of this habit, but I have certainly not succeeded, so far.  They are trainable dogs, being especially responsive to food awards. But they also have a mind of their own and will not necessarily choose to obey.

    If they come off the lead in woods, which contain small game, you may lose them for an hour and a half or more, until they run out of steam for the hunt. The cross between a Labrador and a Podengo, commonly found in Portugal, produces a dog of around 19kg or 42lbs, still with good hearing but less hunting temperament.  Both types of dog pull quite strongly but can be trained to desist except when a fox or squirrel comes close by.

    Training a Podengo Medio to behave like a Fox Terrier or Labrador might be equivalent to training an English foxhound to the same behavior. I cannot say whether or not it could be done, but you need to be aware of their temperament, before you commence a program.

    Podengo Medios are available in Portugal and TAP will fly them as far as Newark. But that is still a long way from Vancouver.

    PADSdogs

    Posts : 2
    Join date : 2014-01-17

    Re: Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

    Post  PADSdogs on Sun Jan 19, 2014 12:16 pm

    James, Thank you so much for the insightful reply, I had noted that prey drive was part of their temperament -- but your reply certainly indicates that this term encompasses a broad range of intensities beyond what we have typically encountered with the Fox Terriers -- thank you! While a dog that loves the sight of leaves whisking in the wind is workable, the degree you describe would not be suitable at all.

    Thanks again -- Tara

    james ensor

    Posts : 116
    Join date : 2012-02-01
    Location : London, England

    Re: Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

    Post  james ensor on Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:03 pm

    I fear that it would never prove possible to train a Podengo Medio to be as docile and obedient as a Labrador.

    Admin
    Admin

    Posts : 94
    Join date : 2009-08-08

    Re: Podengos as Hearing Dogs?

    Post  Admin on Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:07 pm

    However you may want to consider the smaller - Podengo Pequeno. Or the larger Grande. Much as with Greyhounds - the larger size while it certainly will pursue prey - it's primary interest in laying on the couch or in someones lap.

    That said the preydrive is a consideration but I find that since they hunt in a pack - and the job descriptions in the pack are almost hardwired. Some are more intense than others. I do have a Grande in Sweden that is someone's assistance dog - for balance and mobility.

    BUT as a breed in general - might not be the first choice.

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