American Poodles At Work, Inc was founded to provide highly-trained assistance dogs to people who prefer or need a Poodle due to allergies or lifestyle. We carefully select and teach our dogs, always with our ultimate goal in mind — a joyful, willing and intelligent, unobtrusive helpmate.
Through a detailed personality analysis we strive to match client and dog such that there is an almost immediate bond, strong enough that many would call it a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence.
It is with these ideals that American Poodles At Work continues with our endeavors.
The Ups and Downs
Poodles are one of the original gun dog breeds, specializing in retrieving water fowl – the same job as Labrador and Golden Retrievers. This history created a breed that is well-suited to working directly with their partner, waiting for a cue and then jumping into action. Many Poodles love to pick items up and follow their partner’s direction.
However, Poodles were also bred for guard dog ability, herding, and pulling milk carts – these instincts introduce traits that are less compatible for the requirements of an assistance dog… becoming protective of their partner or environment, chasing/controlling moving objects, and happily dragging a heavy weight behind them! These traits can be used to our advantage for some assistance skills, such as alerting their partner to sounds or changes in the environment, instinct to keep a child in the yard, and pulling a wheelchair up the curb – but these same traits can easily become major safety issues that require the dog to be removed from assistance work.
APAW’s breeding program is aimed at selecting and producing Poodles which have more of the positive instincts and fewer of the ones problematic for assistance work. We look for dogs which enjoy holding items in their mouths but don’t care about moving objects; are social and feel no need to protect anything yet are reserved enough to ignore unsolicited attention from the public; have the stamina to work all day but maintain a steady calm demeanor; have the sensitivity to work for a partner with limitations yet never take advantage of those limitations. To establish this consistency will take many generations, but the results will yield a higher percentage of Poodles able to perform assistance work for the partners who require the unique qualities of this breed.
Poodles tend to be more intuitive than most breeds, and are very sensitive to their owner’s feelings and abilities. Unlike calmer Labs and Goldens, Poodles tend to have more prey drive, energy and environmental reactivity than is ideal for a public access assistance dog, which means that their partner needs to be consistently vigilant in maintaining proper attention and behavior – if a Poodle doesn’t recognize their partner as a strong leader, the likelihood of behavioral issues arising is high. While they can have a strong work ethic, Poodles are known for making their people laugh – they will perform clever antics to lighten any dreary day, but will also lose their responsiveness to trained skills if their partner doesn’t maintain consistent high standards. Because of this unique temperament, we only place our Poodles with people who don’t mind a little good humor, but can devote the attention and consistency to maintain proper responses in all environments. Poodles are extremely smart and enjoy the mental stimulation of complicated tasks. When paired with our training methods that encourage the dog to think, our Poodles are practically unstoppable.