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How Are Diabetes Dogs Trained

How Are Dogs Trained?

How Are Dogs Trained?

Dogs are trained mostly through the use of operant conditioning, that is, learning by consequences. They also learn by association, which means that they make an association, for example, between getting a treat and seeing another dog which makes them grow to like seeing other dogs -- or scary tall guys carrying boxes and wearing hats. Basically we train dogs like we train all other animals - primarily through positive reinforcement, which means that we follow a behavior we would like to see repeated with a treat. The dog then repeats the behavior to earn more treats. Used properly, food, which is what we call a primary reinforcer because animals don't have to learn to like it, is the quickest, most efficient and most effective way to train an animal initially. Once the animal has learned a behavior, we add in other reinforcers, such as play, praise or petting, and the dog is gradually weaned off food. For certain behaviors, such as waiting at the door, we use a form of non-aversvie punishment called negative punishment, meaning we remove access to the outdoors by closing the door if the dog gets up from a cued sit. He learns that sitting results in the door opening and his being released to go through it. The going through it is his reinforcement. When teaching a dog to wait at the door, I may or may not also use food, depending on the dog and the situation. Some people believe that they need to correct or punish a dog using aversive means in order to train it, but I firmly believe this is not necessary, and in fact science has shown that this can easily work against you. If you want to add another dimension of precision and versatility to your training, you can use a methodology called clicker training. Clicker training is positive reinforcement training that includes Continue reading >>

Diabetic Alert Dog Training

Diabetic Alert Dog Training

Continuous improvement by the most passionate people = the greatest love for our dogs. To prepare our dogs to save lives, D4D has created a comprehensive training program based on our industry-leading standards. Our training emphasizes standards for: Our dogs accurate & reliable detection of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia Our founder Mark Ruefenacht pioneered our scent detection training. Fueled by scientific research and testing, this training continuously improves to protect our clients lives. Our dogs are trained to detect the unique scent of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which when left untreated, can lead to complications, illness, and fatalities. Our dogs are also trained to detect on hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which when left untreated, can lead to long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure. Due to a lack of standards and regulations in the industry, many Medical-Alert Service Dogs only perform at 50% detection. At this 50/50 rate, the dog is guessing, flipping a coin, and putting the life of the client at risk. D4D dogs are trained to detect changes in blood sugar at a minimum of 80% but often perform as high as 99.73%. We strive for this high standard of performance to ensure that the safety and health of our clients are not left up to chance. To achieve our standards, we have developed a unique quality check in our dog training. D4D has extensively trained and tested two proof dogs that confirm the blood sugar of each scent before it is introduced to dogs-in-training. This step, along with a control of a human scent without hypoglycemia, informs our detailed scientific processes. Please note, we only train dogs which are received through our established organizational partnerships. We do not train dogs f Continue reading >>

Diabetic Alert Dog Trainers In Northern Virginia

Diabetic Alert Dog Trainers In Northern Virginia

We do diabetic alert dog training in Northern Virginia. Diabetic Alert Dogs are lifesavers for type 1 diabetes patients, specifically when they are hypoglycemic unaware, meaning that they don’t experience the usual symptoms associated with low blood sugar (shakiness, sweating, etc.). Research has shown that dogs can detect low blood sugar using the smell of sweat alone. Dogs are typically very reliable and accurate when detecting this, with rates of up to 90% accurate. For people living with diabetes, this is a life-saver and takes away some of the stress and worry in caring for this illness. How diabetic service dogs work Diabetes alert dogs are trained to notice when their owner is experiencing low blood sugar. They then alert their owner by placing their paw on their owner. If sleeping, the dog may be trained to awake the owner, and in the event that they do not awake, the dog may awake another family member. The cost of the training for diabetic alert dogs is quite high. Many organizations now exist to help diabetics afford a dog. Dr. Wolf A family physician and diabetic himself, Steve Wolf is a proponent of diabetic alert dogs. After he experienced a hypoglycemic event while driving, the doctor looked into getting a guide dog and bought Kermit. Kermit has assisted Dr. Wolf since then, keeping him aware of his glucose levels and cheering up his patients. One day, Kermit displayed intelligent disobedience by refusing to get in the car to go home from work. Dr. Wolf took the hint and checked his glucose. He found it was low and was able to take measures to compensate it before driving. Diabetic alert dogs work constantly and do whatever they can to help their owners. Mark Reufenacht The first person to train a diabetic alert dog was Mark Reufenacht. Reufenacht is a Continue reading >>

There Are 5 Core Foundations Of The Diabetic Alert Dog 101tm Program

There Are 5 Core Foundations Of The Diabetic Alert Dog 101tm Program

1. Stably temperamented dogs. Dogs need to be free from all signs of aggression and anxiety. 2. Affordable training. It shouldnt cost you $25,000 to train your own dog for diabetic alert. There has to be a better way. Thats where the Diabetic Alert Dog 101TM program comes in handy. 3. Ensuring that our dogs are happy and are allowed to be dogs. Some service dog organizations have a 75% drop out rate. Some of these dogs are dropped from the program for being unable to shut down everything that is dog about a dog. We think dogs should be allowed to play with other dogs, that dogs should be allowed to play with a ball or engage in a little telephone pole sniffing every once and a while. What is so wrong with that? We think there has to be a middle ground between robot dogs and ill behaved dogs. 4. Training using strict positive reinforcement methodologies. Dominance methodology creates a confrontational relationship with your dog. Do you really want to train a dog that is supposed to be saving your life in a confrontational manner? No way! If you wouldnt do it to your two year old, why would you do it to your dog? What the Diabetic Alert Dog 101TM training methodology creates is a dog that who thinks you are the sun, moon and the stars, a dog that thinks you are the granter of all good things in their life, a dog that not only enjoys his job but is obsessed over it 5. Creation of a THINKING dog Have you ever had a low blood sugar before? What does it feel like? It seems like the first thing to go is critical thinking skills. What type of dog would you rather have? A dog that you have to tell what to do when you are in a state of brain dysfunction or a dog who assesses the situation a responds to it again and again and again trying to get your attention in many different wa Continue reading >>

How Dogs Can Sniff Out Diabetes And Cancer

How Dogs Can Sniff Out Diabetes And Cancer

By Liz Langley PUBLISHED March 19, 2016 The Force is strong in Jedi. The black Labrador retriever recently detected a drop in blood sugar in 7-year-old Luke Nuttall, who has Type 1 diabetes. His glucose monitor didn't pick it up, but Jedi did—and woke up Luke's mother, Dorrie Nuttall, as he was trained. The California family's amazing story, which went viral on Facebook, made NatGeo's own Nicole Werbeck wonder, “How do dogs use their noses to detect human disease?” Weird Animal Question of the Week sniffed out some answers. Nose Pros Dog schnozzes are incredibly sensitive and quite complicated, which makes them excellent at smelling bombs, drugs, and even animal poop, which can help with conservation. (Read about a Chesapeake Bay retriever that sniffs out scat of disappearing South American animals.) And numerous studies have shown man's best friend can detect various cancers, including prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and melanoma. Exactly what they are smelling—in other words what cancer and diabetes smell like—is not yet known, says Cindy Otto, founder and director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Vet Working Dog Center. But there's evidence that diabetic alert dogs, or DADs, smell a volatile chemical compound released throughout the bodies of diabetics. Chemists have not yet singled out the exact compound. Since these helper dogs work with people, they get service-dog training on top of their medical-detection training—kind of like special agents. During training, diabetic alert dogs are rewarded whenever they sniff the scent of low blood sugar, provided by patient saliva samples. That way they’ll focus on that scent to the exclusion of the many other scents they’ll pick up on the job. (Related: "Detection Dogs: Learning to Pass the Sniff Continue reading >>

Can Trained Dogs Detect A Hypoglycemic Scent In Patients With Type 1 Diabetes?

Can Trained Dogs Detect A Hypoglycemic Scent In Patients With Type 1 Diabetes?

In persons with type 1 diabetes (T1D), hypoglycemia is common and sometimes serious. Anecdotal reports suggest that dogs can detect hypoglycemia in their human companions. The current study was undertaken to assess whether dogs can detect hypoglycemia by scent alone. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS The study was approved by the Human Institutional Review Board and the Animal Care and Use Committee at Legacy Research Institute (Portland, OR). Three patients with T1D were enrolled (age 25–57 years; duration of diabetes 2–21 years; none were hypoglycemic unaware). These people were unfamiliar to the dogs that were studied. For each of two hypoglycemic periods (capillary blood specimens ≤60 mg/dL), each subject collected two sterile cotton swab samples by rubbing them on the skin of both arms. Additional samples were collected during two normoglycemic episodes (capillary glucose 100–150 mg/dL). This procedure was chosen because the dog-training organization affiliated with one of the authors used this method to train dogs to respond to hypoglycemia in their human companions. The three adult dogs used in this study had been trained to respond to hypoglycemia by pressing a bell after sniffing the open-capped container with the hypoglycemic swab. Each of these dogs had been placed in the home of a person with T1D. The owners and trainer believed that the dogs chosen for this study were consistently able to detect hypoglycemia in the home. Investigators were blinded to sample identity. Each dog was tested with each of the 24 samples by presenting the sample to the animal for 30–45 s. An alert was recorded by a blinded investigator if the dog activated the bell. RESULTS Results are presented in Table 1. The values for sensitivity, specificity, and percent of samples that w Continue reading >>

Diabetes Alert Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Diabetes Alert Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Note: This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dana Hardin MD, and Dr. Jennifer Cattet Ph.D. Many individuals with type 1 diabetes spend their days worrying about the possibility of having a low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia). Aside from frequent testing of blood glucose levels (self monitoring of blood glucose, SMBG), they may experience uncomfortable signs of hypoglycemia such as sweating, shaking, or confusion. These early symptoms of hypoglycemia are helpful, even though uncomfortable, because they help the person with diabetes know it is time to check their glucose level. Once the person checks and learns they are hypoglycemic, they are taught what food or drink to take to raise their blood sugar. If the low blood sugar is not treated in time, persistent hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, blackouts, or even coma. Unfortunately, over time (generally after 5 or so years) a person with 1 diabetes no longer feels symptoms when his/her blood glucose is low. This condition is known as Hypoglycemia Unawareness. When hypoglycemia unawareness develops, the person is at much greater risk for the development of persistent hyperglycemia and all of the dangerous problems listed above. Patients have reported feeling ok and not knowing they had low blood sugar until they wake up on the floor, or they have had a seizure. Some don’t realize what happened until they are taken to the hospital. If you are one of these individuals, you probably worry about your next hypoglycemia episode on a daily basis. You would likely feel much better if you were aware of something or someone which could help you monitor and alert your oncoming low blood sugar drop. Well, good news! A diabetes alert dog (DAD) can help you become aware of hypoglycemia even if you don’t feel any different. To give Continue reading >>

How Are Attack Dogs Trained?

How Are Attack Dogs Trained?

It's a secret. It's important that it remain a secret because otherwise quasi-normal people would attempt to attack-train their pet, and this is not a good idea. Attack dogs are trained daily, religiously, consistently. They are, in fact, considered a deadly weapon. People who don't know what they are doing should never attempt to train their dog to attack. I guarantee it will end badly, for the following reason: Attack training has two basic steps. Training the dog to bite, and training the dog to stop (or inhibit) biting. Both steps are essential, or you have a crazed vicious dog. I had a “friend” who had trained her Rottweiler for Schutzhund (meaning, literally, “stop hound”) and he was a champion. She would not leave him alone with me, which was acting responsibly. One night after a couple beers, she showed me how to teach my dog to attack (me). Oddly, she never taught me how to stop the attack…we lapsed into conversation and I didn't realize what had happened. Later, I learned how to make my dog stop, but only after he delivered a bite to my breast that turned the entire breast tissue deep purple for a couple weeks. My dog still likes to bite, and cannot be trusted when he gets excited… that's the nature of the beast. A dog that is bite-trained will gladly bite anybody… seriously. The dog will especially bite the handler (owner) because that's the person who taught the dog to bite originally. I'm glad I have Kevlar protection when I've continued to work on bite training with my dog. The bite-trained dog will also pursue any prey items… anything that runs away…. Cats, children, puppies, etc. A dog that learns to attack can not be punished by traditional punishment like smacking it with a newspaper or yelling no! In fact, the dog will be stimulated Continue reading >>

Diabetic Alert Dog - 4 Paws For Ability

Diabetic Alert Dog - 4 Paws For Ability

Diabetic Alert Dog, Pip sensing a change in Megans blood sugar There are many tools to use in dealing with diabetes, and the Diabetic Alert Dog is one more tool to add to the toolbox used to help families deal with their child who has diabetes. With the use of a Diabetic Alert Dog the child can gain the independence they need as they grow up and mature and the parents are not afraid to allow them to do so. Here at 4 Paws we place Diabetic Alert Dogs with children who have insulin-dependent Type 1 Diabetes. As with all medical alert dogs, Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to smell the chemical body changes that occur as the insulin levels increase or drop. When a child is experiencing a high or low, their body is releasing chemicals that change their typical scent. A 4 Paws Dog with the right training in scent-based work is able to respond to those chemical changes, at the onset of the changes long before any adverse medical reactions occur, by alerting the parents or caregivers to the change at its onset. The parents and/or child are then able to check their blood sugar level and take appropriate action. Training Diabetic Alert Dogs for children means that we must train a dog that is unique in its ability to meet the needs of both the child with diabetes and the childs family. Most agencies do not work with children, especially very young children. Here at 4 Paws we have no minimum age requirement and believe strongly in early intervention. In addition to the alert work, these dogs provide a measure of comfort for the child, increased self-esteem and confidence, a distraction during unpleasant medical procedures, and of course companionship. USA WEEKEND recently published an article on Megan Rittingerand her service dog, Pip. Full story . . . Continue reading >>

Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Really Detect Low Glucose Levels?

Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Really Detect Low Glucose Levels?

People are familiar with service dogs and there is general awe regarding a dog’s ability to help humans. Diabetes Alert Dogs (DADs) have become very popular over the past few years and there has been much press regarding their ability to help people with diabetes. However, it’s one thing to hear people talk about what DADs can do, but it’s another to actually prove their ability. Dr. Dana Hardin, a Pediatric Endocrinologist, Wes Anderson, a statistician and Smart Animal Training Systems’ founder, and myself, owner of a service dog company, have been working together on a research project aimed at showing that there is indeed a smell associated with hypoglycemia and that dogs are capable of detecting it. We have been working on this research for a few years now and we’re happy to finally be able to share our results which have been published in Diabetes Therapy. We hope that validating the ability of dogs to smell the difference between low and normal blood sugar samples from people with diabetes will help diabetics to get funding for the dogs. Most of all, it’s the first step in developing standardized methods and procedures in a field where we know so little and where there is so much that we cannot control. This article will first provide background on diabetes and then results from our new study that examined DAD accuracy in detecting low blood sugar scent samples. Background Diabetes is a condition so common that we tend to believe that we know all about it. In fact, diabetes is a growing worldwide epidemic. Yet, most of us have no idea what patients with Type 1 diabetes go through on a daily basis. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder that destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone Continue reading >>

Service Dogs For Diabetics

Service Dogs For Diabetics

Destiny, a small black Retriever, insistently nudged Breanne, her person, who was sleeping soundly. Over and over, she pushed her warm snout into Breanne’s face, finally jolting her into wakefulness with bristly whiskers and a wet tongue. Breanne has Type 1 diabetes, and Destiny alerted her to the fact that her blood sugar levels were plummeting into dangerous territory. This special pup represents the newest “breed” of service dogs, one who detects hypoglycemia and offers hope, freedom and better health to those with Type 1 diabetes. Breanne Harris is a 22-year-old student at UC Davis and has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was four. In those with Type 1 (sometimes called “juvenile”) diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin, a hormone that regulates the conversion of glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Instead, the diabetic needs to obtain this vital substance from injections or an insulin pump. Type 1 diabetics walk a perilous tightrope as they juggle food and insulin, aiming for blood sugar readings of between 80 and 150, measured with a tiny, handheld glucose meter. Many factors influence blood glucose levels. Too much—or not enough—insulin, food or exercise, as well as stress or illness, can easily upset the balance. Sometimes, in spite of the most diligent management, blood sugar runs dangerously high or low for no apparent reason, and this can have serious health consequences. Blood sugar that runs high over an extended period of time can damage vision, organs and limbs, so the diabetic tries to keep blood glucose as close to the “normal” range as possible. But vigilance can inadvertently lead to episodes of hypoglycemia, or “lows,” that result in unconsciousness, seizure, coma and even death; the lower the individual’s blood s Continue reading >>

Does It Upset You To See A Person With No Visible Disabilities Take A Service Dog Into A Store Or Other Public Building?

Does It Upset You To See A Person With No Visible Disabilities Take A Service Dog Into A Store Or Other Public Building?

No. I don't care. Maybe they have an “invisible disability,” like epilepsy or PTSD. Or maybe they're not disabled at all. This is how I spent my summer. (Sorry for the blurry pic, it's hard to take photos when a puppy wants to chew your phone.) My boss volunteers for an organization that breeds and trains service dogs. The dog she is training had puppies this summer. Anakin and Ace, the two handsome boys here, are the last remaining puppies. Soon they, like the others, will go home with their raisers -the people who will train them, attend special service dog classes with them, and take them everywhere -grocery stores, shopping centers, restaurants. After a year and a half to two years, they will go to “boot camp.” Their particular strengths will be assessed, and they'll be matched up with a person who needs a service dog with those strengths. The person and dog will be trained together, then presto! They graduate, and Anakin, Ace, and their littermates will be real service dogs. But it's going to take a lot of work by people WITHOUT disabilities to get them there. Anakin, for one, is mostly interested in napping at this point. You never know why someone has a service dog. Ask yourself: Do they have diabetes, PTSD, epilepsy, some other disability I can't see? Are they someone who has no disability training a service dog for someone who does? And the most important question of all… Is it really any of my business? Continue reading >>

How Is Therapy Dog Training Performed?

How Is Therapy Dog Training Performed?

Training Your Dog to Be a Therapy Dog The AKC GoodDog! Helpline receives frequent inquiries about how to train dogs for therapy work. GDH Trainer Christie Canfield conducts therapy visits with her dog and also teaches therapy dog classes. She tells us the who, what, when and how of making a therapy dog. Because of the many benefits they bring, therapy dogs are in high demand. Although our dogs give us unconditional love, not all dogs are a good fit for therapy work. So what makes a good therapy dog and how does an owner and dog become a therapy team? Obtain the AKC Canine Good Citizen title on your dog and train necessary behaviors for therapy work including, look, leave it, loose leash walking and not jumping on people. Enroll your dog in a therapy dog class that will prepare you and your dog for therapy dog visits (equipment, situations, handler preparation). Most classes include a therapy dog evaluation at the end of the class. Registration with a national therapy dog organization. This is highly recommended as most therapy dog organizations provide support, advice, and insurance. You can find a list of organizations here. Continue reading >>

Type You Support Group

Type You Support Group

Frequently asked questions about Medical Assistance & Diabetic Alert Dogs What is a Service dog and why does it have special rights for access? Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities – such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides public access rights for these dogs and their disabled handlers. What is the difference between a Medical Assistance Dog, a Diabetic Alert Assistance Dog and a Medical Response Dog? Medical Assistance Dogs are service dogs that have been trained to respond to an identifiable element that is available to their senses in order to support the medical condition of their handler. Diabetic Alert Assistance Dogs are a specific type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to use their highly sensitive scent capabilities to identify the changes in blood chemistry that occur during rapid changes in blood sugar levels. Medical Response Dogs are another type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to assist persons based on recognition of symptoms pertaining to a specific medical condition. The differences between medical alert and medical response training is the trigger that the dog has been trained to identify. In the case of a Diabetic Alert Dog, the trigger is the change in blood chemistry, allowing the diabetic to treat hypoglycemia prior to becoming symptomatic. A Medical Response Dog for diabetes responds to the handler as symptoms are occurring. D4D’s testing and experience with its clients has shown that there is a 15 to 30 minute difference in this response. How can the dog notify its handler when it se Continue reading >>

How To Train Your Own Diabetes / Diabetic Alert Dog - Foundation | Diabetic Alert Dog University - Videos About Training Your Own Diabetes Alert Dog

How To Train Your Own Diabetes / Diabetic Alert Dog - Foundation | Diabetic Alert Dog University - Videos About Training Your Own Diabetes Alert Dog

Dogs need to be free from all signs of aggression and anxiety. It shouldnt cost you $25,000 to train your own dog for diabetic alert. There has to be a better way. Thats where the Diabetic Alert Dog 101TM program comes in handy. 3. Ensuring that our dogs are happy and are allowed to be dogs. Some service dog organizations have a 75% drop out rate. Some of these dogs are dropped from the program for being unable to shut down everything that is dog about a dog. We think dogs should be allowed to play with other dogs, that dogs should be allowed to play with a ball or engage in a little telephone pole sniffing every once and a while. What is so wrong with that? We think there has to be a middle ground between robot dogs and ill behaved dogs. 4. Training using strict positive reinforcement methodologies. Dominance methodology creates a confrontational relationship with your dog. Do you really want to train a dog that is supposed to be saving your life in a confrontational manner? No way! If you wouldnt do it to your two year old, why would you do it to your dog? What the Diabetic Alert Dog 101TM training methodology creates is a dog that who thinks you are the sun, moon and the stars, a dog that thinks you are the granter of all good things in their life, a dog that not only enjoys his job but is obsessed over it Have you ever had a low blood sugar before? What does it feel like? It seems like the first thing to go is critical thinking skills. What type of dog would you rather have? A dog that you have to tell what to do when you are in a state of brain dysfunction or a dog who assesses the situation a responds to it again and again and again trying to get your attention in many different ways. Thats a thinking dog, a dog who tries to solve the puzzle again and again. 8 We Continue reading >>

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