diabetestalk.net

How To Train Your Dog To Be A Diabetic Alert Dog

What Are Diabetic Alert Dogs (dads)?

What Are Diabetic Alert Dogs (dads)?

Diabetic Alert Dogs — affectionately known as DADs — are service dogs that are trained specifically to assist diabetics. Their primary task as service dogs is to alert diabetics of an oncoming hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic event (low or high blood sugar!) DADs are able to do this by reacting to particular smells that are emitted from the human body due to chemical shifts caused by either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia (undetected by a human nose). There are various ways that the dog can alert their human of a low or high blood sugar, which all depends on how it is trained. These skills require rigorous training from professional service dog trainers. In addition to being on alert for blood sugar malfunctions, Diabetic Alert Dogs are known to provide a tremendous amount of love and emotional support to its owner, resulting in an increased sense of security and balance in the daily life of someone with Type 1. How can I find my own DAD? Getting a Diabetic Alert Dog of your very own is a process. The first step is to find a legitimate, accredited organization made up of trainers that will assist you in both the acquiring and the training of your new DAD. Alternatively, there are Diabetic Alert Dog Training schools that will assist in the training and development of the dog of your own choosing. After being matched with the right dog for you, you may be asked to provide a “scent collection kit” so that your dog can learn your body chemistry during its training. Home visits are scheduled in order to begin the bonding process. Organizations & Resources How long do I have to wait for my dog? The average wait time for your DAD to be ready to come home with you for good is approximately six months to a year. What is the cost? The exact cost will depend on the particular o Continue reading >>

Guide: Training A Diabetes Alert Dog

Guide: Training A Diabetes Alert Dog

Have you ever wondered what it takes to teach your dog to sense your oncoming low blood sugars and actually alert you to them? I’ve spent a great deal of time with a friend whose dog, Becca, does exactly this for her diabetes, and it is impressive every time. But unless you’re fortunate enough to get involved with a charity that trains diabetes alert dogs, or you can afford the pretty penny it costs to have your dog trained by a professional, it’s not easy to simply teach your own dog how to be a “Diabetes Alert Dog.” Veronica Zimmerman recently published the most comprehensive guide for training your dog to be your best friend in diabetes management, titled, DOG – A Diabetic’s Best Friend Training Guide. Having lived with type 1 diabetes since she was a child, Veronica has developed her own training program and dog-training business centered around hypoglycemia awareness dogs, called “Veronica’s Cloud-9 K9.” This book provides its readers with knowledge on: How to choose the right dog for the job How to assess the temperament How to train the basic obedience training needed to pass the American Kennel Club’s, Canine Good Citizen test How to train for hypoglycemic / hyperglycemic alerts How to collect and store hypoglycemic / hyperglycemic samples How to do the scent training How to train your dog to alert at night What handlers must know in regard to the American Disability Act regulations As a proud dog-lover myself, I’ve often wondered if my very attentive and rather intuitive goldendoodle would have made a great diabetes alert dog, had I taken the time to have him trained (or trained him myself). One of the first paragraphs I found intriguing in Zimmerman’s book was when she explained how not every dog is meant to be an alert dog: “I just Continue reading >>

Book Review: Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog

Book Review: Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog

Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog is a clear, easy-to-read resource for anyone training a dog to alert to changes in blood glucose levels. It offers some general information, such as what it is like to live with a service dog, advice on choosing the right dog, and how to find a qualified trainer. The majority of the book, however, gives step-by-step training protocols with just the right amount of information. It was hard to put the book down; I found it very compelling. I wanted to know: How do you train for alerts? How does a dog learn to recognize the scent? What does the dog need to learn to be able to do night alerts or car alerts? The authors, Rita Martinez and Sue Barns, are among those who have pioneered diabetic alert dog (DAD) training and protocols. Along with assisting clients in training their dogs, Martinez is a frequent speaker with trainer groups and service dog organizations looking to learn more about training DADs. Barns is an experienced service dog trainer, and the founder of the Diabetic Alert Dog program at Assistance Dogs of the West. With clicker training protocols throughout, the authors’ positive methods match the positive tone of the book. They recommend that individuals with diabetes work with a qualified service dog trainer rather than try to train on their own. However, the training advice is so clear that even a novice trainer could follow the steps and practice the basics between sessions. And for the rest of us training enthusiasts, it is simply fascinating to learn the steps involved in training a medical alert dog. One of the things I liked best about this book is the support it shows for the diabetic alert dog, or any service dog for that matter. While showing great sensitivity and respect for the needs of the person, this book is a Continue reading >>

Service Dogs That Can Monitor Their Owners’ Diabetes

Service Dogs That Can Monitor Their Owners’ Diabetes

Hypoglycemia unawareness is a common — and dangerous — condition that can develop in those with type 1 diabetes. This condition means you don’t experience the symptoms most people do when their blood sugar gets too low. Normal symptoms of low blood sugar include sweating, shaking, or confusion. At very low levels, you may experience seizures, or go into a coma if your blood sugar is too low for too long. One of the solutions for this condition is man’s best friend: a diabetes service dog. Dogs have a naturally heightened sense of smell that makes them excellent hunters. Professional trainers have learned to harness these skills by training dogs to recognize certain smells. These could include the fruity smelling ketones a person’s body produces when they are experiencing a hyperglycemic episode when blood sugar is too high, or the unique scent a person gives off during a hypoglycemic episode when blood sugar is too low. A diabetes service dog isn’t a replacement for checking blood sugar levels. However, it is a safeguard for those who experience episodes low or high blood sugar, especially if they do not have warning symptoms. There are several service dog-training programs across the country. Examples include the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs (NIDAD) and Diabetic Alert Dog University. These organizations train a dog to recognize the difference between certain scents. This includes the scent a person releases when their blood sugar is high or low. According to Dogs 4 Diabetics, there are two different levels of service dogs for people with diabetes. Medical response dogs for diabetes are trained to respond to signs that an owner may be experiencing low blood sugar levels, once they have become symptomatic. A diabetic alert dog, on the other hand Continue reading >>

Diabetic Alert Dogs: Training Dogs To Think!

Diabetic Alert Dogs: Training Dogs To Think!

Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS Director of Training and Behavior Service Dog Academy - www.servicedogacademy.com Diabetic Alert Dog University - www.diabeticalertdoguniversity.com We train Diabetic Alert Dogs. See our recent interview on New Day Northwest! Follow us on Facebook! Two Diabetic Alert Dog University students waiting patiently for their food puzzle toys and for their Pogo Plush Bunny (used to teach the dogs to play tug and to share toys.) Seattle, Washington has a unique brand of dog trainer at Service Dog Academy. Nowhere else in the Pacific Northwest can people with diabetes learn to train their dogs to alert to blood sugar imbalances. As a part of Service Dog Academy staff, we work hard to get this highly specialized training to more and more people each day. Our dog training studio was founded on the principles that people with disabilities should have affordable resources to live a manageable, independent life, and to us that means being able to train your own service dog. Having first-hand experiences with hypoglycemia and type-2 diabetes, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, head trainer and founder knows that manageability means a lot to those seeking out a diabetic alert dog. The costs of insurance, medicals services, and peace of mind that they won’t pass out in a shopping mall only to wake up with emergency personnel at their side is worth the work it takes to have a canine companion on the ready to alert when blood sugar starts to drop. As part of her diabetic alert dog training methods, Premier puzzles are a main part of the work to eat strategy. In the wild, dogs had to work for hours on end to find their food, and with a work to eat strategy, it emulates this as best as we can. Here's why we love this method: You get a dog that thinks you’re the cool Continue reading >>

Diabetic Alert Dog Fundamentals – Free Training Advice

Diabetic Alert Dog Fundamentals – Free Training Advice

Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, owner and head trainer of the Service Dog Academy shared some of her diabetic alert dog training fundamentals in a free webinar earlier this month with attendees from all over the country. With her background in training service dogs, and seeing the effects of diabetes through personal experience and with family members, McNeight set out to make training dogs for diabetic alert accessible for everyone. Attendees from all over including Denver, San Antonio, Anaheim, Brooklyn, Michigan, Virginia, and New Jersey also got a sneak peak at Diabetic Alert Dog University – the next phase in McNeight’s quest for offering low-cost diabetic alert dog training to type one and type two diabetics, hypoglycemics, and pre-diabetics. “I did find your webinar useful and your approach compatible [sic] with my own training beliefs. I am fascinated by the whole process!” In this program, dogs are allowed to be dogs through the use of games, solving puzzles, and making service work incredibly rewarding. By using positive reinforcement methods, Service Dog Academy’s diabetic alert dog program keeps a dog’s spirit intact. The puzzles and games that are part of the training have been developed to create an improvisational dog. Furthermore, by working with your own dog and doing the training with your dog, it will give you the ability to keep up with the training. Unfortunately, when an already trained dog is given to a person he may lose his ability to alert within a few months. With this program, in addition to the basics of alerting to blood sugar changes, getting drinks from the refrigerator, retrieving your meter and getting help, this program gives you the fundamentals to teach your dog more complicated tasks when you come up with them. The main goal of Continue reading >>

Scent Training: First Steps With A Diabetic Alert Dog (video)

Scent Training: First Steps With A Diabetic Alert Dog (video)

Sherlock came to live with me when he was nine weeks old, and we got right to work–crate training, recall and the puppy sit. Then, at four months, I started to take him with me everywhere for socialization–work, read-a-thons, hiking, out to eat and even Universal Studios. After he turned a year, he got his health checks. He has great hips, and an exceptional heart. Now that he’s generally well behaved and in good health, it’s time to start the final phase–scent training. Scent training has three basic components: Odor Alert Reward Sherlock’s first odor is saliva from a diabetic with low blood sugar. I started with low blood sugar because it can quickly progress to a life threatening situation. After completing scent training, he will eventually alert his handler of high or low blood sugar by taking her a bringsel, which is a fancy word for a dog toy. Sherlock’s reward while I’m training him is a quick game of retrieve. In order to train a dog on a scent, you must have scent samples. My sister is diabetic, so when her sugars dropped below 80, she spit into cotton and froze it to help me train Sherlock. The swabs of cotton are labeled with sugar level and date and stored in my freezer until it’s time for a training session. (This is the reason I don’t believe I could train a cadaver dog…body parts in my freezer.) Before I start training sessions with Sherlock, I take the cotton swab out and let it defrost for 30 minutes. Then, the cotton goes into a piece of PVC pipe with holes drilled in it. The first time I worked with Sherlock, I tossed the PVC pipe, with the cotton inside, in the back yard on the lawn. This simple game of retrieve taught Sherlock to associate the smell of low blood sugar with a reward, and for the first week that’s all he neede 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 >>

A Diabetic Man's Best Friend: His Dog And A Watch

A Diabetic Man's Best Friend: His Dog And A Watch

Diabetes-alert dogs can raise the alarm to their owners if they're having an attack of low blood sugar, potentially saving their lives. They can be expensive to train – but a new device may enable any diabetic person to train their pet themselves. Perth woman Kaylene Burnell's blood sugar can crash so suddenly she's in imminent danger, but her whippet Winston raises the alarm with a range of behaviours including whimpering, pawing and sitting and staring at her. Burnell has had the seven-year-old dog since he was a puppy. Winston raised the alert as soon as he departed the plane from NSW, where he was born, saving her life. She received the dog via Paws 4 Diabetics (PFD), the non-profit charitable organisation of which she's secretary. In its 10-year existence, PFD has trained and paired 100 diabetic alert dogs - from chihuahuas to rottweilers - which are used as a complement to regular blood self-testing. Such dogs can cost thousands of dollars. But a project at Melbourne's La Trobe University (LTU) is developing a watch-sized device that allows any diabetic to train their pet dog themselves, as part of a world-first scientifically validated training protocol. Lead researcher Dr Tiffani Howell says there is little “rigorous research” behind diabetes-alert dogs. “No one knows what the dogs are smelling,” she says. One of the few studies was published in 2013 in the UK. It reported trained dogs gave “significant improvements” to owner well-being – and eight out of 10 of the animals observed consistently alerted them when their blood sugar was outside target range. Melbourne's La Trobe University is developing a watch-sized device that allows any diabetic to train their pet dog themselves, as part of a world-first scientifically validated training protocol Continue reading >>

This Is How Dogs Detect Low Blood Sugar In Folks With Diabetes

This Is How Dogs Detect Low Blood Sugar In Folks With Diabetes

One of the many burdens that someone with diabetes has to suffer with is the task of constantly monitoring their blood sugar levels. For some people, this means pricking their finger every hour to test their blood for normal levels of glucose. For others, it means employing the help of a Diabetic Alert Dog to assist with this daunting task. A Diabetic Alert Dog is highly trained to alert someone with diabetes when their glucose levels fall out of a normal range. Source: lukeandjedi Through practice a Diabetic Alert Dog can learn to detect dropping or rising glucose levels 30 minutes before their handler experiences any symptoms. This allows a diabetic person enough time to check their glucose levels and take the steps necessary to avoid serious complications. Some Diabetic Alert Dogs are also trained to get help or retrieve medical supplies. Source: diabeticalertdog Diabetic Alert Dog can be especially helpful during situations where it’s difficult for someone to check their blood sugar with a medical device (i.e. during sleep, a business meeting, exercise, or while driving). Many people that suffer from diabetes have to wake up several times a night and check their blood sugar levels or they might go into a diabetic coma while they are sleeping. Source: service_dog_thunder So how are these amazing dog’s trained? The training for a Diabetic Alert Dog varies depending on the organization or trainer. The most highly trained Service Dogs are bred for the job and are trained from birth until they are around 18 months of age (sometimes more). Some organizations however aren’t breed specific and will train any dog with a strong nose and a willingness to work. Source: diabeticalertdog All Service Dog training begins with socialization and obedience training. During socia Continue reading >>

Diabetes Alert Dogs

Diabetes Alert Dogs

Breanne Harris, 25, first encountered a diabetes alert dog when she was a counselor at a camp for children with diabetes. Two people from Dogs4Diabetics, Inc., (D4D) – a nonprofit organization that trains assistance dogs to detect hypoglycemia in people with diabetes – brought an alert-dog-in-training to camp. Every night, the counselors would make midnight rounds to check campers’ blood glucose levels. In the dormitory, the dog tore free from the trainer, ran to one teenager, jumped on the bed, and tried to awaken the girl. “We checked her blood sugar immediately, and her sugar was 32 mg/dl, which is severely low,” says Harris, who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was 4. “I was sold at that point and applied for a dog.” Kristen Beard, 24, who also has Type 1 diabetes, got a golden retriever puppy named Montana when she was about 19. One night Montana would not leave her alone as she slept. “He was crying and pawing at me. I was mad because he woke me up, but once I became aware, I thought maybe I should test my blood sugar. I tested it, and it was low,” Beard says. “I thought it was a fluke, but he started doing it regularly.” Now he wakes her at least twice a month to warn about her falling blood glucose. “He just started doing it on his own, and I reinforce the behavior with treats,” she says. Veterinarian Nicholas Dodman recalls a client who had a German shepherd that was afraid of men, including the woman’s husband. The dog would avoid him even if they were in the same room. But one night, the dog woke him. The man realized that his wife, who had diabetes, was becoming hypoglycemic. After that, if the woman’s blood glucose dropped dangerously low, the dog would overcome his fear and wake up the man to help her. “It was the on Continue reading >>

What You Need To Know About Diabetic Alert Dogs

What You Need To Know About Diabetic Alert Dogs

Dogs possess an incredibly powerful sense of smell. That’s why we use these impressive animals to detect the presence of drugs, explosives, and other contraband, ultimately helping to keep society safer. Dogs’ sense of smell is also being used to help people with diabetes. A recently published paper found that trained diabetic alert dogs (DADs) were able to detect odors that diabetic individuals produce when in a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) state. Some experienced DAD trainers suggest that trained dogs can identify changes in a diabetic’s chemistry derived from his breath or sweat 15-30 minutes before it can be detected by traditional intermittent glucose monitoring (the type of monitoring used by most people with diabetes). However, another recently published paper found that there was a high false positive rate of dog alerts in Type 1 diabetics and that the less commonly used continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) was able to detect hypoglycemia much earlier. Despite this finding, the same study showed that dog users were very satisfied and largely confident in their dog’s ability to detect hypoglycemia. Once the service dog detects the potential problem, they alert their owner by pawing, barking, or other behaviors. The dog can even be taught to fetch a cell phone for his person. This allows the owner to take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent an issue. He is also taught to alert other people in the household if his owner experiences an issue and cannot respond because he is confused or even unconscious. Such highly trained canines could save many lives. Typical breeds Theoretically, any dog could learn to become a diabetic service dog, but in reality, several breeds dominate the field. These include: Golden retrievers Labrador retrievers Poodles Continue reading >>

Service Dogs Provide Alert Assistance For People With Diabetes

Service Dogs Provide Alert Assistance For People With Diabetes

Seeing eye dogs were the first type of service dogs in the U.S., supporting the blind community. Gradually, our understanding of dogs’ service abilities expanded, and in 1975, Bonnie Bergan coined the term “service dogs” and started the first service dog non-profit, Canine Companions for Independence. To this day, CCI trains dogs to support people with a wide range of disabilities and places them with those in need. As research on what dogs are capable of providing became more concrete, the Americans with Disabilities Act expanded the definition of service dogs in 1990 to include “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.” This allowed for the expansion and support of formalized dog training to serve a wide community of people dealing with various disabilities and special needs in the U.S. Among these are diabetics. Nowadays, thousands of service dogs are being trained around the country to alert diabetics who show signs of abnormal blood sugar levels as well as to communicate to a third party if an emergency situation arises. Read on for a comprehensive guide to the research and the organizations involved. Diabetes is an Illness that Affects Millions In the U.S. today, diabetes impacts over 30 million people with another 84 million who are prediabetic based on the National Diabetes Statistics Report. Each year the number of people impacted continues to grow, and there are over 7 million people who are living with diabetes but are undiagnosed. While this illness can be managed with a healthy diet, exercise, the correct dose of insulin, and medication, the risk of hypoglycemia (abnormally low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (abnormally high blood sugar) is a daily battle. Other condit Continue reading >>

How To Train Your Dog To Detect Low Blood Sugar

How To Train Your Dog To Detect Low Blood Sugar

Introduction People with certain health conditions can be subject to low blood sugar episodes, that if not caught and addressed, can result in impaired cognition, making it difficult or impossible for the person affected to treat themselves. This can be very dangerous if the person is alone or asleep and is unaware they are having a low blood sugar episode. While many diabetics have good control over their condition, with a routine of blood sugar monitoring, insulin injections, and careful diet, some people have a great deal of difficulty controlling their diabetes and are frequently subject to low blood sugar episodes that can be life-threatening. Service dogs that are trained to detect low blood sugar episodes almost as soon as they begin and alert their owners to take action to counteract the condition, can be lifesavers. These dogs allow diabetics the ability to be independent, working and living on their own, and provide safety for diabetics when asleep by detecting low blood sugar episodes that could go unnoticed and alerting the diabetic themself and/or another family member. Diabetic service dogs detect low blood sugar by recognizing the scent of low blood sugar on a human's breath or emitted through their pores. Because dogs have such an incredibly sensitive sense of smell, they are able to detect this scent, which is not perceivable to us. Diabetic dogs are then taught several behaviors to help the person with low blood sugar. They alert the person with a nudge, paw or other predetermine signal, they can go get help by alerting another person if the diabetic does not respond, and they can be trained to assist a low blood sugar episode by going to fetch testing materials, a phone, and/or glucose tablets. When out in public or in an environment such as school or 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 >>

More in diabetes