Seizure Training for dogs

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Pudden Pop
Barked: Tue Sep 23, '08 2:12pm PST 
I have seizures and have learned that dogs can help with this. I am wondering where I can get more information on this and the training the dogs need to go thru for it. Thanks for the help.

Anything worth- it is not free
Barked: Tue Sep 23, '08 3:46pm PST 
Little disclaimer here: I'm not a registered trainer, just a puppy raiser. But this is my passion and I study and take it very seriously. So here is my two centslaugh out loud

Here is a website form the Delta Society;

And one from Canine Partners for Life one of the many groups that can help to train

You might also try cci.org but I'm not sure if they deal with seizure alert dogs.

From my understanding, the way seizure alert training goes is to have a dog that naturally reacts to a chemical change or something in your body that happens hours before a seizure. This can be hard to do seeing as you have to watch the dog closely to find out what his siganl is or if he will even do it. More and more people are reporting that dogs will do this, so it's not imposible.

You can also train him to retrieve meds for you.

Depending upon where you live I would ask around and do some searches.

More experienced people will commet later I'm sure but I wanted to get the ball rolling! happy dance

Good luck!! hug

I grin from ears- to chin :D

Barked: Tue Sep 23, '08 6:53pm PST 
Hi Laura, hi Pudden,
yes, some dogs have a natural skill detecting seizures. No matter what breed, temperament, size, sex, weight or age they are. The challenge here is, though is that You will have to figure out how your dog respond to the signals your body is sending. There is no guideline the dogs would follow. Also before being trained they might pick up on the upcoming seizure or the one that is happening but not respond to it the way you'd hope.
For using a seizure dog you should have more than one seizure a year.. Not talking about the Grand Mall but in general. Seizure dogs are usually used by people with a seizure disorder, which means the seizures impact your life to the point that your lifestyle changes and other "side effects" like anxieties, pain, bruising, shame, physical insecurities, no more leaving the house or having a very strict routine based on the fear and fact of having seizures.
Clarify with your Dr how or how you don't have a seizure disorder. For your protection.

Trainer, schools and the owners monitor dogs for certain behavior around their owner or trial persons.
I can give an example.
My dogs alert. Both in a completely different manner.
One becomes obsessive with licking and pawing, clinging.
The other one becomes very submissive, even seems anxious sometimes, attached, and rubes her head on my leg without wanting to stop.
There are some other little hints the dogs offer, but this is the main behavior.
It took me a while to figure out the pattern, but once I had it I could re-enforce them so they would alert me in a reliable way.
By the way these kind of behaviors are already beautiful skills and this is what you want to re-enforce in a SD. See what they offer.
What I just described briefly is the Alert Dog skill.

In order to work as a Seizure Dog it does not have to have the "alerting" skill. Often times they come over the years, but this skill is not a 'requirement'.

There are tasks a dog can learn to assist you on a daily basis in situations that have a high chance for triggering a seizure.
What I did - I do it with every new dog, kind of like a new beginning - I make a list of situations that have a great potential to trigger seizures. Based on this I work out a trainings schedule. Over the years my needs have changed and so have the expectations I have for the dogs.
Some things improve or decline over the years like coping skills, relaxation practice, medication, life situation, hormonal disposition, number of seizures and their appearance..Practicing daily task with you that lead to relaxation and more security during your days need a lot of repetition and consistency from your side.

Then there is the Seizure Response Dog training. My dog have response pattern I need for them to do. During and after a seizure they show different patterns than the ones during the alert. I trained my dogs to respond to my seizures in a similar way. My life style is so active and busy, I alternate the dogs and use them every other day. Whatever works for you works for you.
Most training organizations train the dogs for response work. The tasks they train the dogs in these schools vary from simple tasks to very sophisticated training patterns.
Somebody with Absent Seizures will need a differently trained dog compared to somebody with a Grand Mall history or Nocturnal Seizures. (often times the seizure activities vary and one person has different ones usually. *sigh*)
There are so so many different types. So may different needs. Some people only take their dogs into situations where it is very likely for them to have a seizure. Some have a certain sleeping arrangement at night, when they have Nocturnal Seizures and other than that the dog can have a blast in the park with his friends during the day or non sleeping periods.. Some use their dogs depending on their hormonal schedule. Some seizures come in waves over the course of the month.

Some response tasks are being able to maneuver the phone and doors and get help and also learn about priorities - lay on top of you and keep you safe until you stop seizing and then go for help, barking, howling, nibbling, pulling.. Keeping you safe when you are confused afterwards or even providing mobility control.. The list is looooong and whether or not your dog will be able to handle depends on his disposition, yours and the trainers.
By the way - I am glad they found out that you got seizures!
Also in case you have a dog and in case he does not alert or you are not familiar with his or her alerting - no worries - find help through the information Laura already posted for instance and get help training it to respond to seizures.
A Seizure Response Dog so to speak.
http://www.4pawsforabi lity.org/seizuredogs.html

Hope it was not too confusing ;o)

So there are dogs that help with the seizure prevention
Dogs that alert and respond with follow up actions (need to be trained)
Dogs that respond with follow up actions but not necessarily alert
No matter what kind of a dog you will end up with eventually, you will also learn by experience how to work with your situation.

If you have an alert dog, though, you should be aware that most of them respond to thyroid things, blood-sugar, other people's seizures for instance.
It is crucial to understand your dogs alert - no rush, it will show.
In the mean time you can ask for advice with one of the agencies for training the dog to respond in whatever ways you want or dog can handle. It is good to learn what living with a SD means for your daily routine and what kind of challenges you will face on a daily basis.
Good luck for your journey and I cross my fingers and paws for you.

Edited by author Tue Sep 23, '08 7:00pm PST


Pudden Pop
Barked: Tue Sep 23, '08 8:11pm PST 
Thanks Laura & Jolanda that helps answer some questions. Yes I have Grand Mal seizures but the really bad thing about my seizures is that I don't come back around right away afterwards. Luckily, my mom has been with me both times this year when I have had them. (Just got diagoised & so far have had 2) But they have had to rush me to the hospital in an ambulance both times. Unfortunatly my dogs haven't been around me so I don't know how they would react. But I think if I had one it would be very benifical because the first time I fell in a convience store and cut my head up really bad, maybe a dog could have helped got me down where I didn't hit my head on the shelves and the concrete floor.

I greatly appreciate all the help so far and if anyone else has any advise please keep it coming. This is something I can't learn too much about...especially with my life being in danger here. Thanks again!!!
Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
Barked: Wed Sep 24, '08 7:21am PST 
A dog can be trained to detect seizures and warn you before they start. A dog can also be trained to stay with you when you are recovering, so you have a warm fuzzy body to comfort you as you are coming around. They can also be trained to help you get up and lead you to your car or somewhere to sit down once you are able to get up.

There are some schools out there that train seizure alert dogs. You can also train a service dog yourself.

The main benefit of going to a school is that you will get a dog that is already trained to do what you need-- they can start working right away and assisting you immediately. However, there aren't as many schools that train seizure alert dogs out there, so it may be a long wait. And you will probably not have a say in the type of dog you get.

The main benefit of training a dog yourself is that you get to pick exactly what you want in a dog and train it exactly how you need-- and you get a real sense of accomplishment from doing this. However, being able to detect seizures isn't something every dog can do, so you may start out with a promising dog that in the end can't learn to warn you. Or you might end up with a dog who can warn you but isn't able to handle being out in public. As much as 50% of dogs who start service training never make it to full service dog status. Additionally, it takes 1-2 years for the dog to be fully trained instead of the instant gratification of a program dog.

I would recommend talking with your doctor about getting a seizure alert dog and seeing what he/she says. If your doctor is confidant that your seizures are able to be controlled by medication completely, then you may not need to go through the trouble of getting a service dog.

Also, talk with other service dog handlers about the pros and cons of having a service dog. Having a service dog has been a life-saver for me. But there are drawbacks-- like everyone asks about your disability (not always in nice ways) and people sometimes get upset about a dog inside their business and yell at you. You have to schedule potty, feeding and watering breaks into your day etc. Think about the pros and cons in your life, and if you want to get a service dog.

I'd also recommend calling up the schools that do train seizure alert dogs and talking with them about your illness and how one of their service dogs could be trained to assist you. Ask them about wait times and if they think you'd be approved for a dog from them. You can also start calling up private trainers in your area to try to find one that will work with you if you're considering training your own dog.

If you do train your own dog, find a trainer before you find the dog. The trainer can help you think about what you want the dog to do and be like, and so can recommend breeds etc. The trainer can also evaluate any potential dog and see if they have the right personality to be a service dog. Then once you get a dog, the trainer can help you train the dog to detect seizures and also to behave in public.

Barked: Wed Sep 24, '08 4:56pm PST 
The type of training that needs to be taught in order for the dog/SDIT to detect possible seizures is called scent discrimination training.

I have no experience whatsoever in this sort of training, but the dog has to have a decent nose for scent detection.

Also, I have heard that people will take off their socks right after a seizure, or take some sort of scent sample with a cloth or tissue, and will put it in a ziploc bag and store it in the freezer (to retain the scent).

This will be used as a sample to train the SDIT, who will become familiar with the scents. Eventually, with the proper training, the SDIT will alert to the scents.

I suggest you join one of the SD groups on yahoo groups, particularly the Seizure alert dog group. Also, if you search on youtube, you can watch some people training their dogs using scent discrimination. BTW, this is the same training used for police dogs, etc.

I grin from ears- to chin :D

Barked: Wed Sep 24, '08 6:39pm PST 
Hey Molly - cool puppy
Thank you for your post, sonja

Barked: Thu Sep 25, '08 2:45pm PST 
Hi Pudden, I am assuming you're in the States but consider DITRMD if your looking for a school trained dog or owner assisted training program. DITRMD has a 99% success rate for seizure alert dogs.
Diamond in the Ruff Medical Dogs


Pudden Pop
Barked: Thu Sep 25, '08 9:12pm PST 
Thanks again for everyone being so nice and helpful on this forum...wish all were like that. Y'all are all giving me some really good advice and giving great places to research.

Taser I'm actually in Texas, south Texas so Canada is a little far for me. But if anyone knows of any help down here I would greatly appreciate that. I believe if this is a good route for me that I would probably train my own dog. I'm going to talk to my doctor about this and see what she thinks as well. But like I said I'm getting so much great information and knowledge on this...it's really amazing. I didn't have a clue that it was possible a dog could predict the seizure before I have one. That is so cool. I knew about most of the other service dogs though, and highly respect them and there user/owners. way to go

Thanks again and please keep the advise coming, I want to learn all that I can. Best wishes to all of y'all and take care.

Barked: Fri Sep 26, '08 10:56am PST 
Pudden, I never said you would have to travel to Canada. Beth does travel in the States to her clients.
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