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How an Epileptic Can Train a Seizure Alert Dog

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Dogs can be very helpful in warning people of an oncoming epileptic seizure.

Dogs can be very helpful in warning people of an oncoming epileptic seizure.

Why Do Seizure Alert Dogs Cost So Much?

Dogs that are able to warn their masters of an oncoming epileptic seizure are discussed on almost every site for those suffering from epilepsy. Many people with epilepsy are afraid to even leave the house when alone, so the benefits of an early warning system are obvious.

Trained seizure alert dogs undergo extensive training with strangers and are very expensive to purchase—most of them are advertised on dog therapy sites for $10,000 to $15,000. These dogs are not usually covered by insurance.

Some researchers who have looked into these dogs think that only certain highly trained dogs can do this, and the cost is justified because of that extensive training. For those epileptics lucky enough to have obtained one of these dogs, they realize it is well worth the cost.

Any dog can be trained as a seizure alert dog.

Any dog can be trained as a seizure alert dog.

Is There a Less Expensive Option?

Other epileptics, like myself, do not believe that a dog has to be trained by strangers and purchased from a trainer.

Dogs that have not been professionally trained are not exposed to several different people having seizures every day, so they may become excited or not know enough to even warn the epileptic. Most dogs, however, are attuned to odd smells or unusual behaviors. When bonded to a person, dogs will alert their person when something is strange. It is just up to the human to notice that his dog is acting unusual.

It is then up to the epileptic to learn and act on the warning.

Be sure to notice when your dog is trying to alert you to a seizure.

Be sure to notice when your dog is trying to alert you to a seizure.

How to Train a Seizure Alert Dog

  • Bond with your new dog or puppy. Once you have brought home your seizure alert candidate, it is up to you to bond closely and make her sensitive to your condition. Read more about bonding to learn more tips.
  • Obedience training. Spending the time training your dog with positive techniques will help her bond to you and feel that you are part of her family. You need to teach her all of the basics.
  • Socialization. Try to take your dog everywhere with you, even when he has passed the sensitive socialization period (at about 16 weeks of age). When you go for a walk, take your dog. When you go to get a cup of coffee, take your dog. Do not forget that you should never take your dog to the store and lock him in a car.
  • Canine good citizen program. Ask your vet or local dog trainer if this program is available in your area. It is an AKC certification that will teach your dog to behave in public and allow him or her to spend more time with you.

As your new puppy or dog becomes used to your home let her spend as much time with you as possible. Forget those outdated dog dominance rules like “no sleeping in the bedroom.” Her job is sleeping in your bedroom! Her job is to alert you at any time of day or night. If you do not want to make your dog a part of your life, he or she will never develop into a seizure alert dog.

Allowing her to become part of your life will take some time, and I definitely cannot guarantee that your dog is going to alert on the first seizure. As your puppy ages and develops into an alert dog, she will warn you a few minutes or maybe a half of an hour before a seizure. She might paw at the ground, bark, circle around, or just stare at you and whine. Each dog will alert differently. It is up to you to learn to recognize the signs.

What Not to Do

Never yell at your dog or abuse her if she is doing her job. If you scold a dog when he barks at a stranger at the door, the dog might eventually learn to stop barking at the door. The correct response is to let the dog bark once to alert you to the stranger, praise her, and then check on the person at the door. It is the same thing with a seizure alert dog. If she is acting strange, praise her.

The first time my dog started acting oddly before one of my seizures, I took her outside and closed the door! I was obviously not paying attention. After the seizure, I realized that she was doing her job and I needed to praise her.

Where Can I Find a Seizure Alert Dog?

It does not matter where you get your seizure alert dog candidate.

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Read More From Pethelpful

To find a dog that is going to grow into his job, I recommend you start out with evaluating a litter of puppies or some young dogs at the animal shelter using the puppy aptitude testing process developed by the Monks of New Skete. You can also find details on how to evaluate a puppy in Dog Training for Dummies by Jack and Wendy Volhard. Anyone wanting to develop a seizure alert dog should read both books to gain general knowledge.

Some of the articles on seizure alert dogs recommend that the dog not be too dominant or too submissive. They argue that a dominant dog may not even care about the epileptic, while a submissive dog may become too scared at an impending seizure. Find a young steady dog, one able to live with a family, neither too shy nor too outgoing.

It does not matter what breed she is, nor what sex. I do not think it matters if you get a “free to good home” puppy, a young shelter dog, or a line of expensive therapy Labradors developed by a breeder. (There is a great testimony in the comment section at the bottom of this page from a woman who trained her Maltese as a seizure alert dog. I have also heard of people using Min Pins and other breeds that most people would not expect to use.) Please do not get a puppy from a pet shop since most of them are not socialized early and will not be good candidates. No matter where you get your dog, of course, you need to remember her feeding and medical needs.

Will Any Dog Work?

Any Dog Can Work

Any epileptic willing to bond with a dog does not need to spend a lot of money.

There are still a lot of medical professionals are researchers who deny the value of these dogs. They have no idea if the dog is acting oddly because of a sense of smell or if there is some sort of telepathic communication that they do not believe in.

It doesn’t really matter. I do believe that this is not a skill that can be taught but it is an ability that almost every dog has within herself.

It is up to you to reach inside and find that ability.

Even a small dog can be trained to alert for seizures.

Even a small dog can be trained to alert for seizures.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Is a Teacup Maltipoo suitable as a seizure alert dog?

Answer: Any breed can be okay. I talked to one epileptic woman that had a Min Pin trained as her seizure alert dog. They are small, frail dogs. My main worry about the dog would be if I were to fall on him during my seizure!

Question: What is the best dog breed for seizure alert dogs?

Answer: Seizure alert dogs need to be bonded to their owners. All dogs can bond to their owners. I have heard everything from a Min Pin to a Pitbull. I do not think there is any special breed, just choose a dog that fits your life in every way.

Question: Can a seizure alert dog help someone with absense seizures?

Answer: Some dogs are attuned to their owners, and can also pick up on petit mal seizures. Most problems occur in people with grand mal seizures, however, so unless you just want a dog, I do not think that a seizure alert dog is necessary.

I know that people with absence seizures have a lot of restrictions (no driving, no operating heavy machinery) but a seizure alert dog will not be able to remove any of those restrictions.

Question: I just developed epilepsy, and I have two dogs. They both freak out barking when I convulse. I want to train the smaller one; he's young but social. Do you think my social and outgoing dog is a good candidate?

Answer: It is difficult to say whether any dog will be a good candidate, but since he is social that is a good sign. Since your dogs are already alert when you have a seizure, it is just a matter of getting them to alert when you have an aura. If you feel it coming on, be sure to encourage him at that time. The most important thing is to pay attention and to reward him if he does any signalling to warn you.

Question: My husband has different types of seizures. How do I start training my new dog to alert him to a seizure?

Answer: Your new dog must spend more time with your husband than with your kids. He should take him to the canine good citizen classes and also to basic obedience group classes. They are usually held by local trainers and sometimes by pet superstores. There is no specific training after that, and if you were to fake a seizure to try to train him, the dog would know the difference. Just allow your puppy to become part of your life, do your best to bond with him, and when he is nervous and alerting your husband to the danger, he must pay attention. If something does happen, praise the dog for alerting, give him a special treat, etc.

Question: I don't have regular seizures, only around three a year, but I have no warning at all of full grand mal seizures. I am just getting a puppy that I want to train to help me recognize oncoming seizures. However, I work two days a week. Do you think this would be a problem for the dog?

Answer: The best solution is to take your dog to work with you so that he could warn you of any oncoming seizures at that time. If the seizure happens and the dog is not around, he is not going to be able to help.

If you are not able to do that then being away a few days a week is not going to be a problem for the dog. Just try to make the time you have with him as high quality as possible so that he bonds with you.

Question: My husband and my son both started having seizures back in September last year. They are both on medication, but my husband is having trouble getting his under control. He does work when possible, but there have been times when he's had a seizure at work. Will the dog still be able to help?

Answer: Tough question. I think it really depends on his employer. Some are very open to letting dogs come to work, but seizure alert dogs are not (at this time) on the list with seeing eye dogs, so an employer could say no to the dog's presence and still get away with it.

My seizure alert dog is with me all the time since I work out of my home.

Question: My husband and son have epilepsy, and we have two dogs already. We will soon get a six-week-old English bulldog. Do you think it will be harder with the two other dogs around to train him as an alert dog as well as a family pet?

Answer: Not all dogs can be trained as a seizure alert dog. If you choose to allow this dog to bond with your other children, or if he spends most of his time with the other dogs, he will probably not bond with your epileptic son and will not be helpful as a seizure alert dog. If you do want him to grow up useful, have your epileptic son walk him, feed him, etc., but ONLY your epileptic son. Allow him to be your son's dog, and the dog will be more likely to look out for him.

Question: What kind of dog should an epileptic person choose as a seizure alert dog?

Answer: There are no specific requirements. A dog can be large or small, lazy or active, etc. The most important thing is that the dog has to bond to the person. If the dog is an outside dog and is only around the person a few times a day, then he is never going to be an effective alert dog.

I talked to a woman that had a Miniature Pinscher as a seizure alert dog. Others have had beagles, Bichons, Bloodhounds, Labs, etc.; I have a Pitbull.

There are no studies that I know of that is being done to determine the best breed of dog for this job. If the dog is alert to the change of smell, a brachycephalic dog like a Boxer or Frenchie is not the best choice, but I have read no studies to back this up.

Question: I am an epileptic and bought a one-month-old golden retriever; is this breed a good choice?

Answer: Yes, Goldens are attentive to their owners and do make good seizure alert dogs if they become bonded.

I am worried that you mentioned the dog is only one month old though. That is much too young to be away from the mother. The dog still needs to socialize with other dogs, and will learn bite inhibition from his mother. Read about bite inhibition now and avoid problems down the road:

Also get your new puppy in to see your regular vet as soon as possible.

Question: Is it possible to train a dog that you already have? I've had him for nine years, and he is pretty smart. He's a mixed breed. I know you are not supposed to have another dog in your house if you have a service dog. He's the only companion I have. Any suggestions?

Answer: It depends on the dog, not the age. If he is obedience trained and well attuned to your needs, he can become a great seizure alert dog, unless he has dementia/senility or a physical ailment that does not allow him to get around. To train, use the same methods that you would use with a puppy: obedience, socialization, and being alert to any signals he gives you.

Question: If my dog also has seizures, can I train her to be my seizure alert dog?

Answer: You can, but remember that when you have a seizure, you are kind of "out of it" for several hours after. Your dog will feel the same way. All of his muscles will be tired, he will probably have a headache (although no one knows this for sure) and if you have an aura preceding a seizure, he is probably not going to get up and alert you.

If your seizures are uncommon, and your dog is also doing okay on medication, he can definitely become a seizure alert dog.


Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 08, 2020:

Hi Ginger, the main benefit of seizure alert dogs is for those of us that have grand mal seizures and need to be warned so that we do not fall down and cause injuries. Most people with petit mal kind of "space out" but do not fall. Is the situation with your daughter different?

Taking on and bonding with a seizure alert dog is a big move but if this is helpful to her I would say you should go for it.

Ginger Hawn Cooper on August 07, 2020:

My 11 year old daughter started having seizures at age 8. She was diagnosed with petty mal seizures at that time. I was a special needs home health nurse for 5 yrs.of my 14 yrs as a nurse I took care of five children who had different seizures. I believe my daughter has complex focal seizures not petty mal. and now grand mal as of a mouth ago. Why do u feel training a dog would not help a person witb these types of seizures???

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 31, 2019:

Start a timer? Can you be more specific?

Theresa Boyd on December 30, 2019:

We have a do that alerts to my 19 yr old sons seizures he is very well mannered in public . Restaurants and everything. We would like to train him to start a timer. Call for help and catch him . Basically we dont know how to train seizure response.

Jason on December 17, 2019:

Just wanted to say thanks for writing this. I have a 10 year old daughter who has seizures every 4 weeks or so. This helps me with what I was thinking - that we can train our own seizure alert dog.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 04, 2019:

Amanda, you have to talk to your physician. They give you a letter saying that he is a service dog. Unfortunately, not all physicians will do so, and he might just consider your dog an emotional support animal. If that is the case keep looking for another doctor that knows more about seizure alert animals.

Amanda on December 03, 2019:

I have had seizures since I was 9 and I'm 33 now. I have a dog that I have had for several years. She's trained herself to lay under my head and barks when I have seizures. How can I get her 'registered' so that she can go places with me. including airplains? Please, and thank you in advance.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 10, 2019:

Amanda, the reason that you see so much conflicting advice is that many people do not agree that this works. I am epileptic and I KNOW that it does.

Do not buy a seizure alert dog from someone else. Get a young dog and bond with him.

Amanda on October 31, 2019:

I've been epileptic for over two decades. I have been on many sites and not one I've found has a complete list of everything I need. One said that I can get a card and vest here and another will take me to a site where I can buy a seizure alert dog, etc. and I'm getting frustrated. Can you please tell me everything I need to get/do for a dog that I will get of my own through a pound or whatever certified and anything else I have to get?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 23, 2019:

Hi Julie training a dog for seizure alert is mainly a matter of bonding, so if you want to obedience train your dog and spend as much time with her as possible income is not an issue.

I have this other article on some basic training. (Be sure to watch all of the videos.) It may help, and if not look at other sites on the internet on obedience training using only positive methods:

Julie on May 22, 2019:

I have Grande Mal seizures and this morning I was woken up by my Mother I was having a panic attack/Seizure we are not sure. I have a mini chihuahua that i want to train for my seizures but im on fix income. Any suggestions?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 03, 2019:

Bethany, I am not sure that one is needed, but I definitely think that if the dog bonds with her it will help. As your daughter grows older there are going to be some activities she does not do (like driving a car) so a support dog, especially if he can warn her about seizures, is going to make a big difference in her life.

I wish her and the new puppy the best of luck

Bethany on March 02, 2019:

My toddler has complex partial seizures and we are currently waiting for our puppy to be of age to come home with us. Do you think that with her type of seizure, a alert dog is needed? I want the pup to bond with her as much as possible and to possibly sense the difference between her normal behavior compared to her seizure behavior

Jenna on December 28, 2018:

I’m looking into getting a 1 and a half yr old black lab/ cattle dog mix. Is this a good choice for a possible seizure alert dog?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 17, 2018:

Hi Kriss follow the steps above. If you are experienced training you might be able to do so at home, but will need to pay for the canine good citizen program. It will be worth it. Good luck.

Kriss Cox on September 17, 2018:

I want to train my dog for my grandma seizures is it going to cost anything?? Please help me.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 14, 2018:

Thomas, I am afraid there is a not more to be done.

The reason I wrote this article was that some groups are charging over $10,000 USD for a "trained" seizure alert dog. There is no way to justify that. A dog that is bonded with his epileptic owner will alert, a dog that is not kept as part of the family will not even bother, no matter how much is spent. (My seizure alert dog was a free puppy.)

It sounds like you are doing what you can with your foxhound. If you are in the US look into the AKCs canine good citizen program. The more time you spend bonding with your dog the better he will be for you.

Thomas on September 14, 2018:

Researching seizure response dogs is very frustrating. Some sites claim alert dogs can not be trained "officially". While some sites say training a dog to respond to a seizure when you aren't actually having one is no good either. My seizures come with auras and change in taste. I have had seizures and rewarded my dog with treats from the start when it revives me by licking and nudging and /or laying next to me, while having a seizure. My dog is a foxhound and I believe her sense of smell is the deciding factor for her behavior. Can this be considered "training"?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 03, 2018:

Kristin, your little Chorkie sounds like an excellent choice. It does not matter how much she barks at others since she sounds very attached to you. Best of luck.

Kristin Yeley on September 03, 2018:

I have a chorkie that is all my dog i have epilepsy and have seizures every month she is always laying with me or on my lap i have had her for about 3 years and thars how old she is . She does bark alot at people but i think that goes with her breed and could be trained not to do the more she is taken out does this dog sound like a good dog to train for my seizure dog

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 20, 2018:

Amanda, he sounds like a wonderful dog and his bond with your partner is impressive.

The only thing I can suggest is that you keep a jar of training treats (I think chunks of freeze dried liver are the best) in your bedroom and in your living room, wherever he is having these auras where your dog acts so hostile. When the dog gets excited, and starts to growl at your partner´s head, tell the dog "sit", then "down", and only when he complies give him praise and a training treat.

I am not positive that this is going to work but that is the best option at this time. He may just stop doing this since he notices the auras are not threatening your partners health.

Thanks for taking the time to leave your comment.

Amanda on June 19, 2018:


My partner has epilepsy but it is controlled with medication and he hasn't had a seizure for many years. However, he does, when tired etc, have auras which he has to concentrate on to 'fight off' so to speak. This mainly happens in his sleep and after having our dog for a couple of years he seemed to suddenly become sensitive to this and on the odd occasion we let him sleep with us he started to wake in the night and 'attack' my partners head. This is the best way to describe what he did, he would growl and bare his teeth right next to my partner's head as if he'd perceived potential danger. This was, of course, easy to deal with as we now just don't have him sleeping with us. However, over the last few weeks this has happened on a couple of occasions in the evening. We'll be quietly sat watching TV and our dog has jumped up and behaved in the same way as described, snarling and baring his teeth at my partners head. We've just picked him up and taken him to another room, whilst trying to speak calmly to him. It's only happened a few times and it's only been later in the evening when my partner may have been particularly tired and therefore activity going on in his brain but it seems our dog has become very sensitive to it and unfortunately, as a slightly nervous rescue dog, it seems that his reaction to perceived danger is attack, even if that danger is inside his master who he definitely loves! I just wondered if you could offer any advice as to how to maybe desensitize him, or alter his reaction? Or maybe as time goes on he will just come to realize that what he is sensing isn't dangerous as nothing ever happens following it... Thank you.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 29, 2018:

Hi Barbara I am glad to hear you are doing better. The best way to start is with obedience training and socialization, but if you are not getting signals/alerts from your Shih tzu now then I am not sure she is a good candidate. Even if things do not work out though it is a great chance to spend more time with her.

Best of luck to both of you.

Barbara mecca on May 28, 2018:

Hi. I have had seizures since before 1 year old. After 9 years of medical trials I was finally a brain surgery candidate. My seizures now are only at night . I have an 8 1/2 yr old shit-zu. Mix I would like to train for alert dog. Where do I begin?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 03, 2018:

Thanks Tiffany I really appreciated your comments. Do you have a web page yet for your Foundation? If you do, please leave it here and I will also add it to the Question section above.

Tiffany on May 03, 2018:

I’m so thrilled to have read this!! I got my girl at 8 weeks and she started training at home with me and a one on one trainer once a week at 10 weeks. I researched long and hard to find a breed to fit my lifestyle and got an Aussie though many said she’d be “too much “. She’s amazing. After further research I, like you was not only appalled by costs but truly put off by the thought that these dogs are trained as if we’re all a size 8 shoe so to speak and we all know that is most definitely not the case. It took me three years of research and struggle before I went my own way. As of the end of this month the “For the Love of Esme Service Dog Foundation “ will be up and running!! Providing dogs, training and education at a sliding scale fee to the New England area. It’s fantastic to see others feel the same. I’m also an epileptic and seizure alert can’t be taught, response yes but alert comes from the bond and that should start as soon as possible.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 15, 2018:

Jessica, that is a very hard question. I am not sure all dogs, even those adept at seizure detection, would be okay at warning an owner at night. If this were me I would want my dog sleeping in my room, but my wife has always told me about my night seizures because I never woke up to even respond to my dog.

In your case a seizure response dog/emotional therapy dog might be better.

Jessica on April 15, 2018:

My seizures usually happen in my sleep so how would I train a dog for that. I also have ptsd and anxiety and bad depression. What should i do?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 07, 2018:

Karen, my epilepsy is under control and I am a person who has epilepsy. I am also an epileptic. That does not define who I am.

Karen Durant on April 07, 2018:

I am still reading this article but as a person with epilepsy, I am not an epileptic, we do not want to be defined by epilepsy.

Ente on January 22, 2018:

I am an epilepsy expert at a Los Angeles medical school and we would like to study how seizure alert dogs actually predict the seizure. We believe it is due to a detection of a scent. We would like to study this scientifically and are looking for patients and their dog who would be willing to undergo painless/harmless studies to try to determine how the dog detects the seizure

please email me at if you are interested

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 18, 2017:

Phil, anywhere is okay, but I do not recommend a pet shop since the puppy may have been stressed out at the puppy mill and have behavioral problems. Try an animal shelter, a breeder, or even a backyard breeder.

Phil Gruber on December 18, 2017:

Do you have any recommendations on where to get a dog

Jessica Rollins on October 30, 2017:

I was in a 10- month coma at 8 1/2 years old unexpected to come out. By the Grace of Jesus Christ He pulled me out of it having to regain my abilities to walk, talk, & cry. I got back into school w/ epilepsy results of the coma, grand mal seizures. In the past 30 years I've had to go through multiple medications to try to tame the seizures as much as I could, went through 20+brain surgeries, rove repeatedly how determined, stubborn, ornery & how much I rely, trust, believe, have a relationship with Jesus Christ I have. I got into weightlifting soon after getting back into school in 4th grade & been in it since, ran my own business, lived independently allow as well w/ roommates, all along w/ dogs & cats as my pets. I'm now 39, single, living in town w/ roommates & seizures, still unable to drive but I adopted my dog 6/3/17 as a pet working w/ him ever since. I've taught Bageera 50-60 tricks & ways of communicating & he loves to continue learning more. I've noticed him acting unusually anxious/ nervous 30-60 minutes before my seizures! I've started the process of certifying him as my seizure alert dog yet it's not as easy in Durango, CO.

Any suggestions on how to get him certified as a seizure alert dog would be very appreciative!!!!! My apologies for the lengthiness of this comment. on October 02, 2017:

Can a shih tzu be trained as Seizure-Alert dog

Barbara E on September 16, 2017:

Karen D. if your dog is afraid of your seizures maybe you can make note of its behavior prior to a seizure, that may be your warning.

Sabrina on September 01, 2017:

My 18 yr old step daughter has had seizures since age of 5. I had a German Shepherd about 4 years ago that woild alert my husbamd and I if she was having a seizure. The dog was very very attached to me and he was very well trained by myself to find things such as sbakes and rats in a chicken house as well as watch the kids if i ran into the store. And was an amazing gaurd dog. All around an amzing dog. I kiss that dog dearly. He was never trained to alert us to her seizures. I had him before my husband and i got together he was 1 when i met my husband. My step daughter didnt live with us she only visited on holidays and summer vacations. So i am not really sure why he started alerting us but the very first one she had after we got together my dog Talon came and woke us up barking and led us to her room and started licking her face.

Denise jackson on August 25, 2017:

I have seizures really bad and i have been having 4 to 5 at a time and i have lost alote of my memory i really need help getting a dog cause i split my head open at a job and lost my job after that and have no money to get a dog how would i go about it

Lindsay Wann on August 20, 2017:

I have a one year old Morkie and I have him certified as my service dog but I want to know how me and my mom can train him to alert her when I am having a seizure or about to have one? I have traumatic brain injury from a bad car accident and am permanently disable...

Beki on August 05, 2017:

I have a chihuahua. When I had my first seizure she had been my "girl" for several years. But I can tell you this, she wouldn't leave my side for weeks when I had several in a short period of time. No training was done, Dottie just knew something was wrong and she stuck with me and whined and licked my hands when they started coming on. She's my girl!

Karen M Durant on June 06, 2017:

Thank you for this article, it gives me hope of training a seizure alert dog. I have epilepsy but do not want to be labeled an "Epileptic" . Is it possible to train an older dog who knows you but is afraid of your seizures?

Susan WOLFSON on May 23, 2017:

This article says exactly what I been saying. Professional service dog trainers on FB don't want anyone to know and have criticized me for saying the same.

Jandre on April 28, 2017:

Dr Mark

You are saying what I was thinking. IT does not need to cost thousands of Dollars

I live in MAdagascar, one of the poorest coutnries in the world. We would like to investigate the training of seizure dogs to help poor patients.

May we discuss this with you?



Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 26, 2017:

Rae, I do not know if I am the right person to be answering that question, since at the beginning I ignored my own dog´s attempt to alert me! I would just tell your relative to be attentive since his dog is trying to alert him.

Sounds like a great reason to let a dog sleep on the bed.

Rae Munro on March 26, 2017:

We live in Scotland. A relative has developed Epilepsy following a couple of head injuries. He has a dog which is very close to him and seems to waken him up if he has a seizure in his sleep. are there any techniques to help him to understand when dog is trying to alert him?


Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 21, 2017:

Ashlee, it depends on the dog and how closely he is bonded with you. A well bonded dog will watch out for you all of the time, so even if the seizures are infrequent he will notice and alert you.

Ashlee on March 21, 2017:

If I don't have seizures weekly or even monthly, would a seizure dog still work for me?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 13, 2017:

Liz, pick a little Aussie and bond with her, but I definitely do not recommend getting an outside organization to do this. The dog is going to learn who you are, the way the LUPUS is affecting you, and respond as you need her to. Sure, she can be an assistance dog too. I wish you all the best.

Liz on March 13, 2017:

Just to start: I don't have epilepsy, but I do have epileptic-like seizures caused by LUPUS and Myastenia Gravia. I would like to train a miniture australian sheperd, since I have seizures weekly (or more) and there is just no living with this. I would train the dog myself, since I am a licenced trainer (in obedience, aggility, freestyle heelwork and competition work) altough I'm only 18. My question now is, should I ask for help from organisations who do this? I am an experienced trainer, but not with this and I wouldn't want to do anything wrong. Is there also a possibility to train a combo? Both seizure allert, response and assistance?

Thanks allready

Jill on February 28, 2017:

My daughter has nocturnal epilepsy so she has seizures just before or just after waking up. She is on medication , but still has occasional seizures. She has a beagle who she would like to train as an alert dog. My question is, since she is more likely to have a seizure if she is awoken, could an alert dog help her?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 05, 2017:

Elaine, if the dog alerts your son can he alert you? These dogs are usually alerting the epileptic because they have a bond with that person. Alerting a third party would be asking the dog to do something very different, not even sure how a dog could be trained in that way.

Elaine on February 04, 2017:

Can alert dogs alert people other than their owner? My son's Dr. think he is having non-epileptic seizures. He does also have epileptic seizures. I thought if we could be around one of these dogs maybe the dog could sense the difference between the two. It is very frustrating because these "auras" are disruptive to our lives, especially my son's, for 5 years now since his accident and traumatic brain injury.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 24, 2017:

Aireal,as I pointed out in the article, any dog can work but not all dogs will work. If you bond closely to the dog she is going to whine to alert. You can train a dog to bark, but it is not necessarily going to help in this situation. Bonding is the most important thing.

Aireal on January 23, 2017:

How can I get my puppy to start barking or whine to alert someone I'm having an episode? Will she just do it as she gets older and more used to them?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 02, 2016:

Lizz, any breed will work. It is most important that the dog is keyed into your senses, and feels the need to be with you a lot, but according to some people not all dogs have this ability. I guess you have to get a dog, see how she does, and if she is not an alert dog be willing to rehome her and find another.

As far as training a dog for every type of seizure? Probably, but the person has to be willing to accept the signs from the dog.

Lizz on October 02, 2016:

I do not have epilepsy, but have something with simmular seizures (SLE) and I would like to train my dog to alert me before a seizure. I have an awfull lot of seizures and really could use an alert, since I am a teacher in training (for high schoolers).

I was wondering wether there is a breed that is better in those things and how you best get your dog sertified.

Also can you train a dog for every type of seizure?

Sorry, if there are any mistakes in this comment (I'm not an native speaker)

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 12, 2014:

Hi Emkatster, my dog is a seizure alert dog, but I have heard about response dogs too. Not sure about training, but if you buy a trained response dog there is no reason that he could not be trained to alert too. That, in my opinion, would be a lot more valuable since you could sit or lie down and be ready for it when it happens.

Thanks for reading.

Kate Ginsberg from Los Angeles, CA on December 12, 2014:

What about the seizure dogs that assist you after the seizure occurs? Supposedly these are Seizure Response dogs as opposed to alert dogs. I would like my daughter to have a dog that can turn her over to make sure she is getting an airway during a seizure, fetch her phone, etc. Her seizures occur mostly at night. As far as dogs sensing impending seizure activity, why would anyone find that difficult to believe. Dogs smell a lot of things we don't. Like cancer for example, I read more dogs detected tumors than CT's! Can't substantiate that as a fact as I did not research it sufficiently so it remains anecdotal. Just an example. BTW, did you hear the Pope now says dogs have souls? But I digress. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 18, 2014:

b potter --thanks for that wonderful contribution. I was pleased to hear your history. Awesome Maltese!!

b potter on June 18, 2014:

Apologies for the length of the above story, in that I couldn't finish it because I didn't know if there were a number of letters or word limit.

My story can be verified by many people. In 2007 after learning my rights and Grace was well trained on a leash, etc. I went to the OC Animal Shelter. I gave them a copy of her graduation certificate from training school, a letter from my doctor stating reasons why I needed this dog to be "in service", brochures from the group I was in and a couple of other things. They gave me Service Dog tag with a number on it. (specific measurements were given to the place who made her vest). This dog saved my life. If not for her, I would have been stuck in bed having migraines every day. By now, upon her alerting me, I take my migraine medication and most times the pain never happens. If by chance it does, its never like it was. The same with the panic problem which can even occur at midnight.

I would give my life for this dog. Because of her, I'm not afraid to go out because of migraines, or go home because one is "coming". This is an amazing little might dog who is still a shrimp. (of course she does many other things and even when her vest is off she alerts me at home of course). Our daughter is marrying soon. Family and friends will attend a relaxed wedding. Of course my dog will be in the front row, minus her vest because all family and attendees know about Grace. They've seen her work for me and have been amazed. She goes to any type of doctor appointment and just sits of a clean pad or on my lap. She's been on my lap for each dental appointment since the time she weighed less than a pound. She's always well mannered. Better than most children and adults. At restaurants, I bring a small pad and she lays down and never begs. Sometimes, she is slipped a treat to let her know she's being good and that I love her.

Yes indeed, a Maltese Service Dog is very unusual. Grace is happy ad healthy. I personally believe she was born with her gifts. Apologies again for not having read your book but I plan on checking it out. I have thought of writing much, much more about Grace but as you can see, I'm not a writer. Thank you for your forum. B

b potter on June 18, 2014:

I disagree in some was to the authors's comment. I HAVE had 5 major grand mals which were in 1999 as a result to a medication. They were violent, I had many stitches, broken ribs and teeth.

However, with regards to there being about 15 to 20 % of dogs which DO have special senses, I believe this to be true.

I will both agree and disagree with this author because.... I did get my dog from a pet store. I did keep her with me a all times from the moment I got her because she was very small. (I had never done this with 4 previous dogs I had loved and owned in my lifetime. One of them was a rescue and ironically did have epilepsy (which is why no one had wanted her. I had worked for the OC Epilepsy society and knew how to care for people with this and Never was wooried. Instead, we put her on meds and I used the situation to teach my 3 children about epilepsy. She was a wonderful dog we had for 10 years.

Back to my puppy. So I kept her with me as I was bedridden with daily migraines. I don't know if she already was born with a special gift to sense something or not. She was highly intelligent and potty trained in a couple of hours at 11 weeks old. She was the average puppy who played with the kids but was always given back to me when they were done.

One day when she was almost two and laying across the same bed as I, she walked over to me and "pawed" me on the shoulder and stared at me. I asked her the usual things in phrases I knew she knew such as, "do you have to go outside to go to the bathroom on the grass?"... nothing, she still stared at me. About a 1/2 hour later, I had a horrible migraine. (we're talking lightening bolts in the eyes). Taking the medicine for this I looked over at her while drinking the water.

It must be noted, I have them on a daily basis at various times.

She did the same thing the next day and the next. So we made a calendar of the time that warned me and the time I had the pain.

But after one week I knew she had this gift. (I almost didn't buy her. I had seen her playing with her litter mate at the pet store but didn't want that breed. For 10 days, she was all I thought about and thought it odd that I couldn't get this little shrimp dog out of my mind because I had always had much larger dogs. Plus we already had a dog but didn't know why I'd had the urge to look for another one. After 10 days I went back to that store and she was the only dog I'd seen who was still there. It was only then, that I held her and don't write me but "had a gut feeling" about .. I didn't know what).

After I knew what she could do, I didn't know what to do with the information. I looked on Dogster at a couple of dog's stories and saw a Service Dog and sent the owner a message that i admired what her large dog was able to do for her. I mentioned what my dog could do but didn't know what to do about it. She wrote me back and suggested that I join an online, monitored Service Dog support group that she was in. Which I did. I also took to to group training classes for regular dogs.

This was in 2007. My dog has been the best Service Dog in the world and is never wrong. On a leash, she stops walking and gives me the stare and I know what's going to happen. She also knows before I have panic attacks and alerts in a different way.

Now my husband is type 2 and for years she has been alerting him when his blood levels are off by licking him. This dog is remarkable and weighs 6.7 pounds. She is a Maltese! I have never heard of a dog of this breed doing such things. But then the talent is all in the brain.

Stayingstrong101 on January 23, 2014:

I've had epilepsy for a very long time since I was nine, I've been on at least 7 or 8 different medications, none have worked until about 2 years ago when I was put on a study med with the current med that I was on then finally the tonic-clonics were slowing down but I was still having at least 50 peti-mals a day I was estatic then my parents got a new dog (It was my sisters dog but they kind of got dropped with her when she lost her house) the first time I met that dog she came up to me and just started licking me for no reason I hadden't called her nothing then she crawled onto the couch and put her head in my lap and soon after that we left and on the way home I had a Tonic-clonic seizure. (which is a Grand-mal if you are not sure what that is.) She had never been around anyone with epilepsy before so now my husbandband i desided to adopt her and train her to be my warning dog :-) oh MIMI ask your son's nerolgist if he can be put on VIMPAT I know it was the best medicine that happened in my life besides shilo maybe it will be for him too :-)

mimi on January 19, 2014:

Hi everyone, new to all this, but found all this info interesting and brother, sister and six yr old son are epileptic and for year have wanted a seizure dog for my brother who suffers from the more severe , but now having my son I'm desperate, countless sleepless nights, my anxiety to even let him play alone, or heaven forbid go outside in the yard without husband & I started breeding dogs and I thought I really wish I could train one of these puppies for my son..well all in all these post helped my motivation..i will keep posting on my progress for I already have a puppy picked out for my son

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 17, 2012:

My dog is the same way, and that is a great point. Some companies/foundations charge 10,000 dollars for these dogs, and most of them just understand how to do this.

mystery person on September 16, 2012:

seizure detecting comes naturally to many dogs i own a dog and he can detect any seizures that i have at what ever time AND HE WAS NEVER TRAINED TO DO THAT!!!!!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 01, 2012:

Thanks for coming by digitalduck. I hope everyone in need uses this information because it can make a great difference in life quality.

digitalduck from Colorado on June 30, 2012:

Hi DrMark, I just wanted to introduce myself and let you know that I referenced dogs that can be trained to catch oncoming seizures in my very first hub I published yesterday. I noticed that you had an article in your hub regarding that same topic. Great article :)

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 23, 2012:

That is an excellent story. I have a cousin with migranes and cats; she has never thought about a seizure alert dog (migraine alert dog?). I will need to pass that story along to her.

DoItForHer on June 23, 2012:

A friend of mine has periodic migraines. These are debilitating for her for up to 3 days. She has medicine that helps, but, as with all pain medicines, it is most effective taken propholactically.

She can go for several months without one and out of the blue will get one. There is no way for her to tell when to take her meds...

Until now! She got a rescue dog that attuned itself to her headaches. "Tater" climbs up on her and licks her eyes before the owner even realizes she is about to embark on another torturous journey of a migraine.

Now instead of being miserable for days, the owner is now able to miss only one day of work or perform limited duties and not be miserable.

Love that story; it's one of my best ones. Glad you had a Hub where I could share it.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 11, 2012:

Thanks Michele!That shows that you were being perceptive as a lot of people do not even notice. Check out that link to the woman with the Min Pin, it is really nice to hear how any dog can do this service.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on June 11, 2012:

DrMark this is true. I have epilepsy. I have had surgery for epilepsy. I don't have as many seizures as I had before the surgery, but before the surgery my dogs would come to me and lay down next to me until my seizure was ended. They were not trained to do this, they did this on their own.

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 10, 2012:

Unfortunately a lot of MDs don't believe in them either!

Shawn Yeager from Wisconsin on June 10, 2012:

Interesting hub. I never knew there was such a thing as dogs trained to detect early warning signs of seizures.

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