How an Epileptic Can Train a Seizure Alert Dog
Why Do Seizure Alert Dogs Cost So Much?
Dogs able to warn their masters of an oncoming epileptic seizure are discussed in almost every site for those suffering from epilepsy. Many epileptics are afraid to even leave the house when alone, so the benefits of an early warning system are obvious.
These dogs undergo extensive training with strangers and to purchase one of these seizure alert dogs is very expensive; these dogs are not usually covered by insurance. Most of them are advertised in dog therapy sites for 10,000 to 15,000 dollars.
Some of the researchers who have looked into these dogs think that only certain dogs can do this, and the cost is justified because of the extensive training. For those epileptics lucky enough to have obtained one of these dogs they realize it is well worth the cost.
Is There A Less Expensive Option To Find A Seizure Alert Dog?
Others, epileptics like myself, do not believe that a dog has to be trained with strangers and purchased from a trainer. Most dogs are attuned to odd smells or unusual behaviors and will alert their master when something is strange. It is just up to the human to notice that his dog is acting unusual.
It is up to the epileptic to learn and act on the warning.
How Do I Train A Seizure Alert Dog?
Once you have brought home your seizure alert candidate, it is up to you to bond closely and make her sensitive to your condition. A good way to build your bond is by starting her in puppy obedience classes and then when she gets a little older get her into the canine good citizen program. Read the article on bonding to learn more tips, and as she becomes used to your home let her spend as much time with you as possible.
Forget those 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 her a part of your life, she will never develop into a seizure alert dog.
Allowing her to become part of your life will take some time. 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. It is up to you to learn to recognize the signs.
(The first time my dog started acting oddly before a seizure I took her outside and closed the door! I was obviously not paying attention. After the seizure, I realized that I needed to be alert.)
Where Can I Get A Seizure Alert Dog?
It does not matter where you get the candidate for your seizure alert dog.
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. A dominant dog may not even care about the epileptic, they argue, 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 therapy Labradors developed by a breeder. 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.
I have attached a link to an excellent and helpful article at the bottom of this article and I recommend you read it. It is written by an epileptic woman whose Miniature Pinscher serves as her alert dog. (This link was later removed, but any small dog breed can work.)
Will Any Dog Work?
Any epeleptic willing to bond with a dog does not need to spend a lot of money. ANY DOG CAN WORK.
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.