How to Train Your Dog to Detect Low Blood Sugar

Hard
6-12 Months
Work

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.

Defining Tasks

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 work, the dog wears a harness identifying him as a service dog and carries diabetic supplies for their owner. Because of the complexity of the behaviors and situations required of a low blood sugar detection dog, the training is extensive and takes a major investment of time; many hours over several months.


Any dog breed can be taught, what is important is the temperament of the dog. Detection dogs require the ability to work in public, around other people and distractions, they need to be non-aggressive, friendly, confident and motivated to work for a reward. Dogs trained to detect low blood sugar are started by being taught to recognize the scent of low blood sugar from puppyhood; serious training begins at 1-3 years of age. Low blood sugar dogs are extremely successful at detecting episodes and can detect the onset of an epsiode 15-30 minutes before it would be detected by symptoms or even blood glucose meters.

Getting Started

In order to train a low blood sugar detection dog, you will need to use positive reinforcement, never negative. Dogs are rewarded for providing the correct behavior and ignored when they do not respond appropriately. Lots of treats, attention, toys, and play can be used for rewards.

You will need to provide samples of low blood sugar scent in the absence of a person actually having a low blood sugar episode in order to provide the volume of training experience required to teach the dog to detect. Samples can be obtained by taking saliva samples with a cotton ball whenever a diabetic is having a low blood sugar episode, or swabs from sweat glands, such as in the underarms or feet. These samples are then put in a zipper baggie and frozen for future use. These scent samples can be used in porous containers to teach the dog to respond to the scent. Initially, teaching a puppy to respond to low blood sugar scent may involve using a bowl and a colander to teach the puppy to put their nose up to the scent for a treat.

Service dogs used for detecting low blood sugar need to be certified and regular yearly recertification checks are performed to ensure the dog and handler are working effectively together. Investigate the certification requirements and assistance in your area prior to training.

The Associate with Reward Method

Most Recommended
10 Votes
Step
1
Prepare scent
Start by putting a low blood sugar scent sample in a bowl with a mesh colander overtop to protect the sample but allow scent to pass through.
Step
2
Present
Present the bowl to the young dog or puppy.
Step
3
Reward with the scent
When the puppy puts his nose in the colander and smells the scent, provide the puppy with a food treat in the colander. The puppy begins to associate the scent with reward.
Step
4
Move
Move the bowl around to different location so the puppy has to go to the scent, this begins to teach locating.
Step
5
Hide
As the puppy gets older, start providing the scent in smaller containers and hiding containers in various locations throughout the house. When the puppy locates the scent, reward.
Step
6
Add signal
Later, you will need to teach your dog how to signal or alert you when he detects the scent of low blood sugar. Teach the signal on command, associate the signal with location of a low blood sugar sample, then remove the command so the alert is performed in response to the scent of low blood sugar sample.
Recommend training method?

The Shape Signal Method

Effective
2 Votes
Step
1
Teach signal
Teach your dog a signal, such nudge a hand, that will be used to alert for low blood sugar. Use a hand signal to command the behavior and capture the behavior with a clicker.
Step
2
Add scent
Now use the hand signal and provide a low blood sugar scent in a small porous container. When the dog performs the signal in response to the presence of the scent, and hand signal, click, and reward with food or toy play. Practice several times a day for a few weeks.
Step
3
Remove command
Gradually remove the hand signal, continue to present the scent and use the clicker and reward the dog for performing the signal HIDE - Now hide the scent in a small container, let your dog find the scented object, and perform the signal, click and reward.
Step
4
Add multiple samples
Use multiple containers, some using low blood sugar scent, some using other scents, present to the dog. If the dog signals to the wrong scent, ignore, but if they signal the correct scent reward.
Step
5
Remove clicker
Gradually remove clicker so that dog alerts and receives a reward to the presence of low blood sugar scent alone.
Recommend training method?

The Match to Sample Method

Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
Establish signal
Teach your dog a signal to be used to alert for low blood sugar, such as nudge.
Step
2
Plant scent
Provide two articles, one that is scented with low blood sugar scent and one that is not, in two different spots on floor of the room.
Step
3
Provide scent
Provide your dog with the low blood sugar scent on a separate object.
Step
4
Shape and reward match
Let your dog loose in the room and when your dog approaches the unscented object, ignore. When he approaches the scented object, click and reward. Gradually click and reward as your dog gets closer and closer to the scented target object. Repeat exercise multiple times a day for several weeks.
Step
5
Add signal
Now give your dog the command for his nudge signal, or another predetermined signal you have chosen, when your dog locates and matches the scented object. Continue to click and reward when your dog successfully matches the scent and signals you appropriately.
Step
6
Remove command and click
Gradually remove the verbal command. Gradually remove the click.
Step
7
Reward match
When the dog matches the scent and alerts, provide a food or play reward.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
hazel
Labrador Retriever
3 Months
7 found helpful
Question
7 found helpful
hazel
Labrador Retriever
3 Months

our 11year old son has type1. hazel has barked when he is low and lays by him when he is high. we just noticed this a couple of days ago but looking back she has been doing this awhile. she is the family dog but seems to take my son as her favorite. how do we fine tune this natural gift hazel has to communicate it to mom and dad? when he is low is the top priority. thank you

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Craig, If you regularly test your son's blood sugar, then when it tests high and when it tests low, have your son suck on something absorbent that is made out of cotton and not scented, until the material is saturated. A cotton ball, gauze pad, paper towel, or napkin will usually work. When you remove the material from his mouth, use something to remove it that will not add your own scent to it, such as the inside of a zip-lock bag or tweezers. Place one sample into an airtight ziplock bag, and then place that bag into another bag or into an airtight plastic container, preferably the later, and freeze it. Label whether the sample was of low sugar or high sugar saliva. Freeze all of the samples this way. When you are ready to train, you will take the sample out of the freezer and let is thaw a bit, and then store it in the fridge when not training with it, and use it for three days. Throw it away after three days. Once you have collected enough samples for you for training with, start by training your dog with the low sugar samples, since that is the most important alert for you. Open the bag and let your dog sniff the sample, teach your dog a specific alert signal, or choose to encourage an alert that your puppy chooses on his own, like pawing, barking, whining, or something else obvious. First reward your puppy whenever he smells the bag, then after you have taught him the alert signal, reward him whenever he alerts by doing that signal when he smells the sample. When he has reached this point, then introduce a non blood sugar sample, and only reward him if he alerts to the right sample, so that he will learn to pay attention to the smell. Do not reward wrong alerts at any point during the training. Practice this until he will only alert to the right sample, no matter how many samples you give him. When he can do that, then hide the sample somewhere like your son's pocket, and teach him to find it on your son and alert you that it is there. After you have done the low blood sugar alert training and your dog is extremely good at that one, then you might be able to train your dog to alert for the high blood sugar too, by teaching him a different type of alert to do when he smells that one. I say might because some dogs will struggle with more than one alert, but many can handle multiple alerts. You will have to see whether or not your dog seems confused when you add the second scent, and choose based on that whether to train for both. Make sure that you train the alerts to be pretty different to prevent confusion. For example, if your dog barks to alert for low blood sugar, then have him do something like paw at you for the high blood sugar. Keep the alerts different enough that your dog is not likely to mix them up. When you have taught both alerts, then practice with the low sugar sample, the high sugar sample, and a non scented sample, and ignore any wrong alerts or wrong type of alert. Only reward your puppy for the right type of alert for the right type of sample. Sort of like matching up cards in the Memory card game, the pair needs to go together, only then does your dog win. It does sound like Hazel has a sensitive enough sense of smell and is sensitive enough to your son's body language to be able to learn how to alert, so that is wonderful. I would definitely begin training this while Hazel is still a puppy, but expect it to take him longer to learn this while he is still young. Be patient. Even though it might take him longer to learn it though, training it while he is a puppy will help him to retain it for life and form an extremely strong habit of doing it, as well as teach him to love doing it, so that he will be more likely to do it without your prompting in real life when he smells the low or high sugar levels on his own. Basically the extra work of training him while young will be very worth it. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Hello. I’m so happy to hear that Hazel seems to be inclined to be a DAD! I am a diabetic as of age 4. I am now 45 healthy years old. I just got a puppy (6 month old chihuahua, Brutus) and am hoping to train him to detect low blood sugar. I wanted to ask you how the training is going w Hazel.

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Question
Bonita
Yorksire Terrier
8 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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Bonita
Yorksire Terrier
8 Months

I have low blood sugar and i faint quikly if i don't react quickly and i have fainted in the middle of class and i need my dog to help me with tasks and i don't have any idea how to. Can you help me?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Eva, First, whenever you feel like your blood sugar is getting low, suck on a cotton ball, paper towel, or gauze pad, until has absorbed a decent amount of spit. Place the spit filled item into a freezer safe container, and then place that container in a second container and stick the entire thing in your freezer. You will later use these pads for training sessions. You can simply take one out of the freezer and use it for a couple of sessions when needed, and place it into the refrigerator in between sessions. When you do this, be careful not to let your blood sugar get dangerously low. Your health is first priority, so start this process when it feels like it is just starting to get low while you fix yourself a snack to eat when you take the gauze out. If you have a blood sugar monitor, then depend on that for when to suck on the gauze and eat. To make the process quicker you may want to keep a thing of gauze pads where you place the snacks. When you have collected several samples, then you can choose one of the methods from the article "How to Train Your Dog to Detect Low Blood Sugar". The idea is to reward your dog whenever he sniffs the gauze with the scent on it. When he associates that with a reward, then teach him to do something like paw at you, bark, nudge you, or jump on you when he detects a scent to get his treat. You can teach him the alert part by teaching him to nudge or jump or alert you another way when you give him a command. Later you can add the scent to the training. Once he knows an alert command, let him sniff the scent, tell him his alert command, and then reward him when he does the alert command. After you have practiced doing that by telling him to alert you, let him sniff the scent but then don't say anything, wait for him to remember the training and "guess" that the alert comes next. If he alerts you, then reward him with extra treats that time. If he does not alert you, then remind him what to do by giving him the alert command. Practice letting him sniff the blood sugar saliva sample, and then pausing to see if he will alert you on his own, before giving him the alert command again. Do this until he can consistently alert you when he smells the scent without being told to alert you. When he can do that, then add a non-scented gauze, paper towel, or whatever you are using, and practice with both the scented one and the non-scented one. Make sure that you, as the human, can tell a slight difference between them so that you will know when to reward him, since you will not be able to smell the low-blood sugar scent yourself. Practice with the scented and the non-scented one, but only reward him for alerting you when he alerts you after smelling the blood sugar saliva scented one. To generally get him qualified as a Service Dog he must be able to perform a task that assists you, which in your case is the alert task. Your low blood sugar must be diagnosed by a doctor to prove that you need a Service Dog. He must also be very well behaved, Potty Trained, non-aggressive, and non-disruptive in public. Attending a Canine Good Citizen class with him will help with the general manners. If you do not wish to take him places with you, but only need him to alert you when you are at home, then you can simply practice the scent detection and alert part and you do not have to get him fully trained as a Service Dog. You will need to practice the scent alerting very frequently in order for him to get good enough to do it when you need him to without prompting him. When he can distinguish between the scented gauze and the normal gauze and only alert you when he smells the scented one, then practice hiding a gauze somewhere like your pocket when he is not expecting to find it and rewarding him if he discovers the scent and alerts you. At first, you may need to encourage him to sniff your pocket if he does not alert you on his own. As you practice this, he should begin to pay attention to whether or not the scent is present in day to day life, which is what you want for him to alert you to the real thing. Practice his detection around distractions, so that he will alert you even when other things are going on, like guests are present or other dogs are around. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Ruby
Dachshund
4 Years
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Question
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Ruby
Dachshund
4 Years

I would really like a diabetic alert dog, but they are just too expensive for me. I was wondering if I would be able to train my 4 y/o dachshund to be my service dog. She isn’t good with strangers at all, and she is very skittish in public. Would I be able to train her to be more friendly, or is she not a good fit for the job?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Micah, It does not sounds like Ruby would be able to pass the necessary requirements to be a service dog in public with you. It might be easier to get a new puppy and start training and socialization early with puppy kindergarten, intermediate obedience, and a Canine Good Citizen Class. Those three classes cover a lot of the necessary socialization and training requirements that a dog needs. After that general training you can teach the specific diabetic alert task which is not extremely difficult if the dog has a good sense of smell. It can take years to treat an older dog's aggression or fear issues. It is possible to improve it, but highly unlikely that Ruby will be able to get to the point of being a Service Dog. You can work on training Ruby to alert to your blood sugar still though. You will not be able to take her everywhere with you but she will be able to alert you at home, at the park, and places where she is allowed entrance. There is no harm in working on her social skills. Even if she cannot become a service dog she would at least learn to relax around people more, which makes it easier to take her to dog friendly places. If she happens to respond really well to the socialization training, then you could always move onto service dog training after. If not, you have not lost anything because she will still likely be at least a bit more comfortable around other people. I would recommend teaching her to alert you to your sugar at home either way. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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N/A
Border Collie
2 Months
0 found helpful
Question
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N/A
Border Collie
2 Months

I am considering getting a puppy (likely either a border collie or boxer) to train in blood sugar detection. I'm just curious what an average timeframe is to train from a puppy to reliable low blood sugar detection. Do you think they are typically fully trained by one year, assuming dedicated training is occuring?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Stephanie, Assuming that the dog you get has a natural inclination for scent, which I suggest reading up on how to test a puppy's scenting ability before you choose your puppy, the actual alert task training can be accomplished within a year. If you plan to use your dog as a Service Dog, with very regular training starting as a puppy with early socialization and manners training, the rare dog will be trained well enough and be mature enough by the first year to accompany you to public places as a Service Dog. It takes most dogs two to three years to learn enough self-control, socialization skills, focus on the owner, and calmness to pass as a Service Dog in public without being a nuisance or distraction. How long it takes will mostly depend on a combination of your own training work and your dog's individual maturity level and personality. If your dog is not ready to go into highly distracting places like classes and malls by a year, you should still be able to take him with you to other dog friendly places to practice and have him assist you while he is still learning. You can utilize his alerts at home, at outdoor, dog-friendly restaurants and coffee shops, pet stores, feed stores, and many hardware stores, as well as parks, outdoor malls, farmer's markets, outdoor sports games, and many other places where he can practice being in public and assisting you with blood sugar alerts. I have seen a handful of dogs become fully trained within a year with a lot of work from the owner, and the average dog take two to three years of consistent training. Do not skip early positive socialization with your puppy. That will largely effect your dog's ability to handle Service Dog work later. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bear
Pug
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Bear
Pug
1 Year

To alert for low blood sugars

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Donna, To teach the alert part, first decide what you want your dog to do for his alert. This might be nudging you, barking, climbing onto you, or something else that will get your attention. Teach your dog that specific action, like how to bark when you say "Speak" or how to nudge you when you say "Touch". Once your dog understands the command that will be his alert, then teach him how to detect the scent of your low blood sugar using a low blood sugar saliva sample and one of the methods from the article that you commented on above: https://wagwalking.com/training/detect-low-blood-sugar When he has learned the scent, then when he detects the scent correctly give him his alert command like "speak" or "touch" and reward him after he does his alert. Practice this for at least a month, and until you can wait five seconds after he detects the scent correctly and he will alert you by doing something like barking or nudging you during those five seconds without being told, on his own. When he does that, then praise him and reward him a lot! If he does not do it on his own and after five seconds, then give him his alert command to help him figure out what to do, then reward him a normal amount when he alerts when commanded to. Practice this until he needs to be reminded less and less to alert you when he detects the scent and instead does it on his own as part of his scent detection. To teach him an initial command like "Speak" that you can use to teach him to alert you, decide what you want his alert to be and teach him that thing like you would a trick or any other command. Here is an article on how to teach "Touch": https://wagwalking.com/training/tap-objects-with-his-nose Use one of the methods from that article on "Touch" to teach him to nudge you, but instead of teaching your dog to touch an object have him touch somewhere like your lower leg. Choose somewhere that he will always he able to get to and reach. To teach your dog to "Speak" check out this article that I have linked below and follow whichever method your dog responds to well. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-to-speak To teach another, different or additional alert cue check out Wag Walking's Training Resources Page for additional how to dog training articles or look up videos on YouTube from qualified trainers. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Marley
lab, sharpei, sheperd
9 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Marley
lab, sharpei, sheperd
9 Years

Hello, Marley is 9 years old, very sweet and very social with humans and dogs, he has helped me a few times with low sugars without being trained, I was wondering whether I would be able to teach him this so he is more aware of my low blood sugars. Do you think he is too old or is it worth a shot ?

Thanks !!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Andi, If Marley is in good mental health and she shows a natural ability to be able to detect it through scent and being sensitive to you, then I absolutely think it is worth training him to do it. The main thing that affects an older dog's ability to learn how to detect it is not having the natural ability (which is genetic) or not being in good enough mental health to retain the training. If you wish to bring him places with you as a Service Dog, then you will also need to work on his general obedience and manners (a Canine Good Citizen Class is a great place to start for that) but if you simply want to have him with you at places where dogs are already allowed (at home, outdoor restaurants, friend's homes, parks, ect...) then all you have to really do is the task training and you can start that part at any age. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sophie
Labradane
Three Years
3 found helpful
Question
3 found helpful
Sophie
Labradane
Three Years

My Sophie (Labradane) goes wild when I have low blood sugar (I am diabetic type 2). She nudges my arm like crazy and turns in circles until I figure out what she is telling me so I then know that I need to go eat something and test my sugar. I ignored her once and a little later I had an extremely low sugar episode. I then quickly remembered that she was trying to tell me. SO, if I do the cotton swab with low reading scents to train her, what is the next step to have her declared a service dog? Thanks in advance!!

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Christy, For a dog to become a Service Dog there is no official test that you have to take. You do need to have a medical professional diagnose you with the condition that your dog is assisting you with, and many places like airlines will require proof via a signed doctor's note. Your dog will also need to have certain skills in order to be admitted into places. Any Service Dog should have these skills or never be used as a Service Dog in the first place though. She will need to generally be very well behaved, non-disruptive, completely safe around other people and animals, and know how to do at least one specific task that directly helps your diagnosed condition, which in this case would be blood sugar alert. Going through a Canine Good Citizen class and passing a Canine Good Citizenship test at the end of the class will significantly help with the general manners and behaviors that Sophie will need while out in public with you, so I highly recommend going through one of those with her. Although not required at all public locations, in order to avoid issues, I would also recommend carrying a copy of your pet's up to date medical records, a copy of ADA law (American's with Disability Act), with the part that discusses where Service Dogs are legally allowed to go and what does or does not qualify a dog as a Service Dog. Many online companies will sell you laminated copies of this law. You will also want to provide a visual indicator that your dog is a Service Dog, such as a Service Dog vest or harness or at least a collar that says Service Dog. Places such as airlines also require that your pup has his own ID. You can buy this online also. Although not required to go into most places, certain Service Dog vests have a plastic visible sleeve where you can place this ID. This mostly just helps avoid you avoid confrontation when entering places with your pup. By far the most important things your pup will need is extremely good manners, which a Canine Good Citizen and other obedience classes will help with, great socialization skills, meaning that your pup is not reactive or aggressive towards people, dogs, or anything else he will be encountering, and at least one specialized skill, in this case the blood sugar alert training. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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lucy
Border Collie
8 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
lucy
Border Collie
8 Years

I wear a glucose monitor for diabetes. I am wondering if my dog can be trained to nudge me when I have a low. My monitor beeps twice for high and three times for low. I'm afraid I wont hear the beep.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janet, If your dog is sensitive to you and has a good nose, he can likely be trained to do that. First, you can teach him to nudge you on command. Second, when you know you are a bit low (don't get too low intentionally), then take a saliva sample by sucking on something cotton like medical gauze, then place the sample in a bag and then in a container and freeze it. Teach him to do his alert when he smells the saliva sample you've taken from the freezer, until he alerts when you let him sniff it before you have to tell him to. Reward correct alerts. Next, practice with additional samples that look similar at the same time, starting with just one other sample, but only reward him for alerting to the right one - ignore alerts to the wrong thing and encourage him to try again. The training is very similar to other forms of scent detection, service dog work, you just need to use a sample of your saliva when your sugar is low as your scent he practices with. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Hank
Majestic Tree Hound
1 Year
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hank
Majestic Tree Hound
1 Year

Hi, my boyfriend has type 1 diabetes and our dog is just a year old. He is big on sniffing! Like any typical hound, although he is also very rambunctious. I was wondering if it was too late to teach him how to detect low and high blood sugar on my boyfriend, or if with time and patience we could train him.

He does track deer and coons when we are out on the trails, and has yet to mislead us.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Emily, Many Service Dogs do not even begin task training (like blood sugar detection) until they are a year old, so that part of the training should not be too late. The only thing that could be too late is temperament. The first year of a Service Dog's life should generally be spent socializing them well and teaching manners. How does your dog do with other animals, people, and new environments? Does he have any fear or aggression issues? Those things could disqualify him from the potential of being a Service Dog because he cannot go in public with you if those are present. He also needs to learn manners and calmness, because a Service Dog does not qualify as one unless they can be calm in public places without causing a disturbance. If his temperament is good, then manners can still be taught though - it will just be a bit harder since he is older. An Intermediate Obedience class, then a Canine Good Citizen class are great ways to work on manners around distractions. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
scruffs
Border collie cross terrier
7 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
scruffs
Border collie cross terrier
7 Years

Hi,
I’m type one diabetic as of 2nd March (so quite recently) and before I was diagnosed, my dog used to constantly lick my hands - before I was diagnosed my sugars were incredibly high and now when my sugars are too low or too high she still licks my hands. It seems like she learnt to detect my sugars and tell me by herself but I don’t know how to be able to get a certificate for her so she can become certified - have you got any tips?
Thankyou,
Anna

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Anna, There is no official certification in the United States for service dogs. There are certain skills that a dog must be able to perform however and the person with a service dog must have a diagnosed medical condition that a service dog can help with (diabetes is one of them). Your dog needs to be exceptionally well mannered in public so that they are not a nuisance in public locations for public access (store owners can ask a service dog couple to leave the building if they are a nuisance - they also have rights). In addition to being calm, out of the way, quiet, and walking well on a leash, a service dog needs to be tolerant, calm and cannot display aggression or fearfulness. For the task training, I suggest sucking on a cotton gauze when you know that your sugars are high or low, freezing these samples in a ziplock bag placed inside a plastic storage container. Put the licking on cue, with a command such as "Lick". Once she knows that command, present the samples and command her to lick you when you present one. Practice until you can present the samples and she will lick without being given the command. Once she can do that, provide additional "fake" samples, mixed in with the real ones you present her, one at a time, and test her on that to see if she will alert to the right sample - if she is alerting to you now this should be easy for her because she should already recognize the scents. If she is not alerting to you now and is licking for another reason, then practice this exercise - only rewarding her when she alerts to the correct sample, until she will consistently alert only to the correct sample. Finally, hide the sugar samples in your pocket and other places on her person and reward her if she alerts those scents on your person without knowing they are there. When she can pick the correct sample out and alert when you are carrying it when given a variety of samples, some with the low or high sugar saliva and some with normal saliva or no saliva, then she should be even more reliable with her medical alerts, and ready for public access if her manners are also great. A Canine Good Citizen class is also a great class to take a future service dog through to practice ignoring distractions. Your dog also needs to learn that when they are with you in public working -paying attention to your sugars, their only focus should be on you. Which means people should not be petting or interacting with them and other dogs should not be greeting them. At home, if not working she can be a well behaved dog. While working, she should be focused on work. True diabetic alert requires a dog to be tuned into their owner's sugar all the time, even while doing other things, so your dog needs to be calm and focused while working. Some airlines and rental places will require a copy of your dog's current vaccines and a note from your doctor stating that you have a need for a service dog. Most locations are simply allowed to only ask if you have a condition that warrants the use of a service dog (not what condition though) and what task your dog is trained to perform to help you (alert to sugars in your case). They cannot ask for certification because Service Dogs are not given universal certifications. Their training, performance, and ability to be well behaved in public is what qualifies them. Once she is ready to perform as a Service Dog, it can be helpful to carry a laminated cop of American's with Disability Act law stating your rights in case you are denied access (for reasons besides your dog's poor behavior). A service dog vest can also help people understand that your dog is working. Both of those things can be purchased online. They do not make you a service dog, but they do help with acceptance. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Baloo
Pomski
1 Year
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Baloo
Pomski
1 Year

I am T1 and am also on a pump. We have just completed obedience train get and now I would like to step my pup to the next level of partnering with me in my health. You page is very informative and I believe he would respond$ well to the training you suggest. I am a heavy sleeper and many times sleep thru the alarms of my pump.

My question is I see many walking in public with “service dog in training- do not touch”, what is the real protocol when trading in public?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Peter, When the dog is with you and working (supposed to be tuned into your sugars and ready to alert), the dog needs to learn to just focus on you and ignore other distractions. A diabetic alert dog is almost always working because of the constant fluctuations in blood sugar, so these dogs need to be especially attentive and not distracted. Although dogs can obviously multi-task to an extent they shouldn't be worried about other people, dogs and things that would take their mind off of you. A canine good citizen class where the dog is taught to ignore other dogs they walk past, to quietly lay down for long periods of time in distracting locations, and other calm behaviors is a good example of this type of training. (think about when you go out to eat and your dog has to lie quietly under the table for over an hour around food smells, people and other service dogs). Your dog needs to heel very well and not pull toward other things, not bark while working, be well socialized and get along with others (no aggression or fear) but be trained to ignore these things unless given permission to say hi. All of this means that yes, service dogs should not be petted or approached by other dogs while in public. Those things teach the dog to expect people and dogs to come over and encourage the dog to be distracted in general - in anticipation of being approached by those they see. Most dogs learn to tell when they are working and not working and when they are truly "off duty" like at home running around your backyard the rules can be a bit different, but while working at home or out in public the dog needs to stay focused. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Leo
German Shepherd
3 Months
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Leo
German Shepherd
3 Months

My question is where do i pirchase a low blood sugar scent? I live in the UK. both Me and my son are type 1 diabetics. Thanks in advance.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Boris, The next time you know that your sugars are a bit low (don't intentionally get low for this), keep cotton gauze in your purse or somewhere else handy, and suck on those until they are wet with saliva, then put the samples into a ziplock bag, and the bag into a plastic freezer container, then freeze it until ready to practice the training. You can typically use the same sample for about 3-4 days if you put it into the fridge in between training sessions. A lot of people will suck on three small gauze pieces while they work on opening food or glucose tablets, then take the gauze out and eat the food. Your sugar does not have to be rock bottom for this (do NOT let that happen), but just lower than what it should be, to teach your dog to alert to when it starts dropping. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sheba
Pomeranian
20 Weeks
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Sheba
Pomeranian
20 Weeks

I have a Pomeranian Yorkshire mix, and I really want a service dog, especially because I am a heavy sleeper, and cannot hear my phone sometimes if it goes off for a low. But getting her trained, and certified is way too expensive. If I can train her to be good near other people, and recognize low blood sugar, How can I make her certified to take with me everywhere I go?(it wouldn’t let me put Pomeranian Yorkshire mix)

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
419 Dog owners recommended

Hello Morgan, According to the ADA law (Americans with Disability Act Law) a Service Dog does not have to pass any specific test in order to be considered a Service Dog. There are organizations that will test them simply to see if they have the necessary skills but a certification is unnecessary. Therapy Dogs however do have to be tested because they also work with other people. What you do have to have for a Service Dog to qualify is: 1. A medical condition confirmed by the doctor who treats you that qualifies you for a Service Dog (blood sugar issues should count). 2. Your dog must be well trained and not a nuisance in public - if your dog is a nuisance, the owner of the location, such as a store, can ask you to leave. This means no aggression, no barking, no begging, or any other behavior that causes a disturbance or is rude. Joining a Canine Good Citizen class is a good way to prepare for the manners in public aspect. 3. Your dog must be trained to perform at least one special task that directly assists your medical condition - alerting you when your blood sugar drops counts. 4. Your dog must be up to date on vet records - some places require that you carry these records. To make things easier you can buy laminated card copies of ADA law in case anyone asks for certification - the law will state that certification is not necessary. It's also good to carry copies of your dog's vet records. For rentals and airplanes you will need a letter from your doctor stating that you have a medical condition that warrants a service dog - you do not have to explain your medical issues to others though. Here is more information: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/service_animal_qa.html Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Training Success Stories

Success
Todd
Todd-American Foxhound Holly-Siberian Husky
5 Weeks

Todd is my retired service dog. I actually adopted him as a companion, but right at the same time I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia. No matter what I’ve tried my blood sugar drops dangerously low very quickly. Once I can feel it I’m on the verge of passing out. Todd naturally alerted me long before I could ever feel it, but it took me months to catch on to what he was doing. Around this time I was also going through a divorce from a bad marriage. My husband at the time was abusive and Todd witnessed a lot as a very young puppy. As he started getting a little older he became very protective of me, especially towards men and especially if they had gray hair. So unfortunately, he has had to retire far too early. My young adult daughter has a Siberian Husky as her psychiatric service dog. She bred her Husky and now we have five 5 week old puppies. I am keeping a female to be my service dog in training and I am currently training her to pick up on the scent of low blood sugar. So far she’s doing pretty well. Although this isn’t much of a success story. I am mainly writing to give some input. The first training method is actually the one I have been using from the start. But the article mentions that a service dog has to be certified and recertified every year. But there is no actual registry for service dogs and they don’t need to be certified. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty positive that goes for every state in the US. All of the “ID” cards that people have for their service dog are fake. Companies do it just to make money. Your dog does need to be trained in basic obedience and has to perform some kind of task to be a service dog, but there is no registry or certification. Don’t waste your money on an “ID” card that isn’t even real, because you don’t need that. Service dogs actually don’t even need to be identified as a service dog. They don’t have to wear a vest or anything identifying. It’s easier if they do, but they don’t have to. I wasn’t aware of most of this until I looked into the ADA laws. Service dogs and their handlers are protected by federal law. So even though many places try to ask for identification, there really isn’t any that is legitimate. I hope that some of you find this informative! I found out a lot of information a couple years ago and I figured I would pass it along! Good luck to everyone!

9 months ago
Hi I have a Pomeranian Yorkie mix, she is about 20weeks of age.Getting her trained to be sertified as a service dog is too expensive. Can I get her sertified If I train her myself?
Hello, I had a Siberian Husky male in my teens and until about my mid 20s. I was born with hypoglycemia and a genetic disorder. My husky was being self trained to recognize low blood sugar. He was only about year old at the time and already a big dog. Well I luckily had never had a seizure with mine until one day at home. We lived in a 2 story townhome and I was home alone that day. I started feeling really unwell and decided to take a shower. I did and then proceeded to dry off and get dressed. I am a guy so I was walking around in just boxers and shorts. I was using the upstairs bath. Ibwas walking toward the stairs and he blocked my way. I tried to move home and he literally knocked me down. Of course I was getting mad and telling him to stop and get off me. All of a sudden my vision went black and I passed out. I awoke super weak barely able to move and crawled to my phone I my room. The entire time he is beside me whining and licking me. I called 911 and they arrived to take me to they hospital. Apparently Ibwas seizing for over an hour and a half and had so much foam in my lungs and mouth feom the metabolic acidosis. I could barely talk. He would let them help me down the stairs since I was still so low and heart was beating faintly. It was strange how he knew to do that even before he was trained to do so. Some dogs have a natural
instinct to thesethings it's amazing. I had him a long time before he passed due to an inoperable tumor in his brain. I moss my buddy but he was awesome.
Success
Lily
chiwawa dutchhound
2 Years

Lily was 9 months old when we adopted her from a rescue. She would close cabinets and draws on me in the kitchen. I have worked with her to where she will go behind me in the kitchen closing drawers and cabinets I forget to close.

8 months, 4 weeks ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd