Can you imagine having a severe allergic reaction every time you come into contact with peanuts, even just proximity to peanuts? Your throat starts to close, your airway becomes compromised, and a life-threatening situation develops. Now imagine you are a child. What a terrifying experience.
For thousands of people, this experience can be an everyday reality if they are unknowingly exposed to peanuts or products contaminated with peanuts. In some cases, the sensitivity and reaction are so severe that simply being in the same room with a peanut contaminated product can induce a life-threatening reaction. So what can people with such severe allergies do to protect themselves? The answer is, use an allergen detection dog; specifically, a dog trained to detect the presence of peanuts. A dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times more sensitive than ours, with ⅓ of their brain being dedicated to the sense and discrimination of smell! No wonder they spend so much time with their nose to the ground. We can harness this special ability in our dogs to work for us and save lives, such as by detecting the presence of life-threatening allergens in the environment and alerting allergy sufferers to the presence of these allergens, so appropriate precautions can be taken.
I have a severe peanut allergy. I want to train my dog to alert me when she detects the peanut smell. I am concerned of peanut contact when I am using shopping carts. If I have her in a carrier in the cart, what signal do you recommend she give me if she detects the peanut smell?
Hello Suzie, For that situation, I would recommend teaching her to paw at the door of the crate so you would both see and hear it but it wouldn't be as loud as barking. But, for scent detection the dog usually needs to be able to access the thing they should sniff with their nose, allowing the dog out of the crate to sniff the handle and basket of the cart or other potential areas of problem in order to detect peanut scent accurately. Inside the cart your dog may miss smells or falsely alert to a general smell of peanut butter in the air near certain isles where peanut butter products are kept, and not just areas where you could come into contact with something. Is the dog is trained to be well behaved in public? Will your dog not cause a nuisance, are they fully housebroken with no risk of accidents, and can your dog be quiet without barking while or poor behavior while heeling next to you. If so, then once they are fully trained to perform at least one task that directly helps you with a medically verified condition (detecting peanut scent and alerting), then your dog should not have to be in a crate while in the store. I would recommend having them wear a Service Dog vest and you carry a small laminated copy of ADA law with you in your wallet - which states your rights to bring your dog places, in case anyone thinks pup is just a pet. Your dog would have to be very well behaved to qualify though - if they are not, you can be asked to leave by the store owner. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Do you have trainers in Los Angeles that could train my dog to detect peanuts. My son is severely allergic and carries epipens.
Hello Diannah, Unfortunately we do not. The online Trainers and writers at Wag live and work remotely from all over the country and are not located at the main office. My dog training company is located in Atlanta Georgia for instance. I suggest googling: "Service Dog Trainer Los Angeles" "Service Dog Training Los Angeles" "Service Dog Trainer Los Angeles California" "Service Dog Training Los Angeles California" "Medical Alert dog training Los Angeles" and similar phrases. Make a list of all the qualified trainers and training groups close enough to your home and look on their website to see if they train for things like "Medical Alert", "Celiac disease", "Allergen detection", or other scent type tasks. If they do I suggest you call those training facilities and ask them about their training and tell them what you are needing and explain the level of detection you need for the training to truly be effective - a high level of detection to only trace amounts of scent. If you can find someone who has done Celiac training or allergen detection training before that would be best. Like allergies, Celiac disease also requires a very sensitive level of scent detection because trace amounts can be a huge problem for someone with Celiac too, so trainers who have done that and actually understand what Celiac is and how severe it is (opposed to treating it like gluten intolerance - which is totally different) are familiar with the type of work you would need for peanuts more likely as well. Someone who has done peanut detection would obviously be the most ideal. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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