Archive for the ‘Classes’ Category

Seattle Puppy Class Work To Eat Strategy Creates Improvisational Diabetic Alert Dogs

Article as featured on Premier’s blog.

Seattle, Washington has a unique brand of dog trainer at Service Dog Academy. Nowhere else in the Pacific Northwest can people with diabetes learn to train their dogs to alert to blood sugar imbalances. As a part of Service Dog Academy staff, we work hard to get this highly specialized training to more and more people each day. Our dog training studio was founded on the principles that people with disabilities should have affordable resources to live a manageable, independent life, and to us that means being able to train your own service dog. Having first-hand experiences with hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, head trainer and founder knows that manageability means a lot to those seeking out a diabetic alert dog. The costs of insurance, medicals services, and peace of mind that they wont pass out in a shopping mall only to wake up with emergency personnel at their side is worth the work it takes to have a canine companion on the ready to alert when blood sugar starts to drop.

As part of her diabetic alert dog training methods, Premier puzzles are a main part of the work to eat strategy. In the wild, dogs had to work for hours on end to find their food, and with a work to eat strategy, it emulates this as best as we can. Here’s why we love this method:

  • You get a dog that thinks your are the coolest thing since sliced bread. When your dog feels this way, he’ll do what it takes to get your attention, never be far from your side, and for a medical alert assistance dog, a trait you can’t live without.
  • What happens when you get frustrated? The inclination to give-up – and just like you and me, Fido can feel frustrated, too. Puzzles create frustration tolerance. We want a dog to try over and over and over again to get your attention, and tolerate a little frustration. Citka, a 1 1/2 year old Golden Retreiver and graduate of the program jumped on a fabric store cutting counter to get his owner’s attention when her blood sugar was crashing; Buddy, a one-year old black lab was behind a closed door when his owner passed out, so the puppy who barely ever barked before howled at the top of his lungs to get anyone’s attention. We’re proud of our thinking dogs, dogs who don’t take “no” for an answer!
  • Your dog gets vigorous mental exercise that is the equivalent of a 10-minute walk. Something that is quite valuable to a person who is disabled and/or wheelchair bound – and pretty nice overall on those cold and rainy days when neither of you feel like being outside for those treks.

At our train-your-own diabetic alert dog program, we see dogs of all different shapes and sizes come into class, and some may have been using work to eat strategies since birth, and others might not be as proficient. We need puzzles to match that diversity. Thank goodness for Premier’s line of customizable puzzles that are made for every dog from purse pooches to great danes. The range of levels from easy to hard are one feature, but we found that complexity can be added to each one just by adding a part – for example, Linkables have lots of opportunity to throw in a curveball for those genius dogs, or you could add a ball to the Tug A Jug. And for got an excessive chewers or apartment dwellers who needs a quieter toy, there is something for both puppies and adult dogs in the Premier line of work to eat puzzles.

An estimated 25.8 million people in the United States are affected by diabetes whether diagnosed or not, according to the CDC. All those people seeking medical help costs the American health care system nearly double the cost of a world without diabetes. As the 6th most common disability among U.S. adults, it causes quite a strain on the economy, and the need for preventative measures is dire. While we don’t have the resources to cure diabetes, Service Dog Academy and Diabetic Alert Dog University in Seattle Washington strives to create a system that makes living with diabetes much more manageable.

If you would like an improvisational diabetic alert dog please contact us for further information.

Cooper’s Puppy Manners Impress Seattle Diabetes Crowd

Cooper’s Puppy Manners, Obedience and Diabetic Alerting Impress Seattle Diabetes Crowdinflatable abominable snowman

by Tracy Walsh

A beautiful Seattle day brought us through gridlock traffic to Seattle’s Phinney Neighborhood Center on the afternoon of March 24th.  We were there to represent the Service Dog Academy at the 22nd Annual ADA Family Retreat.

The Annual Family Retreat is just one unique way that the American Diabetes Association realizes their mission – to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.  The ADA Family Retreat is the leading diabetes education and awareness program for families with children ages 13 and younger who have diabetes throughout Western Washington and beyond.

What Potential Diabetic Alert Dog Training Students Learned

As a vendor with a prime location along the food line, we were able to talk with and help educate many families on the lifesaving benefits of having a specially trained Diabetic Alert Dog.  One such dog is Cooper, a 6 month old Yellow Lab, who was trained at our Seattle dog training studio.  The importance of education and awareness was evident as many we spoke with were not even aware that this type of service dog existed.  There is a lot of information that we shared about these amazing dogs, including:

  • Our dogs are trained with positive reinforcement to use their highly sensitive scent capabilities to identify the changed in blood chemistry that occur during rapid changes in blood sugar levels
  • Dogs are trained to give an alert to the person before they are even aware that these changes are taking place
  • Dogs as young as 6 months of age can be trained to alert their diabetic owners of their highs and lows
  • They can detect a low 20 minutes before a meter can.
  • That a diabetic alert dog doesnt have to cost $20,000. Service Dog Academy can help you train your own with as little as a $1000 investment.
  • Almost any breed of dog can be trained to become alert dogs.  The one consistent exception are dogs that are brachycephalic (flat-nosed), such as pugs and bulldogs.

Cooper has broken the mold of a diabetic alert dog.  Thanks to the rigorous training of our Seattle Diabetic Alert Dog program, he has been alerting his owner, Jeff, since 3 months of age.   Surprisingly, he has even been able to alert Jeff of a low 30 minutes before it registered on the meter.   Before Cooper even learned how to give an official alert, he even went so far as to “retrieve” Jeff’s wife when his attempts at waking Jeff failed and his blood sugar was dangerously low.  It’s scary to contemplate the dangerous situations Jeff was saved from by the awareness of his wonderful dog.

Cooper’s Puppy Training Classes Helped Create The Diabetic Alert Dog He Is Today

At the retreat, Cooper was a prime example of the importance of creating a calm and stable dog that can tolerate crowds of strangers.   This was achieved by the training methods we use at our Seattle puppy classes at the Service Dog Academy dog training studio in West Seattle.  Using positive reinforcement dog training techniques and teaching proper puppy socialization to dogs through puppy play and intensive human interaction is vital in creating a dog that will need to perform the work necessary for a service dog.

Cooper proved that our positive reinforcement puppy training techniques really work.  At any given time, Cooper was surrounded by a crowd of 4-5 kids, with twice as many hands, petting and touching him, vying for his attention, crowding around him, and Cooper just lapped it all up.  According to Jeff, he really loves to play, but also knows how to calm down when needed.  Jeff noted that people at the camp were amazed that such a young puppy was so well behaved.

Dogs like Cooper exemplify what it means to be a well-adjusted and stable service dog.  Whether your goal is to have your dog eventually perform service work, or if you just want a well-balanced, happy dog, our Seattle dog training educational studio classes can help!

If you would like to train your dog for service work or specifically for diabetic alert dog work, please browse our website and take a look at our FAQ.

Pet Puppy Socialization – The Service Dog Way

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Set up your pet puppy’s personality for the rest of his life using service dog training techniques! In this photo above, Cooper, a service dog in training, meets kids at the Target toy aisle.

A trip to the mall turned into a teachable moment when two excitable toddlers came up to Liame Mary McNeight’s service dog, while he was waiting patiently by her side at a checkout counter. The well-behaved, well-socialized Liame stayed lying down, tolerating more than two minutes of petting, tail pulling, squealing, kisses on his body and muzzle, and pats from tiny hands. Liame demonstrated how crucial early socialization is to be a well-mannered dog in any situation.

Ever wonder why service dogs are so well-behaved?

It’s because they are used to being around many different types of people, places, and things of all sizes, gaits, and sounds, and it is why Service Dog Academy encourages enrolling your puppy into basic puppy obedience classes when they are as young as seven weeks old. Getting your puppy to walk on different surfaces, learning proper puppy play techniques, and exposure to different types of people as early as 7 weeks old, is a guideline that is supported not only by the American Society of Veterinary and Animal Behavior, but also by top veterinary schools in the country, Minnesota and Purdue. All of these guidelines and goals are throughly explained and demonstrated in our Seattle Puppy Kindergarten classes!

The early stages of puppyhood, from as young as seven weeks to three-months, according to an article by the AVSAB is a critical window for socialization. Furthermore, the ASVAB states that it should be standard for all puppies to receive socialization training before fully vaccinated. Early socialization can also prevent future behavior problems, and create a dog that is more responsive to commands. This is a time when “sociability outweighs fear, this is the primary window of opportunity for puppies to adapt to new people, animals, and experiences… [and] Avoid fear, avoidance, and/or aggression.”

During our holiday break, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, owner and head trainer at Service Dog Academy has been working with two diabetic alert board-and-train puppies who are taking our puppy class at the West Seattle dog training studio. Eleven-week-old Cooper, and Daisy, an 18-week-old Labradoodle in addition to diabetic alert training, have been working on puppy socialization.

Recently, we took a trip to a busy Target store in West Seattle with the puppies. They were quite the handful and attracted a lot of attention. Just what we want! Cooper and Daisy had the opportunity to walk through a busy parking lot with cars driving by, shopping carts whizzing past, walk on linoleum, greet children and people of all sizes. It is well known in the dog training world that puppies that are raised in homes with small children have an even greater opportunity for success at being well-socialized. With that in mind, we sat down in the toy aisle, and Cooper and Daisy met small children and even experienced strange and unknown creatures that light up and make noise.


Let us show you how to socialize your dog the Service Dog Academy way to help him be the dog of your dreams, the dog everyone in the neighborhood is jealous of!

Follow Cooper and Daisy’s progress on our facebook page where we will be giving out FREE tips on proper puppy management and training.

The Service Dog Academy pet dog training for puppies and adult dogs help fund our low-cost service dog training for people with disabilities as well as our groundbreaking, train-your-own diabetic alert dog program for people with type 1, type 2 diabetes, and hypoglycemia.

If you want your dog to have service dog manners, enroll in our Seattle basic puppy obedience and manners classes where we teach you and your pooch the skills to raise the best-behaved puppy in town using positive reinforcement and service dog training techniques!

Our non-violent, positive reinforcement puppy classes help you set your pet puppies personality just like that of a service dog. Our classes which are taught by State Certified trainers with thousands of hours of hands on experience and because of their world renowned training techniques are attended by people from Beacon Hill, Capitol Hill, Burien, Everett, Bothell, Ballard, Freemont, Queen Anne, Shoreline, Vashon Island, Bellevue, Tacoma and people as far away as Lopez Island!

Some of our biggest fans drive 4 hours each way to attend our one of a kind classes! In our West Seattle puppy training classes, our professional dog trainers and behaviorists will show you how to harness your puppies innate nature to bring out the dog you have ALWAYS wanted.

Donate To Support The Program That Saves Lives Hundreds Of Times Per Day

Mary McNeight and Service Dog Academy have been pillars of justice, advocacy and education in the medical alert dog community. If you would like to support this mission, you may do so using the paypal link below.