Posts Tagged ‘dog training seattle’

Advice on Puppy Manners: Taking Treats Nicely

It’s not a Trick, Just Good Puppy Manners: How to Train your Puppy to Take Treats Nicely

Do you have “Jaws” in your home? When you reward your puppy or adult dog with kibble, do they tend to bite the fingers attached to it, too?

In this video, Maggie, our very special diabetic alert dog in training and Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, BGS show you how to get your puppy to lick your fingers to get to her treats instead of chomping at them. In order to promote the best manners in your puppy, you must feed your puppy kibble by hand, not from a bowl. Do this consistently, and your shark will turn back into the puppy you know and love.

Maggie, the Diabetic Alert Puppy

Maggie is training to be someone’s very special diabetic alert dog. At Service Dog Academy we offer several ways to obtain a diabetic alert dog, from training your own pet dog, board and train, or if you can’t take the time to train your pup the initial scent detection and alerting, we understand. That’s where Maggie comes in. For more information on Maggie and our already trained dog program click here.

Dog Obedience Classes in Seattle

You can get more tips and tricks on dog and puppy training like this one by enrolling in any of our pet dog training classes right here in West Seattle. We offer basic obedience for puppies and adult dogs, or have fun learning party tricks, or refine your dogs manners and make it official with the Canine Good Citizen certification. The small class sizes mean you can work closely with our trainers, and get one-on-one attention and personalized dog training advice whether you and Fido learn the basics, or are training to alert to your medical condition!

Pet Puppy Socialization: The Service Dog Way Pt. 2

How do you get a fearless dog? By great socialization training, of course! Socialization is a not only a key component of a well-behaved service dog, it’s important for pet dogs, too! In fact, the number one reason dogs end up in shelters is under socialization.

Socializing Puppies: The Service Dog Way

To show how awesome well-socialized puppies can be, watch how two of our board and train pups, Cooper and Daisy, handle themselves around emergency personnel during a critical stage in their development.

Mary McNeight, with the help of fireman Andy from Engine 32, and a bag of treats, proceeded to get Daisy and Cooper used to his big uniform and funny hat. They didn’t seem phased at all in part thanks to the positive reinforcement training and socialization they received in Service Dog Academy pet puppy classes.

Next, we visited the Southwest Precinct of the Seattle Police Department, and gave officers Andy Bass and Buzzy the same opportunity to greet and treat the pups. Hopefully, as Cooper and Daisy grow up to be reliable diabetic alert service dogs they wont have to meet again, but just in case emergency personnel do show up in response to their owners’ medical issue, Cooper and Daisy will have had a positive association with these men in uniform.

Do you want your puppy to be as well-socialized as a service dog? Don’t have the time or energy to make sure your puppy gets the exercise he or she needs? Then, Puppy Day Camp is your answer!

Service Dog Academy will soon open its studio space for your puppy to get the ultimate socialization and training experience. Puppy Day Camp will run from 7:30am-11:30am Monday through Thursday. Drop off your pup in the morning, run some errands, go to work, or just sit back and relax while our professional dog trainers on staff work on basic obedience and supervise play sessions with a small group of pups. Come back a few hours later to a worn-out, happy, better socialized puppy! The cost is $269 for four days of camp. Email info@servicedogacademy.com for more information and keep checking the website for official start dates!

Service dogs as well as pet dogs should never display traits of fear, aggression, or reactivity, so to avoid this, it’s crucial for puppies between the ages for 7 weeks and 3 months to be socialized to many different situations and people. The Service Dog Academy also offers pet puppy classes that are designed for setting a foundation for socialization during this critical time, whether training your puppy good manners, or the American Diabetes Association recognized diabetic alert, migraine alert, seizures, or another type of service work. Service Dog Academy classes also cater to adult dog basic obedience, and advanced dog training classes at the dog training studio located in West Seattle.

With so many options to choose from for your pet puppy, you’ll have a fearless, happy dog, in no time!

Groundbreaking Workshop Making D.A.Ds Possible

Diabetic Alert Dogs from Oregon to Illinois

Something incredible happened over Labor Day Weekend. Diabetics from all over the U.S. traveled to Service Dog Academy’s training studio in West Seattle and participated in the first-ever intensive diabetic alert dog program. No longer is the hope of a diabetic alert dog, and the possibility of a more independent life with diabetes limited to just a few lucky parts of the country. With the combination of the Diabetic Alert Dog University online training videos and 4-days of concentrated in-person learning, hard-working diabetics from Oregon, Texas, California, and Illinois learned the techniques to train their own well-mannered pet dogs to be their diabetic alert service dog.

Professional Dog Training in Seattle

“There are a lot of people posing as diabetic assist trainers and I was the victim of one here in Oregon. Mary was a total breath of fresh air for us and a saving grace.”

One particular student, Pam, admitted she had tried a program like this before and was severely disappointed. Because of this bad experience, she was a bit skeptical at first. She had previously taken her dog to a trainer in Forest Grove, Oregon – which turned out to be a “miserable failure.” The class was too big to receive any individualized attention and the not all the dogs in the class had service-dog type manners.

“Mary is like a breath of sunshine after a stormy stormy winter.  She exudes a level of enthusiasm that is infectious.  Her love of teaching and training is evident in everything she does.”

It’s no mistake that Service Dog Academy class sizes are kept small. We need it in order to give dogs and their owners the observation and attention they need to be successful at this advanced level of training. True, you can’t make a big profit by limiting the number of people you can cram into a room, in fact, Mary hasn’t seen a “paycheck” in years. However, Mary’s goal is to give to the community, to help diabetics as far as she can reach them. The money we make keeps the program alive, keeps our trainers up-to-date on the latest in training, a studio space to train in, and pay the wonderful staff that keeps things running smoothly.

Lifesaving Diabetic Alert Dogs

“There are so many type 2 diabetics in their senior years that suffer severe complications of long term exposure to type 2 diabetes and experience a loss of sensation for low blood sugar awareness.  For me, I have not slept the night through in several years…. I check my sugars 7-10 times daily.  I take my insulin at 11:30  and recheck between 2 AND 3 AM.  I then eat a snack if low or take insulin if high. I play this game again between 6-7 am. I do this 7 days a week day in and day out.  If I can sleep thru the night even two days a week I will be yards ahead of where I am now.”

Pam is a brittle diabetic who has not slept through the night in over 2 years because of unstable blood sugars. So, she did her homework and adopted a Border Collie with a stable temperament who would help her manage her blood sugar imbalances. Pam and JuneBug also show us a great example of how shelter dogs can be well-mannered, and trained, too. After the 4-day intensive training, Pam took JuneBug back to the humane society where she adopted her last February. They came back just to show how far June had come since the adoption, looking great and well-behaved, and donning her Canine Good Citizen certification.

Pet Dog Training Supports the Lifesaving Program

The labor of love that is diabetic alert dog training for Mary McNeight has seen many ups and downs, but the stories from the students we reach are priceless. None of which could be possible without the hard work and dedication of diabetics who want to train their own dogs, as well as Service Dog Academy’s pet dog training program. To help support our low-cost diabetic alert dog program enroll in any one of our pet dog obedience classes for puppies or adult dogs over 17-weeks-old. Whether you want to cover the basics, or have fun learning new party tricks, there are several classes to suit you and your canine companion’s training needs. Enroll today, and get on the fast track to the best-behaved dog in town and help people with disabilities.

Featured Presenter For 2012 Diabetes Expo


While Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS is behind the camera, Liame makes friends with booth visitor, and operations manager, Carrie Rubens, and Assistant Trainer, Tracy Walsh hold down the fort.

Some of the best-trained puppies in town represented the Service Dog Academy at the annual American Diabetes Association Expo at the Washington State Convention Center on April 21st. Cooper, a 6-month old labrador who started alerting at 4-months-old wowed everyone with his manners and sniffing abilities! Cecelia and her gentle giant, Marduk, the world’s first narcolepsy alert Great Dane stole the show, and Judith and Citka long-time students at Service Dog Academy were an impressive showing of how the initial training done through our program has lasted throughout the years.

It’s rare to see four young dogs together in a space no bigger than a bathroom have the ability to remain completely focused on their handlers, and calmly accepting of all the human attendees who couldn’t wait to greet and pet them. At times, there was loud music and dancing going on just a few feet away, and from time to time strange-looking creatures would walk by – this is, for example, a person in a giant kidney costume!


Liame ignores the giant kidney behind him

 
Those great socialization opportunities and resistance to distraction is just the kind of training that our puppy training classes at our West Seattle dog-training studio teach. Not only were these pups taught proper manners and socialization, each continued their puppy school education through our medical alert training program to become full-fledged service dogs.

It was a long, full, day and with all those improvisational service dogs in the house something was bound to happen! Members of the diabetic community were able to witness first-hand some of these impressive dogs in action.  Liame alerted his owner with a paw swipe that her sugar was dropping, Citka alerted two members of the public via a nose bump that they were running high, and Cooper only 6 months old at the time, with his good puppy manners managed to resist temptation to play with the other dogs.

Cecelia and Marduk had an incredible story of their own to share about trip to the convention center that morning. While on the bus, Marduk alerted Cecelia with a nose bump that a cataplectic episode, a form of narcolepsy, was imminent. She had just enough time to have him lay across her lap so that when she did doze off, she was safely seated and protected by him.  It’s understandable why Judith, Citka’s owner, would say, “I never go anywhere without him”.  These dogs truly are life-savers.

There wasn’t just action at our booth, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, BGS director of training and behavior at Service Dog Academy, gave a well-received lecture at one of the Expo’s breakout stages to the public about the myths surrounding diabetic alert dogs. The presentation ran well over it’s 45-minute allotment from all the questions and comments from the audience afterward.

Here are some of the highlights from the presentation titled Diabetic Alert Dogs: Myth Vs. Reality:

Myth:Im a type 2 diabetic and consequently don’t go low.  I don’t need to train for low blood sugar.

Reality: Most of the type 2 individuals who come into classes find out when they start to train for low blood sugar first, they actually go low 1-5 times per day but didn’t know about it until the dog started to alert them.

Myth:Im a type 2 diabetic and consequently don’t go low.  I don’t need to train for low blood sugar.

Reality: Most of the type 2 individuals who come into classes find out when they start to train for low blood sugar first, they actually go low 1-5 times per day but didn’t know about it until the dog started to alert them.

Myth:Im a type 2 diabetic and consequently don’t go low.  I don’t need to train for low blood sugar.

Reality: Most of the type 2 individuals who come into classes find out when they start to train for low blood sugar first, they actually go low 1-5 times per day but didn’t know about it until the dog started to alert them.

Myth: A diabetic alert dog will either require you to test lest often or not test at all

Reality: Our students find that their dogs actually pick up on more lows and highs than any device they have owned, which actually means MORE testing. For example if dog alerts to a high, you will have to test to see how much insulin to give yourself

Myth: Diabetic alert dogs can only be trained for type 1 diabetics.

Reality: Dogs can be trained to alert for type 1, 2, 1.5, and hypoglycemia.

Myth: Diabetic alert dogs under six months of age are not reliable alerters.

Reality: They can sometimes be incredibly reliable as long as they are properly trained.

6-month-old Cooper happily poses with Jeff and daughter. Cooper started alerting at 4-months-old and has give Jeff his independence back.

This was Service Dog Academy’s second appearance at the ADA Expo, and we look forward to many more. Last year at the 2011 ADA Expo we had a great time introducing our groundbreaking program to the diabetic community, and we can say the same for this with a something a little extra. Not only could we share how we use positive reinforcement training techniques to train our dogs to detect blood sugar imbalances in their type 1, type 2, and hypoglycemic owners, but since last year we have been able to help the lives of many more people, and train truly lifesaving dogs.

Puppy Class Techniques To The Rescue – Even Dog Trainers Are Human


Want your dog to be able to deal with injuries without biting, squirming, barking or running away? See what our Seattle Puppy Classes Can Teach You!

Ever try to treat a medical issue on a very wiggly and unhappy dog?  Not fun for anyone involved.  Here are some tips to help make it an easier and less painful process.

Counterconditioning your Puppy

When our dogs are in pain or discomfort, our love and concern for inflatable snowman their well-being makes us act quickly to try to help alleviate their suffering.

Recently Mary noticed that Liame’s neck was red, itch and his hair was falling out. We sprung into action and broke out the scissors, clippers, and skin-soothing lotion.  But Liame wasn’t particularly happy about having his sore skin touched and was wiggling around like a 3 month old puppy.  Yes, thats right students, even your State Certified Professional Dog Trainer makes mistakes sometimes inflatable bouncer.

What’s the best way to calm an upset dog and redirect his energies?  The answers are Desensitization and Counterconditioning, big scientific words that means we try to re-teach an animal to have a pleasant feeling and reaction toward something that he once feared or disliked.

40% of your dogs brain is devoted strictly to his nose so allowing a dog to smell something can result in an amazingly pleasant feeling. In our Seattle puppy classes, we use food to achieve this pleasant feeling.  Just like you and me dogs can only have ONE thought at a time.  If they’re happily engaged in something pleasant (food), then there’s no room for those unpleasant thoughts (scissors are scary).

 

Lesson Learned From Puppy Classes

So our idea for Liame was for Mary to tend to the skin and fur while I treated with small pieces of food.  It worked; Liame forgot all about what was happening, but was so excited about the food that he wouldn’t sit still. The job got done but we realized a better way would have been something we usually suggest to our puppy training class students:

  • Take a Kong, filled it with something yummy
  • Have helper person hold in in front of your dogs head kind of like a baby bottle.
  • Let dog lick while another person does something mildly unpleasant to the dog.

The result of this type of set up is that you get a calm puppy who is oblivious to what is going on around him (be that bathing, clipping nails, brushing their coat, or in our case, using clippers to shave hair off your dogs neck.)

 

Desensitization Dog Training Techniques Learned in Puppy Class

 

Our Seattle Positive Reinforcement Puppy Classes Can Make Your Puppy Calm

This experience could have been so much worse if Mary hadn’t spent a lot of time throughout Liame’s life desensitizing him to having every part of his body touched and handled.  Desensitizing simply means to make less sensitive.  Part of our puppy training class involves teaching dog owners the importance of having their dog handled, a little bit every day, as part of their daily routine, and of course by using food (counterconditioning) to make it a pleasant experience.  At our Seattle dog training studio, we teach our students the following method:

  • Put a treat in front of the nose
  • Touch/handle the body part
  • Let your dog eat the treat
  • Let go of body part

By doing this, you’re teaching your dog that it’s not a big deal when you loom over them, or open up their mouth, or pull their tail.  They’ll begin to think, “I get food when people stick their fingers in my ear?  I LOVE when people stick their finger in my ear!”  That way, when an emergency arises, it will be much easier to tend to your dog because they will already be so used to having their body handled.  It will just be normal to them.

So, while Liame would have preferred to NOT have his fur cut and lotion applied, he was obviously not SCARED because he’d been desensitized from puppyhood and was trained often to accept and enjoy being touched and handled.

If you would like to have your puppy enjoy going to the vet, love having their teeth brushed, sit calmly in your lap and love being petted, check out our Award Winning, 5 Star Google Rated Seattle Puppy Classes.

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

dog training classes in seattle help behave manner puppy play make better best dog trainer white center free advice techniques positive reinforcement

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.

Diabetic Alert Dog Television Debut

With four trained diabetic alert dogsin the studio audience at the live taping of New Day Northwest, Seattle’s local morning talk show featuring musicians, artists, chefs, and other notable newsmakers, it was a relief none of the dogs alerted during Margaret Larson’s interviews! Instead, it happened before the cameras started rolling.

In the studio audience to support Mary McNeight’s appearance promoting the Pacific Northwest’s only train-your-own diabetic alert dog program at the Service Dog Academy, Judith began to experience a blood sugar crash. Judith is one of the 25.8 million people in the United States afflicted with diabetes, and has trained her dog, Citka, to help manage the unexpected drops in her blood sugar – and save her life. What she began to feel, is what the American Diabetes Association refers to as symptoms of diabetes- dizziness, confusion, extreme fatigue, and are symptoms that could lead to much worse if not treated in time. Judith was about to take her seat, when Citka alerted to Judith’s low blood sugar by bumping her with his nose and swiping her with his paw. As she was sitting down and the show’s producer was getting her a snack to balance the blood sugar, Mary’s service dog Liame began to alert to the sudden scent of low blood sugar in the air. Then, 8-year old Jonathan, currently enrolled in Diabetic Alert 101, started getting nose bumps and paw swipes from his 8-month old diabetic alert dog, Lola. It was a swift recovery for Judith, thanks to Citka’s alerts – and the support from Citka’s classmates!

After the camera’s started rolling, every dog was well-behaved. Marduk, a one-year old Great Dane who is training for narcolepsy alert, and 8-month-olds Indy and Lola, sat quietly in the audience during the hour-long taping – pizza-making segments and commercial breaks included! Each dog has gone through our pet dog training and puppy obedience classes before entering the diabetic alert dog program, and their behavior during the show, around so many different people, bright lights, and boom mikes is proof that Service Dog Academy students are some of the best behaved puppies and adult dogs in town!

After the show, Margaret Larson, host of New Day Northwest later said via twitter, “@ServiceDogAcdmy thanks! That was very inspiring!”

Everyone had a great time at the show, as well! @margaretnewday and producers at King 5, thanks for featuring us on your show! Watch Mary McNeight’s segment here.

Anxiety or Hypoglycemia? Know the Signs

Shaking, sweating, feeling dizzy, nervous, and confused, not being able to sleep or concentrate, according to the National Institute of Health, are symptoms of clinical anxiety; Nearly 40% of students at The Service Dog Academy who come in to train their pet dog for service work come in for psychiatric or anxiety related symptoms, says Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA owner and head trainer at the West Seattle dog training school. It wasn’t until a fateful day during one of the first train your own diabetic alert dog classes that Mary made a connection between hypoglycemia and anxiety, and realizing for many of her students who have anxiety, something else must be happening.

Mary dedicated hours to teaching her own service dog, Liame, to recognize the distinct scent of low blood sugar and since has become a reliable diabetes detecting dog at the only train your own diabetic alert dog program in Washington State. Seven months into Liame’s training, Mary was teaching one of her first rounds of diabetic alert classes, when Liame started barking and pawing at the partition that separated him from the rest of the studio. Mary had everyone check their blood sugar, but surprisingly, in a room of type one and type two diabetics, no one was low. In the meantime, Mary was feeling tired, unable to concentrate, and attributed this to spikes in her own anxiety and depression. By day three of Liame’s unusual behavior, she finally used a meter to check herself, revealing low blood sugar. Anxiety and hypoglycemia’s shared symptoms led Mary to ignore the signs – hence putting her in danger every day. In the end, Liame used his powerful nose and persistence to alert Mary to hypoglycemia.

Although it was the first time Liame has alerted an unsuspecting person to low blood sugar, it certainly hasn’t been the last. Last February, it happened again to a student training her dog for anxiety during a private apointment, and since then, there have been several other similar cases.

Liame is now more than a year and a half into diabetic alert training, and regardless of who its coming from, Liame recognizes the signal and will alert by barking, panting, and generally acting very excited. When Mary asks him what’s wrong, he will swipe her with his paw, thus signaling that he smells low blood sugar. Now, with Liame making a name for himself as a reliable diabetes detector, some of these students have been able to manage their conditions more effectively because they are now aware of the cause.

Anxiety disorders affect about 18% of americans over the age of 18 each year, and the varieties and symptoms of anxiety are vast and can look different from person to person, so it is crucial to see your doctor if you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, and make sure to be tested for hypoglycemia as well to prevent further complications.

Diabetic Alert Dog Fundamentals – Free Training Advice

Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, owner and head trainer of the Service Dog Academy shared some of her diabetic alert dog training fundamentals in a free webinar earlier this month with attendees from all over the country. With her background in training service dogs, and seeing the effects of diabetes through personal experience and with family members, McNeight set out to make training dogs for diabetic alert accessible for everyone.

Attendees from all over including Denver, San Antonio, Anaheim, Brooklyn, Michigan, Virginia, and New Jersey also got a sneak peak at Diabetic Alert Dog University – the next phase in McNeight’s quest for offering low-cost diabetic alert dog training to type one and type two diabetics, hypoglycemics, and pre-diabetics.

“I did find your webinar useful and your approach compatible [sic] with my own training beliefs. I am fascinated by the whole process!”

In this program, dogs are allowed to be dogs through the use of games, solving puzzles, and making service work incredibly rewarding. By using positive reinforcement methods, Service Dog Academy’s diabetic alert dog program keeps a dog’s spirit intact. The puzzles and games that are part of the training have been developed to create an improvisational dog.

Furthermore, by working with your own dog and doing the training with your dog, it will give you the ability to keep up with the training. Unfortunately, when an already trained dog is given to a person he may lose his ability to alert within a few months. With this program, in addition to the basics of alerting to blood sugar changes, getting drinks from the refrigerator, retrieving your meter and getting help, this program gives you the fundamentals to teach your dog more complicated tasks when you come up with them.

The main goal of the training is based on the discoveries of Ivan Pavlov, a psychologist who rang a bell when he fed his dogs, and discovered that his dogs equated the sound of a bell to being fed. Eventually, they started to salivate at the sound of a ringing bell. The main goal of diabetic alert dog training is to create a Pavlovian response in your dog to blood sugar scents.

1. Make sure dog has a strong foundation with the scent. At first, the low blood sugar scent might not be more important than a tennis ball, squeaky toys, children running by, etcetera. So, build a solid foundation with the scent using Pavlovian techniques. Pair food with the scent.

2. K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Train one variable at a time, in micro-increments. Start training in a low distraction environment, and build from there.

3. Start generalizing. Once your dog performs the tasks with 95% accuracy switch it up. change the body posture, distance, location, level of distraction, and “training predictors” – i.e. clicker, clenched fist, or treat bag.

Note: Don’t add variables until your dog is 95% accurate with the others.

4. There is a difference between an alert and a signal. The alert says “hey! there’s something wrong!” and the signal tells you exactly what – in the case of lows, it would be a paw swipe, and for highs, spinning in a circle.

5. The signal training is the same when it comes to generalization as alert training.

6. Always remember: Don’t put the chain together until your dog can generalize all steps in the chain with 95% accuracy. Why? It’s like trying to complete an algebraic equation with out being able to divide, or only being able to divide even numbers, or not being able to count past 50.

Be aware that dogs have an 85% success rate in alerting and typically do so around the 6th or 7th week of training. So many variables can come into play when a dog begins training – health, temperament, owner’s commitment to training, owner’s abilities, or history of punitive training methods – that can thwart a dog’s success. Be forewarned – anyone who claims they have a 100% success rate either hasn’t had enough dogs through the program, or they are lying.

“I am so thankful that I was able to listen today! i’m sure you’ve saved me from trying to do too much too soon. I am very, very interested in learning more about the Diabetic Alert Dog University online!”

We are in the process of launching an entirely online positive reinforcement diabetic alert dog training program called Diabetic Alert Dog University.
The online program will allow persons from anywhere to download weekly 20 minute training sessions, and teach how to create an improvisational diabetic alert dog. Visit www.diabeticalertdoguniversity.com today, or call the Service Dog Academy at 206-355-9033 for more information on this groundbreaking new program from the Northwest’s best pet and service dog training school.

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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.