Posts Tagged ‘professional dog trainer’

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.

Animal Planet “Dogs 101” Program Fails To Educate Public On Family Dogs Pre Biting Behavior

Has anyone seen the cute “Best Family Dog” episode of Dogs 101 on Animal Planet? Cute Labrador Retrievers, Cute Goldens, Cute dogs all around. But did anyone happen to notice the PUGGLE almost BITE the child about 5 minutes into the program? This illustrates how clueless most people are about dog behavior and dogs protracted warning signs (signs dogs give off before they attack/bite).

Someone royally failed over in the editing bay on this program. They obviously did not have a dog expert help them edit the show.

What does a dog training expert like Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS see in this scene? Child goes in for a kiss, dog freezes, ears of the dog goes back, dog stares at child, dog starts to snarl, child pulls away, dog snaps at child almost making contact on both hands of the child. Had that child pulled away a second less that Puggle would have bitten him. Animal Planet, indeed, what a “great” “family dog” that Puggle was!

We have to make television shows more accountable for the dog advice they give on television. Until I watched this clip I thought the world of Animal Planet and their dog advice because of worldwide wonder Victoria Stilwell. But if Animal Planet cant even edit a dog almost attacking a child out of its “family dog” program what else are they doing wrong?

Watch the video above to find out how eerily similar the dogs warning signs are to the dog attack video of worldwide famed reporter Kyle Dyer. About 23 seconds into the clip the dogs is lip licking, ears are back, the dog freezes, gives a glare, snarls and then bites.

If you dog starts to show ANY ONE of these signs, move away from them as fast as possible or else…

WARNING – This clip shows a dog mauling the face of a reporter.

More Praises from our Diabetic Alert Dog Graduates

It’s always great to hear feedback from our diabetic alert 101 graduates, and when they have a success story to tell, it gives us chills.

Whether you’re looking to positively train for diabetic alert, get an already trained dog through Service Dog Academy, or just train the basics in puppy class using all positive reinforcement, Jeff and Rich have some helpful advice.

Jeff and Rich took their dogs to Service Dog Academy to train with one of the best pet puppy, pet adult dog obedience training programs in Seattle, and then went on to Diabetic Alert Dog 101 to learn how to train these pups to be reliable diabetic alert dogs to manage their serious medical conditions. Jeff was sick of waking up to paramedics standing over him far too often, and was ready for a new approach. Rich was tired of being worried about being alone, and in a life-threatening situation – his body seems to give him absolutely zero warning before a rapid crash.

Jeff took Cooper, then 11-weeks-old through puppy kindergarten at our West Seattle training studio where we teach puppy dog training classes for pet dogs and future diabetic alert dogs! It wasn’t long before Cooper started to pick up on Jeff’s low blood sugar. Now, the father of seven kids can be confident another body can be around to make sure he stays alive.

Violet’s stable temperament during adult dog obedience class proved she would be a good candidate as Rich’s diabetic alert service dog. “Being alone isn’t a problem like it used to be…” Rich recalls, as Violet’s persistence has made sure he checks his blood sugar – even if he feels fine.

See for yourself how effective the positive reinforcement training methods at Service Dog Academy can be. Go to our basic classes page to enroll in basic puppy obedience or basic adult dog today!

If you don’t have a dog yet, but like what you see, we can help you find a dog, and if your interest is piqued by our already trained dog program, click here to see if an already trained dog is right for you, and get on that list before it fills up!

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.

How to Find your Service Dog or Puppy – For Diabetes, Seizure & Medical Alert Work

We get it. Driving out here to West Seattle for an information seminar about how to find the right dog for service dog training and what to expect living with a service dog might be easier said than done. And for some people who want to use our dog training or diabetic alert dog training services, it might not be practical – especially if they live outside of the Seattle area – or Washington State for that matter. Finally, we’ve come up with a way for you to soak up this valuable information from the comfort of your own home.

For anyone about to embark on getting a service dog Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS director of training and behavior at Service Dog Academy has released part one of two essential ebooks that anyone interested in getting a service dog should read.

Adapting the original Before Your Service Dog class into a free, downloadable, shareable ebook with the help of myself – Service Dog Academy’s Operations Manager – Mary decided it was time to set her students up for success. Super Puppy: Service Dog – Life Partner, Life-Changer, Life-Saver How to Find the Right Dog for Service Work is available for free, and you can share it, too – as long as you give credit to the authors, of course!

Mary saw too many students in Service Dog Academy’s positive reinforcement training classes let down because their dogs proved unsuitable for service work. On the flipside, there had been so much positive feedback from students who came to this 1.5 hour information session that we just had to find a way to get it to more people!

In fact, students who had come to this class have an 85% increase in their training success at our diabetic alert 101 and service dog training classes vs. students who have entered our service dog training or alert classes without it! It was time to make such valuable information not just available to potential students, but accessible on their own time, and in the comfort of their own homes.

For anyone who is considering getting a service dog, but doesn’t know where to begin Super Puppy: Service Dog – Life Partner, Life-Changer, Life-Saver How to Find the Right Dog for Service Work is the number one step to take. If you ever wondered if it was a better idea to spend the time and money training your own service or medical alert dog or spend $15,000 – $25,000 for an already trained service dog; if you wondered how much time and effort it will take to train a successful service dog, then here is professional, Washington state-certified, positive reinforcement dog trainer, and the Pacific Northwest’s foremost leader in medical alert dog training Mary McNeight’s free professional advice!

Free puppy trainer training advice to teach you how to train your own service dog find best trainer Seattle

Our new free ebook covers where to find a dog suitable for service work, what kind of behavior, obedience or pet puppy dog training is required, and even what kind of dog to get.

  • Chapter 1: Train your Own Vs. Buying an Already Trained Dog
  • Chapter 2: Success Rides on the Dog, and YOU
  • Chapter 3: What am I Looking for in a Service Dog Candidate?
  • Chapter 4: The Importance of Temperament Testing
  • Chapter 5: Where To Find Your Service Dog Candidate

It’s not just for service dogs, too. While this is the culmination of McNeight’s eight years of experience training her own and training other dogs for service work in medical alert, service dog access and task training, the ebook covers the importance of temperament testing in puppies and adult dogs, and also the importance of socialization for puppies, too! Here at Service Dog Academy, we cannot stress enough the importance of socialization – it can mean the difference between a dog with a long, happy life with a loving family, or having behavior problems that may never be fully remedied.

No more excuses, and no more wondering how to get started. If your doctor recommends the use of a service dog, for mobility or to respond to a psychiatric issue, or you need a companion to alert you before a debilitating seizure or blood sugar crash because you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or even hypoglycemia, then we want to set you up for success whether you decide to buy an already trained dog, or decide to train your own through our groundbreaking American Diabetes Association recognized diabetic alert dog and medical alert dog program.

You can download part one of the two free ebooks that will help you choose a diabetic or medical alert dog candidate here. Stay tuned for the second free ebook which will cover service dog lifestyle! Don’t forget, feel free to share it with anyone about to embark on getting a service dog or just interested parties. All we ask is that you give the authors some credit, and link back to us! We would also appreciate a blog post from your website commenting on the content you found useful in the ebook.

If you would like to set up an appointment to talk to us about your service dog candidate dog or the training process for these amazing alert dogs please click on our medical alert service dog training appointment webpage.

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.

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.

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.