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!
Liame and Jasper in their Thundershirts on the 4th of July in 2010
Since I used to have a VERY sound sensitive dog service dog, I knew what a pain the 4th of July can be for both human and dog alike. The lack of sleep, the pacing dogs and the ultimate fear that they might jump through the window in an attempt to get out of the house are all my daily companions in the days preceding, during and after the fourth. Remember dogs have feelings just like humans do and its not fun to exist in a state of anxiety in which you fear for your life for hours upon end.
What most people dont realize is that with a little bit of planning you can make sure your dog doesn’t suffer from severe anxiety during the sometimes illegal festivities enjoyed by your neighbors.
PREPARATION FOR THE DAYS LEADING UP TO FIREWORKS SEASON:
GO TO THE VET NOW – Be prepared with medication ahead of time, a puppy doggie emergency room visit can run over $200. Call your vet TODAY, tell them you have a sound sensitive dog and ask them for recommendations on medications to help ease your dogs anxiety. Its better to be prepared than sorry that you didn’t get to the vet in time. Remember to ask for several days worth of medication. We have neighbors who regularly set off fireworks on the 3rd, 4th and the 5th!
Make sure your dogs tags and microchip information is up to date. If your dog does escape (more dogs are lost during the 4th than any other holiday) at least he will be able to come home safely if found by a stranger.
Its not just the noise that the fireworks make but also the smell and light given off by them that can have an effect on your dog.
Put your dog in a “safe” room with as few windows and doors as possible. Dogs have been known to try to escape by jumping through plate glass windows!
Keep the windows and curtains drawn during the festivities. You want your dog to be as stimulus free as possible.
Make your own noise to drown out the sound of the fireworks. I usually make it a movie holiday and watch the entire Back to the Future series and the Indiana Jones series (Indiana was named after his dog!) as loud as I can tolerate it. We also set up numerous fans in the safe room so that they produce a fairly decent amount of background noise.
Liame and Jasper playing in the dog park on 4th of July getting as exhausted as possible.
TO MANAGE / EASE FEAR IN YOUR DOG OR PUPPY
Never EVER punish a fearful dog. You will only make the fear even worse.
Make sure your dog is as TIRED as possible. I usually don’t recommend my clients go to the dog park but I make an exception on the 4th. A tired dog is a calmer dog.
Use some type of pressure wrap. Although wraps such as the Thundershirt claim to completely eliminate anxiety we here at the Service Dog Academy have only seen them help in reducing the overall level of anxiety. We have several Thundershirts available for sale but you can make your own anxiety reducing wrap by using an ace bandage. See this webpage for more information on how to make your own anxiety reducing pressure wrap.
Only feed your dog half of his morning meal so that by the time evening rolls around he is hungry and wants the food more than they care about the fireworks.
Associate fireworks noise with food. Dogs have 250 million scent receptors and their noses are 200 times more sensitive than a humans! The use of food with an anxious dog helps replace the feeling of fear with a positive action, eating food. If every time your dog hears a firework, the best treats in the world rained from the sky, your dog might not feel so scared.
The act of chewing helps a dog to relieve anxiety in dogs. Try to keep your dog entertained all night long with Kongsicles or work to eat puzzles and plenty of high value bones to chew on. You can view our free youtube video on how to make a Kongsicle on our recent blog posting.
Try practicing a little T-Touch massage therapy on your dog. Sometimes just stroking from the base of the ear to the tip of the ear slowly can help relieve anxiety.
Add a little Parmesan cheese and/or egg whites to your dogs kibble or Kongsicle. They have 8 times the tryptophan that turkey has in it. Tryptophan is the precursor to the production of serotonin (the happy chemical) in the brain. We cant give you exact amounts of parmesan or egg whites on this post since dogs vary in size, but just a sprinkle of these two foods over your dogs kibble should suffice.
I hope these tips help you make the 4th more enjoyable for both you and your fur kids. I look forward to seeing you in our upcoming classes or around town sometime!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 reinforcementpuppy 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.
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.
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.
With a service dog in tow, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA has traveled to dog training conferences and seminars around the country because of her commitment to continuing her education as a professionally certified dog trainer at Service Dog Academy’s West Seattle dog training studio. This is the second in a series of videos sharing tips on making airline travel with a service dog as comfortable and stress-free as possible. While these videos focus on traveling with a service dog, a lot of this information can apply to pet dog travel, too!
1. Exercise, exercise, and more exercise. Flying can stress out a dog, but and exhausted dog is much calmer. Give your dog at least 45-minutes of heart-pumping exercise before leaving for the airport. This doesn’t mean a walk – this means jogging, running, playing fetch, swimming, ball chasing, or any other high energy activities your dog likes to do.
2. Empty Stomach. Withhold food and water at least four hours before your flight. This will prevent nausea and ensure your dog doesn’t need to go to the bathroom during the entire length of your flight or layover. Should your assistance dog need to go outside during a layover, the two of you will be going all the way back through security a second time.
3. Empty the Tank. If the dog is scared on the airplane, this will prevent him from having any accidents. You’ve withheld food and water, but to make sure your dog is totally empty, be sure your dog empties both bowels and bladder right before your flight. Learn how to train your dog to go on command using positive reinforcement, and be the envy of everyone in the cabin by having the best behaved, accident-free service dog.
4. Anxiety relief solution/Benadryl. Homeopathic remedies can help with relieving anxiety for your dog. There are several varieties on the market, including HomeoPet Solutions, developed to naturally relieve anxiety for your dog. Benadryl is a safe alternative to sedatives that will make your dog tired.
Test them on your dog a few weeks before your flight to make sure the homeopathic remedies and the Benadryl don’t have any adverse effects. In some cases, Benadryl can make a dog hyper. Take note that we do not advise, and most veterinarians will not prescribe a sedative for your dog for air travel because the pressure in the cabin and the altitude can have negative effects on a sedated dog.
5. Practice TTouch Therapy. This is a therapeutic massage that will help reduce anxiety levels. Massage the ears and chest before you board so your dog is relaxed and ready for take-off.
6. Do a Test Run. Especially if you are traveling far, buy a ticket to an airport closer to your location as a test run before your main flight to see that everything will go smoothly. For example, if you live in Seattle, a ticket to Portland might cost $75-$100, but worth it to know exactly what to expect with a typical flight. Test-flying to a closer airport enables you to take a train or alternative mode of transportation should your dog not be comfortable with flying.
The Service Dog Academy provides low cost, do-it-yourself training to all types of training needs. Funding from our basic obedience for puppies and adult dogs goes toward funding our low-cost service dog and diabetic alert dog training for people with disabilities. Have fun traveling with your service dog, and always be prepared.
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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.
Free Medical Alert Dog Training Advice – Youtube Videos