Posts Tagged ‘service dog studies’

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.

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.

Diabetic Alert Program Featured On Komo News and At American Diabetes Association Camp


Our hero Ian Sterling from Komo News Radio

A trip to The Museum of Flight to check out the B-17 Bomber, Aluminum Overcast, turned fruitful for Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS and for KOMO Newsradio. The local news was at the museum, covering the unveiling of the bomber for its limited engagement at the museum. After talking with Mary, Ian Sterling, reporter for Komo Newsradio, became interested in The Service Dog Academy’s Diabetic Alert program and the groundbreaking training programs she offers at her dog training school. Sterling recently caught up with Mary and Liame at the West Seattle Dog Training Studio and Mary had the opportunity to share with the Seattle area her groundbreaking program in diabetic alert, utilizing a dog’s powerful scent receptors to help monitor blood sugar, and her innovative training with a dog to alert and assist with narcolepsy. You can view the transcribed interview on Komo’s West Seattle Community Pet Website or listen to the interview here:

ServiceDogs-IS-Wrap1

Additionally The Service Dog Academy also had a chance to share more intimately with the diabetic community at the American Diabetes Association’s family weekend at Camp Berachah in Auburn on June 4th. Mary’s presentation “Turning Fido from Family Pet to Diabetes Detecting Device,” was well-received by both the kids and parents at the retreat, where she demonstrated the game “101 things to do with a box” and explained the way a dog can alert to biochemical changes in the body – and specifically for the purpose of the audience – your blood sugar going high or low. The presentation was so well received and produced so many questions that we forgot what time it was and almost made our guests late for their next camp event!

It was a lovely day to be outside manning The Service Dog Academy’s table at the diabetic children’s camp vendor fair later that day, just hours after the presentation. One of Mary’s recent graduates of the diabetic alert dog program, Citka, his owner, Judith, and I hung out, answered questions, and shared stories with the families that came to our table. Although the fair was only slated to run from 3:00-4:30, we stayed nearly an hour after the other vendors had packed up talking with people, answering questions, and showing off everything Citka has learned in the 8 week program. After he had alerted one girl for being low, she checked her meter and the pooch had done it again, he was right! We then had kids and parents coming to us to test their blood sugar with Citka’s amazing nose. The camp and vendor fair at the beautiful Camp Berachah was a ton of fun, and we are extremely honored to have been invited to be a part of it and further share the diabetic alert dog program and service dog training with both type one and type two diabetics from all over the Pacific Northwest!

If you would like help our groundbreaking train your own service dog program to continue, please consider donating to our program

















































































or by training your pet dog here at the Service Dog Academy. Our Seattle dog training classes are small and provide you with the same techniques we use to help train our remarkably well behaved service dogs.

Featured Presenter at Seattle Diabetes Expo

It was standing room only at Mary McNeight’s stage at the American Diabetes Expo. Mary and her lovely assistant Liame demonstrated to the diabetic community the amazing power of a dog’s nose to alert to changes in blood sugar, and her groundbreaking Diabetic Alert dog training classes in a presentation titled “Turning Fido from Family Pet to Diabetes Detector” at the expo on April 30th sponsored by the American Diabetes Association in the beautiful Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. Because of her groundbreaking work with diabetic alert dogs at The Service Dog Academy, Mary McNeight CPDT-KA, CCS was invited to present among a variety of acclaimed and talented diabetes experts.

As nerve-wracking as it was to speak in front of a full house at the breakout session stage, Mary pulled off an energetic and inspiring speech about the importance of positive reinforcement, her training philosophy, and the immaculate precision of a diabetic alert dog’s scenting abilities!

The free event drew a large turnout, and the staff and volunteers at The Service Dog Academy had a great time meeting with all kinds of people who have or knows someone who has type I, type II diabetes, or hypoglycemia. All day at the booth, we had crowds up to four people deep with questions about our program. The public interest was exhilarating, and we got to hear inspiring stories people shared. One owner shared her story of how her dachshund begun to react to changes in her blood sugar without formal training, another told us of her Golden Retriever who only after 2 classes with Mary alerted his owner to a low of 26 (and in a 10 minute window of a coma) while she was asleep!

Having recently obtained official CPDT-KA certification, Mary was honored to be among the talented and acclaimed guest speakers at the event and the varieties of presentations that included cooking demonstrations, medical issue awareness, and even an appearance by “Biggest Loser” winner Matt Hoover. Overall, the 2011 American diabetes Association Expo was a fun and enlightening experience! and we look forward to more events like this in the future! In the meantime, Mary will continue to teach pet and service dog classes at her West Seattle training studio, and gearing up for another round of Diabetic Alert classes that will begin on May 21st!

How Service Dogs Increase Independent Living

Service Dog Academy class clients during a training exercise at a local mall.

Service Dog Academy class students during a training exercise at a local mall.

Mobility and independence are human qualities that we take for granted until we no longer have them. But when physical injury or illness or mental trauma or impairment strike, the associated loses also affect self-esteem, confidence, happiness and even safety.

Scientists can’t explain the human-dog bond but they do know that it circumvents the intelligence and goes straight to the heart of the matter.

Now service dogs more than ever are at the forefront of healing the stress of war ravaged veterans, unlocking the minds of children with autism, providing security to Alzheimer’s sufferers and offering companionship and mobility to those afflicted with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord and brain injuries and Parkinson’s.

The Service Dog Health Care Solution

Trained service dogs are becoming the alternative solution to putting a loved one in a nursing home or paying for caregivers. Although the initial costs of training a service dog can be high, the cost savings of independent living is enormous.

One study as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that the need and cost for assisted care dropped by as much as 68% with the use of service dogs. Not reported however was that the improved quality of life benefits were priceless.

Service Dogs’ Gift of Independence

Services dogs have proven themselves effective in helping those with disabilities live independently in their own home, reduce their need for medication, become more social and return to school or employment.

Service dogs help those with physical handicaps live like able-bodied people again. A service dog to watch over a spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s or a child with diabetes can decrease family stress and reduce safety risks.

Studies show that persons given service dogs gain
functional independence and psychological
benefits within six months.

Research done at the College of Social Work, University of South Carolina, Columbia by the research team of Valentine, Kiddoo, LaFleur found that 90% of service dog owners reported feeling safer, less lonely and more independent.

The Service Dog Connection

Service dogs have the ability to help their owners physically and emotionally integrate back into the community with added mobility and confidence.

As reported in the Journal of Psychology, researchers J. Eddy and L.A. Hart discovered that people that used service dogs received fewer episodes of gaze aversion and path avoidance and significantly greater episodes of social acknowledgments.

Not only does a service dog allow its owner to reclaim a semblance of their former life, they allow the entire family to reclaim their lives and the time spent caring for their disabled loved one.

If you, a family member or friend suffers from a physically or mental disability, The Service Dog Academy can help with reclaiming lost lives. Our training methods are the most advanced in the industry. Our approach is non-violent, humane and highly effective.

Contact The Service Dog Academy today and discover how a service dog can bring independence, mobility, self-confidence and unconditional love.

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.