Small Dogs As Medical Alert Service Dogs – Are They The Best Choice For Training Your Own Diabetic Alert Dog At Home

//Small Dogs As Medical Alert Service Dogs – Are They The Best Choice For Training Your Own Diabetic Alert Dog At Home

Small Dogs, Are They The Best Choice For Training Your Own Diabetes Service Dog At Home?

Marianne from the Bridge of the USS Enterprise D wants to know about getting a dog that is less than 40 lbs as her service dog. Small service dogs for diabetes, seizure, narcolepsy and migraine alert work certainly do have their benefits. Over the life of the dog, they tend to cost less to own just due to their reduced daily food intake, cost less in terms of medical care like x-rays, shots, and anesthesia and travel oh so conveniently. Have you ever tried to place a 80lb labardor retriever in your seats footspace of a 747 passenger airplane? I have and its almost impossible and if it is, its not pretty. But given that they have some significant benefits there are some drawbacks to the utilization of smaller dogs for service work.

In this weeks Medical Alert Dog Monday Youtube video, I tell you what my opinion is about using small dogs for medical alert work.

So after watching the video, whats your opinion on small dogs being utilized as diabetic alert dogs? Leave a comment below and please share this video with a friend.

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  1. Laurie January 27, 2015 at 6:57 am

    I have a 5 lb papillon that has been my diabetic service dog for the past 2 1/2 yrs. He is able to do an excellent job alerting, plus he is being trained to find and bring me my bag with testing supplies and sugar tablets. Even though he is small, he can still carry my bag to me. While, yes, there may come a time that I need a dog for bracing, but that can happen to anyone and while a dog would make it easier, people without dogs, make do everyday with issues like you spoke about in the video. I have been diabetic for over 30 yrs and if my disease progresses to the point where I need help bracing on a daily basis for the foreseeable future than I would either opt for alternatives that other people without dogs use, or train another dog at that point. For me, the advantages to having a small, under 10 lb dog, are tremendous! He is so much easier to take with me everywhere. Dogie bag issues are no big deal as it is all very, very small compared to a larger dog. Just issues like having water for him are so much easier. He can drink out of a water bottle lid if necessary. Grooming issues are almost non-existent. I never have to worry about hair flying around as we are walking through a restaurant. While he does not look like a standard service dog, I don’t feel I have any more problems with access than people with labs. Many people don’t even notice him and we have left restaurants with the waiter commenting (when we got up to leave) that they had no idea he was even there. Also, if there is access issues, I can always pick him up while in a store if needed to pacify an owner (only happened 1 time in 2 1/2 years). I have no problems with people being afraid of him as I am a teacher and having a dog that I never have to worry about with children is a huge plus. (not that this would be the case with any small dog) But some kids have been afraid at first (bad experiences with dogs) and they quickly realize that Beau is OK – no scary big teeth. Also, another plus is the fact that he is much cheaper to own as he eats less food and treats, lower priced toys, and he will be able to work much, much longer as his life span is close to 18 yrs. Just some added thoughts to making a tough decision on which size and type of dog to get.

  2. Ruth Kesner January 28, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I agree with Lurie. I am in a wheelchair already so using a lab to brace is not needed. My 13 pound poodle mix is wonderful, she is very focused on me and makes a wonderful companion dog when I am having one of my anxiety spells sitting in my lap with her head on my shoulder, as well as alerting me to sugar levels.
    Like you said she is easier (from a wheelchair) and cheaper to care for too. I had a yellow lab before I went into the wheelchair and I thought I could never love a dog as much as I loved Hanna when she died. But Sara is very special too. There is a special bond between us and our service dogs that take such good care of us!

  3. Amy Rosenberger April 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Mary, I have a special little dog that I`ve had for almost 3 years she`s a chihuahua. She was abused and I took her to rescue her of all that, she clung to me right away and was/has been so loving, soon after I noticed she would become nervous or upset and start jumping on me, spinning around, and kinda slapping my hand with her head like she wanted to be petted but nothing would calm her. I started to wounder if she was hearing or smelling things outside that maybe I wasn`t, this had gone on for several months and I finally brought it up to the vet and she suggested that it was something going on in the house or with me so she went down a list of possible things she could be reacting to and we tried and I checked each one and nothing, then she asked if I had a medical condition and I say yes diabetes, she say to start writing down when she reacted that way and then compare it to my sugar level diary and sure enough she was reacting to my levels so I have since got her trained as a service dog it went very quickly she is so smart, the only issue we have is she is fearful of everyone she doesn`t know and goes in to typical chihuahua mode, she doesn`t bite anyone but she won`t let anyone near me, we have tried and tried but we can not make this better, they think it is just her chi nature combined with being abused and seeing me a her savior from that. So my question is can I legally call her a service dog if she has passed all the training except this one area which is a big one I know and do you have any suggestions on how I might help her with this?

  4. Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS April 15, 2015 at 2:13 am

    Dogs with fear issues should NEVER be used out in the public as service dogs. People are loud, obnoxious and unpredictable around service dogs and one small accident can result in a lawsuit. You cannot control every interaction your dog has with John Q Public, especially in situations when your blood sugar is not in a normal range and your brain isnt working at its normal capacity. I do not recommend you take your dog out in public as a service dog because its a liability for you, the public and a very bad reflection on service dogs in general. I know this isnt what you wanted to hear but, as you have seen from my videos, Im the trainer who will tell you the truth no matter how hard it is to hear.

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