Service dogs for seizures

frostfell

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#1
My friends husband has a seizure disorder, I am unsure of the specifics. They are wanting an alert dog for him and he has gotten the bit in his teeth that the male puppy he has fallen in love with from their current litter will be his SD. I have argued the case to the best of my knowledge, of this being a bad idea. No idea if puppy will alert, no idea if puppy has the right personality, puppy wont be ready for work for 2-3 years, etc etc. I need to be prepared to offer a real solid advice on what he CAN do in the meantime. I know you can train your own if you find an adult with the right personality-- but how can they go about seeking a dog like that out, and what resources can they trust to help them evaluate and train the dog? They have a strong preference for bull breeds of course, being what fits into their lifestyle, so keep that in mind with your answers, that aussies or shepherds or collies or whatnot are going to be an automatic no.
 

milos_mommy

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I'd just gently send them some info on how carefully a service dog needs to be selected.

Do they want an alert dog? Or a response dog? Because there's like a .00001% chance this dog is going to be an alert dog. There's like a.....01% chance he could be a response dog (unless his parents have the correct temperament and he's been evaluated to have the proper temperature, when there's like a 1% chance. Plenty of bully breeds DO work as service dogs, so that's a definite possibility, but they need to start working with a trainer who helps people train their service dogs ASAP.

They can always take this puppy as a prospect and start to socialize him and do foundations to become a service dog...but there's very little chance he will actually end up capable of doing the job.
 

frostfell

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#4
thanks for the input guys. they are in texas. he is determined that THIS puppy be his SD, but the realism of it being three years before the puppy is ready might be able to convince them to try for a grown adult right now. thats a long time to go without help, especially when meds are not even 50% effective.

i believe they want a dog that will alert to a seizure, and then help during one. roll him over on his back, hit an emergency button, go get his wife, etc. are these two types of things typically set to two different kinds of personalities? or is it common to have a single dog do both?
 

Oko

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#5
thanks for the input guys. they are in texas. he is determined that THIS puppy be his SD, but the realism of it being three years before the puppy is ready might be able to convince them to try for a grown adult right now. thats a long time to go without help, especially when meds are not even 50% effective.

i believe they want a dog that will alert to a seizure, and then help during one. roll him over on his back, hit an emergency button, go get his wife, etc. are these two types of things typically set to two different kinds of personalities? or is it common to have a single dog do both?
The reason why they are two separate things is that you cannot teach a dog to alert to a seizure, they either do or they don't. You can reward it, but you cannot manipulate it into happening if the alerting behavior is not there to begin with. If the dog doesn't recognize a seizure coming on as a problem, well, you're fresh out of luck. Which is why it is considered to be two different things. Alerting, warning beforehand. And then there is aftercare, assisting their human while they are having the seizure/post-seizure. That is the part that you can train a service dog for.

I would not recommend putting your hopes for a service dog on a puppy, in this situation, unless they are fully willing to deal with the likelihood that this dog will not actually warn him.
 

Julee

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#6
The numbers are really not that low, MM, but a lot of people don't realize what their dogs are doing and don't listen to them.

Sometimes dogs that are placed as seizure response dogs will begin picking up on the seizures, sometimes not. Do not trust any place selling "alert" dogs. There is no guarantee a dog will alert even from person to person. Look for response dogs. Personality doesn't really have anything to do with whether or not they alert or not, though an attentive dog is more likely to.

If he wants to train this puppy as a response dog, it really isn't too hard. Teach each task as a trick. The temperament in public is usually the biggest dealbreaker.
 

milos_mommy

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#7
The numbers are really not that low, MM, but a lot of people don't realize what their dogs are doing and don't listen to them.


If he wants to train this puppy as a response dog, it really isn't too hard. Teach each task as a trick. The temperament in public is usually the biggest dealbreaker.
Hopefully my ridiculous numbers led on that I was exaggerating, but it is quite rare for even dogs who are bred as service dogs to end up "graduating". Most dogs do not have the personality.

When I hear service dog, I do assume it's meant a public access trained dog. It is much, much, much easier to train a dog to respond to a seizure at home than it is to train them to behave bomproof in public, around falling food, other animals, ride escalators, etc.
 

DJEtzel

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#8
i just wanted to say that after a 16 hour work day, I typed out a response about alerting to blood sugar drops and then realized I was not on the same page whatsoever. >.<
 

Romy

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#9
The numbers are really not that low, MM, but a lot of people don't realize what their dogs are doing and don't listen to them.

Sometimes dogs that are placed as seizure response dogs will begin picking up on the seizures, sometimes not. Do not trust any place selling "alert" dogs. There is no guarantee a dog will alert even from person to person. Look for response dogs. Personality doesn't really have anything to do with whether or not they alert or not, though an attentive dog is more likely to.

If he wants to train this puppy as a response dog, it really isn't too hard. Teach each task as a trick. The temperament in public is usually the biggest dealbreaker.
^^ This

My advice is this:

If he is in love with this puppy AND they are going to keep it regardless, there is absolutely no harm in them laying all the foundation work regarding socialization and training for a service dog prospect.

If he is only keeping it because he needs a service dog, he needs to have it independently evaluated by a skilled trainer/evaluator who has experience selecting service dog prospects. There is no way he can be impartial about it.

It would be helpful for them to get an evaluation done either way, because it would give them an idea of what to expect and if it isn't a good candidate for some reason, they can temper their hopes and stay on the lookout for a dog that can do the job.

Worst case scenario the dog will wash out and they will have a wonderfully socialized and well trained companion, plus some experience in raising a SD prospect for when the right dog/puppy does come along. Best case scenario is it works, and he has a SD.
 
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#10
Not a bully breed, but I have heard of several Bouvier des Flandres alerting to seizures. It's a lot of dog to train and get ready, but once mature they do have a very steady temperament. If your friend is very interested, I could put him in touch with someone who has trained service dogs, but also just knows the landscape.
 

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