Dogged Determination: Medical Alert Dogs Need Professional, Specialized Training


If you have a super-smart puppy on your hands, you might be thinking about training the dog to dial 911 in an emergency. This is more than a simple trick; dogs have been able to dial emergency services when their owners had health issues requiring immediate attention. However, this is not as easy as it seems. What you want to do requires more than just training to hit a phone button, and the methods you can use are likely to be inadequate for training the puppy to know when to dial, and not just how to dial.

More Than Just Hitting a Keypad

When a dog dials 911, it's because something bad has happened to its owner. The dog is able to sense that whatever is going on is not a joke because it can tell that there is something biologically wrong. In many cases, this is a rough gift that the dog already has. Trainers can refine it, and there may be dogs that are fully trainable, meaning they didn't have a gift for it but could learn anyway. But you yourself won't be able to train a dog to sniff for high or low blood sugar, for example.

Dogs that can detect emergency medical problems do so by detecting subtle clues, like smells. But the dogs can detect the problems even when everything seems fine to humans. For example, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2013 on a medical alert dog that was so adept at detecting high or low blood sugar that he was able to warn his human owner well before her blood tests showed any effect. He was even beginning to alert her while he was sleeping; he'd start growling and sitting up while asleep if he sensed something was about to happen.

Specialized, Professional Training Needed

You can't train your dog to do that. You don't know the signs that the dog will respond to. You can place treats on a phone keypad and try to train the dog to hit those keys, but that won't convey to the dog that he or she needs to do that only in certain circumstances. Even if your dog seems to have a gift for detecting seizures, low blood sugar, and other problems, you're not going to be able to refine the way the dog alerts you or anyone else.

If you do really think that your puppy will make a good medical alert dog, contact a company that does work with alert dogs to see if they can train the dog. Keep in mind that training, especially if you're planning to keep the dog yourself for future help, rather than give the dog away to someone who needs an alert dog now, can be very expensive. For more information about dog training, contact a company like The Pet Spot Pet Resort.


30 December 2014

A Guide to Avoiding Pet Emergencies

Animal emergencies happen quite often, and I have seen a lot of different injuries at the veterinary office I work at. Vehicle incidents, falls, and fights with other animals can all cause these injuries. Some of the most surprising emergencies I see though, are when pets eat substances that make them ill. Dogs and cats can both get sick by ingesting flowers, essential oils, and certain types of food items that humans eat. I even see some animals that become ill when they eat shoes, towels, and their own toys. I know that the vast majority of pet owners love their animals dearly. Most medical emergencies are purely accidental. You can easily save your precious feline or canine from harm as long as you know how the most common injuries occur. The articles posted here can help you with this, so start reading to make sure your pet remains healthy.