Seizure Alert Dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-21-2010, 10:45 PM Thread Starter
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Question Seizure Alert Dog

I am fairly new to the forum, and had recently asked for suggestions on GSD breeders in Rabies free countries. Since then it looks like my son will be diagnosed with epilepsy. He had "febrile seizures" (seizures induced by a fast rising body temperature), but the other day he had one without a seizure. My son is only 3. We are waiting for tests to determine what the next course of action will be...and there is a high probability that Navy (my husband's employer and reason we are stationed in Japan) will force us to move back to the US.

Anyway, we were already looking for a GSD, and now I'm interested in trying to get details on getting one to be a Seizure Alert SD. I would like to find one who could alert me to an impending seizure and reduce the chance of serious injury from falls ext... I have read that this type of SD can be very difficult to teach/train.... My second choice would to have a dog trained to alert me during the seizure. I think these types are more easy to train.

Does anyone know how best to do this? I've been told that if my son is diagnosed with Epilepsy (which is about 80% he will be) that the Navy Insurance may actually pay for the dog and his/her training, but it's not for sure.

Anyway my questions are;

Is it ok to get a puppy and have it trained to do this, or would it be more beneficial for us to get an adult already trained.

Do any of you have any suggestions on what to do and how to go about it.... there are a lot of ifs in the senario, but I want to be prepared as much as possible.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 07-21-2010, 11:09 PM
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I could be wrong but I don't think seizure alert dogs can be trained, they either have the ability or they don't, so you'd probably want to hook up with a reputable service dog organization that can find you a dog with this ability.

Best of luck, my husband has "idiopathic" epilepsy, never had a seizure until he was over 20 years old. Luckily, his seems controlled by drugs so I've never had the chance to "test" my dogs, his seizures stopped with the drugs before we got dogs.
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 08:37 PM
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I believe for a SD, you can't train them to alert you of impending seizures, it is as the previous poster stated: they have it or they don't. You could, though, have a SD trained to respond when a seizure is happening/over. They can be trained to alert you, or another adult, to stay with the person having the seizure, call 911, etc. I do agree with possibly hooking up with a good SD org. and seeing if they could fit you with a dog that has this gift.

Also, I don't know if this helps but my non-sd pups have, over time, picked up on when im going to have a seizure, when I don't feel good in general, or when I am just overall weak... much like the humans in the house have.

Best of luck on your search for a SD and with your son and his drs. Hope all goes well.

-Jess
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 09:18 PM
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One of my best friends has just been approved for a service dog to be put in place for her daughter (9 years old) who is epileptic. She did say that the organization she's been hooked up with works with Goldens and Labs mostly as they are more tailored towards family situations (not that a GSD couldn't be great also).
Dogs are usually trained for around two years and typically costs between 20-25 thousand dollars which makes getting a puppy the more difficult route to take and a longer one also. I think because of the age of your son and more of an immediate need of the service dog, a pre-trained adult may be the best way to go instead of training along the way even if the Navy is willing to pay for, or help with the costs associated.

From what my friend has been explaining to me about the route to get a service dog, it can be a long road with several bumps. Hopefully the military will be helpful in getting this taken care of for your family, it will be a great blessing for you guys.
I'll ask my friend to see if she can give me more details about how she got all the stuff in order to have a dog approved for her daughter and let you know what I find out.

Ginger

Speak softly and own a big, mean German Shepherd.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 07:59 PM
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-07-2010, 04:09 PM
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It sounds like getting an already trained adult dog would probably be best for your situation. The thing with getting a puppy to train is it takes a lot of time and work and there is no guarantee that the dog will prove to be suitable as a service dog. This means you may get a puppy, spend months training him/her and then discover that they won't make a good service dog and have to wash them out.

While the ability to alert to seizures is not something that can be trained, there are organizations that identify dogs that exhibit the ability and encourage them to alert, teach them other tasks such as balance support and other assistance, then provide these dogs to people with seizure disorders.


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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-07-2010, 06:56 PM
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I am a retired disabled veteran suffering from seizure disorder, I've looked into seizure dogs, and it seems they are weening out the training, from everything I have read, its mostly dependent on the extreme bond of you and your dog, how much the dog knows your normal behavior and teaching him personally what a seizure is (meaning you have to have a few for the dog to figure it out)... other than that, getting an older already trained service dog is the main way to go. I have called the VA and they will only pay for 1/2 of the dogs vaccines and extra training AFTER its already passed the service dog program.. so 10k later they will help to pay a few extra bucks
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-07-2010, 09:50 PM
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I wish Max & Simba were able to alert me to a seizure, so I didn't end up running a crazy health bill.

Jessica

Molly-GSD DOB: 2/19/07
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-09-2010, 08:04 AM
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You have received a lot of different opinions and advice. We have recently started to puppy raise service dogs, our first one was a lab and now we are fostering a beautiful plus female GSD. I have gotten a lot of different books and started to read and seizure alert dogs come in a different sizes and breeds including mixed breed. There is not one individual type of dog that is better at it. When looking at a seizure alert dog they test for personality, drive, alertness and more. When a person is having a seizure it is believed that there is a chemical imbalance that the dog can detect some dogs have it more natural then others but they can train them to be more aware of that they recognize so they are trained to alert. The more the dog bonds with their person the more seizures they can start to alert. Training a dog just basically can be a challenage along with that finding a dog that can service you as a puppy is a risk because they might have it they might not and if you invest all the training and they don't then you are back to square 1 with a dog you really bonded with but is not doing what you needed it to. If I was to need a service dog I would start researching different organizations and not just in my area but everywhere some organizations are just local others are international some are not legit some are very legit. That is where I would start.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 10-10-2010, 08:48 PM
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Many times a pet dog will alert but the owner is not aware that the dog is trying to do so. I have had people tell me their dog would start acting like a brat or really bug them and it was getting annoying. It was only after someone who knew what was possibly going on brought this to their attention that they started tracking the dog's odd behavior with a seizure coming a short while later.

A dog may alert in many ways until it is trained in the proper manner. Some dogs may stand in front of the person and bark, some may paw at them, and some will nip. It is only after the owner realizes what is going on that they can then work with the dog to alert in the way they wish.

I had a family member getting very irritated with their dog who started nipping and as a couple of weeks went by she was starting to bite harder though still not breaking the skin but giving a painful pinch. Once I heard about this I suggested that the family listen to the dog and work on a "kiss" on the hand instead of a nip.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


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