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Old 10-26-2012, 09:55 PM
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Training a service dog

After thinking about it, saying no, rethinking, saying no again, repeatedly for the last couple of years, I have decided that I want to train Flip to alert to low blood glucose levels. I've spent over two decades suffering from reactive hypoglycemia, always fearful of a sudden low catching me off guard (its caused me to pass out before), and I've decided that I want to use my skills as a dog trainer to benefit my health. I've spoken with a trainer of diabetic alert dogs, and she's gone over the training process with me. It seems very doable.

The scary part for me is if I want to actually use him as a service dog, I'll need to get an official diagnosis from a doctor. I know what I suffer from, and the doctor agrees that's what it likely is, but I am terrified of taking the test. I really don't want to purposefully put myself in that state, even if it is under doctor supervision. It's a very unpleasant feeling that I do everything in my power to avoid.

Just thought I'd start this thread since we have a new service dog forum.
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:20 PM
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Training officially began today. Training is divided into two separate sections right now. One part is just teaching him recognize the scent of low sugar levels. I'm doing this by getting a gauze that I put in my mouth while imwas having a low. For awhile I'll just feed him every time I take out that scent article, until he begins to show recognition when he smells that scent. Basically just a Pavlovian response.

Second part is teaching him an alert. I am teaching him to continually nudge my hand with his nose. He caught on to that really fast, now we just have to continue for awhile until it's really solid.

Once he has those two pieces solid on their own, they will be put together. So the scent will become the cue to give the alert.
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:34 PM
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I hope you are successful! I find it very interesting what you are doing!!
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Old 10-29-2012, 10:37 PM
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Day 2 of training, because my dog is such a smarty pants, I've decided to go ahead and just combine the two pieces of training, so I'm holding the scented gauze in my hand and having him nudge. The plan now is to only ask for the nudge when I'm holding the scent, so he begins to associate the scent with the nudge.
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:26 AM
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Wow - good luck with the training!

Have you tried a low carb diet so you BGs do not spike then crash? I suffered from low glycemia for a few decades due to my 'healthy' diet of plenty of carbs, no fat and limited red meat - my system finally crashed into diabetes
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Old 10-30-2012, 09:04 AM
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Yes, I do watch my diet, when I do eat carbs it is always paired with a protein. It helps a lot, but not completely. Exercise also makes it worse, I'm not talking lots of exercise, I often get low someplace like a mall where there's lots of walking. Actually once I passed out in a dressing room. Thank goodness I wasn't in a room, but standing in the main area in front of the doors. After people started shoving tootsie rolls in my mouth I had to be put in a wheelchair to get to the food court.
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:09 AM
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This is so interesting. I always wondered how they trained service dogs for blood sugar or epilepsy. Thanks for sharing and good luck.
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Old 10-30-2012, 11:17 AM
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Wow, very interesting. I am going to pass the information on to Bindi's new mom, who has serious issues with low blood sugar due to her diabetes. Good luck.
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:03 PM
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What a great Idea to teach your dog and will offer you an extra security to avoid those stressful times.
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Old 10-31-2012, 07:31 AM
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Hey Jodie, how do you go about finding a decent trainer?
I've toyed with the idea for a couple of years of training Tito to be a mobility assist dog. The autoimmune muscle disease I have does qualify me to have a service dog, and he's already rock solid on things like sit, stay, down, heel, you know all the stuff. Already retrieves anything he's told to pick up, etc.
But I would like to do it *right* and get someone to help me, and all the people I've seen online are either thousands or dollars, or seem like scam artists.
Thanks!
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