I am interested in training my own DAD. Because trained dogs are so expensive to purchase, some diabetics opt to train their own dogs. This thread is for those interested in, or have accomplished training their own dog.
This is my inquiry to the Canadian Foundation for Animal Assisted Support Services
Hi. I am a Type 1, Insulin dependent diabetic. I have been searching for trainers in Canada, and I am having a hard time finding any. The USA has lots of them, however, and Diabetic Alert Dogs are a valid category of service dog in the US.
Trained dogs, however, are very costly to purchase sometimes up to $10,000. The need is so great among diabetics, and diabetic children that it is staggering. Very few people can afford a trained dog.
I am looking into training my own dog through the help of a qualified DAD trainer in the US, but concerned about the limitations of Canada's service dog categories.
Is there anyone working on training these dogs (that save lives) in Canada?
Is Canada recognizing these DADs as a valid category of assistance dog?
Thank you for any information you can provide.
Mary McNeight, trainer from Washington State, runs the Service Dog Academy. She has some great information:
She is also setting up the Diabetic Alert Dog University. For those of us interested in a low-cost option for training our own dogs, this is GREAT NEWS!
I have worked with Mary for the last year, and I cannot recommend her highly enough. I suggest that you get on her Facebook page (Service Dog Academy) and chat with her there.
(at the risk of repeating myself) Here is a video of my Cooper and Mary on the local news up here:
My cost has been (USD):
$700 for the classes (I am local to her, and went to the classes every week).
$40 for the "Before you get a service dog" class, which is now an e-book for free. I cannot stress reading this enough. Everything in there has happened to me in the year I've had Cooper.
$200 for puppy classes, as Cooper was 8 weeks when I got him, and I needed him to be a good puppy as well as a DAD
$400 for Cooper
$2800 for board and training. I live in a rental house, and I wanted to be sure that we were following the lease and not having a pet dog living here. I didn't want to have one "in training" and try to get around it. I talked with the landlord prior to getting Cooper, and they "wanted to see papers", and I thought that was fair, so we provided more than ample proof to the owners.
That last step and cost was entirely my doing, but I have owned a rental, and the people that own the house don't want people using the law to get around their desire to not have pets in a house. I know that DADs aren't pets, but there are people that will (and have) tried to get around this. But that's just me.
Mary is a straight shooter, and will tell you where you're going wrong, and loves hearing about your successes too.
My greatest joy in Cooper is this:
in 2011, I was seen by paramedics 8 times.
in 2012, I have been seen twice, and the reason for this is I was traveling with Cooper, and he was a little discombobulated after a transcontinental trip (in the cabin), and what I do now is do training right after we land (and he takes care of his business). On a subsequent trip, he did 100%.
and lastly, he alerts me as my BG drops, so I'll get an alert at 155 on it's way down to 90, 1/2 hour later.
Here is another good site about the training process.
I am very interested in learning how to do this too. I am only at the learning phase at this point, but believe that this site will help to guide me through the process.
It's a lot of work, and commitment. Some days lately I haven't felt very much energy, and I have been discouraged thinking maybe I can't do it.
I did talk to one trainer in the US that said they prefer to help you pick a dog to train. It seems some DAD trainers prefer certain breeds. Like, Labs, Labradoodles, and dogs that are a bit larger.
I live in Canada, and they tend to be behind the US in some things. This is one of those things. :-(
Best wishes to you, Kathy!
I have a natural alert DAD, a mini Dachshund named Maizie. You can read about her in my blog. I have however trained from scratch one of my Dachshunds (also a mini, longhair cream) Georgie to alert. I don't use Georgie as a SD, as Maizie is only six yrs old and will be by my side for many yrs to come, but I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could indeed train a dog to alert. I've worked with guide dogs (I'm sight impaired) for the last 27 yrs, and also have raised several pups for guide dog work. I am active in AKC conformation with my Dachshunds. So I have a good bit of experience in training dogs in a variety of situations and really enjoy working with every dog I've had. It's a very rewarding thing to build such a strong long lasting bond with one of these wonderful creatures.
I have a chihuahua/wiener and have never "trained" him to alert me but he does!! He has woken me up several times with a hypo and if I am awake and if he can't wake me he wakes my husband. He is always real helpful when it is low cause he keeps me calm, just thought I'd share....
I have been working with Mary McNeight, through Service Dog Academy, to train Zoe to be a DAD. We are doing well, and Zoe is going through the training.
I just want to say that Canada is a bit behind the times when it comes to accepting assistance dogs in public places. It is difficult to have to explain and go through being one of the first DAD handlers here.
This weekend, we are at a beautiful camp called Geneva Park YMCA, on Lake Couchiching just outside of Orillia, Ontario. Then I registered, I made sure that assistance dogs are allowed. I was told to just make sure I bring my dog in when I register.
While eating our dinner, the General Manager of the camp comes and sits down at our table. He says, "I understand we have a furry friend here". I said yes. He said, "We are a no animals allowed establishment." I just kind of looked at him, and was seeing myself taking Zoe all the way back to Toronto, a 2 hour trip. I said, "she's a service dog". He said, "Oh? Well, do you have papers?" I said, "What kind of papers?" He says, "Papers that declare what kind of service she performs, etc." (which was a clue he knew nothing about service dogs...) Meanwhile, I was embarassed and everyone at the table was spellbound. Zoe, sleeping under my chair.
I said, I don't have papers with me because the woman I spoke to told me I wouldn't need them. I can tell you what service she performs. He says, "Okay, tell me what she does." I proceded to tell him what a DAD does, and that I wear an insulin pump, and that Zoe must go everywhere with me.
Nobody informed him, or any of the other staff that a service dog was on the premesis. Interesting.
He apologized, over and over, until I felt so bad for him.
I was later in the auditorium getting ready to play the keyboard (Zoe on the platform with me) and he came in. I thought, oh no, are we going to get kicked out of here? Really?
The General Manager approached me and he said he just wanted to apologize again, that he was sorry he interrupted my meal, and he was making the staff aware, and then he just kept apologizing. He let me know his name was Jim, and I said it was very nice to meet him and please be assured there were no hard feelings.
There are so many people with disabilities here - a whole group of cerebral palsy sufferers, people in electric wheelchairs, etc. It's kind of interesting that the place doesn't have much experience with assistance, or service, dogs.
I too work with Mary (and I have proof...)
My experience was similar to yours, except going to a work site in Charleston, SC for the same company I work for here in Everett. I show up to work on Monday, and the guard lets me through. Same thing for Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, I get the "no pets allowed on site" message from the security guard.
I keep the training records with me at all times, and showed them to the security manager, and got the same apologies.
Most people think they're doing the right thing, and I give them the benefit of the doubt, and show them Cooper's tricks, and explain how he helps me *not* see the paramedics. They usually walk away amazed.
Cooper is very handsome. My first guide dog was a yellow Lab, and I've had 2 black Lab guides as well, and my current guide is a black Lab/Golden cross. :D I noticed in the video Cooper was very vocal and barked/whined. Curious why you allowed him to continue that behavior without correcting it right then and there? I've had several Labs as guides, and know that barking is a no-no, training to avoid the behavior begins very early, around 8 weeks when they're placed in puppy raiser homes. My current guide Jing (have had her a year now, she's 3-1/2 yrs old) let out a "woof" once in Walmart when she saw a friend of mine. lol. Startled me, and yes, she got corrected instantly. Hasn't happened since though.
There are 2 new books about training your own diabetic alert dog that came out in Feb & March 2013.
1. "Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog" by Rita Martinez CPDT & Sue Barns Ph.D.
2. " DOG A Diabetic's Best Friend Training Guide: Train Your Own Diabetic and Glycemic Alert Dog" by Veronica D. Zimmerman .
i am in the process of training my own DAD. i say in the process, because i feel like i'm constantly training. she alerts me when i don't feel my lows, but if i catch it first, i always use the opportunity to brush her up on her skills. i took her on vacation with me last week, and though she isn't public access trained, my main issues are at home when i tend to not be paying as much attention to myself and how i feel, and sure enough, as i was laying in bed watching tv, she alerted me and was right, i was 56! i have to say, i picked a small dog (but with the proper attributes, high prey drive, etc), and it has caused a lot of issues because people think i'm a faker and she's not really an alert dog. so keep that in mind when picking out your dog. (several people at the resort made comments like "don't worry, we are rule breakers too, we won't tell", even after i explained she was a service dog!!!)