medical alert dog in training

A Quick Reminder

If you’re not disabled, you can’t have a service dog. Everyone gets anxiety, tons of people get panic attacks. If your disorder doesn’t affect your day to day life and ability to function its not a disability. I don’t even know why people who aren’t disabled would want a service dog.

(Edit): To clear up some chaos on this post:
There are tons of mental illnesses that can often be disabling. My point is: a lot of the time, people overplay their anxiety to bring a PET into stores. My dog is a psych dog, he has a very important job but just because my anxiety is disabling doesn’t mean yours is. Speak to a mental health professional before thinking about getting a service dog.
I’m so confused right now...

Faith has been alerting me periodically all day. First time was at about noon. It was a solid alert, but nothing happened. I took it as a false alarm.

About two hours later she alerted me again with more intensity, but again… nothing happened.

A few hours after that, I was sitting in bed reading when she litterally slammed her entire body into me, started frantically whining, and used BOTH paws to alert me. I told her to get off, as I was getting increasingly annoyed with these “false alerts.”

But now, about 7 hours after her initial alert, I’m in bed with a HORRIBLE migraine. I can hardly see anything, I’m incredibly nauseous, and no joke… hearing my own heart beat hurts.

So a question for other dogblrs with medical alert dogs– was Faith false alerting and this is just a big coincidence, or could she REALLY have sensed this migraine SEVEN HOURS before it started?


Some recent Chance! We went to a local pride festival (Chance was off duty) and he did amazing. There were tons of other dogs and the most he did was whine a bit if he got really excited. There was an incident with a dog who barked and lunged at him, to which Chance whined and stood up on his hind legs but I quickly removed him because the other person wasn’t taking any moves to control their dog. Other than that he did great and I’m very excited to have him be on duty at the next festival we attend.

I’ve said it once and ill say it again. I wish people were more educated about service dogs. Sure, now days many people are becoming more used to seeing a dog in their local target, or not being alarmed when they see a pup in a restaurant. But i wish they went deeper for the sake of not only our dog’s accreditation, but also for the sake of handler’s comfort.

For example, the other day, Pippa and i were sitting in lecture, and she was sitting beside me, as she does in every class (that or by my feet), and everything was good for the first ten minutes. Then, she got up, and put both of her paws on my lap. When this happened, i could almost feel the ridicule from the people who were sitting around me. It felt like i could literally hear the thoughts of “oh yeah such a great dog” or “fake service animal” going through their heads. Now of course this could be the anxiety talking, but it made me feel very uncomfortable. 

The worst thing about it? That is an alert that Pippa is trained to do when she senses a migraine or a panic. she has three alerts that she does, all of which were chosen from what she did naturally already. None of these alerts seem to be “good dog” behavior, but thats because if it was a simple look or a sniff, i would constantly be distracted looking to my dog to see if she was alerting. alerts need to be something you will see, something out of the ordinary, and something that will make you act on it.

And that brings me to my next point of fake service animals. If fake service animals didn’t happen, i wouldn’t get this ridicule from people when my dog alerts, or even is having a bad day, which yes, she does have. I shouldn’t have to feel like everyone is judging me when my dog alerts. i shouldn’t have to feel like everyone thinks my dog is a fraud just because she is having and off day, and doesn’t feel like doing what she’s told in that particular moment. If people didn’t try to pass off their dogs as SDs, i wouldn’t have this issue. So lesson number one? Don’t try to make a pet into a fake service animal. 

Lesson number two is to think about what the dog could be doing before you pass it off as fake. If you see a dog low growling, getting on a handlers lap, or pawing at its handler, it could be doing exactly what it was taught, and not just misbehaving. Many tasks for SDs include something called deep pressure therapy which is when the dog literally lays on the handler, or puts weight on the handlers body to help. Another common alert is pawing. if a diabetic has low blood sugar, or if someone with celiac is about to eat gluten, they need to know quickly and efficiently.  Keep that in mind. And maybe instead of judgment, you could ask the handler if everything is okay when you suspect a dog is alerting. I would much rather that than grimaces as i walked out of the classroom to go take my migraine medicine. 

Service dog education is something i will never go without giving, so please if you have any questions, feel free to ask me! 

How to Interact with a Service Dog

First of all, you are going to have to excuse my French on this one. This is a VERY sensitive topic for me and other service dog handlers. If you see a service dog in public, leave it alone! That’s it! Don’t talk to it, don’t make kissy noises it at, don’t act like a child and “oooo” and “aaaah” at it as if it’s some magical unicorn or something. Remember, service dogs are not pets; they are MEDICAL EQUIPMENT! You wouldn’t say “Awe! What a cute wheelchair that is! Look hunny! A wheelchair!” Of course you wouldn’t. If you do, that’s stupid of you. Talking to medical equipment is stupid. Talking to a service dog is stupid. Got it? Good. On the same note you wouldn’t go up and PET someone’s cane, wheelchair, crutches, etc. Talking to it is bad, but coming up to someone like “Oh my GAWSHHHH! Your hearing aids are adorable!! Can I pet them please?” is down right idiotic. Sounds funny, right? It’s not. It REALLY isn’t. The struggle for service dog handlers is real. How would you like it if you couldn’t go anywhere without someone stopping you every 5 minutes? Okay, what if you were disabled and hardly able to go out at all, yet people still keep stopping you every 5 minutes? I’m sure you’d be pissed as hell. And you wonder why service dog handlers have snarky attitudes towards people sometimes. Seriously. DON’T YOU FUCKING DARE TOUCH A SERVICE DOG!!

Now that that’s covered. Let’s have some heart to heart shall we? A service dog is more than a cane, a wheelchair, a hearing aid, etc. It is a living breathing thing with a mind and an INCREDIBLE stress put on their shoulders to keep their handler’s safe. Minds can get distracted no matter how much they try. It is their job to react in a split second if anything goes wrong. What happens if you were messing with a service dog in public and they got distracted? What happens if the dog missed a life saving alert because he was too focused on trying to behave and ignore YOU? A missed alert can be a matter of life and death. Let’s say the handler has a seizure a few minutes later and because the dog was unable to alert, the handler wasn’t able to get to a safe spot or tell someone what’s about to happen. She falls and hits her head on the corner of a desk. I don’t like to be negative, so let’s say she makes it. But she very well could have died that day. She could have DIED because of YOU! Now how would you feel about that? You fucking killed a person all because you were distracting her service dog. Think about that. 

Nope. Don’t continue scrolling just yet. REALLY think about it next time you encounter a service dog.

anonymous asked:

How do you answer the 'what tasks is your SD trained to do' question if you don't want to reveal that information? (I have a PSD)

You don’t have to answer at length, or give more than one task, but you are required to give some kind of response, and more than just “my dog helps me” or similar, to an employee in a place of public accommodation when you are asked what tasks your service dog performs.

Here are some common PSD tasks that you can describe vaguely without outing yourself as having a mental illness, which I know can be embarrassing or seen by others as not disabling due to social stigma (and also nobody’s business but your own).

Anxiety/panic attack/dissociation alert: “My service dog is trained to alert me to my medical condition.”

Deep pressure therapy: “My service dog is trained to put pressure on specific points of my body when necessary due to my disability.”

Finding an exit during dissociation/brain fog: “My service dog is trained to take me to a safe place during a medical episode.”

Locating a partner/parent/friend: “My service dog is trained to locate help during a medical episode.”

I hope this helps!


What do people think is going to happen when they look at my dog and say “Oh you’re working right now, so i can’t pet you! Even though i REALLY want to!!!”

Or better yet, the oh so infamous “Your mommy is mean, so i can’t pet you right now, but if you were mine, you’d be pet all the time!”

Dude, look… I’m still not going to let you pet her. You had a better likelihood of me telling you you could if you had just simply asked nicely, instead of being passive and talking at me though my dog. 


Thank you for listening to my rant, that is all. 

I’m going to talk about disability for a moment.

Specifically, I’m going to talk about service dogs. Most people hear the words “service dog” and they think “guide dog.” I have good friends who would not be able to lead the lives they do without their guide dogs - but while guide dogs are service dogs, not all service dogs are guide dogs.

Here are a few different kinds of service dog (other than guide dogs).

1. Hearing dogs. Hearing dogs help deaf people. They’re trained to alert their partner to important sounds like the phone, the door bell, or the fire alarm. They can be trained to wake their partners up in the morning, let their partner know the oven or microwave beeped, etc. Hearing dogs are often (but not always) smaller dogs).

2. Mobility assistance dogs. These dogs work with partners who are wheelchair bound, or who have limited mobility. They fetch things, pick up items their partner has dropped, etc. They can even open and close doors, open the fridge, and help their partner remove their socks (This can be a challenge for some people). Mobility assistance dogs are larger dogs - in fact, some really large dogs are actually trained to pull a wheelchair.

3. Medical alert or response dogs. Medical alert dogs are trained to alert when they smell changes in their partner’s physiology. Dogs have such an acute sense of smell that they can actually tell when somebody is about to have a seizure or when a diabetic is about to go into a hypo coma. Diabetic medical response dogs are often trained to hand their partner a bottle of juice when they start to go hypo! Medical response dogs are sometimes trained to set off an alarm or find a caregiver.

4. Emotional support dogs. Emotional support dogs are used by partners who have psychiatric conditions - most often agoraphobia, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, etc. Dogs are a strong calming influence. Any kind of dog can be an emotional support dog.

All kinds of service dogs except emotional support dogs (which is an ongoing battle) are not legally considered to be pets. They are legally considered to be medical equipment.

This means that if you are running a business, you cannot exclude service dogs from the property - yes, even restaurants and places where it might normally be considered a health hazard. If you are a landlord, you have to allow service dogs even in a “no pets” building. Hotels have to allow them, etc. You are also not allowed to demand that the person with the dog show you proof of their disability, etc.

Because of this, it’s an unwritten rule that service dogs wear a “jacket” or “vest” indicating their status and that they’re on duty. (I’ve also seen jackets on sniffer dogs - it’s a very easy way to warn people not to pet a dog because it’s busy).

Do not pet a service dog.

Do not ask somebody who has a dog why they have one.

Do NOT say that somebody you see with a service dog “does not look blind” or “does not look disabled.”

Do not hassle a service dog’s partner about why they have that dog in there. It’s illegal. (And if somebody says their dog is an emotional support dog, it might be legal to hassle them, but it does make you an ass).

How to Obtain a Service Dog...

In order to have a service dog, you must be legally disabled. Disabilities can be visible (blind, wheelchair bound, you need a cane to walk, etc) or invisible (anxiety, depression, hearing impaired, chronic pain, seizure disorders, allergies, etc, etc). Not only must you first be disabled, your disability must be so severe that it limits one of your major life activities. Major life activities as defined by the ADA include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. If your doctor can attest to this, then you qualify for a service dog. If not, I’m sorry. You do NOT qualify and should not get a service dog.

The next step to obtaining a service dog is to talk to your doctor and get his approval. If you are going though a program​, your doctor will most likely have to write a recommendation for you stating why you need a service dog. This is not needed if you are owner training, but it is needed if you plan to travel with your service dog on airlines or live in non pet friendly housing. Once you and your doctor are on the same page about you getting a service dog, you need to think about what the service dog would be trained to do. Think about what you cannot do for yourself, or all the ways that your disability limits your life. Once you have that list, next to each item write a task that a service dog could be trained to help. For example, if you have a seizure disorder, a service dog can be trained to alert you to oncoming seizures so you have time to make it to a safe place or take medication. If you have an anxiety disorder a service dog can be trained to alert to oncoming panic attacks, provide tactile stimuli for grounding, g​uide you out of a certain location, etc. The possibilities are endless! Be creative, but also be realistic.

Once you have your list of tasks down, it’s time to start searching for a dog! If you have never owned a service dog before, or do not have EXTENSIVE dog training knowledge/experience, then I highly recommend going though a program. Programs typically have a 1-3 year wait list, and prices range from $7,000-30,000 depending on the program and the tasks you need trained. If however, you feel confident that you can train your own service dog, than you can explore the option of owner training. Even owner training requires help though. It is always best to enroll in obedience classes, and work with a professional service dog trainer. Keep in mind though that the cost to buy, train, and care for your service dog prospect will equate to the same (or sometimes more!) as purchasing a program trained dog. Seeing as it takes 2-3 years minimum to fully train a service dog, the wait time will also be the same or more as a program dog. The only difference is the heartache involved. VERY few dogs have what it takes to be a service dog. Prepare for multiple wash out candidates before you end up with “the one.” What are you going to do with one, two, four, even FIVE plus dogs that have had to be washed out from service work? Please note that I am NOT trying to discourage anyone from owner training, I’m just trying to state the facts and help you in whatever path you decide to take. Faith was owner trained on my first attempt, but I was very lucky. Several service dog handlers can attest to this. I know more handlers than not that were not so lucky and have ended up with multiple wash out candidates that have had to be re-homed, surrendered to the shelter, or kept. 

I wish you the best of luck on your service dog journey!​

Buddy, mix (11 y/o), Stewart & 1st Ave., Seattle, WA • “He’s a long time Pike Place dog. He’s trained in medical alert – he recently saved a man’s life by alerting me to his seizure before it happened. I was able to clear the area of hazards before his seizure.”