Finding a seizure alert dog is no simple task. Many organizations have long waiting lists, while others don't guarantee that a particular dog will actually respond to someone experiencing seizures. To find a seizure alert dog, contact nonprofit agencies specializing in service dogs.
Seizure Alert Dogs
Also known as seizure response dogs, seizure alert dogs are trained to:
- Stay next to the individual experiencing a seizure.
- Bark to alert others in the vicinity.
- Obtain help for the person, within a "controlled environment."
- Get a phone to the person having the seizure, or activate an alarm.
Some dogs can predict that their person is about to have a seizure, but that's not true of all dogs and it's an ability that may develop over time.
Training Your Dog
It's possible, if your dog is suitable, that he can be trained as a seizure alert dog, or you can adopt or purchase a dog for this purpose. Discuss with a trainer certified in teaching seizure response dogs whether or not a particular dog makes a good candidate. However, this probably isn't the best way to obtain a seizure alert canine.
Trained Seizure Alert Dogs
If you wish to find a trained seizure alert dog, that's where the waiting list and expense come into play. It can take up to two years to train a dog, and cost as much as $50,000. Of course, some trained dogs don't cost that much, but expect to pay a minimum of $7,000. Even if the money isn't a problem, you can't just contact a service dog agency and buy an animal. You must meet the organization's qualifications.
While the qualifications necessary to receive a seizure alert dog vary by organization, there are some basic standards most agencies follow:
- Minimum number of seizures -- perhaps at least once monthly.
- Ability to care for the dog physically and financially.
- Capable of working with the animal in an ongoing training process.
- Acceptable home circumstances.
Service dog organizations may have age limits for eligibility, and may not permit applicants to have other canines in the household. It can two years or more for an agency to find the right dog for a person's individual needs.
Seizure alert dogs are trained specifically to aid people with seizures. If you have another type of disability in addition to a seizure history, the dog may require additional training or, more likely, can't provide you with those benefits. While seizure alert dogs are companion animals, they aren't necessarily guard dogs if that's a quality you need in a canine.