A dog that demonstrates a certain behavior toward someone when they are having a seizure can be known by such names as Seizure Response Dog, Seizure Assistance Dog, Seizure Alert Dog, or Seizure Detection Dog. This dog can also become a lifelong and cherished companion.
A true seizure “detection” dog is a dog that is able to sense a seizure is eminent and alert their owner so their owner can take precautions and lie down in a safe place. This is possibly a result of the dog being able to smell a chemical change in the body of its owner just prior to the onset of a seizure. However, this is very rare. In addition, not enough research has been done to prove if a dog can be trained to predict a seizure or if it is just something that naturally occurs in exceptional circumstances.
In most cases, dogs are trained to respond when a seizure occurs. They may lick their owner, bark, lay down beside their owner, or some dogs can be trained to retrieve medication or trigger some kind of an alert to let someone else know their owner is having a seizure.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I have epilepsy. Should I get a seizure response dog?
A: A service dog might not be the best solution in every situation. Be sure to speak with your neurologist to determine if a dog is right for you.
Q: Where do I find a dog that can be trained?
A: Some seizure dog trainers have dogs or work with local breeders. Always talk with a trainer first, as they will know the best breeds, the optimum age, and any other details that might impact a dog’s ability to be trained and to respond to seizures.
Q: Can I have my own dog trained?
A: Talk with a seizure response dog trainer. They can discuss your specific situation and provide you with guidance.
Q: Where do I find a trainer?
A: Do your research. Look on the internet. Talk to other people who have a seizure response dog. Don’t just look at the training company’s website – research complaints, ratings, and any feedback you can find. The trainer may have significant experience teaching obedience or training service dogs. But how many seizure response dogs have they trained? Make sure you talk with the trainer and their clients to determine if the trainer can teach a dog to do the specific tasks needed for your specific situation. Your expectations might be very different than what a trainer can actually deliver. Every trainer is different, each trainer’s style is different, and each training location is different. Do your homework and make sure you feel completely comfortable with the trainer you choose.
Q: What will a seizure response dog and training cost?
A: The average cost for training is between $7500 and $25,000. JoshProvides may be able to help you with a small percentage of the cost. But it will be important that you and your family be able to fundraise or support the financial investment in your dog. JoshProvides can help support your fundraising efforts.
Q: How soon can I bring my dog home? How long will it take to have him/her trained?
A: The process of training a dog as a seizure response dog is a lengthy process. They will learn obedience, how to be a service dog, how to recognize and response to seizures and then must learn you and your specific seizures and behavior. The average training time is 18-24 months.
Q: Will this dog be our family pet?
A: It will take hundreds of hours of training to teach your dog how to be a working service and seizure response dog. There will be instructions on how the dog needs to be treated and how it will interact with others when it is working.
A Partial List of Seizure Response Dogs (“SRD”) Trainers
1. Little Angels Service Dogs
2. 4 Paws for Ability
3. Paws with a Cause
5. Domino Service Dogs
6. Sherlock Dog Training
7. New Hope Assistance Dogs, Inc.
The foregoing is a short list of names of trainers. There are many more. JoshProvides Epilepsy Assistance Foundation (“JoshProvides”) does not endorse any specific trainer and it is the obligation and responsibility of the family seeking a SRD to vet and do their own due diligence to determine if a particular SRD trainer listed above or any other SRD trainer not listed above is the right and best trainer for such family. JoshProvides is merely providing the names of SRD trainers other families have used but does not recommend any trainer. It is the family’s responsibility to determine which trainer to engage to train your dog.