Diabetes Alert Assistance Dog (DAAD) Training course

It is possible to learn how to train a dog for someone coping with diabetes or to train your own dog as a diabetes alert dog. We will evaluate the possibilities of the dog and trainer not only at the start but also during the course. In person and by film. In the time between modules the students have to keep a record on paper and by film.

We, Scent Detection Academy and Advanced Canine Technologies ®, offer this education program in 3 modules, each module is 5 day’s in duration and has to be successfully completed, including assignment before continuation to the next module is possible.

It is possible to enter the first module without a dog. We can then discuss the possibilities and requirements to assert a suitable dog.

Certification is only awarded after completing all 3 modules including assignments successfully. Recertification of the dog and/or trainer is required every year (12 months), under our rules and regulations.

The level of the education offered by the Scent Detection Academy/Advanced Canine Technologies ® is well above requirements as they will be composed in the protocol for training and functioning as a Diabetes Alert Dog or Diabetes Alert Assistance Dog by a group of proven international renowned trainers.

Program content

If can be arranged, depending on agenda’s: General Practitioner and Diabetes Patient. During the education a day will be implemented where our Psychotherapist will talk about conversation techniques under unexpected circumstances.

Module 1

Day 1

  • General diabetes knowledge. What is high, what is low, risks and importance.

Day 2

  • Basic training, obedience, compared to general basic assistance dog training.
  • Supervised basic training partly done by clients versus pre-trained dogs teaming up with clients.

Day 3

  • Independence, confident alerting under various circumstances.
  • Dog selection.

Day 4

  • Gathering of samples, how to keep them how to use them.
  • Contamination issues.

Day 5

  • Scent imprinting.
  • Reinforcing indicating the scent and alarm.
  • Keep it simple and quick.
  • Explaining the assignment.

Module 2

Day 1

  • Overview module 1 and assignment.

Day 2

  • Continuation scent imprinting.

Day 3

  • Problem solving.

Day 4

  • Delayed reinforcement.

Day 5

  • Retrieving the test kit.
  • Pushing alarm button.
  • Personal coaching and assignment per student.

Module 3

Day 1

  • Overview module 2 and assignment.

Day 2 + 3

  • Practical combination of alerting and retrieving.

Day 4

  • Coaching other students.

Day 5

  • Individual assessment.

Conclusions and possibilities to specialise further. For instance to become a Certified instructor.

Location Netherlands: Voorst Oude IJsselstreek. The training course will be in English / Dutch.

The course starts daily at 10:00 till approximately 16:00 and includes coffee and tea in the teaching room and lunch.

Costs per module € 2000,- (NL excl. BTW/VAT) There are limited places and placement is guaranteed after receiving full payment per module. We pay a part of the training of the dogs out of the education payments to keep the price of a dog as low as possible.

Subscription for all three modules per mail, contact@scentdetectionacademy.com. We need your full contact details, name, address, mobile number and e-mail address.

Dates on request.

Bio-medical alert dog training, Diabetes alert dog training.

Our primary objective in all our training programs is to provide a successful training plan and/or placement of a (pre) trained medical alert dog. This can for instance be to a capable insulin-dependent client/handler.

We measure this by the client/trainer/dog team’s development of a reliable alert process. This can for instance be on the client’s low blood sugar events and consistently sustaining that process over time.

The Diabetes Alert Dog is a support tool providing a means to transform the client’s diabetes management in several ways. Of greatest importance, the client will develop increased confidence in their insulin therapy, due to the ability of the dog to warn them of an impending low blood sugar, allowing them to treat the condition before suffering the debilitating symptoms of hypoglycaemia.

We have strict rules according to protocol which are currently under development to provide a worldwide protocol about training and working as a Medical Alert Assistance Dog or trainer. When the client/trainer/dog team sustains the targeted level of alerts necessary for graduation, the team will be scheduled to graduate. This will be repeated annually.

Scent Detection Academy/Advanced Canine Technologies ® believes strongly that to provide quality medical alert assistance dogs, for instance to insulin dependent diabetics we need a well thought-out protocol. Expert programs of training and follow-ups. We invest in developing promoting and advocating standards of quality.

We believe our standards include the enhancement of our own work through research, evaluation and monitoring of our own dogs, trainers and clients to continuously improve our processes and the outcomes.

Our wish is that by holding on to our high standards for all our dogs and trainers, detection dogs, biomedical detection dogs, search dogs, tracking dogs and medical assistance dogs will become more accepted, respected and available everywhere in the world.

The current lack of standards and criteria for medical alert assistance dogs raises significant risks to consumers, as well as to the industry as a whole. Scent Detection Academy/Advanced Canine Technologies ® believes that the highest standards possible should be established to assure performance and is constantly redefining training and implementing the latest technologies.

Frequently asked questions

about Medical Assistance & Diabetic Alert Dogs.

or contact us at any time
What is a Service dog and why does it have special rights for access?

Service Dog’s are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities – such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. As a dog with a special task it has to be recognized as a type of assistance dog and has to carry identification to get special access rights.

What is the difference between a Medical Assistance Dog, a Diabetic Alert Assistance Dog and a Medical Response Dog?

Medical Assistance Dogs are service dogs that have been trained to respond to an identifiableelement that is available to their senses in order to provide support to their handler, allowing the handler to address some aspect of that medical condition. Diabetic Alert Assistance Dogs are a specific type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to use their highly sensitive scent capabilities to identify the changes in blood chemistry that occur during rapid changes in blood sugar levels.

Medical Response Dogs are another type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to assist persons based on recognition of symptoms pertaining to a specific medical condition. The differences between medical alert and medical response training is the trigger that the dog has been trained to identify. In the case of a Diabetic Alert Dog, the trigger is the change in blood chemistry, allowing the diabetic to treat hypoglycaemia prior to becoming symptomatic. A Medical Response Dog for diabetes responds to the handler as symptoms are occurring. DAAD’s testing and experience with its clients has shown that there is a 15 to 30 minute difference in this response.

How can dogs be trained to sense when glucose levels are dropping in people with diabetes? What kind of technique do you use?

Our dogs are trained to identify a scent obtained from a diabetic when the diabetic is undergoing a low (blood sugar generally below 4, this is measurement used in NL, in USA it would be below 70). The dog is trained to identify that particular scent from other scents that are presented to them. They must find the one that we are training them to identify. As the dog learns to recognize that particular scent, they are trained to react in a certain way to the handler.

How can the dog notify its handler when it senses a drop in blood sugar?

Our dogs will notify their handler as we teach them to do so. For instance it may be taught to sit and stare at the person, to touch the person with their nose, or to jump up on them. There are several ways to notify their handler that they have smelled the particular scent.

Can you explain how dogs can sense when the blood sugar is going to change?

Dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden retrievers or any other have over 200,000,000 sensors that can smell individual elements in parts per trillion, versus current technology’s ability to identify items in parts per million. Rapid changes in the blood sugar levels cause chemical changes in the body that are expressed through a person’s breath and skin, and include unique chemical elements that the dog can smell. Chemical changes through breath have been long been used to measure blood alcohol levels. Some of those devices can tell the difference between a disabled diabetic with hypoglycaemia from a person suffering from alcohol intoxication. Our experience indicates that the identifiable changes in a diabetic’s chemistry derived from his breath or sweat precedes the measurable change in blood sugar currently measured by glucose meters by 15 to 30 minutes. The dog can be trained to identify the onset of these changes and react to his handler when it is smelled.

Is it hard to train these dogs? How long does it take?

The most highly trained service dogs are specially breed, socialized and trained from birth to 1 year to 18 months when they begin their specialized service training. To properly train the dog to identify the scent and then work with a DAAD handler to properly alert, takes another 6 months to one year. That includes training the dog and the client to become a successful alert team and also so that the dog can be properly accessed in public places. After placement, the client is responsible for all costs of supporting the dog. Additionally, SDA requires its clients to maintain health insurance on its dogs to support extraordinary veterinary or other expenses, the wellbeing of the dog will be the client’s responsibility.

In what situations can these dogs help people with diabetes?

These dogs can be used in many situations and with all types of people, male, female, young and old. They are most valuable in situations where the diabetic is actively managing their blood sugar, with an insulin injections or a pump. These types of clients have more lows than persons using oral medications and they have the lows frequently. The dog is able to assist them in these situations. A diabetic that does not have frequent low blood sugar would not need a dog for this purpose. In the case of children, the dogs assist the parents in providing night time alert coverage. The parents must test multiple times during the night, and the dogs support the oversight beyond that testing. In the case of a new college student, away from home, the dog provides the support that parents previously did, to make sure that the student tests when low, day and night. Living alone can be full of issues when you have this disease and the dog provides the support to make it manageable and gives comfort and the feeling of security.

What type of feedback do you get from people who are paired with trained dogs?

Our feedback is almost entirely positive. Once our clients have gone through our intensive training, they understand what it takes to own a dog and have them as a constant companion. Some people do not see this as an attractive option; accordingly they would not pursue this program, so we generally do not get negative comments that might come from this type of person. However, some individuals that have entered the program have found that working with a dog is very difficult for a variety of reasons, and have not been able to develop a successful alerting team. Others have also found that that the dog does not fit into their lifestyle and have decided that this is type of support is not for them. For the right person, with an understanding of the effort required and the change in their life that the dog will make, this can be a very rewarding opportunity and obtaining a pre trained specifically selected animal can take away these preconceived doubts.

Do you think that with all the hard work required, do the dogs provide sufficient value to your clients to justify the time, effort and money spent to train them to help people with diabetes? Why is that?

Dogs have an incredible ability to help their human companions, and provide very positive feelings for them. With this great aptitude, they are providing something that current technology can’t. These dogs have helped our clients improve their physical and emotional health. We realize that most diabetics will not have the opportunity to obtain a dog like ours. So, we believe that studying the partnership of our dogs and clients can help the entire diabetic community, particularly if the research can point to new ways to monitor and manage blood sugar in diabetics. We would like to see this research help develop a non-invasive device (no needles) to warn people of impending low blood sugar that is faster than current technology. In that way, our dogs will have helped the entire diabetic community. For all these reasons, our program is incredibly worthwhile.

Why does SDA limit its placement of dogs?

After developing extensive experience in placing these highly trained dogs, we evaluated the successes and failures to determine how and why some teams were successful over a long period, and why others were not successful. There were three factors that were apparent in the most successful teams. First, the most successful teams stayed involved with our trainers and the program. When issues arose, they asked for support and did not let initial small alerting or behaviour issues rise to major problems before taking corrective action. Two, dogs placed with families where the parent was responsible for the dog’s behaviour and alerting could not sustain the positive reinforcement of the dog’s behaviour over the life of the dog. Therefore, the dog reverted to more petlike behaviours and did not sustain its working skill over time. Third, our most successful clients understand their diabetes treatment well and use that knowledge in concert with their learned skills as a medical-alert dog handler to understand their dog’s alerting behaviour and how it is helping their diabetes management.

The function these dogs perform is critical to the health and welfare of our clients. Additionally, these dogs are extremely valuable in supporting persons with diabetes. Due to the limited number of dogs that we are able to obtain, train and place, we want all our placements to be successful over their working lives, which last 8 to 10 years. We take the health and welfare of our clients in very seriously and only place dogs that perform this work consistently and reliably. In order to appropriately manage these critical and limited resources to achieve these goals, we have established criteria that point to the best potential for success. Even with these selection and placement criteria in place, long term success is not guaranteed. Any person seeking a dog for these purposes needs to understand the risks, rewards and variable issues that impact the potential for long term success. SDA’s mission includes a dedication to sharing these issues with the public and potential clients to understand these issues.

How can I obtain a dog to assist me with my diabetes?

SDA’s selection criteria, placement processes and application information are strict. If you do not meet our criteria we cannot help in obtaining a dog for this purpose. Contact us for more information and we can provide a more personal consultation as to the possible way forward for prospective clients to become more aware of the possibilities of owning and/or training one of our dogs!

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