Service dogs are valuable resources to people with certain disabilities and help them function independently. A segment of these dogs is referred as seizure dogs. They assist people with epileptic and non-epileptic seizures. There are seizure alert dogs, seizure detection dogs and seizure response dogs and they have subtle differences. Some detect and respond to seizures.
- Seizure alert or detection dogs: These dogs are trained detect an incoming seizure. The dogs alert the handle by exhibiting signs like pawing, staring or nosing at the handler. This helps the handler to get the necessary assistance required. Seizure detection dogs can be also be trained to respond to seizures.
- Seizure response dogs: They are trained to respond to seizures by helping the handler to find help. They protect handlers from injuries occurring during a seizure. They are also trained to alert other people about the seizure. Such dogs can carry out tasks like fetching medication/alert device, turn lights on and off and open/close doors.
Seizure dogs are different from Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). Seizure dog handlers may have questions like, ’What is an ESA animal?’ and ‘Is my seizure dog an ESA?’ Both provide assistance to their owner in some way but unlike seizure dogs that assist in seizures, ESAs don’t require special training and provide emotional support to people with emotional disabilities.
Your pet can be an ESA but only trained dogs can serve as seizure dogs. Visit ’Support Pets’ to know more on service dogs and ESAs. Their page sheds light on different assistance dogs and helps in registering an ESA.
Seizure dog training:
Only few dogs have the skill set and right temperament to become a seizure dog. Puppies are analyzed and intense training is given if they are considered suitable. Training begins when the puppies at about 8 weeks old. The selected dogs undergo obedience, house and socialization training. They are also screened to check if they are still ideal candidates for seizure dogs.
The ones which do well in the initial phase go through more advanced training. The training duration is about 2 years. The size of the dog also matters since small dogs would not find it easy to pull wheelchairs or retrieve items.
General tasks performed by seizure response dogs:
- They bark to alert family members/care giver about the seizure
- They are trained to lie down near their handle during a seizure to prevent injuries
- Some dogs stand right next to their handler to break the fall
Seizure response dogs assist their owners during dangerous situation. They are true life-savers.