Epilepsy service dogs are trained companions that assist and protect their owners. People who suffer from epilepsy are prone to seizures, which can place them in dangerous positions. Service dogs are trained to react to these seizures by providing security, finding help, activating an alarm or lying across the body until the seizure subsides. The Epilepsy Foundation states that some dogs can sense a seizure before it occurs. Many non-profit groups pair service dogs with owners. Some people already have dogs and would like to have them certified to be their companion. You can learn to train a service dog to receive certification and assist those with epilepsy.
Examine the temperament of the dog you wish to train. No specific breed has shown to be more adaptive to this training. The most determining factor of a successful service dog is their behavior. You need an obedient dog that is good natured. Service dogs are usually trained from the time they are puppies, but training can also be achieved with older dogs that follow commands. This is especially true if the owner already has a strong relationship with the dog.2
Contact an epilepsy foundation. You can search for local branches through any American epilepsy foundation website such as Epilepsyfoundation.org. Become involved in a service dog training program. Epilepsy service dogs need to train around people suffering from seizures.3
Train your dog to react to seizures by placing it in the company of people with epilepsy. If a dog witnesses a seizure and is given a treat afterward, it will become more reactive and intuitive to oncoming seizures.4
Recognize the ways in which the dog reacts to the seizures. As time goes on, the dog will display certain behaviors while the seizure is happening or perhaps even before it happens as some dogs may learn to pick up on pre-seizure behavior. Some dogs may bark, some may jump or paw at the ground. Any of these reactions is good, and the dog should be rewarded after the seizure. This will ensure that the dog will remain with its owner for the duration of the seizure.5
Seek advanced training from professionals. It can take years to train a service dog, and trainers can be expensive. If you have already laid the groundwork for the training, it will be easier for the dog to learn advanced service techniques such as laying down on the person having the seizure. Many non-profit organizations offer assistance programs with service dog training. Visit the websites of Assistancedogsinternational.org or Pawswithacause.org.
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