Seizure response dog
Due to the differing needs between each case, every potential seizure dog receives specialized training. Tasks for seizure dogs may include, but are not limited to:
- Summoning help, either by finding another person or activating a medical alert or pre-programmed phone
- Pulling potentially dangerous objects away from the person's body
- "Blocking" to keep individuals with absence seizures from walking into obstacles, streets, and other dangerous areas
- Attempting to arouse the unconscious handler during or after a seizure
- Providing emotional and physical support
- Carrying information regarding the dog and the handler's medical condition
Additionally, some dogs may develop the ability to sense an impending seizure. This behaviour is usually reported to have arisen spontaneously, and developed over a period of time. There have been some studies where dogs were trained to alert impending seizures by using reward-based conditioning – with partial success. Some untrained dogs may help their owners, although there are also reports of dogs that have reacted aggressively or even died as a result of witnessing or anticipating their owner's seizure.
Dogs that are and may become seizure response dogs must be absolutely perfect for the job, and must be capable of maintaining control in every possible situation. Because of the rarity of these certain traits and the difficulty in training seizure response dogs, only a few organizations provide them. However, this number is rising.
Notes and references
- "Questions and Answers About Seizure Dogs". Epilepsy Foundation. 2002-08-19. Retrieved 2006-05-30. Check date values in:
- "All About Seizure Dogs". Epilepsy Foundation. 2001-12-01. Retrieved 2006-05-30. Check date values in:
- Strong V, Brown S, Walker R (1999). "Seizure-alert dogs--fact or fiction?". Seizure. 8 (1): 62–5. PMID 10091851.
- Strong V, Brown S (2000). "Should people with epilepsy have untrained dogs as pets?". Seizure. 9 (6): 427–30. PMID 10986001.
- A cautionary article on Seizure Response Dogs by Epilepsy Foundation (Minnesota)
- Seizure-alert dogs National Geographic News article