Do you train diabetes service dogs?

Mobility service dogShort answer: No.

Long answer: Yes and no.

  • According to other service dog trainers, there's a huge problem with what is called "client compliance," which is basically that it's too much to ask the handler with severe diabetes to keep up the training. In other words, the training can be done, but the client would continually need to reward the dog with practice sessions each week for the rest of its life (or else the training will slowly extinguish).
  • However, we have trained a mobility service dog (for a woman who had her leg amputated) and this responsive, smart, bonded dog who had "learned how to learn" started spontaneously alerting his handler to her low blood sugar (from the smell of ketones on the handler's breath) and twice he has alerted to when her blood sugar dropped to 25. Both times the handler was sleeping, and once the dog woke her up and the other time she wouldn't awake so the dog went into the other room and awoke the husband. The handler tells us that without her service dog she most certainly would have slipped into a coma.