Training Your Puppy to be a Diabetic Alert Dog

Training Your Puppy to be a Diabetic Alert Dog. My training manual is in
workbook format with links to online resources, training videos, recommended
products,how to use collect and use scent samples, forms to track
scent training,training checklists, and much more. 122 pages.

# # #

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ellie the Labrador Speaks Up

The first email I read this morning was from Ellie, a chocolate Lab. At nearly two years old, she is a certified diabetic alert dog. She is in college with her 19-year-old handler, Caitlin. And she has apparently learned how to type.
Dear Dee 

I have been such a good puppy! Today mom thought i should try walking off leash by myself. So we took a walk for mommy to go get her lunch from the dining hall. We walked all around the dining hall an i didnt even try to eat anything off the floor. Then while mommy was standing in line to get her wrap i sat and then laid down in my down stay for five whole minutes then mom told me to follow her up to the next spot in line. I got to lay down and listen to mommy tell a whole crowd of people about what i do and even go into details with her fellow diabetic who works in the dining hall. I even got to get petted ( i was very happy about that). Then we walked all the way back to the dorm still with me not wearing my leash. I was so focused on my mommy( she had tasty treats to give me so how could i not focus on her) I think i did well and mommy even took pictures of me and how good i did even with people tellling me to come to them and those pesky birds teasing me( and did i forget to say SQUIRREL!) So i thought i would hijack moms computer and send you this email to see how proud of me you were. Well i have to go get my bath now cuz mom says i stink so i hope i get to talk to you soon. 

Love Ellie :) 

P.S . Ellie took over the computer but i am permitted to type a few words. She did really good and im attaching a few pics of her off leash. I should be getting her hands free leash by Friday and am still trying to get the booties video and am hoping to send it to you no later than the end of the week.
The back story
Caitlin got Ellie as a 10-week-old puppy the summer she was 17, just before starting her senior year of high school. I am Caitlin's service dog trainer. Caitlin is Ellie's trainer. The two of them are simply amazing. They fast tracked everything they did, passing their public access test when Ellie was only a year old. In the fall of 2012, when Ellie was 18 months old - still very young for a service dog - they started college together. And because of Ellie's ability to alert on Caitlin's fluctuating blood sugar levels ... because Ellie can keep Caitlin safe ... that college is out of state. They are away from home, away from family. And they are not just succeeding, they are excelling at everything they do. Together.

To Caitlin and Ellie: Do you remember the ride home after you passed your public access test? What a great day! That's you guys below in the back seat of your Mom's van. How about your first day together in high school? And visiting your college campus last summer? That's you "checking" your blood sugar (above) during your orientation. And then there was October, when you had to stand up for your rights as a service dog team. I am so very proud of both of you!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

The cost of that puppy you want to train as a service dog

AS YOU RESEARCH DIABETIC ALERT DOGS, it is helpful to have an idea of costs involved in acquiring them in a variety of ways. One way to get a DAD is to buy a puppy and train him yourself. What follows are estimates but I hope they will help you make an informed decision about the best road for you and your family.

I start with a Lab puppy because it is the breed I've worked with most ... not because it is the only breed that can do the job. The cost of a Labrador retriever  puppy from a reputable breeder will be between $1,200 and $1,500. This price will usually include the first set of shots, de-worming, and sometimes micro-chipping. It will not include delivery. 
The first year of a puppy’s life is very expensive. The chart below is an estimate of costs for that first year, which vary considerably depending on where you live. The estimate does not include the cost of a fence for your puppy or emergency medical costs if your puppy gets sick or is injured. The first chart does not include diabetic alert dog training. You will find that estimate further down the page.

Annual Costs for a Large Breed Dog
Food (premium dry kibble)
Recurring Medical (exams, vaccinations, heart-worm and flea/tick preventative)
Health Insurance (Some policies cover spay/neuter, vaccinations and heart-worm medication. Deductible will also vary depending on the policy.)
Annual Total
Initial puppy wellness examination
Spay/Neuter (may be covered by insurance)
Service dog vest
Obedience Class
   First Year Subtotal

That $3,130 does not include service dog training. Here is an example of training costs associated with a family training a puppy to become a DAD. These are first-year costs only.
DAD training manual
Phone consultations with DAD trainer – 1 per month x 12 months
Three 2-day in-home visits from DAD trainer
DAD trainer travel expenses for three 2-day visits. These costs depend on location. Airfare is the biggest variable in the list of travel expenses.
Total unique first year costs

Estimated cost of year #1 with
your DAD puppy:

Please understand that training does not end after the first year. You will continue training your DAD pup through his second birthday and beyond. In future posts, I will address the kinds of training your puppy needs (obedience, scent, public access) and some of your other questions, including:
  • Do I have to have the help of a service dog trainer?
  • Can I train my family dog to be a DAD?
  • What other breeds can be DADs other than Labs?
  • Can my DAD be a rescue dog?
  • Do I really need health insurance for my dog?
  • I've never had a dog. How do I know if I can train one? 
  • Can I hire a local obedience trainer to help me?
  • If I don't want to train my own puppy, what are my other options?
For now, continue your research. Engage in conversation with people who have DADs, train them, and breed them. Take your time. Make an informed decision - the right one for your family.

Note: Fees vary among service dog trainers.