Epilepsy Assistance Dogs

Having an Assistance Dog in training (aka smart pupper) I get a lot of questions about what he can or will be able to do and how.

I thought it only fitting to answer one of those questions for #SeizureSmartSeptember, how can he detect seizures and what does he do when I have one?

First of all, how does he detect. Rüya has a natural ability in this area and it’s believed I let off a scent up to several hours before a seizure that humans can’t smell but some dogs can.

His reaction to this is re-enforced by positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is essentially rewarding your dog when they participate in correct behaviours that you would like to encourage. So, when he detects and alerts to a seizure you reward him as to encourage him to continue doing just that.

From there the dog is taught to either stay with the handler and reorientate them, go get somebody to help or roll into the recovery position but all are taught to keep the handler safe. Rüya stays with and protects me during the seizure then stays with me and reorientates me after. We considered teaching him to get somebody but I spend the majority of my time home alone so there is no one to get therefore that would be pointless. Instead he lays with me and grounds me until I feel human-ish again.

So long as the dog has been taught to protect their handler and provide them further safety and independence there’s no wrong option to choose how your dog reacts to the seizures. Any of the aforementioned options do the job the dog is there for. Even if you choose a different path to me and Rüya, we’re both in the right.

Hope this answers your questions.

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