Lots of folks are getting a diabetic alert dog now! I am excited and happy for them! As I have stated before these dogs are NOT AN END ALL but they are an extremely useful tool!
As folks attempt to self-train I am seeing some interesting patterns. People WANT IT NOW!!!!! They expect a dog to be a soldier in the war against diabetes. They want consistent scent work from the time the dog comes home. They want perfect obedience. Folks listen it is going to take AT LEAST 2 years to get a RELIABLE CONSISTANT diabetic alert dog IF IT HAPPENS AT ALL! THERE ARE GOING TO BE UPS AND DOWNS. There are going to be missed alerts. ALL SORTS OF THINGS CAN HAPPEN!
IF YOU WANT THE ABOVE THINGS…YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE WORK YOUR BUTT OFF! You are going to need to learn more about dog training and dog behavior than you ever wanted to know. Remember this is in ADDITION to dealing with diabetes and all the other things that you juggle in your life. The interesting thing is that YOU CAN DO EVERYTHING and still FALL SHORT of having a reliable diabetic alert dog! You might end up with a really good pet!
Bravo is an AMAZING DOG! The best I have ever owned or trained, but he is still a dog! YES! YOU HEARD ME...HE IS STILL A DOG! He occasionally throws up on my floor. He woofs when you knock on my door. If he doesn’t like you he will turn away from you. He occasionally will try to steal food. He will beg for food if you let him. Sometimes he pulls on the leash and he is ALWAYS the FUN POLICE at my house. If the younger dogs are having too much fun or gets to excited he will run over and correct them. He is amazing dog but he is STILL A DOG! Training is always and evermore ONGOING! Does it get easier…yes! But I still train or do something with him almost daily! Sometimes I do obedience, sometimes I do field work, sometimes I do agility, sometimes I do scent work, sometimes we go hunting, sometimes we go for a long walk, sometimes he jogs along side my bike, and sometimes we go play ball! EVERY DAY folks! EVERY DAY we do SOMETHING besides alerting!
If you want a quality diabetic alert dog you have to look at and address THE WHOLE DOG! This applies to ANY dog! A pound dog, an imprinted puppy, or a fully trained dog! It doesn’t matter whether you get a free dog or a 20 k one the process is still the same! They are not soldiers…they are dogs! Every part of the dog must be looked at and revisited often. Is the dog getting enough exercise? Is he getting the right food and the right amount of food? Is he healthy and getting proper checks? Is he getting consistent and persistent training in all areas? Is he getting enough rest? With a puppy, does he have a fairly consistent and routine schedule? Are you adding new and challenging things daily? Do you challenge the brain as well as the mind! Any one of these things can throw alerting to scent off, and the dog will stop alerting. Maybe he will start again and maybe not…. scent training is an OFFERED BEHAVIOR. There are so many variables that can impact it! Yes there are MANY things that can enhance and perhaps restart the alert process but STOPPING ALERTING can happen anywhere and anytime. How are you going to handle that if it happens? Are you going to blame the dog for being stupid? Are you going to be angry? Are you going to be scared? Any of those things can stop alerting as well!
Can they burn out?? YES! I have seen that! It is most often because all areas of the WHOLE DOG were not addressed! And trainers kept pounding away at what they want and the dog quits! It isn’t pretty! I have seen my dogs so EXHAUSTED from alerting that they can hardly move! I have seen the frustration build up when I can’t fix my blood glucose no matter how hard I try. Honestly, I have wondered why Bravo hasn’t told me to “go pound sand”.
Folks this is NOT an EASY process. It is always and ever HARD WORK! Is it worth it? ABSOLUTLY but there are no guarantees. It could all be in vain…are you ready for that? They are always FIRST AND FOREMOST DOGS!!! No trainer can ever make a dog anything but a dog. Dog training, scent training, public access, diabetes, and life is a lot for anyone! If you are not going to be COMMMITED to the process, if you cant ENJOY the process and the relationship of having a dog do everyone a favor and get a CBGM (continuous blood glucose monitor)! I have one in the drawer that you can have!