Dogs can actually be trained to alert to seizures?
We are very aware that most of what is said about seizure alert dogs
opposes this idea - but we strongly disagree. Our training methods vary
greatly from what is traditionally taught. We will not hide our secret,
because this knowledge is not something that should be hidden. When
other schools adopt our methods and begin training their dogs with the
same techniques more people will be helped - and that is our greatest goal!
With any amount of research you will have read that only certain dogs can
alert to seizures - that it is something they do naturally - and they cannot be
taught to perform this miracle.
Let us explain our difference in thought;
The dogs who alert naturally to seizures are the dogs that care; these dogs are
distressed that their beloved handler is having a seizure. Why do they care you ask?
Because they are naturally anxious dogs by breed and personality. Many of these dogs
are displaying outward signs from their distress of knowing their handler is about to
have a seizure, such as barking, whining, pacing, clinging to their handler, etc., but
many other dogs are alerting in their own way by yawning, licking their paws, or hiding
in another room, of which are all also signs of distress from a dog - it is just that in many
of these cases the handler would never put two and two together; that their dog is
licking its paws 20 minutes before every seizure for example. But in the hopes that the
dog will naturally alert in a visible way trainers will hand-pick dogs who are naturally
anxious, hoping that the dog will inadvertently alert the owner before the seizure occurs.
This is where we go further.
We do not believe that only anxious dogs can sense seizures - we believe that ALL
dogs can sense them - but that not all of them care.
So how do we get them to care?
We play what is called 'the alert game' with our dogs. When we say ALERT the dog is
trained to paw at our leg to get a tasty treat that is reserved only for this amazingly fun
game. The dog starts to LIVE for this game! They can hardly wait to play it. Then here
comes the miracle ...
When the disabled recipient comes to San DIego for Handler Training we show them
how to play the alert game, and we make certain the dog loves playing it with their new
handler.... Then we cut off the game.
We instruct the disabled recipient to only play the game right after they are recovering
from a seizure. Pretty soon the dog realizes that the only time they get to play this
amazing game is when their handler has a seizure. The dog senses the chemical
changes in their handler's body - they know a seizure is about to happen - they know
the game is about to happen - and they come over and paw at their handler's leg to play
The dog is saying, "Hey, it's time to play the game!"
The handler knows, "My dog says I'm about to have a seizure."
All we need is a dog who pays attention to their surroundings, and a dog who likes
food. We don't have to guess anymore about what dog is anxious enough, and how
might the dog inadvertently alert to the seizures, and will the dog ever put two and two
We truly hope that more trainers pick up on this - we won't care that they are using our
techniques - after all, we are here to help as many people as possible.
Our dogs are also trained to assist after a seizure. They are trained to locate and retrieve
a phone for their handler to call for help if needed. They are also trained to help brace or
balance their handler for stability after a seizure. In certain cases recipients will ask that
the dog be trained to retrieve a family member in another room.
Seizure Alert Dogs for Children and Infants
Because of our alert game we can train the dog to alert a parent that their child is going
to have a seizure. No more worrying! It is such a relief for parents to know when their
child will have a seizure.
* Dogs usually alert to seizures in consistent time intervals - for example, one dog will
consistently alert 15 seconds in advance, while another dog alerts consistently 50 minutes in
advance. There have not been enough case studies to determine if these time frames are
based on the specific dog, or based on the person.
* No trainer should ever guarantee a dog's level of assistance because all dogs are different.
However, our number one goal is to get you a dog that is alerting to your seizures in advance.
If the dog does not do that, we will exchange that dog for another, at no cost for the dog. After
all, if the dog is not assisting you, then what is the point?
Is a Little Angels Seizure Alert Dog right for me?
You must ...
1)Have seizures more than twice a month on average in order for the dog to experience
them often enough to learn to recognize them.
2)Have strong communication skills and the ability to be consistent with a dog regarding
3)Have a love for dogs.
4)Have patience to work through problems. (Even a trained dog is still a dog.)
5)Have finances to provide your dog with veterinary care and maintenance for the next
6)Be willing to travel to San Diego, California for handler training, preferably with a friend
or family member for support.
Hander Training is where the disabled party learns how to work with the dog as a team. This
generally takes 7-14 days, with training every day. This is when the dog learns to respond to
the commands of the handler, and when the handler learns how to reinforce the training that
the dog has already received. We cover practical, day-to-day life experiences so you will feel
confident taking the dog into your care. We work in real-life situations such as outings to
shopping malls, restaurants, and parks so you will feel comfortable taking the dog with you
into the public setting.
After the completion of Handler Training we work together on a series of field tests, which are
administered by the trainer. After graduation, you and your dog will be certified as a working
team. A certification card will be provided to the handler, as well as a service vest and
identification tag for your dog, which labels him or her as a service animal.
We have a lifetime commitment to each
recipient and each dog that we place.
Once you and your dog have graduated we maintain contact to insure that your dog's training
and assistance remains in tact,
that the dog remains healthy and happy,
and that the dog is improving your quality of life.
What are the steps involved for receiving a Seizure Alert Dog?
Step 1: Request an application via the request form below.
The application is sent to you via email.
Step 2: Return the application for review.
Your application is received via email, and you will receive
a response within 2 business days in most cases.
Step 3: If accepted we will contact you to schedule a phone
The consultation is an average of 60 minutes where we discuss realistic expectations of how a service
dog can assist you, and to make sure you are a good fit for one of our dogs.
Step 4: Agreement.
If we believe one of our service dogs can assist you we will write out a customized agreement and ask you
to review your final decision with friends and family.
Step 5: Return your agreement with your $500.00 deposit, to be
added to our waiting list.
The deposit is your sign to us that you are committed to the program. Once this is received we begin
fundraising for the costs associated with your dog. Some recipients also choose to be added to our
website under the 'Donations' page - this is a personal decision and is not a requirement.
Step 6: Fundraising.
We raise funds individually for each recipient. We need to raise an average of $9,000.00 for each Seizure
Alert Dog that goes through our school in order to cover all training, medical, and boarding expenses. If
possible, we ask each recipient to be involved in the fundraising process when they can.
Step 7: Specialized Training.
Once the funds are met we move your dog in from one of our foster homes, into specialized training.
Specialized training takes 3-4 months in addition to the months of training they have already had in our
Step 8: Handler Training.
During handler training we work with you, one-on-one, and show you how to reinforce the training your
dog has already had. Once you and your dog graduate our program we stay in daily contact for the first
month, followed by monthly, and bi-yearly consultations for reports on your dog's ability to continuously
provide assistance to you.
Please contact us by email to request an application, and the
The Epilepsy Connection and Little Angels Service Dogs have
partnered to both educate and place service dogs with those
who suffer from seizure disorders.
Please visit www.MYEC.org for the Epilepsy Connection