They are an alarm system. They are helpers, protectors and service providers. So-called seizure response dogs can be all these things – and more.
The term "seizure dog" covers a variety of activities associated with a service dog's response to an epilepsy seizure. Some dogs have been trained to bark or otherwise alert families when a child has a seizure while playing outside or in another room. Some dogs learn to lie next to someone having a seizure to prevent injury. Others are said to be able to activate alarm systems. Dogs that are trained to respond in various ways when someone has a seizure are no different from service dogs for other disabilities. Public interest in seizure assistance dogs has fueled demand for dogs with these skills. Some people with epilepsy have found that trained seizure dogs help them with securing speedy assistance when a seizure occurs or alerting others for help. Dogs can be trained as service animals for people with seizures and the law protects a person's right to use the animal in any public place.
Questions and Answers: Seizure Dogs
What is a seizure dog?
A seizure dog is a dog that has been trained (or has learned) to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy.
Is "seizure dog" the official name?
It is the name that is most often used. Some people distinguish between dogs that respond to someone who is having a seizure (seizure response dog) and dogs that appear to know when a seizure is going to occur (seizure predicting dog).
What do seizure dogs do?
A response dog might be trained to bark when a child has a seizure so that family members know what is happening. Or, a seizure dog may put its body in between the seizing individual and the floor to break the fall at the inception of a seizure. Some seizure dogs may even be trained to activate some kind of pre-programmed device such as a pedal that rings an alarm.
How can someone get a seizure dog?
It depends what your goals are. If you are looking for a seizure response dog, you can discuss what you want the dog to do and work out a plan with a trainer. However, getting a dog with the special skill of recognizing seizures in advance is another matter. Any claims by trainers that they can produce this type of behavior in a dog should be looked at very carefully, especially when the training is expensive. While some people report success, others have been disappointed. More research is needed to better understand what dogs can and cannot do, whether there are differences between breeds, and how best to develop this unique skill.
Read the personal story of a boy and his seizure dog.
Spencer calls his seizure dog, Lucia, his best friend. His mother calls Lucia, "an extra set of eyes and ears." Read more about Lucia & Spencer's personal story.