Service dogs most often bring to mind guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf. Seizure-alert dogs serve their people by warning of an oncoming seizure, allowing time for safety precautions like lying down, taking medication, or proactively calling for assistance.
The ability to sense an oncoming seizure appears to be strongly innate to some dogs, requiring testing for the ability before selection for training. Alert behaviors to warn of an impending seizure episode range from whining or barking to pawing or pacing. Dogs are trained to be persistent, engaging in the alert behavior until they’ve won their person’s full attention.
Other dogs serve as seizure-response dogs. These canine companions don’t alert ahead of a seizure, but know what to do when one occurs. They might be trained to activate an alarm to call for help, for example, or to fetch a telephone, or simply lie next to their person to protect against injury. Many seizure-alert dogs learn these valuable behaviors as well. To learn more, visit the Assistance Dogs International website.