Diabetes Alert Dogs

A Diabetes Alert Dog uses scent detection to recognize the changes in the blood sugar levels of their Friend For Life (paired human living with Type 1 diabetes) and alert to impending changes.

How Does A DAD Alert?

The alert develops through the training and placement of the dog with their Friend for Life. It usually begins with a nudge of the hand. The dog will escalate the alert by pawing and/or licking until the communication is acknowledged.

How Does A DAD Recognize Changes In Blood Sugar?

Dogs have a keen sense of smell. Classical conditioning is used to train the dog initially to the scent of low blood sugar breath which is collected in special filters. When the dogs sniff the odour they get a reward. The dog is then trained to respond to the odour. They learn to connect the recognition of the odour to an action – the alert.

How Long To Train?

This is a difficult question to answer definitively. Each situation is unique. Decisions are made based on each child, their family and the dog. 

International standards suggest a two-year training period prior to service dog certification. This includes initial socialization of the puppy followed by basic obedience and public access training that accompanies the scent training. Ongoing collaboration with the trainer and the family is essential. The family must keep a training log, provided by the trainer, while the dog is in the family home. This will help to identify training progress and bonding with the youth.

What Are the Costs To Train?

Service dog training over the two-year training period costs $20,000.00 – $25,000.00. The cost of the puppy varies depending on breed and breeder fees. The Sweet Charity trainers support the family in choosing and assessing an appropriate puppy to meet the individual child’s needs. A family commits to two installments of $3,500.00 as well as support for fundraising with a Sweet Charity fundraising team.

How To Apply

Interested families are encouraged to email programs@sweetcharity.ca The Sweet Charity Lead Trainer or Board member will reply in order to discuss the program. An application will then be emailed to the applicant. Once the application is received, a member of the application committee will contact the family to indicate if Sweet Charity is able to proceed to support the child’s needs. The Sweet Charity team will then meet with the family to review the Diabetes Alert Dog agreement.

*** As a small charity we are recognizing the increasing needs for service dogs. However, due to the number of pending applications and our charity’s limited resources, we will only be able respond to requests after 2019, noting that they will be “on hold” until further notice .***


Stories From Noah and Carson

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