What is a D.A.D.?
A Diabetes Alert Dog is trained to identify the scent that is produced when a diabetic’s blood sugar changes from a “normal” range. The DAD is given a signal to alert his handler that the blood sugar is not what it should be—the alert can vary depending on the training. We train our dogs to “paw” the thigh. The handler does not have to be the diabetic. For instance, if the diabetic is an infant or toddler, the DAD’s handler would be a parent. In that case, the dog would be taught to alert the parent.
While it is true that a DAD can be trained to identify both high and low blood sugar, we train our dogs to only key-in on the “low”. A low blood sugar reading can be corrected quickly and brought back to “normal” within 15 minutes (depending on the amount of active insulin in the body). However, as all diabetics know, a high reading can take hours to correct, depending on the issue causing the spike (sickness, adrenaline, too little insulin, clogged tubing, etc.). This would be very frustrating for both the DAD and his person, as the dog is trained to alert until the scent is gone. Imagine having a dog pawing you for hours! Eventually, you would stop rewarding him, and consequently, he would stop alerting you. You NEVER want this to happen!!! A well-trained Diabetes Alert Dog brings a peace to the diabetic’s family that is incomparable.