There are numerous adaptations canines possess that enable their astonishing sense of smell. From having roughly 300 million olfactory receptors in the average dog’s nose (compared to humans at 6 million), to utilizing a pheromone specific organ that we do not. Canines are even being able to split their inhalation to fast track a proportion of it directly to their olfactory centre of the brain.
JagerK9 respects and celebrates these incredible attributes and harnesses them in a way that not only provides stimulation and enrichment for the canine, but pairs these abilities with bettering humankind, strengthening the human-animal bond.
Heath Detection and Response Service Dogs (HD-RS Dogs) have been trained to master their incredible sense of smell in order to detect desired scents on demand. These canines are categorized into multiple areas of heath and can perform life-saving detection to notify their handler to oncoming crisis.
The main areas of focus for these canines are seizure detection as well as heart rate, blood sugar and blood pressure monitoring. Understandably, these dogs are in high demand due to the precise nature of their abilities and the time required to hone these skills.
Therefore, Jagerk9 has dedicated itself to work exclusively to provide HD-RS Dogs to people in need. Our lead trainer Quentin de Jager has teamed up with MSAR service dogs to address the increasing need for these health detection abilities. Quentin has vast, global experience in training detection dogs for various law enforcement and conservation organizations this has given him the tools to integrate his knowledge and skills into the HD-RS field. To learn more about Quentin and his experience, visit the “About Us” page.
Some FAQ'S About Health Detection and Response Service Dogs
On average, a Seizure Detection/Alert Service Dog’s predictions or alerts are made 10-30 minutes before the seizure. This gives the handler an opportunity to move to a safe place or position, take medication, call for help, or notify friends, coworkers, or family of the impending seizure.
These dogs are usually assigned to their handler as puppies and work closely with their handler as well as trainer to build their skillset. The puppies are from certified global breeders with proven effectiveness and are held to the utmost world-standards of care.
There is the possibility of certifying an already owned family dog into a service dog, if they fit the profile for seizure detection training. However, only an estimated 15% of dogs are capable of this skill and must be evaluated by a certified trainer prior to pursuing Seizure Detection/Alert Service Dog certification.
There are multiple methods of training these canines undergo, with many skills overlapping with other methods of detection.
- First, with their 300 million smell receptors, canines are capable of smelling extremely subtle changes in the person's biochemistry – notifying them when things are off.
- Second, they can detect fine motor changes or facial expression changes that are not noticeable to the human eye. Domestic dogs are the only animal on the planet that can identify this in humans.
- Third, specific to this type of training, the dog must live through and observe the seizure/episode with the person to experience the sequence of events, as well as pair the specific cues and scents with the experience.
- They are then conditioned and reenforced for picking up on these cues and behaviours, with added specific training for skills that pertain to the episode (see below for additional skill details).
It is important to note that to maintain this level of detection, open communication with the trainers is crucial. Monthly check-ins, 6-month evaluations and yearly certifications are required as we want to know that all of the handler’s needs and expectations are being met and exceeded. Particularly since these skills can save a life, we approach these check-in sessions with the utmost importance.
The dog is trained to perform tasks during or following a seizure to assist the team. These tasks (but not limited to) may include:
- Rolling the handler over to create an open airway
- Clearing vomit from the mouth
- Getting assistance or attention of a care giver
- Operating a panic or call button on a phone,
- Blocking or stopping the handler with postictal* disorientation from stairs and intersections
- Helping the handler to get up or rise from seating
- Guiding a disoriented handler to a pre-set location, exit, caregiver, co-worker etc.
(Note) *The postictal state is the altered state of consciousness after an epileptic seizure. It usually lasts between 5 and 30 minutes, but sometimes longer in the case of larger or more severe seizures, and is characterized by drowsiness, confusion, nausea, hypertension, headache or migraine, and other disorienting symptoms.
It is important to note that no dog can detect 100% of the desired request, every time. The average trainable detection rate is around 90%, with individual variation based on the situation and circumstances of the detection.