Dogs for Diabetics, Inc.’s (D4D) primary objective in all its training programs is to provide a successful placement of a trained medical-alert dog to a capable insulin-dependent client/handler.
D4D measures that success by the client/dog team’s development of a reliable alert process on the client’s low blood sugar events and consistently sustaining that process over time.
The dog as a support tool provides a means to transform the client’s diabetes management in several ways. Of greatest importance, the client will develop increased confidence in their insulin therapy, due to the ability of the dog to warn them of an impending low blood sugar, allowing them to treat the condition before suffering the debilitating symptoms of hypoglycemia.
The potential positive outcomes of a successful placement are many, starting with increased testing that is specifically targeted to verify and avoid the hypoglycemic event. This allows the client to better control their insulin usage and to control the effects of their diet; their exercise; their stress and other factors impacting their metabolism. Additional, potential outcomes include avoidance of severe hypoglycemic episodes; improved A1C tests; increased exercise; increased socialization; and reduction of depression.
Client Training Program
D4D provides 100 hours of classroom and field training to be completed by each client. The training is provided at the D4D Nylabone Training center and selected field locations through a series of weekend and evening sessions scheduled over a 3 to 4 month period of time. During the training sessions, clients will work with a variety of dogs.
The classroom work is comprehensive and covers the topics noted below:
- D4D Program information, guidelines and contracts;
- Assistance Dog History and Etiquette;
- Workplace and School Accommodation Laws, Public Access and Housing Laws;
- Introduction to the Dog’s World: Commands, Corrections, Behavior Modification, Dog Body Language;
- Living with your Dog: Feeding, Relieving, Riding in Vehicles, Play & Exercise, Equipment, Daily Routines;
- Grooming & Health Care: Grooming, Health & Illness, Preventive Measures, Safety, Poisons, First Aid, CPR;
- Hypoglycemic Alert Training and Charting.
Field work will include all types of dog handling to develop skills and confidence in the following areas:
- Basic dog handling;
- Transport of the dog in private vehicles;
- Public access to stores, malls and restaurants;
- Public Transportation: BART, Buses, Taxis and Air Transportation;
- Alert Training at home and in field to develop reliable and consistent alerts.
Clients will be matched with a dog, during or after completion of the Training Class, under a Trial Placement Agreement. The Trial Placement Agreement provides for placement of a dog with a client for up to one year, subject to various goals and expectations.
If a suitable match is not available from our current pool of trained dogs, a dog may not be placed until a suitable match is identified from the dogs that enter the training cycle after the class is completed.
D4D does not place dogs that are inappropriate to the capabilities of the client. While waiting for placement, clients are encouraged to participate in training and support classes that are available to all D4D clients.
Trial Placement, Coaching & Weekly Reporting
After a Trial Placement is made, clients will begin a rigorous period of working with their dog to develop a reliable and consistent alert process on their low blood sugar events. D4D requires daily logs to be maintained and submitted weekly for evaluation by D4D’s training staff. D4D has established expectations for initial levels of alerting and monthly progression levels to be achieved.
Coaching by phone and additional training will be provided as appropriate over a period of time that can be as short as two months or as long as six months. If expected alerting levels are not achieved, the team dynamics will be evaluated to determine what issues may be impacting progress.
Graduation and Permanent Placement
When the client/dog team sustains the targeted level of alerts necessary for graduation, the team will be scheduled to graduate. Subsequent to graduation, the client will be provided a Permanent Placement Agreement. That agreement establishes the conditions of the client’s relationship with D4D over the working life of the dog.
Post Graduation Training and Support
D4D provides monthly training sessions at the Nylabone Training Center for graduated clients. Additionally, local support groups have been organized to help clients with their dogs as they move forward. We require that clients participate in a minimum number of training sessions each year to assure continued success.
In accordance with D4D’s role as an accredited service dog organization, and to comply with requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, D4D requires its clients to recertify as a working service dog team each year.
No Guarantee of Dog Placement
D4D’s objective is to place dogs with clients to develop a reliable and consistent level of alerting
on the client’s hypoglycemia. It cannot and does not guarantee that every Trial Placement of a dog with a client will be successful. Accordingly, a change in the dog may be needed to find a better match to work with a particular client.
If a client/dog team is unable to achieve a level of consistent and reliable alerts, it will not be certified for service work.
If a trial placement is not successful, the dog will be returned to D4D to determine if it can be successfully placed with another prospective client. If, in D4D’s sole determination, a dog is not suitable for medical alert dog service work, it will be career changed in accordance with its placement policies and its agreements with its dog donor organizations.
Lastly, if a client does not develop the skills necessary to safely and properly handle a service dog in public, and/or develop the targeted level of alerting, D4D retains the right to not place a dog with that client from our limited supply of trained medical alert dogs.