To prepare our dogs to save lives, D4D has created a comprehensive training program based on our industry-leading standards. Our training emphasizes standards for:
- Our dogs’ accurate & reliable detection of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia
- Our dogs’ overall & long-term care
D4D’s Scent Detection
Our founder Mark Ruefenacht pioneered our scent detection training. Fueled by scientific research and testing, this training continuously improves to protect our clients’ lives. Our dogs are trained to detect the unique scent of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which when left untreated, can lead to complications, illness, and fatalities. Our dogs are also trained to detect on hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, which when left untreated, can lead to long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, and kidney failure.
Due to a lack of standards and regulations in the industry, many Medical-Alert Service Dogs only perform at 50% detection. At this 50/50 rate, the dog is guessing, flipping a coin, and putting the life of the client at risk. D4D dogs are trained to detect changes in blood sugar at a minimum of 80% but often perform as high as 99.73% . We strive for this high standard of performance to ensure that the safety and health of our clients are not left up to chance.
To achieve our standards, we have developed a unique quality check in our dog training. D4D has extensively trained and tested two proof dogs that confirm the blood sugar of each scent before it is introduced to dogs-in-training. This step, along with a control of a human scent without hypoglycemia, informs our detailed scientific processes.
Please note, we only train dogs which are received through our established organizational partnerships. We do not train dogs from other sources or personal dogs to be Medical-Alert Service Dogs or a Diabetes Buddy Dogs. Thank you for your understanding!
Overall & Long-Term Care for Our Dogs
In order for D4D dogs to provide life-saving support and emotional companionship, they receive what they need for their own happiness. Their well-being is always in loving hands. We receive our dogs from our trusted partners, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, and they are nurtured by our Canine Training Partners. All of these loving hands properly socialize and train our dogs, nurturing them to be safe and reliable partners for our clients.
What’s our approach to training our dogs? Fun, of course! Our team of professional trainers care for our dogs with the most humane practices, like positive-reinforcement, marker-based training, and food rewards. Our dogs love their purpose, and our training includes adventures that expose them to the full rainbow of life. After all, our dogs accompany our clients throughout a range of activities, as these life-saving teams thrive in the face of diabetes.
In our efforts to maintain the highest standards, our trainers are also proactive in identifying concerns and modifying training efforts based on data. After a dog is placed with a client, teams also continue to train with us to maintain the best care for our dogs.