Seizure response dogs: evaluation of a formal training program

Epilepsy Behav. 2008 Oct;13(3):499-504. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.05.011. Epub 2008 Jul 1.


Evidence supporting seizure-related behaviors in dogs is emerging. The methods of seizure response dog (SRD) training programs are unstudied. A standardized survey was retrospectively applied to graduates of a large SRD program. Subjective changes in quality of life (QOL) parameters were explored. Data were captured on animal characteristics, training methods, response and alerting behaviors, effects on seizure frequency, and accuracy of epilepsy diagnosis. Twenty-two patients (88%) participated (median age=34, range=12-66, 73% female). Most had childhood-onset epilepsy (87%) that was refractory with averages of 36 seizures/month and 4.8 medications failed. All had neurologist-confirmed epilepsy, most being symptomatic partial (64%). SRD behaviors were reliable, including emergency response system activation in 27%. All reported SRD-related QOL improvements (major 82%, moderate 18%) across multiple parameters. Spontaneous alerting behavior developed in 59%. That SRD programs may select genuine epilepsy patients, instill valuable assistance skills, and generate meaningful QOL improvements supports further seizure dog research.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Child
  • Dogs*
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Seizures / rehabilitation*
  • Young Adult