Alert dogs

I worry so much about how well my son will manage his T1 once he moves out on his own. He doesn’t recognise lows at night and will sleep straight through a Dexcom alarm. I would love to get him an alert dog to take to college with him. He is only 11 so I have a while to consider and fundraise. Anyone have an alert dog for themselves or a child? How well has it worked out?

Tslim better have the low shut off by then! :blush: I’ll probably be the mom at the kegger with his meter and some glucose tabs…reminding him that beer has gluten. Right now, he is all about getting an alert dog but I can imagine that might change as he gets older. He might not want the attention that having an alert dog would bring. He told me it might help him pick up ladies. Lol


I’ve lived with a hypoglycemia alert dog for seven years now. I was paired with Norm when I was 57. It was one of the best choices I’ve ever made, diabetes or otherwise. The help with hypo alerts is very useful to me and the emotional support surprised me. I never had a dog before and I live alone.

Having said that, I realize that diabetes alert dogs (DAD) are not for everyone. Going through life with a service dog publicly advertises that you have a disability. On the positive side, it gives the dog-handler opportunities every day to talk with the curious dog-loving public about diabetes.

I’m aware of college students who successfully paired up with a DAD. Success with a DAD all depends on the individual personality of the person with diabetes.

I am affiliated with Early Alert Canines (EAC), a non-profit agency that trains alert dogs for diabetes work. EAC is selective about which applicants they choose to invite to team training and dog placement. The agency seeks candidates who are vigilant and consistent with their diabetes care and ones who look like they will take good care of the dog.

They place dogs with all ages of people. For those younger than about 12, they place a “skilled companion” dog that works primarily in the home and may not come with full public access capability. For those 12 and older, they train and place a fully scent-trained and obedient service dog who has been exposed as a puppy to a variety of normally human-only settings like grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and public transit. EAC gets its dogs from other non-profits that breed and raise dogs for service work like guiding the sight-impaired and assisting with mobility challenges.

I only paid a nominal fee for my dog. Be aware that there are some trainers who place dogs for large sums of money, like $20K, and then offer little to no ongoing support after placement. Some (not all!) are simply in it for the money and matching the dog with the right human is not high on their list of priorities.

I encourage you to make this decision carefully and if your son continues to express an interest, it may be one of the best things to do for him. Good luck!


Would a baby monitor have feedback if the receiver and xmitter are in the same room? If not, then place the Dex receiver next to the baby monitor, and crank up the volume on the baby monitor speaker so that it’s very loud. Just a suggestion; I’ve never owned or even seen a baby monitor in action.

Thank you. Very helpful! It will be a few years because I want him to have one when he goes out on his own and I want him to be mature enough to handle the responsibility. If all goes well, I will probably start the process when he is around 16. For now, he has a diabetes alert mom.

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I have a very smart ‘regular’ dog, and trained him to respond to my dexcom alerts.

There is a TRY it mode on dexcom, so we practiced with that. He gets treats when he responds, by either coming over to sit near me, or pawing at me for the obnoxious 55 low alerts.

Hi T1Mom6

Terry4 makes some very good points. I do fundraising work for a local D-Alert dog organization. The cost for the service animals both in pup training, care, and user training/time commitment can be significant. IMHO if you do pursue an alert dog, do your research first. What is the acquisition cost, yearly upkeep cost, what quantity of training prior to and after placement is required, what support by the placement service is offered for after placement. Wish you the best of luck!

This is slightly different (though I would really love a gluten-sniffing dog…), my daughter (not diabetic) used to sleep so deeply when she was young. As she went through puberty, her sleep patterns changed. She sleeps lightly now, almost as if her body is prepping her for upcoming motherhood …in a decade or so, I hope.

So, he might react to his alarm better as he matures.

Agree with the gluten sniffing dog. Maybe a diabetes/celiac alert dog. I hope he gets better with alarms as he matures. He is easy to wake in the morning but through the night he is completely out. If he is anything like my husband, he’ll never grow out of it. Lol

Some people here have suggested putting the Dexcom receiver in a metal bowl with coins (or other loose metal stuff) because that makes a lot of noise when the alarm goes off. Perhaps that might wake up your son?

Thanks. We actually use an Ipod as his receiver and it’s really loud. It sounds like a tornado siren and he sleeps right through it. I was thinking of connecting his Ipod to a high quality bluetooth speaker to magnify the sound. Now it’s fine because it also alerts on my phone and I go wake him up. I just want him to have the support and security of an alert dog when he goes out on his own.

I agree with Cycling Lady that your son actually may sleep less deeply when he matures. Studies show that most young children do not wake up to blaring smoke alarms in homes, yet most teenagers and adults hear them and wake up at the first screech. If sound is not the answer for your son, will motion work? Could he have something near him that would vibrate or create some sort of shaking to awaken him if his Dexcom alarm goes off? Just a thought. Oh, and your son is correct: dogs are always a chick-magnet, so his social life may improve immensely with a canine companion.

Thank you. I hope so. His pump alerts and vibrates on his hip and Ipod sounds the alarm. Nothing. Lol chick magnet…he might have used those exact words.

I am wondering the best approach to deal with college. The EAC as mentioned appears to work with residents of CA, OR and NV as well as having a large backlog. $20k is the similar range I have heard for a trained low-BG scent canine.

I am wondering if this might be a practical approach.

I might wait to see if this does get released this Summer (2018) as per Tandem’s goal and if so, how effective it is.

Even assuming the Tandem PLGS update is released on schedule, I am still thinking the canine self-trained approach as mentioned by @MM1 might be a very reasonable and practical solution (in conjunction with the Tandem technology update).

@MM1 - How old was your dog when you started the training to respond to the Dexcom Alert sound and how long did it take before your dog was responding consistently? Also - if the Dexcom alarm goes off and your dog is sleeping, will it wake your dog up and then will your dog be persistent enough to wake you up even if you are deep asleep and not easily responding?

I think @MM1’s tactic to train her pet to respond to CGM audible alerts is a sound one. She and I have talked about this a few times over the last few years. The big advantage in doing this is that it’s available to many more people than a fully trained service dog. I believe that the public access skills and traits are actually the more difficult skills for many dogs to accomplish while learning to respond to an audible cue can provide canine help to a wider population.

Using the Dexcom alarms “Try It” function under the Profiles menu on the G4 Share receiver provides a ready cue to use to teach your dog.

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I got my dog as a puppy, found abandoned in a box, about 6-7 weeks old. That was before dexcom, and medtronic CGMS. He is a terrier mix, medium size dog. I got dexcom in 2010 and not sure when I got the idea to train him. Probably 2014ish, when he was around 8, but I had also done normal dog training with him and taught him a few cute tricks. He was a great learner and very treat driven, which made it easy.

I also work from my home, so he is with me most of the time and have a great bond. That was a solid starting point.

As for night time lows, I usually hear the low alert before it gets to the 55 alarm. So have not been alerted at night by my dog for a 55 alert. However when I have napped on my couch, and hit 55, (usually after exercise) my dog has woken me up. But I don’t get that 55 alert too often, and have not tried to train him on the low alert.
About once a week or so, I reinforce using the Try it option on dexcom, and he gets treated when he paws at me.
Hope that helps.

EDIT : one additional safety I use is the auto off on my Minimed 523. I set it to 12 hours. If there are no button presses on pump in 12 hours, it will suspend, somewhat mimicking the low glucose suspend.

There is a similar topic on FUdiabetes with new options I had not heard before. Here is a link.
High school son, alarms