Training Service Dog 1 & 2-way Sound Alerts

I am just in love with the videos and work being done by the Vancouver Island Assistance Dogs, Nanaimo, British Columbia. They are a group of volunteers who are helping people on Vancouver Island to overcome or mitigate the difficulties of living with disabling conditions (no matter the degree of severity) by assisting them to train their own mobility assistance dog, hearing dog and/or other service dog at no cost to them. Besides doing in-home training for individuals in the Nanaimo area, they offer email, their great blog, and also video support for those in other regions.

The video below from Donna Hill details Training a One Way Alert to Service Dogs (Hearing and Medical Alert Dogs). It is simply fabulous. We don’t have hearing difficulties but can see how teaching this behavior could be a life-saving one. The way the task is broken down is excellent, and just wonderful for those folks who are training their own hearing dog. The video helps folks to train a service dog to alert you to sounds (hearing alerts) and do diabetic and other medical alerts.

Note the star (*) indicates when the clicker marks the behavior. Also, realize that barking is not a behavior that is desirable for an alert behavior for assistance dogs. In public is is disruptive and is only used for emergencies to call attention to a person that needs help. That is why a silent alert is much more effective.

Remember, the same process shown in the video can be used to train for:

  • Person calling your name
  • Wake up alarm
  • Fire alarm
  • Smoke Detector
  • Horn honking
  • Car or truck backing up
  • Low blood sugar levels (diabetic alert)

This next video details a two way alert

Donna provides the following variations on these training methods:

To train other sounds to alert to, substitute the desired sound for the alarm clock example used in the video. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, try to find a sound that can be attached to a flashing light so you have an indication of when to click and reward your dog for an indication.

To Train a Diabetic or low (or high) blood sugar alert, use a sample of your blood or sweat collected when your blood levels are low (or high) and substitute for the treat under the container. You will definitely need to train your dog to be persistent if you are sleeping or starting to go into diabetic shock. Choose a blood sugar level where you can still function and think so it’s not dangerously low.

To Train an Alzheimer’s alert, use the sound of the patient’s chair as he gets out of it to alert the caregiver he is on the move. You may need to attach a piece of metal or wood so the end of the chair hits the floor with a louder sound.

Learn more about hearing dogs here and our listing of general service dog resources here.

And, be sure to check out our Nationwide Assistance Dog Group & Training Listing here.


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