Life Saving Dogs

Show Notes

The Journey is rooted  deep in teaching, training and learning. While on a recent trip with Freedom Hunters, Heath met a veteran with a medical alert K9. After a conversation with the owner, Brian, Heath decided to learn more about how we are using dogs to prevent medical emergencies. In this episode Heath talks to Dr. Jennifer Cattet about the process of selection, training and the vital roll these dogs play in the medical world. Dr Cattet received her PHD in animal behavior and psychology. She started a K9 program in the prison system in 2008 and quickly learned how the dog could assist on the medical side with inmates. What we learn is no matter what task, function or purpose we all use the dogs for their superior senses and abilities. The natural instincts of the dog are going to blow your mind on this episode of the Journey. 

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] The Houseman XP podcast Network is taking you on the journey. Your host, master trainer, Heath Hyatt, will combine his decades of experience as a homan and as a professional trainer that will light the path forward and make our PACS lighter on this lifelong journey to become better hunters and hounds men.

There are no shortcuts, so lace up those boots and grab a dog leash. The journey begins now

we are going to Indianapolis, Indiana, and we're gonna talk about medical alert dogs. We're gonna talk about how we train them. What you can train 'em for some of the things that they look for when they do train 'em. And we're just showing everybody that the value [00:01:00] of a dog and no matter what we're doing, that dogs have such a high purpose in life that a lot of us take for granted.

But today I'm with Dr. Jennifer Cat. Got it. And she's been nice enough to take time outta her schedule to sit down and talk to us and explain this. So we're just gonna get into this because I am excited to learn about this. And I told her what brought me on to this is I was at the Freedom Hunters Bene Benefit Golf Tournament classic with Jim Shockey a couple weeks ago.

And I met a veteran that had a medical alert dog, and we started talking and it just piqued my interest. I know they're out there, I know the function of 'em, but I wanna learn more details. Doc, I really appreciate you being with us this morning. Thank you so much for having me.

It's always a pleasure to be able to share [00:02:00] what we know about this subject and maybe peak some people's interest on it. Yeah. So it's going to, like I said, I'm, you can see the smile on my face because this is something that is truly beneficial to many people across the world.

And to have somebody that can actually sit down and talk to us about it is even better. All right. I know you and I talked just to Tad. What, tell us a little bit about yourself. And then we'll get into a little bit about what got you into the dog field, and then we're gonna talk about your PhD. All right.

I was born in Indiana, so I'm technically a Hoosier, but I grew up in, I grew up abroad, so my parents went to North Africa, then France. So that's where I spent most of my life. And I started my career as a dog trainer in France. Right across the Swiss border. So I've been a trainer since I was 18 and I'm now 56.

So you do the math, how long I've been working in this [00:03:00] field, and so I've been trying pretty much every method, but what really piqued my interest was the human and animal bond. So I went ahead and went to the University of Geneva where they had anology program. In the psychology department and ethology for those of you who are not familiar with what it is, it's animal behavior.

It's a particular section of animal behavior. It's a particular way to look at animal behavior. And so I did my PhD in a field that is not very common. It's about spatial navigation in dogs. So how do dogs use their, the use, the information that they gather from the space that they're moving around in to, to find their way?

How do they make shortcuts? How do they figure out new ways to get to what they need to get to? So that was my dissertation in for my PhD. So I've done a lot of really crazy stuff with dogs, a lot of research on different [00:04:00] subjects. But I was really interested in. How dogs can help people.

So when I came back to the US in 2003, I worked at a service dog organization here. It's a prison program. So I was leading the prison program and teaching trainers, inmate trainers, how to train service dogs. And in the course of that, at the same time we start, we started seeing the diabetes alert dogs come out.

And so one of my jobs was to figure out how to develop a program to train such dogs. And so I started that in prison. And since then, about 10 years ago, I founded a new organization called Medical Muts and we're specialized in the training of medical alert dogs. And so we're not only doing diabetes anymore, we train dogs for diabetes, for seizures, and for psychiatric conditions.

And what all of those have in common is the use of smell. So our dogs are trained [00:05:00] to smell when somebody has a particular event. That's, yes. And I want to talk about some of the stuff we get into with tracking, but I want to go back to your study when you was getting your PhD, so you said you studied how dogs use the space around them.

Yeah. Can you elaborate on that just a little bit? Yeah. The Department of Ology in Geneva was focused on hamsters. And what they found, which was really fascinating, is that it, hamsters have these, they, when they go out they do a, they go from their nests to go gather food. So they take these.

They call it a journey, but they just travel to look for nuts, and then they gather all the nuts in their cheeks, and then they have to go back home as quickly as possible because they're loaded. So they're slower, they're more at risk to get, to have predators catch them. And so they have to go, really go back home really fast.

And so the ology department was focused on [00:06:00] how, what do they use, how do they get to go home that fast, and what information are they using for that? And what they found was quite fascinating is that they of course use a lot of information from the en, from the environment, but they also are able to get back, even if they don't have any information mean they're.

Brain is recording their how many steps they make, how many turns they will make, and it calculates a vector that leads them straight back home, right? So it's what we call path integration. So the question is how do dogs do it? Because we hear of dogs that travel on really long distances, right?

But we don't really know how it's done. And I think since I've done this study, this was a long time ago some more data came on that subject. And I'm not, it's not my field of expertise anymore. But what I did is I had to figure out a way to get dogs in these huge arenas. I would, I built [00:07:00] la labyrinths for the dogs to have them go through.

And I was playing around with certain elements in that labyrinth to see if they were using them or not to figure out new routes. So one of the craziest experiments that I did is I had this big giant it's like a box that probably 40 by 40 box with a box. It's like a big room, but it was made of tarp, it was outdoor.

And I had the dogs go in through one side. I would show them where a piece of food was and then carry them outside, turn them. Twist them around several times as I was carrying them to the other side, blindfolded. And then I would release them from the opposite side. So they would have to figure out where they were to locate that piece of food.

And of course there was all sorts of system to confuse their sense of smell and all of that. So they couldn't use that at all. But it was [00:08:00] really interesting. It taught me a lot. It taught me, one thing that these experiments taught me is that dogs have a sense of numbers. If I placed 10 pieces of food, they would stop after the 10th piece, meaning I was just blown away.

They would find a about eight out of 10 pieces most of the time. And they would stop after, they had looked for the it was very clear in their mind that they were not gonna look for 15, 20 pieces. They really would stop after they had competed the task and. You're talking about food that was hidden on a soccer field, so in a very, pretty large environment.

So anyway, it was, this is a long time ago and it was it's not all fresh in my head, but I just remember how incredibly smart the dogs were through all of this, and how they blew my mind more than once because they would switch from one modality for the, for to the other. Like they would go from visual to [00:09:00] scent really fast.

And so I, I learned a lot. It was fun. So do you think that they were relying on their nose for that food and they knew that after they eat that last piece, that they did not smell it? Would that. So what I, what struck me is that actually dogs will use visual information before they use their nose. You know how we always say that dogs live in an olfactory environment.

Which is true. They have access to so much more that than we have. But the truth is, if they, you give them visual information and olfactory information at the same time, they will use the visual first. Now, if the visual is confusing or contradictory, then they will switch over to olfactory. But what that means is that in my field, that's a really important information because it shows how important it is to. When we're training one of these dogs that we have to eliminate all the visual cues. We have to make sure that we're not throwing off the dog because we're [00:10:00] standing a certain way or we're, just looking at, in the direction of the scent or something like that, so that they're not queuing off of our body, but instead just using the visual information.

And if you think about it, it makes sense because when you look at a scene, you're, you get so much information. Your brain is capable of getting a whole lot of data all at once, really cheapy. There's not a whole lot of processing, right? You can tell where the entrance is, where people are, where all sorts of things are, but if you have to locate the source of a smell that requires more analysis.

Now you have to compare, you have to, figure out where the smell comes from. Olfactory information is actually more. Costly to the dog than visual information. Yeah. And this goes back to Cameron's cognitive testing. Like it, it shows that a lot of dogs will go to that visual and Yeah. [00:11:00] Then the other dogs will say, wait a second, my nose is saying here, my eyes are saying here.

And they then they default to the nose. So that cognitive testing that Cameron does is falling into place to what you're saying? Yes, absolutely. And it's really important for us as trainers to know that because we have to be careful that the dogs, when we're setting up a training set situation, that the dogs are really going to use their nose and not visual information because that will always be their default.

So you guys that are training dogs, you've heard us talk about it on this podcast before, do not over stimulate your dogs through visual. Especially in the law enforcement world, that's one of the worst things we can do is get a dog trying to rely on his eyes and not his nose. And of course, you're saying it, Cameron talked to us on a podcast a while back about the cognitive testing, so it completely makes sense to me.

I see the result of that, that over that [00:12:00] overstimulation through the eyes yeah. Yeah. So you got into dog training and now that you come back, did you start at Cook County? Is that where the jail was at? No, I, it, so there were five different prisons in, in, around, in Indianapolis. So we were all within three hours of Indianapolis.

Yeah, we we end up, we have a lot, we deal with a lot of people that's come out of that jail for some reason. I don't know how they get down here, but they do. All right. So talk. Tell us a little bit about what the dogs, what you're using the dogs for, or how many different medical uses that we could actually use a dog for.

We know because we have contributed in studies on that we know for sure that they can be trained for diabetes and for seizures, we have proven that there is a scent related to that. But we also know, because we've been doing it for a long time, that they can be trained to [00:13:00] help people with psychiatric conditions.

So we collect scent from people whose anxiety is going up. When they're about to have a panic attack. So we have a fridge with samples from hypoglycemic episodes for diet, for, that's the low glucose levels for diabetes, or from people who are having a, an epileptic seizure or from people who are having a panic attack an anxiety attack.

And we can train the dogs to detect that smell to be sensitized to that smell, and then produce a specific behavior. So the smell becomes a cue for the dog to come and alert their person. So how do you collect that smell? Are you doing this through gauze pads, or how do you collect that where you can refrigerate it?

So it's cotton balls or gauze pads. And what we ask our clients is to wipe that on their forehead or on the back of their head, their neck, and then put it in a Ziploc bag and [00:14:00] then blow on it. So it's a mix of skin swab and breath. So can you get into the chemical, how it changes the chemical compound of the human?

And I'm now, I'm gonna go back to what you said before. So we know through our tracking application that when you have people that we are tracking, whether it be Alzheimer's patients, whether it be ki people with schizophrenia different things like that, that their chemical makeup is different and a lot of times our dogs will track, but they will give us a completely different behavioral change than if they were tra tracking somebody that would be of normal chemical compound.

Does that make sense? That makes absolute sense. Yes. I have not heard of that before, but it makes complete sense with what we know. Cuz what we know is the reason why we're able to do what we do is [00:15:00] because the dogs told us that they were picking up on something. There's a study that came out that showed that about a third of the dogs that live with people with diabetes have shown at some point or another, a change in behavior right as their person was going into hypoglycemia or hy or hyperglycemia.

So when they had a change of glucose level, the dogs. Very many dogs pick it up on their own. They will start licking the person. They'll start staring at them. There's just something that's concerning to them. And what struck me when I was working in the prison system is when we started training those dogs because we figured out that it was scent.

So we started really working with the dogs on scent. Then they also started acting in a strange way, towards people who were about to have a seizure. And because the prison system knew there's a lot of people living in a small space, the dogs were exposed to people [00:16:00] who potentially had other conditions.

And so we started realizing that, hey, there is a smell also related to seizures, and it's possible that it's a similar smell. And we don't know. Right now, there is no, we don't have any data on what those chemicals are. That part we, we don't know. I think there's similarities between all those conditions, and it's possible that what the dogs are picking up is a change from a normal, typical human.

There's the, there's these particular molecules that are secreted when a human is not doing well or any animal. I, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, we can even imagine that maybe that's the information that wolves are gathering from prey to figure out which ones are diseased.

The weak link. Yep. Exactly. Exactly. Which would make sense. So to me, and like I said, I have no medical [00:17:00] knowledge at all, but it has to be some type of chemical dump or withdrawal. Would that make sense? It'd have to be a dump because if we withdrew it, then the dogs wouldn't have that behavioral change.

Correct. Yeah. Correct. And it could be a stress from, some kind of stress response from our bodies because something is wrong. But we really don't know. And the doctors that I work with have no idea what is the organ that is producing that smell? Where is it coming from?

Yeah. So it's the it because it's a world that we don't understand. It's a world that we're not privy to at all. It's not something that the medical field has explored yet. So they're just starting to do it because dogs are showing so much promise with all these conditions that now we're finally starting to have science behind it.

But we're so far from getting answers. So I had, and I don't know that this is. [00:18:00] Factual, but in their minds, it was absolutely dog related. So I had a nurse tell me a couple years ago that she worked in the hospital and they, there was a child, she worked in the Nick Care what anyway the unit for kids and the they had been keeping an eye on this one child for a while.

And so the parents kept bringing the child in and said, something's not right. Something's not right. According to this nurse, so I'm telling you thirdhand information, she said that the family's dog, which was a lab, here we go, which was a lab would not leave this child's side. Like literally stayed with this kid. Would stand over it, would it was almost like it was protecting it. It was their words. Come to find out the child ended up having cancer, so whether that actually [00:19:00] happened or not, but in their minds it absolutely happened. They say the dog completely acted, went from being the good family dog to never leaving this child's side.

So yeah, it's absolutely possible. We hear of cats doing that in nursing homes. Right where they will sit, right? Where they will sit right next to or on, on the person before they're about to die. So it's not just the dogs. Cats do that too. I don't know of other species, but, we're talking about very highly social species here.

We're in a, in a. Wild, a community of wild canines. They care for each other. They're bonded very strongly, just like we're bonding, bonded to our own families. And so for them to be aware of which individual is not doing too good is important information. So they're very in tune with us.

They and [00:20:00] some of them have this ability to pick up on, on changes that tell them that we're not doing well. So we know they can pick up on conditions like cancer, c diff e Coli and cancer, it's not all of them. I know that there's four or five of them, like lung cancer is one of them.

But there's melanoma also sometimes some dogs also have picked up on, so we're just at the beginning of this, which is fascinating. We're gonna find out a lot more conditions that dogs can help with. So dogs are able to pick up on some types of cancer? Yes, they are. Okay. And they're being trained for that.

They can, the application is more complicated because you can't really train a family dog to pick up on cancer because if it's not gonna happen in five, 10 years, how much practice is that dog gonna have? How much sense does it make to put a lot, to invest a lot of resources in training that dog?

Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. And in a hospital and environment, they, they [00:21:00] have other ways to figure out if you have cancer or not. So I'm not sure there's a whole lot of applications for dogs in that field. Yeah. Yeah, that, yeah. And I guess that does make a whole lot of sense.

Not, you can't purchase a cancer dog and have it for 10 years and it never, and it turns into just a dog if you don't have the disease that's yes. That's completely understandable. And then, and are you gonna keep practicing with the dog to keep the skills up, just in the event that you might have cancer?

Yeah. So right now, seizures and low sugar basically is the term that the dogs are prevalent. Do you know how many are actually in service in the United States? Hey guys. The journey on Hounds Man XP is teamed up with Go Wild. Go Wild is a social media platform that was made for hunters by hunters.

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No, I do not, because unfortunately there's no. There's no data on that. There's a lot of organizations that do it. In the US and through the world, throughout the world. But there's no database of, where all these dogs are recorded into. So we can't tap into that to really figure it out.

We've placed over a hundred of them. We have, I'm working with other teams in Europe that I coach and trained. One of them is doing nothing but diabetes. The other one is specialized in seizures, and they each have at least 50 dogs under their belt now that they've placed. But other than that, I don't really know how [00:25:00] many other groups are placing a year.

I gotcha. So let's go into the side that really drives me is, so do you have a breeding program or are y'all just on selection testing? Medical mats specialize in training rescue dogs. So we went, we decided to not breed dogs. And I used to be in a program, the prison program did have bread dogs, but we decided to go a different route.

So we select dogs based on temperament. So when you go to test these dogs at the shelters, how do you, what are some things you're looking for? And when you say temperament, I have a an over overall perception of what you may or may not be looking for, but just try to explain to our listeners like, what are temperament's huge in what we do, whether it's be on the law enforcement side or the hunting side.

So what are some things that you are looking for? First of all, we get dogs between one and two years [00:26:00] old, so we don't get them as puppies because it, they're, it's like testing. How can you predict what a. Two year old child is gonna be like when they're 20. It's extremely difficult.

So with dogs, with, if you don't know anything about their background and you're just looking at a puppy and you don't have any clue what their parents are like it's a crapshoot. You have a great puppy. But that, but things are gonna change as they grow through adolescence. Minimum age for us is one year old where they're still young, they're still going through some changes, but their behavior is a lot more predictable.

And then we look at, looks are important in the service dog world because when you're gonna place a dog with somebody with a disability, if some people are quite comfortable with some dogs that may look a little more a little more like bully breeds or some breeds that are, have can guard them.

Some people actually want that. But in the service dog world, we don't want that too much because. It [00:27:00] adds to the burden of the person when they have to explain all the time that their dog is a service dog that, not to be afraid or concerned about them. So we're looking for friendly looks, and then the dog has to be very social.

And by social, we're not, the dog that's gonna warm up to people is not social enough. It's social on the very high end of that spectrum, really the dog that, that, everybody's their friend. They like everyone they can put up with crowds, with all sorts of people.

Because when we take them out in public, we want that dog to be really comfortable around a lot of people. If they're not comfortable, they're going to be concerned about their own safety. And then they can't focus on their person anymore. Yeah. And then social with dogs of course, but also high food drive because all of our trading is with food.

We pair the scent with food. We want them to be extremely motivated and alerting, and we want them to wake up even to alert to a person if they're gonna have a [00:28:00] hypoglycemic episode in the middle of the night. So food is, has to be a very strong motivator. You can't use balls in a supermarket. If your dog did something good, you're not gonna start playing with the dog.

So treats are critical. But then the other, some of the other traits we're looking for is a dog that we call a Velcro dog. So it's a dog that is naturally predisposed to hang out closely to a person. It's a type of dog where, you go to the bathroom and your dog is right behind you.

My shepherd is literally laying at my feet right now, and until I try to step over him to get up and go somewhere, that's where he is gonna be. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So the great py who's quite content hanging out in your backyard while you're indoors is not the best candidate.

And that has to do with physics, right? You want a dog that is pretty highly in tune with their person, but also that is close enough that if there's a change in scent they're there, they can pick it up immediately. [00:29:00] So how far ha have y'all tested that? How far how far away can the dog detect that?

Which, in a house where the odor is basically the majority of it's lingering within the walls of the house that kind of puts it down a little bit. But do they have to be in the same room? Or can you know, can my dog be in the kitchen and I'm in the living room on the couch?

How does that work? So that depends on the number of conditions. So heat is a factor, as airflow is a factor, but also saturation of the environment. If you have somebody who's constantly having seizures which some people have, so they're constantly emitting that odor, then the air gets so saturated with it.

That it gets difficult for the dog and they get desensitized to it. Yep. Now one of the, one of the stories that always, that I have in my mind, and I, and for me this is, this shows the impact of these dogs more than anything, was a dog that one of the French groups had recently trained and placed with [00:30:00] a young woman, and she was alone in her house with her baby upstairs, and the dog was downstairs and she was bathing her baby, giving her baby a bath, and the dog came rushing into the bathroom and started alerting her.

And, she, this was a new dog, so she was not used to relying on her dog or trusting her dog. And she wasn't feeling anything odd about her. She couldn't, tell that there was anything wrong, but in doubt she got her baby out of the bathwater and placed it on the floor and immediately had a grandma's seizure.

So to me that, that's one of the stories that always sticks to me because I cannot it's the horror of the situation. If that dog had not been there, is just it's just gut wrenching, but in that case, the dog was, came from downstairs. There's another situation where, oops, sorry, I have a puppy in here that's looking out the window.

Yeah, it's all good. [00:31:00] We had a child and his dad were in the sea, so they were at the beach, on vacation, and mom was staying on the beach with the dog on the towel just chilling there. And dad and son were in the sea. So neck deep into the water, about 40 feet away, and all of a sudden the dog that was on the beach started picking up some smell and was vi visibly got agitated and started alerting the mom.

So she called her son and checked his glucose levels and he was indeed dropping pretty quickly. So that happened because obviously the airflow was going in the right direction, right? So now you have exterior conditions, airflow, that also is gonna matter. Had the wind blown in the other direction, this would not have happened.

So there's, so the dogs are never a hundred percent accurate. We're trying to get them at least to 80% accuracy. That's our goal. [00:32:00] Yeah. Yeah, I've got like tons of questions and I don't wanna bombard you with them. So after you test, so the, and one of the things that I noticed when I was down there and Brian, so Brian had a St.

Bernard very laid back. And while Brian and I was talking, the, one of the things that, that I was noticing, and actually we talked about a little bit is the calmness of that demeanor and that temperament a little bit different than what I'm looking for in the law enforcement world is I need a dog that can go.

I do like to be able to shut it on and off, but literally, When he would stop or be talking to somebody, the dog would just lay down and then when he would walk off, dog, get up and go with him. So is that a difference too, that you're looking for in that temperament realm? So we, so yes. The dogs that we use would not be good candidates for your purposes.

We're looking [00:33:00] for dogs that can go pretty much anywhere with their person. If you go, whether it's a movie theater and they have to lay around for two hours, a restaurant, a place of business school they have to be able to lay around and just live with the person in their day-to-day activities.

And then of course be on the go when they're moving. But we're, we can't really work with high energy dogs because then, the, they may not fit into the lifestyle of the person. Now we're not also looking for super low energy dogs. Medium energy is where we're where it works best. Yeah, I can that makes complete sense. And is the, and would not be my breed of choice either. For a number of reasons. Size matters, right? It's not practical when you go on a plane in a restaurant, in public spaces they have a really large dog and they're a little bit a little bit too laid back maybe for our purposes, but it's, but they can work.

So there's always outliers also in every [00:34:00] breed, right? So we've worked with German Shepherds, we worked with, breeds that are not necessarily typically what we wanna do, what we wanna work with. But there are some dogs within those breeds that can work very well as well. What seems to be the breed of choice, or what breed seems to have more dogs in this field.

Our dogs are all mutts or mostly mutts. We do have a few, pure breads, but most of them are mutts. The, if I was to breed dogs, I would breed English labs. The English labs seem to have the qualities that we're looking for. I got it the most. So more dogs, more English labs can make it than any other green.

Yeah. So talk to us a little bit about the training process. All right. So we've got the odor and we're refrigerating it. How long for you guys, how long does that odor last, even though you refrigerate? Is it a six month [00:35:00] deal or is it something you replace monthly or how does that work? And then talk to me a little bit about the training process.

So our samples are kept in the freezer and in the freezer they can stay for a very long time. And when we work with them we can use one sample for about two weeks. That's after you thaw it? Yeah. So exactly. After we thaw it and we start training the dogs with it, then we can work with it for about two weeks.

And temperature doesn't seem to affect the sample as much as airflow around them. So putting them in a sealed container is really critical. If they stay out of the refrigerator, it's not gonna affect them as much as it as if we left them out in just regular air. Yeah. So it's probably the same as what you're using. Yeah. We try to use we re we freeze a lot of air our synthetic odors. And we switch 'em out every year, but we, we [00:36:00] could probably use 'em longer than that. We've seen results where the dogs, three years later they still smell it.

Just for the listeners a little bit about why we're freezing stuff, and this, this'll go into your guys' hunting environment too, and I know you've heard us talk about it, is, the molecule structure shrinks when it gets cold and that odor does not escape as bad or at a rate once it gets below freezing.

So you can take that and add it into your hunting environment. You guys are in those cold climates. The lack of odor. Is what makes the dogs have to really get down in cold trail. And the dogs really work that odor because the lack of, it's not that it's not there, but it's froze up where in your hotter climates that just what you're saying, the odor will blow away and the elements outside takes a bigger toll on it.

And you're even saying that from what your studies and research has shown. Yeah. So do you, so get into the training and do you use one sample for one [00:37:00] dog or do you have to use multiple samples if you're only using it for two weeks are you using multiple samples and do you see a, do you see a difference in the dog's reactions when you change those samples?

Sometimes. So when we, our process takes multiple months and our dogs go through three levels of training. In the first level, they're gonna be. Working on all the basic obedience, but they're also learning the indication behavior on a sample, right? And in that first level, we use a soup. So we will put a sample from hypoglycemia, seizures, and psychiatric, because we don't know where the dog is gonna go to at that point.

So explain, and I know what the, we call it the cocktail. Yeah. Explain that a little bit to the listener. So everybody, when you say the soup, what you're talking about, so in the same container we'll have samples from different people with different [00:38:00] conditions. Because the goal here is classical conditioning.

We're just trying to condition the dog to the odor. But in this case, we're gonna, we're not gonna specify one specific odor. We're gonna have multiple odors at the same time. And because the dog consent discriminate, this is what allows us to do this process that you're doing, instead of taking each individual odor and working that odor i e for a week, a piece or however long you decide to do it, you put everything in the soup bowl and you work that odor for a week.

And I'm just using that for example. That's not what I'm saying, but you can use that odor for a week and the dog can pick up multiple odors. Correct. Yeah. Yeah. And we'll focus on the indication behavior there, because that's, the first goal. Then when they move on to level two, now we're adding, so overall they're gonna learn about 30 behaviors in the process.

But in the level two on scent, what we're gonna focus on is discrimination. So now we're gonna take [00:39:00] one of these odors from person A and we're going to put samples from that same person in a normal state. Cuz what we don't want is for the dog to alert to George versus Sarah. We want George in hypoglycemia versus George in a normal state, right?

So once we have that discrimination down, then we're done with the scent part on, just for the samples. Then what we'll do is we'll place the sample on us. And we have during the level two, we'll teach the dog to do a poke. So the alert behavior is to come and poke the person with their nose pretty strongly on any body part, in any position.

Whether the person is laying down in bed or standing up or turning their back, and all of that. So we, there's a whole work on that we need to do. And in the level three, we're gonna pair the odor with that alert behavior. And that's where we have to be [00:40:00] very careful with the visual, because what trainers tend to do a lot is place the odor on them and then they're staring at their dog a certain way or placing their, their leg a certain way or just doing all these weird attitudes towards a dog which can really cue the dog.

Cue the dog. Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. People don't understand that, your eye direction, your body language the way that you point. And that's something that Cameron has really got into over his podcast is how much the dogs read your body language and know what you're doing before you actually do it.

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And you can test that very easily. If you don't have the odor on you and you just take the same stance, there's a good chance that the dog, if the dog has cued on that the dog's gonna alert you too. But the fifth step, the fourth step is once we place the dog, the person themself has some work to do.

Because, see, there's so much that we [00:41:00] can do with samples in the medical field. The complication is that going from a sample to a live body is a big step. Right now we're, you're talking about the whole body's secreting that smell and you can't turn it on and off. When we have a sample, it's very black and white.

We can, we put the sample on our body and then we take it off of us. At the end of the training session, when a person goes into hypoglycemia they, their whole body is releasing that smell right through breath. Through their skin and everything. But once and it lasts a little bit longer as well.

But once they're through it, once they're back to normal, they still carry that residual odor on them. It's not like they're gonna go shower afterwards. Yep. So the dogs have to learn to alert to that change of smell. The sudden change is what they're gonna be looking at. And then ignore the ongoing release of odor that's gonna happen after the event.

Yeah. [00:42:00] And that's one thing that, I try to get my guys to not talk about residual or lingering or whatever. It's odors, odor and that odor doesn't go away. No, it doesn't. It just don't, yeah, just don't, it just don't go, it just don't evaporate in, in thin air, does it? Yeah. Yeah. That's right.

So then we have, we do a lot of coaching of our clients to teach them how to get the dog to alert to them. So what do you do for those guys as far as after they have a, an a seizure or a episode is where the dog alerts. Do you have them go wash off or? H how do they keep the dog from sitting there?

And just like my shepherd right now is poking my arm because he wants my attention. How do you get the dog to stop once that has dropped to a certain level? What is the threshold, I guess is what I'm asking? That, those are things we can't measure. We have no idea. First of all, it's probably person specific.

Condition specific. Especially with seizures. The other [00:43:00] complication is we don't even know how far out the seizure is. So a dog can come and alert you and your seizure may be 30 minutes later. So do you reward the dog for alerting, or at risk of alerting or of rewarding the dog for just attention seeking behavior.

You can't always confirm that it's a true alert. With diabetes it's easier because there's actually technology that can help you confirm that the dog is correct. Although, what we find is the dogs are often 10 to 15 minutes earlier in their alert than the technology.

That's crazy. Yeah. That's crazy. So it takes several weeks to months for the person to really get to know their dog and trust their dog enough to start rewarding those alerts even when they can't confirm that there's actually something happening. And how do you guys shape the behavior [00:44:00] for The nudging, like what is the process that you guys, I know you're doing the odor recognition first, and then you go in, once you start putting 'em on a human, taking 'em away from I'm assuming you're using boxes or cans.

We're using cans. Will cans. We're using paint cans at first. Now we're using like candle tins. But so while in the level two situation, while they're doing the discrimination tasks, we're separately teaching them the alerting behavior, which is the poke. To come in and poke us strongly with their nose.

And so that's just target training. We're using, spatula first and we start with touch, then transfer it over to spatula, then over to a tape that's on our leg. And then remove that. That's so interesting that. That the dogs, which we know that they're so smart and, dogs do anything for food.

I've been telling, this all in insect for a long time. If the dog's food motivated or toy motivated, [00:45:00] but you could, food is like the, they've gotta have food to survive. And they will do whatever we asked them to do as long as there's a clear picture for them to perform that task.

Oh, absolutely. And I will say that in the medical detection field, it's critical to use food and not any kind of punishment because you do not want your dog to hesitate in getting out of a downstate to come to alert you. If you have trained with coercion and that dog is I don't know if I, if it's safe to get out to alert you, and they have to make that decision, there's gonna be hesitation.

There's gonna be confusion and you're interfering with the problem solving ability of your dog when you do that. Yeah. That's interesting. I mean it, and like I said, even though there's, you're doing something completely different than what I even, in the law enforcement side, we're doing the same principles, basically just for different source.

And then if you look at it on the hunting side,[00:46:00] there's so much stuff, and one of the things that you said there that I've heard over and over about how the Wolf pack can pick out the weak link. And, I never, I guess I knew it, but it's not dawned on me like reality wise that, our dogs are doing that at home.

Like, when there's something wrong, our dogs just go ding, okay, I need to go over here because this is going, something's going on. Yeah. You're just taking that, that it's, and you're saying 15 minutes ahead of. So you're saying that if my dog would alert to me and if I tested my blood sugar, it would probably be normal, and then within 15 minutes there would be a, there would be a drop in it.

Correct. So those chemical compounds or whatever, are releasing that much sooner than we actually not only filling the effects, but actually [00:47:00] see the effects. Yes. And for seizures it could be half an hour before. Wow. And the neurologist at this point are in disbelief. They don't understand how it's even possible.

So we're working with several teams to try to figure that part out. We really do not know or understand what's going on that, that makes that possible for the dog to, to pick it up that early. I wish somebody and I talked to I had Ryan Hall on Dr. Hall, and I would love for somebody to do a study on scent.

I'm waiting for that. He said it'll probably never happen because there's no, there's not that big a need for it. But man, wouldn't it be interesting to know what was really going on inside? The dog inside the dog, or are you talking about Yeah, we know the nose and we know they've got so many more scent molecule in the old factory system.

And, we know how they take in air in and breathe air out, but I would love to [00:48:00] know how many particles it takes for a dog to recognize this odor or whatever it may be. Yeah. And we have no idea. I know, absolutely no idea. Yeah. We talk about it in, in the hunting world, I've got, they've got people's, got dogs that can trail a track up that's 12 hours old and I'm just using that for example.

And then you've got dogs that, that will not absolutely will not run a track unless it's hot. Which means, that it basically just come right through here. And the question is the dog just that much colder nose or, to me, I feel like it's training and it's lack of drive. To me, because the dog should have the same sense capabilities.

It's just, maybe my training's messed up where I put 'em on hot track, I put 'em on a hot track, I put 'em on a hot track. And now that, yeah, I can smell this one over here, but go back to the wolf pack. Go back to the pack. But I know that my chances of catching [00:49:00] that elk that was in here 10 hours ago was slim to none.

But if I ride around long enough or I walk around long enough I'm gonna cross that elk track that, that was here two hours ago. And by cracky I can probably run that thing down. That's, in a train, in our training and stuff, it's different. And in, it's so interesting because Jeff Shetler talks about the, when you go to his school or his classes, he talks about how tracking different people with medical conditions affects the dog so much differently.

And you're, you're just reiterating, what he says about the chemical makeup is different. In somebody that has, like you said, down syndrome that has Alzheimer's we know that for us, our dogs act completely different in death, odor. Oh yes. Oh, it's huge. Yes.

I'll tell a quick story and I'll won't wrap up no more of your time, [00:50:00] but we had a dog that actually we were looking for a pseudo suicidal suspect. So we tracked him from his car in a local park and tracked him from the car through the park into the line. And the dog literally just stopped, was in good profile tracking.

And the dog just stops point blank in its tracks and just starts looking around and then it casts and it comes back to the handler. And he makes a big circle in there and they go back and he's something's not right. So they go back and they do the same thing again. Dog does exact same thing, goes right to the same spot, just stops dead in his tracks will not go any further.

The guy was about a hundred yards. He had taken his life about a hundred yards from where that dog stopped and the dog would not approach it. Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah. De the odors definitely have a different effect on dogs? I think so. Oh yeah. I [00:51:00] think it, they have a an emotional reaction to some of the odors, some of the the odors that we release when we have health conditions. And one of the reasons why they're so focused, or like you were talking about that dog that was standing over the child. They're legitimately concerned. Yeah. They said that they was literally, they would pull the dog away and put him, and he would literally break out or try to get out of where he was at to get back to that child.

Yeah. So the dog knew what nobody else picked up on for a month later. Yeah. So it's amazing. It's amazing what our animals can do and that. Look at the value for the person that has a medical condition and can have a dog. That's more than a companion. It's a lifesaver. Absolutely.

Yeah. Absolutely. Doc, I really appreciate your time. I think it's so neat what you [00:52:00] do. It got my wheels turning and thinking, and I had it in my head how, this things may go, but you've definitely enlightened me and our audience and again, two different worlds.

But it's the same, it's the same principles. We use dog A to complete a task for us, whatever that may task B, and yet we look for a little bit of different things. We're looking for a dog. Temperament is huge. In all facets the dogs that we had 10 years ago in the law enforcement world are not like they are today.

Our dogs are so much more social. Back then dogs were a lot more dog aggressive. The more dominant, the more, outs out overstanding, overbearing dogs. And now those dogs are, we don't have dogs like that hardly at all. It's, the things have evolved and we've looked at training differently, and it's because of people like you and Cameron and the other people that, that are doing this [00:53:00] stuff day in and day out that have taught us that there's a better way and there's another way to do things.

There is, and we have to remember that stress gets in the way of learning also. And a stressed out dog that's, really reactive to whether everything is not a dog that is fully. Capable of problem solving and thinking. And I, if, there's one thing that I've learned over the many years that I've been doing this is dogs are really smart.

They really are. And the only reason we're able to have the success we have with working with the Invisible, with all these the imperceptible odors that are all around us is because dogs have filled in the gaps. We take them so far, but they have to do the majority of the work.

And it's because they, it's, they're not just a a detector of molecules. They process that information. They make sense, of that information and they can make decisions based on it. [00:54:00] So I think we're. We're very often we want to turn them into little robots when really they're thinking, living sensitive sentient beings and cause of that they can help us better.

Yes. I absolutely agree. Is there anything that you'd like to leave us with today or on, on dogs training? Anything. Anything. It just is your time. No, I, what I think we're at the beginning of understanding where this can go. We're, there's a lot of research happening right now and I'm excited to see the next 10 years how much we're gonna be able to train our dogs to, to collaborate even further with people.

Because for me it's really, it really is about the collaboration. It's about teamwork. It's about, how the human and dog can understand each other so they can really partner each of their skills and together we can make, we can work a lot better. Awesome. Hey, one quick question. I meant to [00:55:00] ask you this earlier, so I'm gonna back it up.

How do you know how long that we've had, do you know when the first medical alert dog was put into service and about how long that we, that this has actually been something that you could acquire? About 15 years. 15 years. About 15 years ago. There's a group in California. Dogs for diabetics. They were the first ones to put out diabetic alert dogs. Yeah, I know you said that you went to the jail system in 2003 and started working on it, so I was just trying to clarify that. No. So I came in the US in 2003, I working in the prison system and about 2008. Nice. It's a good thing you do keep doing what you're doing and hopefully, maybe somebody that's listening to this podcast needs a medical alert dog and we will put your information on the show notes and they can reach out to you if that's something that that they can, they need.

But I appreciate your time. I appreciate learning. It's so interesting to me to hear the [00:56:00] different facets that we all use our dogs for. It's such a commonality that I think we don't we don't realize. In the dog world, no matter what it is. And I do have, so our website is medical for the service dog part, but I do coach a lot of groups and a lot of professional trainers through Assistance or jennifer

So that's also another resource if anybody wanted to learn what we're doing. Perfect. Or how to do it. Yeah. Awesome. All right Doc. I really appreciate it and I end every podcast in the same way. Thank you for helping us teach, train, and definitely learning on this episode. Thanks for having me.