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Service Dogs for Narcolepsy: The Ultimate Guide

Narcolepsy service dogs can change the lives of their people in so many different ways. Along with the benefits a dog along can bring, service dogs can add tasks to mitigate the symptoms those with narcolepsy face.

If you don’t know me, hi! I’m Blythe. I’m a multi-certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, and I have narcolepsy.

I was diagnosed this year after my sleep struggles got worse and worse. Every test came back negative until I saw my psychiatrist - who immediately recognized what was happening and referred me to a sleep specialist. A few months and overnight (and daytime) tests later, and I had my answer… narcolepsy.

 

 

It was so surprising.

I always thought narcolepsy meant falling asleep while driving or mid conversation. I don’t like driving, and I only fall asleep mid conversation in my house cozy on the couch. So I never would have guessed.

Narcolepsy is HARD. It’s hard always being tired and fighting...

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Dog Dancing: What is Canine Freestyle?

One of my all time favorite dog sports to watch is canine freestyle.

It combines all of my favorite things - music, trick training, and story telling.

To get a taste of how amazing it is, watch my all time favorite canine freestyle routine below:

Isn't that incredible?

The sportsmanship and level of training is just so high, and all of the handlers in this sport seem to have a blast performing.

So what exactly is musical freestyle?

Musical freestyle is a sport where anything safe goes.

It's essentially a combination of several tricks performed to music to tell a story.

The dog should be the focus of the routine, not the handler, but the handler plays an important role in the storyline and supports the dog through the routine.

Tricks and moves can be performed in any position, and any dog and handler can compete at any speed.

What is judged in the sport of musical freestyle?

In musical freestyle competitions, the handler and dog teams are judged on more creative requirements...

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Anaphylactic Allergies: Can I train my own allergen detection dog?

Did you know that even some folks with anaphylactic allergies train their own service dogs?

While it may seem scary, with the right precautions, it is definitely possible!

Today we have Delta Tails' lovely assistant, Lauren Storm writing about her experience with training a gluten detection dog while also being anaphylactic to wheat and gluten!

Take it away, Lauren!

Hi! I'm Lauren Storm, and along with being a professional trainer, I have also worked with Delta Tails to train my own gluten detection dog. I have both celiac disease and anaphylaxis to wheat and gluten, so it looked a little bit different for me!

I’ve personally had some very expensive detours to the emergency room - even once in a foreign country.

 

I have a combo of an autoimmune disease called celiac disease and anaphylactic allergies. Celiac disease means you can not eat gluten because it damages your small intestine. But my body has taken it a step further, and I have an anaphylactic allergic...

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What is Cooperative Care?

Does your dog HATE having their nails clipped?

Do they run away at the sight of their toothbrush no matter the kind of toothpaste you pick?

It can be so frustrating and hard to care for a dog who dislikes care tasks.

And expensive to have the vet or groomer do it for you!

Enter cooperative care.

What is cooperative care?

Cooperative care is working with your dog to complete their care tasks instead of against them.

It is an easy, low conflict way to get them done without stressing your dog and allowing them freedom of choice.

The Basics

The basics of cooperative care are very easy!

The first step is to make the sight of the tool that you use (toothbrush, brush, clippers) a fun and exciting thing!

Simply follow these steps below for a few days to get the excitement and positivity:

  1. Prepare your dog's all time favorite treat (usually something soft and stinky like cheese).
  2. Hold the tool behind your back.
  3. Show the tool to your dog (don't expect them to touch it or do anything...
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Top Five Ways to Help Your Reactive Dog

Reactivity is so tough to live with.

It feels isolating and overwhelming, and sometimes it feels like it will never get better.

Both of my dogs have dealt with reactivity, and I know how tough it can be.

The good news is that there are lots of LOW ENERGY ways to help calm reactivity and make it easier for you to train your pup!

That's what I want to share with you today.

Sometimes training is overwhelming, and you just don't have it in you. 

And on those days, you can follow these instead!

1. Quality Sleep

Dogs need at least 16 hours of sleep per day, uninterrupted.

When dogs are sleep deprived, they can show an increase in reactivity and an inability to regulate themselves back down after a reaction.

If your dog only seems to sleep at night, and isn't getting the sleep they need, this should be a top priority for you!

If you need help getting better sleep with your dog, read my blog post from last month by clicking here.

2. Trigger-Free Exercise

Just like us, dogs need...

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Reactive Dogs & Why Pattern Games Are So Effective

Have you heard of pattern games for dog training?

If you're in the positive reinforcement training community, you likely have!

They are very simple and have been used unknowingly by many trainers, but the one trainer who brought large scale attention to them recently is Leslie McDevitt, creator of the Control Unleashed program.

She built an entire program for sport dogs based around pattern games to calm arousal and more.

As the methods grew in popularity, she learned that the pattern games were hugely effective for reactive dogs as well - not just overexcited sport dogs.

What exactly is reactivity?

Reactivity is a response to distractions usually characterized by barking, lunging on leash, pulling on leash, jumping, whining, growling, and more, especially in response to other dogs or people.

A very common example of reactivity is a dog who barks at visitors to the door or outside the window.

Reactivity can have many root causes including excitement, fear, or anxiety.

With...

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How to Sleep Better: Dog Edition

If you're anything like me, you STRUGGLE to get enough sleep.

Living with ADHD and autism makes sleep feel almost impossible for me, but I know how important it is to my mood, my health, and my focus.

And you know who else my lack of sleep affects?

MY DOG.

Dogs need even more sleep than we do. About 16 hours PER DAY!

That's almost double our daily needs.

Dogs also have a shorter sleep cycle than we do, which means they wake more often - and need more - to experience the same effect as we do.

Because of this, I focus heavily on sleep in all of my training protocols. Sometimes fixing a lack of sleep makes enough difference in training to make things 10 times easier for their owner.

So today, I wanted to share with you my top tips to getting better sleep with your dog. 

1. Keep a consistent routine.

This one is really hard for me (thanks ADHD), but I manage to do okay when I realize that my dog needs it!

Dogs typically sleep overnight just like us, and they also tend to be...

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Grooming Tips and Tricks For Neurodivergent Dog Guardians

Grooming dogs and keeping up with their care can be hard, even without ADHD or autism.

Add either of those (or both!) to the mix, and it can feel almost impossible.

One of my biggest personal struggles (autistic and ADHDer here) is keeping up with my dogs grooming and maintenance, and almost all of my autistic clients would say the same.

As I've worked with dogs and their handlers more and more, I've developed several strategies to help overcome the struggle of grooming and maintenance while dealing with sensory overwhelm, distraction, and more.

Like any advice, try one idea out at a time. Keep what works, and don't be afraid to toss out the things that don't.

Here are some of my top tips for grooming and handling dogs for handlers with ADHD, autism, or other neurodivergencies. I hope you find them helpful!

 1. Make the job smaller & more frequent.

Instead of trimming all your dogs nails, brushing them, bathing them, and brushing their teeth all in one day, turn it into...

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Should you get a gluten detection dog?

Are you struggling with being contaminated and getting sick from gluten exposure?

Do you have to take days off of work and leaving the house due to your symptoms?

Do you feel like you just can't ever get a break?

You might have started looking into gluten detection dogs to help solve this problem.

But not every celiac or person with a gluten allergy is the right fit for a gluten detection dog!

I have celiac disease myself, and it was a big decision for me to add this task to my dog's repertoire.

I want to share several considerations for you to think about before you make the investment and decision to train a gluten detection dog.

1. Have you met with a celiac-specific dietitian?

 Before making any decisions that may impact your nutrition (even something like a detection dog), it is very wise to meet with a celiac or allergy specific dietitian or doctor.

Many celiacs aren't fully aware of how to read food labels, what the labels mean, and what they really need to focus on for...

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Six Easy Steps to Loose Leash Walking

My dog pulls like a freight train!

What do I do?!

This is a common complaint I hear from almost everyone first beginning their training journey with me. 

Loose leash walking is the biggest skill my clients seem to want and struggle to get.

It seems elusive and confusing.

While it may be daunting and overwhelming at first glance, when you break it down, loose leash walking is easy and can be trained through simple, fun games!

Here are the six key things I teach all my clients for a great loose leash walk and some games to play for each!

1. Name Recognition

Most dogs have a conflicting view on their name. We usually use our dogs name for both good things and bad things, like a bath or scolding for chewing the couch.

In order to work well on leash, we want our dogs to know their name as something super positive and exciting. That way, you can get their attention at any time in order to call them to heel to pass a dog or leave the nasty chicken bone alone.

Teaching...

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