Category Archives: Service Dog Training

Diabetic Alert Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia



Diabetic Dog Northern VirginiaWe do diabetic alert dog training in Northern Virginia.

Diabetic Alert Dogs are lifesavers for type 1 diabetes patients, specifically when they are hypoglycemic unaware, meaning that they don’t experience the usual symptoms associated with low blood sugar (shakiness, sweating, etc.).  Research has shown that dogs can detect low blood sugar using the smell of sweat alone.  Dogs are typically very reliable and accurate when detecting this, with rates of up to 90% accurate. For people living with diabetes, this is a life-saver and takes away some of the stress and worry in caring for this illness.

How diabetic service dogs work Diabetes alert dogs are trained to notice when their owner is experiencing low blood sugar. They then alert their owner by placing their paw on their owner.  If sleeping, the dog may be trained to awake the owner, and in the event that they do not awake, the dog may awake another family member.  The cost of the training for diabetic alert dogs is quite high.  Many organizations now exist to help diabetics afford a dog.

Dr. Wolf A family physician and diabetic himself, Steve Wolf is a proponent of diabetic alert dogs.  After he experienced a hypoglycemic event while driving, the doctor looked into getting a guide dog and bought Kermit.  Kermit has assisted Dr. Wolf since then, keeping him aware of his glucose levels and cheering up his patients.  One day, Kermit displayed intelligent disobedience by refusing to get in the car to go home from work.  Dr. Wolf took the hint and checked his glucose.  He found it was low and was able to take measures to compensate it before driving.    Diabetic alert dogs work constantly and do whatever they can to help their owners.

Mark Reufenacht The first person to train a diabetic alert dog was Mark Reufenacht.  Reufenacht is a forensic scientist who also has type 1 diabetes.  He had the idea that if dogs could detect bombs and drugs, they might be able to detect blood sugar levels.  He researched extensively before training the first diabetic alert dog, Armstrong.  He founded an organization called Dogs 4 Diabetics and now works in his free time to run it.  His goal is to give diabetics a tool to help control their diabetes.  The organization gives dogs away for free to qualified applicants.  Reufenacht’s organization has a long waitlist of patients hoping to get a guide dog.

For families of diabetics, a diabetic alert dog relieves the worry and sleeplessness of living with a diabetic.  Sugar levels may drop suddenly while a diabetic is sleeping, meaning that they may simply slip into a coma without waking up.  Although glucose monitors that can be worn constantly may have the ability to alert in the case of dangerous glucose levels, their accuracy is not great.  They may also have delayed results, meaning that a diabetic could have a complication by the time the monitor shows dangerous glucose levels.  Furthermore, a monitor can beep, but it can’t get help, a glucose kit and food or paw the person’s chest until he/she wakes up.  Diabetic alert dogs are super pets and life savers for those living with type 1 diabetes.

Are you interested in making your dog a service dog/diabetic alert dog?

Contact us at or 888-413-0896

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Therapy Dog Certification History: Northern Virginia

Therapy Dog Northern Virginia
While we do a lot of therapy dog training at our facility in Northern Virginia, many do not know the history of the therapy dog.

Dogs have always been man’s best friend. While they may have started out as assistants for early man’s hunting expeditions, they have evolved into being spiritual companions on the journey of life. They are members of the family for humans the world over. Today, their role as family pets has evolved even further as they step into their new role of being therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs are used extensively in many settings within hospices, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, retirement homes, and rehabilitation homes. They offer solace and support to people with varying degrees of physical and emotional needs. They are often also clubbed as assistance or service dogs.

The history of therapy dogs can be traced back to World War II, when a dog named Smoky was found abandoned on a battlefield, adopted by a soldier, and later was allowed in the hospital as a companion to the wounded soldiers and their friends, which he continued doing for 12 long years.

In 1976, the first therapy dog training program was started by a registered nurse, Elaine Smith, who had observed the difference that visiting dogs had on patients in the hospital where she worked. It was not until 1982, that a new program was started to have therapy dogs assist with the severely disabled among children. This was called the Tender Loving Zoo and was started by Nancy Stanley.

Therapy dogs today have had a lot of research to back up the experiential claims of their beneficial effects on humans. Research has shown that therapy dogs increase the levels of dopamine and oxytocin in the brain, which leads to increased satisfaction and bonding. Therapy dogs also help to increase confidence levels in children with learning disabilities. They help provide support and socialization to children with autism. Therapy dogs also provide stress release to school and college students in the United States by visiting them on campus in an event called Therapy Fluffies.

The best part about therapy dogs is that there is no age limit to their appeal. They can just as easily break the ice with a three-year-old as they can with a ninety-year-old. Therapy dogs often do not live with people who need their help, as service dogs do. Therapy dogs often visit different organizations, schools, retirement homes, hospitals, hospices, etc., along with their owners and return with the owners to their own homes at the end of their session. They are not exclusively trained to deal with specific tasks and assignments, as service dogs are.

Any dog can be trained to be a therapy dog (as long as no major behavioral issues), but there are some dogs that are specially preferred as therapy dogs due to their innate nature. An example of such dogs would be the Golden Retriever, which is very popular as therapy dogs the world over. This is due to the fact that they are very easy going, affectionate, and loving. They are very patient with children and have a light-hearted demeanor that makes them the perfect therapy dog!

Are you interested in having your dog become a certified therapy dog? If so, contact Off Leash K9 Training!

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Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

What Are The Requirements To Have A Service Dog In Virginia?

Service Dogs in Virginia

We get asked service dog questions a lot at our facility in Northern Virginia.

ADA (American Disabilities Act) is the governing body for these regulations.

The American Disabilities Act has certain regulations in place regarding the definition and purpose of service dogs. This has been revised several times, with the latest revision being on March 15, 2011. There were several additional provisions added to the latest revisions regarding service dogs.

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with special needs in certain activities of daily living, such as helping them to walk with stability, helping retrieve items (if they are in a wheelchair), helping them know if someone is coming from behind (if there is hearing loss), preventing a child from wandering away from safety (if autistic), etc.

According to the American Disabilities Act, both local and state government agencies, non-profit organizations, retail merchants, restaurants, and other businesses, have to make “reasonable modifications” in order to accommodate the needs of disabled people. Even places that have a policy of “no pets” have to make room for service dogs in their premises.

It is to be noted that the ADA defines only dogs as service animals. According to the ADA, the dog must be trained to perform tasks that are specifically related to the disability faced by the person. This involves training the dog to take certain actions that are very specific to the disability, such as alerting a diabetic person that his blood sugar levels are low. Other tasks could include reminding the person to take medications on time, detect the onset of a seizure in an epileptic person and keep him/her safe during the seizure until medical aid arrives. Therapy dogs, or dogs that provide only emotional support and comfort, are not covered in the ambit of service dogs, under the ADA regulations. However, dogs that are trained to offer specific psychiatric support, such as sensing the onset of an anxiety attack and taking action to warn, avoid, or prevent the attack, are covered as service dogs, under ADA regulations.

The ADA also does not “require” professional training for service dogs; however, it is highly preferred. People with disabilities can train the dogs themselves. ADA regulations state that a dog can only be considered a service dog after it is fully trained. A service dog can only be taken to public places after it is fully trained. This means that dogs that are undergoing training should not be taken to public places under ADA regulations. They are not required to wear any special vest, harness, or ID tag. The care of the dog is the responsibility of the handler, and this includes feeding, grooming, exercising, as well as veterinary care.

ADA regulations also state that hotels must not reserve “pet friendly” rooms to people with service animals who want to book an accommodation in the hotel. They must be given rooms that are accessible to other general guests. Hotels must also not charge a separate cleaning fee for these rooms to remove pet hair, etc.  Essentially, a service dog must be given access to any place that a person is.

If you are looking at getting your dog trained and certified to be a service dog, contact Off Leash K9 Training today! or 888-413-0896  or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Diabetic Alert Dog Training in Northern Virginia


Diabetic Alert Dog Virginia

We offer diabetic alert dog training in Northern Virginia.

For people suffering from diabetes, early detection of low or high blood sugar is crucial to living a safe and healthy life. There are many different ways to detect changes in blood sugar, including insulin monitors, but diabetic alert dogs are a way for those suffering from diabetes to not only feel safe, but also to have companionship. Although service animals are more often associated with other medical conditions such as blindness, they also have important benefits for those with diabetes as well.

Diabetic alert dogs go through intense amounts of training, so that they can detect changes in blood sugar levels. Because dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans do, they can actually smell it when the chemicals in our bodies change, and diabetic alert dogs are trained to react and help when a diabetic patient reaches dangerously low or high levels of the chemicals in our bodies related to sugar. These service dogs are matched to you specifically based on needs, lifestyle, and personality, and they complete their training by learning their new companion’s smells and behaviors. In an emergency, they will know exactly what to do and can save your life. For example, if your blood sugar is getting dangerously low, they will smell it and alert you so that you can eat. And if you ever were to lose consciousness, the dog will try to alert someone else to it by running or barking.

Not only will these dogs potentially save your life, but they can also provide a huge sense of security for your loved ones. If you are a diabetic patient that lives or works alone, it can be quite nerve-wracking for those you love, because if something happens to you while you are alone, there isn’t much that they can do about it. Having a dog there will make them feel more comfortable, knowing that you will be taken care of if something happens. Diabetic alert dogs are especially good for children or elderly patients, who may not have the ability to take care of themselves completely on their own.

Diabetic alert dogs also provide companionship for those with diabetes. It can be difficult dealing with such a serious illness, but having a dog can help you feel less lonely. Service animals often will develop an extremely deep bond with their owner, and this has plenty of health benefits beyond just caring for your diabetes. Interaction with pets is good for stress relief, which in turn reduces the risk for things like heart and stomach problems. They also can just improve mood overall and have a positive impact on your social life.

Diabetic alert dogs are a wonderful, and often underutilized resource for those with diabetes. The safety, peace of mind, and companionship that they provide is unmatched by anything else. The intense training that diabetic alert dogs undergo prepares them to deal with many emergency situations in ways that other resources could not. If you are diabetic and have not considered an alert dog yet, it might be exactly what you need. We offer training at our facility in Northern Virginia for Diabetic Alert Dogs. or

-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Certified Therapy Dog Training in Virginia

At our dog training lessons in Virginia, we offer certified Therapy Dog Courses for dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds!

Of course we love our cats, hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, goats, chickens, and any other pets we have. But only one pet has been ever deemed consistently as “man’s best friend” and that is our dogs. In these loving and loyal creatures, one can find comfort, love and companionship. These are things that many people in confined living situations such as hospitals or assisted living homes often need. That is where therapy dogs come in.

Therapy animals serve to bring love, comfort and happiness to places ranging from hospitals to schools or universities. There are many cases where family and friends cannot seem to visit and connecting with a therapy dog often times fills that void. Scientific research has demonstrated that interaction with a therapy dog helps improve all facets of a patient including their mental, emotional and physical well being, which then results in a better and faster recovery. Some of the health benefits include decrease in stress and anxiety, blood pressure, and loneliness. In addition, contact with therapy animals creates an increase in socialization, level of fitness, and mental stimulation.

Do you have a loving dog who would make an amazing therapy dog? Therapy animals must absolutely adore human contact and excessive petting. Additionally, they must be comfortable staying one place regardless of whether it is the floor or a lap. No tricks are necessary, however, ability to follow basic obedience commands is a must. But the thing that distinguishes an ideal therapy dog is a gentle, loving and patient temperament.

If your dog fits the above description, you may not even need to undergo therapy dog training. To test them out, at our facility in Northern Virginia, we do the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Testing and perform the tests with your dog before doing a formal evaluation. If they can successfully achieve all the objectives, head straight to evaluation!  We are certified Therapy Dog Trainers/Evaluators through TPU (Therapy Pets Unlimited). We provide extensive training to handlers and therapy dogs before pursuing certification.

Once you and your dog have undergone your necessary training, you must head to an evaluation. There are a few organization that only requires submission of a copy of AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and your application, however, a majority of organizations also require testing by members of their own organization. The evaluation includes your dog’s ability to accept a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, an evaluation of appearance (is your dog well groomed), ability to stay in one place, and a few more skills. As the handler, throughout the evaluation, you will not expected to stand by as your dog performs skills. You should act proactively, as you would on the job, by foreseeing any misconduct. For example, if you enter a room with another dog, gently tell your dog there isn’t a need to bark rather than doing nothing or trying to calm them down after they’ve begun barking.

After you pass your test, you are required to submit a health evaluation done by your vet. The once you’ve register your therapy animal organization, you will officially have therapy dog certification and can serve your community freely!

If you are interested in your dog becoming a Certified Therapy dog, please contact us at or 571-252-5536


-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Certified Service Dog Trainers in Northern Virginia

Service dogs are an invaluable asset to many people. They provide support in many different ways for people living with disabilities. They can provide help with daily tasks such as picking up objects, assisting with crossing the street, or providing emotional support. Service dogs help with a variety of things, and with a variety of health conditions. There are many services that a service dog can provide to individuals. There are some great service dog training centers in Northern Virginia that may help you in your search for a service dog.

Service dogs are specially trained to help people with disabilities, whether physical or intellectual. These dogs live with the person so that they may be more independent. They begin their training when they are around  12 to 18 months old. They are raised and train in a person’s home that are referred to as “puppy raisers”. They teach the puppies everything they will need to know to help a person with any type of disability.

When the puppies are about 18 months old, the Northern Virginia service dog trainers use an approach to training that allows the dogs to think about what they are learning. They also enjoy their work more as a result. When they have completed their training, we spend hours with the owner and we have them do everything numerous times with their dog. This ensures that the new owner is completely confident in how to handle the dog and what to expect. This also allows the potential owner to ask any questions he or she may have regarding life with a service dog.

Service dogs usually fall into three different categories, based on the types of needs they were trained to assist with. There are physical assistance dogs, Autism service dogs, and Diabetic alert dogs.

Physical assistance dogs are used with people who use a wheelchair either on a part time or full time basis because of balance issues or coordination.

Autism service dogs are matched with a child between the ages of two and ten. Their main job is to improve a child’s safety. Parents and the child’s teachers are included in the training and details of the dog so that the dog can be a part of their education plan.

Diabetic alert dogs are very helpful in that they are trained to detect when a person’s blood sugar is out of balance. They can alert their owner so that he or she can take necessary steps to get their blood sugar back to normal.

Service dogs are so beneficial to many people. They make their lives safer, easier, and more manageable. They give people freedom they may not have without the help of the dog. Northern Virginia service dog trainers are happy to train these dogs. They know that by training them to help others, they are making a difference in so many people’s lives.


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-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training