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How to Train a Migraine Alert Dog

Migraine Alert Dog

You’re probably familiar with service dogs for people with challenges like vision-impairment, diabetes and PTSD, but have you heard of a migraine alert dog? 

Believe it or not, dogs can be trained to alert humans who are about to have a migraine. But first, they have to be trained to identify the signs that you are about to have a migraine, so they know when to raise alarm.

How a service dog can help with migraines

Because migraines can be so debilitating to sufferers, a migraine alert dog is trained to warn his or her human when they are showing signs a migraine is about to begin. By being able to detect the onset of a migraine, sufferers may be able to take actions to lessen their symptoms, such as avoiding environmental triggers or taking preventative medicine. Migraine alert dogs may also be trained to take actions like bringing a phone to their human so he or she can call for help.

Believe it or not, some dogs can “smell” a migraine coming on in a human, up to 48 hours before it starts. In order to train your dog to notice this particular smell, you can take a swab of your saliva when you are experiencing a migraine, save it and use it to teach your dog to identify that particular smell.

You may also be able to train your dog to notice certain behaviors that are out of the ordinary for you. You can then reward your dog for taking certain actions to alert you, such as:

  • Nudging or licking you
  • Staring at you or circling you
  • Barking at you

If you’re interested in training your dog to be a migraine alert dog, you should meet with a certified dog trainer or service dog organization. And if your migraines are severe, make sure you’re in communication with your doctor — a dog may be able to alert you to the onset of migraines, but only your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan.

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