Guide dogs for the mind: The retrievers being trained to give dementia sufferers a new life


The dogs will be taught to help people undress by gently pulling on gloves, socks and sleeves

First there were guide dogs for the blind, then hearing dogs for the deaf. Now man’s best friend could help to care for people suffering from dementia.
Golden retrievers and labradors are being taught to remind people to take their tablets, raise the alarm in an emergency, assist with undressing and help out around the home.
Under the ‘Dementia Dog’ project the animals are trained to respond to an alarm that goes off whenever a person who is struggling with memory loss needs to take medication.

A piece of string can be attached to handles so that doors and cupboards can be opened

The dog then clenches its mouth around the medicine, stored in a bite-proof bag, and carries it to the sufferer.
Animals can also be taught to recognise a specific movement that their owner would make when in distress.
The dog would then either press an emergency button on a telephone or bark loudly to raise the alarm.

And dogs can learn to open cupboards, drawers, fridges and washing machines, flick light switches, and even help people suffering from dementia to undress.
Experts say the animals can be trained to carry out any task that requires a pulling motion. So if a short rope is attached to a cupboard door, the dog can open it.
The dogs will undergo a six-month training programme using ‘positive reinforcement’, which means that whenever they complete a task correctly, they get a treat.

source: dailymail