Currently the MD Dogs materials teach how to train a paw alert – it is the most common alert, simple to teach, and any dog can learn it. However, there are some drawbacks to the paw alert and because of this some would prefer a more distinct alert or something that does not require physical contact (especially if the dog is alerting to a young child). The MD Dogs bringsel was created for this purpose!
Bringsels have been around for a while, primarily in the Search and Rescue realm, but a few organizations were utilizing them for Diabetic Alert Dogs. However, none of the bringsels on the market were a good fit – they either relied on being velcroed to a person’s beltloop, which doesn’t work particularly well when you’d like to wear a dress or sweatpants, or the material was leather or fabric and became unsanitary very quickly. So, I spent about 6 months trying different items out as bringsels to come up with a better solution. (Thank you, Filly, for being my guinea pig those 6 months…the poor dog had countless keychains on her collar as pseudo-bringsels while I experimented.)
To eliminate the need to wear the right outfit in order to use a bringsel, I wanted a bringsel design that would be with the dog at all times – it would clip onto the collar just like a leash (as one or two other organizations had done). All a bringsel really is, is something for the dog to hold to communicate an alert, so it needed to be a tab long enough for them to pick up but not so long to be dangerous. However I didn’t want it made of fabric or leather, as the bringsel touches the ground frequently and is then in the dog’s mouth, making it prone to collecting dirt and bacteria. Additionally, for active dogs it needed to be waterproof. The solution – biothane! This material can be wiped down quickly to be cleaned, doesn’t have crevices to collect dirt, and can be made at all different lengths. I reached out to Etsy shops who at the time only created biothane training tabs – which are similar to miniature leashes – and purchased their training tabs to evaluate. I found a shop that I really liked the quality of and asked if they would be willing to work with me to create and sell this bringsel. They warmly welcomed the idea and we worked for a month or so on determining the right lengths and clasps to provide, and the MD Dogs bringsel was born! They are sold by @csjcreations on Etsy (Shop here) in any length or color you desire!
Below are the instructions for choosing your MD Dogs bringsel and measuring for the right one.
Libby Rockaway is the founder of M.D. Dogs Incorporated and the author of Puppy Steps and Diabetic Alert Dog Training Steps