Providing Dog Guides to Canadians with Disabilities
FAQs

Do you train dogs for PTSD, anxiety or depression?
We do not train dogs to assist with PTSD, psychiatric needs or emotional support. Please visit www.assistancedogsinternational.org for a list of other accredited providers.

Can you train my dog?
Our organization only certify and place dogs that have successfully completed our intensive puppy program and training program. We are unable to train or certify individuals with their pet dog.

Can you certify my dog?
Our organization only certify and place dogs that have successfully completed our intensive puppy program and training program, we are unable to train or certify individuals with their pet dog.

Public access laws for assistance dogs are different in each province. Please visit the public access laws in your province, so you are able to determine the requirements for public access.

How much does a Dog Guide cost?
There is no cost or fundraising requirement to the client to apply for and receive a fully trained and certified Dog Guide. We are a non-profit organization that receives funding support from generous corporations, fundraisers, Lions Clubs and individuals. However, once the dog is in the client’s care they would be responsible for ongoing costs such as food and veterinary care (approx. $2,500/year).

What breeds of dogs do you train?
We mainly train Labrador Retrievers. We also train poodles for those with allergies to dogs or other medical conditions that would require a non-shedding breed. This includes not only applicants, but also immediate members of their household.

What is the process for a Dog Guide in training?
The dogs that we train and certify are born through our breeding program. Once they reach 8 weeks of age they go to a foster family to learn basic obedience and socialization. At one year old they would be placed in one of our seven programs and trained by one of our professional instructors for the next six months. Once fully trained they would be matched with an accepted client on the program’s waitlist, according to the client’s needs and lifestyle.

How long is the wait?
A client’s spot on our wait list is determined by the day they submit a complete application to our program, however we are unable to give a specific timeline for the wait time. There are many variables that affect wait time, especially around the matching process. After a client is accepted, we must find a dog that is a good match for them according to their needs and lifestyle. Other variables that influence waiting time include length of the current wait list and our organizations training capacity in a program.

How do you match your applicants with their Dog Guide?
After a client is accepted, the next step is to find a dog that is a good match for them. Although every dog is highly trained, not every dog will match every client and their needs. In order to maximize each client’s chance of success, we must consider matching the clients needs, activity level, personality and a host of other factors. We do not consider the dogs colour, gender, or breed (except for medical conditions that require a non-shedding breed) when matching to a client as these do not impact success of the team.

If I am accepted into the program, how am I trained with my Dog Guide?
Clients must attend a residential training class at our Oakville, ON training facility that can range from 10-19 days, depending on the program. Clients would stay in our hotel style rooms and cooks on staff would provide meals during their stay.  In our experience, this immersive experience of learning onsite provides the best chance of success for the working team of client and dog guide.

What if I meet the criteria for more than one of your programs?
We do not cross train between the programs. Therefore, an applicant would need to choose the program that would be of most benefit to them.

When does the Dog Guide retire and what happens next?
Typically, our Dog Guides retire at approximately 8-10 years of age, barring that they do not have any health or behaviour concerns before this time. When the dog retires the client is welcome to adopt them as a pet, have a family member or friend adopt, or return them to our facility for us to adopt out. The client can also reapply for a successor dog.

Why is there a minimum age requirement for the programs?
The reason for the minimum age requirement is that the person with the disability needs to be the primary handler of the dog. Therefore, the applicant would need to be capable of all of the responsibilities for handling the Dog Guide and maintaining their training. This would include tasks like giving commands, rewarding the dog, problem solving any behaviours that arise, and many others. All of this is important in order to form a strong bond between the working team, and to maximize their chance of success.

In our Autism Assistance program, we require parents or caregivers to be the handler of the dog. The age range selected for new applicants (3-12yrs) is the age range we feel our Dog Guides will be most impactful based on the skills they are trained to do.

Pet dogs in the home
In the Hearing, Seizure Response and Diabetic Alert Dog Guide programs there are no pet dogs allowed in the home as this can pose as a distraction between the bond of the working dog and their handler. However, the applicant can keep the pet dog in their home up until they are invited to class to receive their new Dog Guide.

What is the application process for a Dog Guide?

  1. When an applicant sends in their completed application, it is reviewed by the Client Services team to ensure that it meets the basic criteria. They will hear from Client Services within the next few weeks regarding next steps.
  2. One of our instructors would perform an in home assessment. This step can happen at any time in the waiting process, depending on where the applicant is on the waitlist and when an instructor will be in their area.
  3. The file is brought forward to the Acceptance Committee. The applicant is then told in writing whether their application is accepted or denied.
  4. If accepted, the client will then need to wait until they make their way up the waitlist and a suitable dog match is found.
  5. When a dog match is found, the client will be invited to the next scheduled class.  They would stay at our facility for a specific period of time, depending on the program, while they are trained with their new Dog Guide. Canine Vision, Service, Seizure Response and Diabetic Alert are all 3 weeks long, Hearing is 2.5 weeks and Autism Assistance is 10 days. We have hotel style rooms and cooks on staff, all provided at no cost. We will also arrange transportation for those not within driving distance.
  6. Upon successful completion of the training program, the client and Dog Guide would graduate as a working team.
  7. When a client goes home with their Dog Guide, our instructors continue to provide follow up support throughout the working life of the dog. Follow up includes periodic visits to the client’s home, as well as, yearly communication through phone or email.