Disclaimer: The links to sites other than assistancedogs.org.au are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) of any of the products, services or opinions of the business, organization or individual. Assistance Dogs Australia bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of the external site or for that of subsequent links. Please contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

Assistance Dogs Australia is:

a not for profit organisation accredited with Assistance Dogs International (ADI) and Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs (GHAD).

Assistance Dogs Australia currently provide accredited assistance dogs for persons living with:
What programs are NOT provided by Assistance dogs Australia at this time?
  • Medical Alert dogs for people living with diabetes or epilepsy
  • Dogs specific to Anxiety and/or depression
  • Guide/Hearing dogs
What is an Assistance Dog?

Assistance Dog is a generic term for a guide, hearing, or service dog specifically trained to perform identifiable physical tasks and behaviours to assist a person with a disability in order to aid in quality of life and/or independence. Assistance dogs are covered under many legislative access laws for public access rights when working with their handler who lives with a disability.

Assistance dogs are not to be confused with a therapy, emotional support or companion dog which are not required to undertake a Public Access Test (PAT)

All dogs can intrinsically provide emotional support to a human being. Assistance dogs are different from emotional support dogs in that they are specifically trained to perform identifiable tasks to increase independence and/or quality of life.

What does an Assistance Dog do?

Assistance Dogs are trained for two years to perform specific tasks to help their team-mate. For clients with physical disabilities, dogs can:

  • Open and close doors, drawers, cupboards and fridge
  • Retrieved dropped items
  • Press the button at the traffic lights
  • Take the washing out of the machine
  • Remove items of clothing
  • Pay the cashier at the shops
  • Alert bark if their owner is in danger

Apart from the tangible day-to-day tasks an Assistance Dog can:

  • Assist with the development and improvement of motor skills
  • Provide greater freedom and independence
  • Reduce the need for a carer
  • Improve self-esteem and confidence
  • Give love and companionship

Assistance Dogs Australia provides Assistance Dogs and their recipients with public access rights in accordance to the rules and regulations of Assistance Dogs International.

Why are your applications closed and when will they reopen?

Due to the success of our program, we have closed applications until we reduce our waiting list times. If applications had remained open, at this time, this would have resulted in unreasonably long wait times to receive an Assistance Dog. Please continue to check our website for announcements on the reopening of applications. We do not take names to advise when our services are open again.

Who is eligible to apply for one of your dogs?

Any person who meets the criteria for the services we offer.

How long will I have to wait for my Assistance Dog?

It is difficult to give a time frame on how long it will take to get one of our dogs. We take great pride in matching Assistance Dogs’ personalities and strengths to the needs of each recipient. For this reason, the first person on the waiting list may not be suitable for the next dog to graduate.

The first step is to fill in an application form which you can find on our website. Once submitted, a staff member will contact you within four weeks. You will then have a phone interview, a face-to-face interview before going on our waiting list. You will receive a final interview once a dog becomes available.

Can Assistance Dogs Australia help train/accredit/register my own dog or puppy?
  • Assistance Dogs Australia do not train/accredit/register dogs or puppies that are not part of our program.
  • As an accredited organisation Assistance Dogs Australia only provide assistance dogs to people who have completed our application process in the services we offer.

For more information on programs not provided by Assistance Dogs Australia please see GHAD approved trainers and training institutions throughout Australia or Assistance Dogs International (ADI).

Assistance Dogs Australia’s accredited dog and handler teams will have:

– Completed a Public Access Test (PAT) to receive accreditation – this is an annual test.
– A navy blue jacket that is clearly marked to include:
– Assistance Dogs International logo
– Assistance Dogs Australia logo
– A handler’s licence including photo identification
– ID tag on their collar



Can Assistance dogs Australia accredit/register my dog as an Emotional Support Animal?

Assistance Dogs Australia is unable to accredit or register an emotional support dog as it falls outside our scope of services.

What is a Public Access Test?

The Public Access Test (PAT) establishes a minimum standard for an assistance dog’s behaviour in a public area under state and federal law.

An example of a Public Access Test can be found here (Source www.qld.gov.au).

Please refer to this link for all information on relevant federal and state legislation.

Which states and territories have programs for registration and accreditation of assistance dogs?

There is no national register of Assistance Dogs in Australia at this time.

Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have programs for accreditation and registration of Assistance Dogs. Please click on the following links for information.

At this time, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory and Tasmania, do not have a formal system of accreditation or registration offered by local or state government.

For more information on laws and regulations concerning the public access rights of Assistance Dogs, you can check legislation in NSW and Victoria by clicking on the links below.

Please contact your state or territory government if you live in Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory or Northern Territory.

What is the legal understanding of an Assistance Dog in Australia?

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) Section 9, sets out the legal definition of an assistance animal as a dog or other animal that is:
(a) Accredited under a State or Territory law to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effects of disability; or
(b) Accredited by an animal training organisation prescribed in the regulations; or
(c) Trained to assist a person with a disability to alleviate the effect of the disability and meets standards of hygiene and behaviour that are appropriate for an animal in a public place.
(Source Human Rights Australia)

For businesses
Please click here to download an information sheet.

Assistance Dogs Australia also provide stickers which can be displayed in your establishment to show the public and recipients with Assistance Dogs they are welcome.

Please contact [email protected] if you would like our Business support pack.

Are you registered with the NDIS?

Yes, we are registered.

Do you provide Suitability Assessments for NDIS?

The suitability assessment is part of our application process for the services we offer. We do not provide suitability assessments for people looking for a dog outside Assistance Dogs Australia’s program.

Do you provide reports to support the funding of an Assistance Dog by NDIS?

Our Occupational Therapists prepare reports for our current clients, justifying the funding of their Assistance Dog to the NDIS. At this time, we do not provide this service for individuals outside Assistance Dogs Australia’s program.

I have funding through NDIS to buy and train an Assistance Dog. Can you help me choose, train and accredit a dog?

We are a charitable organisation and our dogs are given, free of charge, to our clients. We do not train or accredit dogs outside our own program, with or without NDIS funding.

Can I apply for NDIS funding for costs associated with having an Assistance Dog when it is placed with me?

You can apply for NDIS funding for costs associated with owning an Assistance Dog. This is usually included in core funding and used for food, equipment and veterinary care. The average amount for this funding is $2600 per year. Please contact the NDIS for information.

What opportunities do you have for volunteering with dogs and puppies?

We are always looking for Puppy Educators, Puppy Carers, B&Bers and Brood Carers. Please click here to explore your options. Please note we do not have volunteer positions available with dogs at our National Training School.

Do you take on students for Work Experience or Work Placement at your National Training School?

Due to COVID-19 regulations, we are not taking enquires for Work Placement at this time.

We are not able to provide work experience opportunities to anyone under the age of 18.

For students looking to complete work placement, this  must be for a minimum of two weeks. Approval is subject to available resources and approval by the Manager of the Dog Care and Welfare Centre. Please email your request and availability for consideration to: [email protected]

How do I become an Assistance Dog trainer?

After completing a Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services or Dog Training, on the job training with an organisation accredited by Assistance Dogs International is required to become an Assistance Dog trainer. We are not able to recommend a training institution.

Why can’t I pat an Assistance Dog?

Touching is a distraction and can prevent Assistance Dogs from tending to their human partners. Be sensitive to the fact that Assistance Dogs are working and may be in the middle of a command or direction. Please always ask the handler before interacting with an Assistance Dog – whether they are in training or with their recipient. Interaction includes talking to or making sounds at the dog as well as touching it.

Where does Assistance Dogs Australia get its puppies from?

Assistance Dogs Australia sources puppies from reputable, registered breeders around Australia. We have also whelped litters of our own as part of our breeding program and are on the breeding registry.

We do not buy puppies from puppy farms or condone puppy farming.

Can I give an unsuccessful Assistance Dog a forever home?

With our wide range of services, it is very rare that we have unsuccessful dogs. In 2017, we had a 93% success rate with our Assistance Dogs. We are currently not taking any applicants or enquiries for our release dogs.

At what age does an Assistance Dog stop working and what happens to them when they retire?

Usually a dog retires around the age of 10-11, meaning it has a working life of 8-9 years. Each case is looked at individually.

When they retire Assistance Dogs Australia ensures they find a loving ‘forever home’. Often this is within the client’s family or friends network.

What training methods does Assistance Dogs Australia use?

We make training a fun experience for our dogs. They enjoy classes, learning new skills and visiting different environments.

Assistance Dogs Australia’s trainers and volunteer puppy carers use positive reinforcement methods to elicit and motivate desired behaviours in our dogs. Desired behaviours are rewarded and undesired behaviours are redirected.

With Puppy Educators, Assistance Dogs learn basic obedience and experience appropriate socialisation activities in the community. Crate training is used to assist with toilet training and to provide puppies with a safe place to sleep. We socialise puppies with other animals and a variety of people so that they learn to be calm and confident in all situations.

When training at the National Training School, Assistance Dogs learn advanced tasks with qualified Assistance Dogs trainers such as pressing the button at the traffic lights. They also learn skills specifically tailored to the needs of their future recipient. Newly placed Assistance Dogs and their recipients undergo team training together before undertaking public access testing.

Why does it cost so much to train an Assistance Dog?

It costs in excess of $40,000 to train each Assistance Dog. This includes everything from purchasing a puppy, to food, vaccinations, training, and placement of dog to client. Assistance Dogs are provided free of charge to people in need. We do not receive government funding and therefore rely on the generosity of individuals, corporate and philanthropic organisations to provide our vital services to the community.

It costs over $40,000 to train and place an Assistance Dog.


Your donation helps covers training, vaccinations, food and equipment for an Assistance Dog, who is given to a client free of charge.


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