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.

Can Assistance Dogs Australia accredit or train my dog?

Assistance Dogs Australia only trains and accredits dogs that have been through our program from eight weeks of age. We are unable to train or certify any other dog and cannot recommend any particular organisations that provide this service. For more general information visit Assistance Dogs International.

For state specific information, click below.


Does Assistance Dogs provide dogs for emotional therapy or train medical alert dogs?

Assistance Dogs Australia trains and places with dogs with a wide range of people with different needs, which may include emotional or psychological support. Unfortunately, we do not train medical alert dogs.

Do Assistance Dogs have public access rights?

Yes. Service Dogs who are placed with people that use wheelchairs have public access rights and are distinguishable by their blue jacket. They and their recipient undergo yearly public access testing and are issued with a licence. It is illegal to discriminate against or refuse entry to a person with an Assistance Dog and anyone who does so can be prosecuted. Any entry fee must not be charged to an animal that is an assistance animal. For more information on laws and regulations concerning the public access rights of Assistance Dogs please view the following references per state.   ACT  NSW  NT  QLD  SA  TAS  WA  VIC Other useful sites; The Queensland Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009

What kind of dogs does Assistance Dogs Australia train?

Assistance dogs Australia provides different types of dogs to assist people with different needs:

  • Service Dogs –  Trained to assist their owner in ways specific to their needs, Assistance Dogs Australia provides Services Dogs to people with physical disabilities, as well as Autism Support Dogs, PTSD Support Dogs and Dementia Support Dogs. All Service Dogs have full public access right so they can accompany their owner anywhere in the community.
  • Support Dogs – Trained to provide support to everyone at institutions such as schools,learning centres and care homes.

Learn more about the different services we provide.

Who is eligible to apply for a dog?

Anyone with a disability. Assistance Dogs are placed with people who were born with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, people who acquire debilitating illnesses later in life like multiple sclerosis and those who have been injured in tragic accidents and will never walk again. We also place dogs with children and adults with autism spectrum disorder, and sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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.

How can I get involved with the dogs?

You can get involved by becoming a Puppy Educator, puppy carer or be part of our Bed & Breakfast program. We have many volunteering opportunities.

Unfortunately we are unable to provide training courses for people wishing to become Assistance Dogs trainers. For more information about this please visit The Delta Society.

We cannot provide work experience opportunities to anyone under the age of 18.

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.

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.

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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