Looking for an Assistance Dog
Assistance Dogs International (ADI) is a coalition of non-profit organizations that raise, train and place assistance dogs. ADI does not directly provide, train, certify or register individual assistance dogs or assistance dog teams, as that is the function of our member organizations. ADI certification is only available to assistance dog partnered teams that were trained by our accredited member programs.
Assistance Dogs is a generic term for a guide, hearing, or service dog specifically trained to do three or more tasks to mitigate the effects of an individual’s disability. The presence of a dog for protection, personal defense, or comfort does not qualify that dog as an assistance dog.
Guide Dog: A dog that guides individuals who are blind or visually impaired. The presence of a dog for protection, personal defense, or comfort does not qualify that dog as a guide dog.
- Guide Dogs help their users to travel around independently and safely, giving their users more independence, freedom and confidence.
- Guide Dogs make navigating streets much less stressful by assisting their users to find locations, avoid obstacles and stop at curbs.
- Guide Dogs make it easier for the person who is blind or vision impaired to use public transport, navigate shopping centers and buildings, find doors, seats and pedestrian crossing buttons.
- Guide Dogs provide companionship and promote social inclusion.
Hearing Dog: A dog that alerts individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to specific sounds. The presence of a dog for protection, personal defense, or comfort does not qualify that dog as a hearing dog.
- Hearing Dogs assist deaf and hard of hearing individuals by alerting them to a variety of household sounds such as a door knock or doorbell, alarm clock, oven buzzer, telephone, baby crying, name call or smoke alarm.
- Hearing Dogs are trained to make physical contact and lead their deaf partners to the source of the sound.
- Hearing Dogs are generally mixed breeds acquired from animal shelters and are small to medium in size. Prior to formal audio response training, the puppies/dogs are raised and socialized by volunteer puppy raisers.
- Hearing Dogs are identified by leash and/or vest.
Service Dog: A dog that works for individuals with disabilities other than blindness or deafness. Service dogs are trained to perform a wide variety of tasks including but not limited to; pulling a wheelchair, bracing, retrieving, alerting to a medical crisis, and providing assistance in a medical crisis.
- Service Dogs are professionally trained dogs that help mitigate many different types of disabilities.
- Service Dogs can be trained to work with people who have power or manual wheelchairs, have balance issues, have various types of autism, need seizure alert or response, need to be alerted to other medical issues like low blood sugar, or have psychiatric disabilities.
- Service Dogs can help by retrieving dropped objects that are out of their person's reach, by pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory person to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing deep pressure, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person with a disability.
- Service dog types include: Mobility Service Dog, Seizure Service Dog, Autism Service Dog, Diabetic Alert Service Dog, Psychiatric Service Dog, Service Dogs for Veterans with Military-related PTSD and Medical Alert Service Dog.
Please refer to ADI's Terms and Definitions for further information.
Why should I receive an Assistance Dog from an ADI Accredited Member Program?
It is a buyer beware market for consumers looking for a reputable assistance dog program. By selecting an ADI Accredited Member program, consumers can ensure that the program is meeting the highest standards in the assistance dogs industry including standards for the treatment of clients, dogs, training and ethical business practices. ADI accredited programs have defined service areas (geographic locations) based on their ability to provide support for their clients. Each program has their own requirements for training and placing assistance dogs with clients. They vary by the types of dogs they train, their placement service area, whether they will train a personal dog, the structure of their training program and funding resources.
Use our Members Search to find an ADI Accredited Member that serves your area.
How much does it cost to receive an Assistance Dog?
Most ADI Accredited member programs receive financial support from the generosity of donors and grant funders that allows them to provide their assistance dogs at a very low cost or no cost to the client. However, all programs may determine their own fees for clients that could include application fees, training services, travel expenses or related expenses. Some programs provide assistance or resources to help clients raise funds to cover the costs. ADI does not have the funding resources to provide any financial assistance to programs or individuals seeking an assistance dog. Please ask each program for their fees to receive an assistance dog.
Can I have my personal dog trained to become an Assistance Dog?
Someone who would like to have their personal dog trained and certificated from an ADI Accredited Member program, may do so if they become a client of the program. Some ADI Accredited programs will evaluate an owner with their dog for possible further training/certification. The owner and dog must complete the program's training program together and meet the same standards as the assistance dogs trained directly by the program staff. ADI Standards require that there is a minimum six-month training period for these teams. ADI member programs do not just administer testing to certify an individual assistance dog team. ADI certification is only available to assistance dog partnered teams that were trained by our accredited member programs. All trainers are employed by their assistance dog organization. ADI does not have a database of trainers or offer board and train services.
To find an ADI Accredited Member Program that will train you with your own dog to become an Assistance Dog, go to ADI's Members Search page. Click "Advanced Filtering Options" (under Select a Country), and check the box that states "Will consider working with an owner and their personal dog." Click the red "Search" button and a list of all programs that train owners with their personal dogs will be visible. Please contact those programs directly to learn of their requirements.
How do I find a Program that trains Emotional Support Dogs?
ADI does not recognize emotional support dogs. Most ADI accredited programs do not train, place or certify emotional support dogs.
I think it would be cool to take my dog out in public. How do I do this?
Assistance dogs do not have public access rights – only the individuals with disabilities partnered with an assistance dogs have public access rights. In most countries and states, people with disabilities who are partnered with an assistance dog have the legal right to take their assistance dogs into public places normally prohibited by pet dogs. In some countries, the law gives public access rights to assistance dogs when they are accompanied by an assistance dog trainer.
I am a Veteran looking for an Assistance Dog. How do I find one?
To find a program that works with Veterans go to ADI's Members Search page. Click "Advanced Filtering Options" (under Select a Country), and check the box that states "Veteran" under the Demographic title. Click the red "Search" button and a list of all programs that work with Veterans will be visible. You must then find a program that serves your area.
In the United States, the Veterans Affairs Division requires that a Veteran and their dog must complete a training program offered by an assistance dog program accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the International Guide Dog Federation in order for the Veteran to receive Dog of Record insurance benefit. More information on this topic can be found at US Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Service web page and service dog benefits to Veterans with mental health disorders press release.