ADI Terms & Definitions


Accreditation: the recognition of a program that maintains standards of professional practice.

Accredited Member Program: a not-for-profit or charitable assistance dog program that has successfully completed the ADI accreditation process.

ABC Breeding Cooperative: a collaborative ADI membership program that collectively improves member access to a reliable and relevant puppy supply by combining resources to realize the benefits of a large, expertly managed, assistance dog breeding program.

Affiliated Partner: a not-for-profit organization that does not train and place assistance dogs, but has a relationship with ADI.

Applicant: an individual who has submitted an application to an assistance dog program for an assistance dog. This individual has not yet been accepted as a client of the assistance dog program.

Alert Service Dog: a dog that is trained to alert a person that the onset of a medical condition is imminent. This is a type of service dog. Common types include seizure alert service dogs and diabetic alert service dogs.

Animal Assisted Intervention (sometimes referred to as Canine Assisted Intervention):  various procedures that are goal-directed and targets the specific aspects (developmental, therapeutic, emotion, behavioral…) of individual or groups of people involved in working with trained animals. It is conducted by animal-handler team, by meeting the standards of the competent program.

Animal Assisted Intervention International: a not-for-profit organization supporting Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) within professional healthcare and human services settings. For more information, please refer to

Assessor: a trained volunteer of ADI that completes the accreditation survey for candidate programs of ADI and reaccreditation survey for member programs of ADI.

Assistance Dog: 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. Assistance dogs are covered under many legislative access laws for public access rights when working with their disabled handler. 

Assistance Dog Instructor: a person affiliated with a program who is recognized by that program as being directly responsible for educating an assistance dog team and/or meeting other educational requirements of the program.

Assistance Dog Trainer: a person affiliated with a program who is recognized by that program as being directly responsible for the training and conduct of an assistance dog in training.

Assistance Dogs International Public Access Certification Test: the practical test developed by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) that is administered by ADI member programs to evaluate public suitability for a graduate team. ADI Public certification indicates to the client and to the community that the client assistance dog team is prepared to manage the dog safely and appropriately in public settings.

Candidate program: an established not-for-profit or charitable programs that is working towards achieving Accredited Member status.  All Candidates must adhere to all ADI Standards and requirements and pursue accreditation to achieve Accredited Member status in ADI within five (5) years. Candidates may apply for the accreditation process after two (2) years as a Candidate in good standing.

Certified Assistance Dog: assistance dog partnered teams that are trained and placed by an ADI accredited member program.

Client: an individual who has been accepted by an assistance dog program to receive an assistance dog. This individual could be accepted and waiting for a dog, undergoing team training, or have completed team training.

Companion Dog: a pet dog for an individual in the home.

Courthouse Dog: a professionally trained Facility dog that works with a trained handler to provide a calming influence on individuals during stressful legal proceedings. Public access is only granted with permission from the institution. 

Emotional Support Animal: a companion animal that provides emotional or therapeutic support to an individual with a mental health condition or emotional disorder simply by being present. Emotional support animals do not receive the same training as assistance dogs and therefore, depending upon the country, may have different laws regarding their public access privileges. For example, in the United States of America, Emotional Support Animals do not have the same right to public access as an assistance dog and its handler.

Facility: a building or place that provides a particular service to people who are in need for special care, e.g. a hospital, an elderly home, an educational setting, etc.

Facility Dog: a specially trained dog that works with a volunteer or professional in a residential or clinic setting. The dog must be trained to do specific, skilled tasks in a variety of different situations within the facility environment with multiple clients; it must be more than just a presence within the facility. The volunteer or professional handler is trained by a program. In some countries facility dogs do not have any public access while in other countries public access is permitted only when the dog and trained handler are directly working with a client with a disability.  

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.

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.

Organization: a not-for-profit or charitable agency that may incorporate a number of programs, for example a program dedicated to training service dogs as well as programs that provide other types of service.

Owner Trained Assistance Dog: an assistance dog trained by its owner. To be an ADI certified team, the owner trained assistance dog and its handler must work with an ADI accredited member for a minimum of six months and complete all requirements as a program trained assistance dog.

Public Access: the right of a person with a disability to be accompanied by his/her assistance dog in all public accommodations. Public access is granted to the person with the disability, not to the assistance dog. Public access is not included for AAI-teams.

Response Service Dog: a dog that is trained to provide safety to person who is experiencing or has just experienced a medical episode, such as a seizure. This is a type of service dog.

Privately-Trained Assistance Dog: an assistance dog trained by independent professional trainer who is not affiliated with an assistance dog training program.

Program: a not-for-profit operation, that may be part of a larger organization, involved in the training of assistance dogs.

Psychiatric Service Dog: a dog that is trained to mitigate a mental health disability. This is a type of service dog.

Puppy Raiser: a person or family appointed by a program to socialize and prepare a young dog to enter formal training. This is generally a volunteer.

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.

Standard: a set of rules defining the quality of the program.

Task: this is a trained behavior that the dog does on cue (or command) to mitigate its partner’s disability. The cue can be verbal, a hand signal, something in the environment and/or some behavior exhibited by the partner or another person. Examples of a verbal cue could be “take it” and a hand signal could be pointing at an object to indicate to the dog to retrieve it. A cue in the environment might be a strap on a door, a car in the road or an alarm clock ringing. The behavior of a person could be falling to the ground, hand shaking, or emitting odor of low blood sugar.

Team Training: the instructional process to educate and train clients to successfully utilize assistance dogs and facility dogs.

Therapy Dog: a pet dog trained to provide affection, comfort, and love to those it interacts with in many different settings. Therapy dog owners may volunteer their time to visit with their animals to facilities in which the team is welcomed or may be practitioners who utilize the dog in a professional setting. Therapy dogs are not covered under the legislative public access laws, and therefore do not have the same public access rights as an assistance dog and its handler.