Assistance Dog Program

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What is an Assistance Dog?

An Assistance Dog is a working dog which helps ease one or more symptoms of its owner's disability. An assistance dog can be a guide dog, a hearing dog, a mobility assistance dog, a psychiatric assistance dog or an autism assistance dog. A certified assistance dog has more access rights than a pet dog, allowing them to travel with their owner in public places, on public transport, and in the cabin of aircraft (by arrangement with the airline).    

A certified assistance dog has more access rights than a pet dog.

Can my dog qualify as an Assistance Dog?

Any breed of dog can qualify as an assistance dog, although certain breeds are considered more suitable. Selection of a prospective assistance dog is also important so wherever possible consult with us before purchasing a puppy.

To be recognized as an Assistance Dog under the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 an Assistance Dog must:

  • Be Trained. You can achieve this through an Assistance Dog Provider, or private training companies - like Adelaide K9 Services. 

  • Pass the Public Access Test (PAT). The PAT is an annual test coordinated by the State government and is administered by approved assessors. The primary function of the PAT is to assess the appropriateness of assistance dog teams (dog and owner). To pass the test the dog must meet the standards of hygiene, be well behaved and under control of the owner at all times.    

  • Alleviate the Disability. To be certified an Assistance Dog must be trained to ease the owner's impairment. This requirement is more than just providing comfort - the dog must be trained to perform three (3) particular behaviours, sometimes without a cue from the owner. The types of things an assistance dog might do include: navigating busy public spaces, alerting their owner to certain noises, opening and closing doors and providing pressure with their body when their owner feels anxious. 

Frequently Asked Questions

We have answered the most frequently asked questions below. If you have another one, please don't hesitate to give us a call or contact us.  

Can my existing dog qualify as an Assistance Dog?

Yes and No. According to the law as long as your dog is able to meet the criteria they can qualify as an assistance dog. While this approach appeals to many owners it is not without challenges. For example, Guide Dogs are specifically bred for temperament and trainability, traits that increase their chances of completing their training. They are brought up by experienced "puppy raisers" and receive extensive role training before being matched with a potential client. An owner aiming to qualify their own dog must be able to participate in the socialisation and foundation training of their dog.        

Can you help me buy an Assistance Dog?

Yes. We can help you find a puppy, or adult dog that will be suitable to be trained as an assistance dog.         

Why is it so hard to get an Assistance Dog?

The demand for all types of assistance dogs is currently greater than the number of dogs that can be trained by recognized organizations. This has led to long waiting times for people in need of an assistance dog.

How much does an Assistance Dog cost?

A fully trained assistance dog is valued anywhere between $35,000 to $50,000.

To purchase a green dog (a young dog who has had foundational training and is considered suitable for the role) may cost $10,000 to $15,000 - more in some instances.       

To purchase a puppy, you should allow between $3,000 to $7,000.

Training costs for your own puppy or adult dog depend on the temperament and trainability of your dog, the intended role of the dog, your disability, and how much you are able to assist in the training of the dog. In most cases you will be looking at $5,000 to $15,000.  

How long does the Program take?

The length of the program varies based on the age of the dog and how much training is required for their role. A puppy may take 18 months to 2 years before they are ready to be certified. A suitable adult dog, or green dog, may take 6 months.  

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