Autism Assistance Dogs – Points To Consider

Before you begin the application process, it is important that you read this information and give it some serious thought. The following information is given to you so that you realize everything that is involved in applying for and having an Autism Assistance Dog.


  • Child must have a documented Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis
  • Child’s age at time of application’s submission: 4 to 11 years old
  • Child’s age at time of Autism Assistance Dog placement: 5 to 12 (max)
  • No other dogs in the home
  • Child must not have fear of dogs
  • Child must not have aggressive/violent behaviors towards others
  • Home must have fenced yard (a common use area will not qualify)
  • Ability to practice obedience and manners with Autism Assistance Dog daily
  • Ability to always deal patiently and positively with your Autism Assistance Dog, as well as providing supervised exercise and play time
  • Ability to attend and pay for obedience classes and/or hire a private trainer

Please carefully consider the following points
Our professionally trained Autism Assistance Dogs require:

  • Minimum of one full year as a training year for both of you
  • Total commitment and willingness to work with your dog daily
  • The ability to place practice sessions ahead of other pressing demands
  • Being patient and positive with your dog
  • Playtime and rewards for a job well done each and every time they work for you
  • Exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis
  • Family members to refrain from giving the dog attention until the dog has completely bonded with the child

About our Dogs
Dogs for Better Lives trains Autism Assistance Dogs for children and families living with autism. This program is geared towards successfully integrating children with autism into daily routines. Autism Assistance Dogs often have a calming effect on the child, increasing the child’s willingness and ability to communicate.

Autism Assistance Dogs can help to improve social skills and also reduce undesirable behaviors common to children on the autism spectrum. In addition, our Autism Assistance Dogs are trained to act as an anchor, providing a stabilizing force to keep the child out of traffic, bodies of water, and other dangerous situations.

Autism Assistance Dogs are trained to work with the parent/guardian and/or caregiver of the child with autism. When the “team” goes out in public, the child with autism is tethered at the wrist to the dog. If the child bolts, the Autism Assistance Dog is trained to sit, thus allowing the handler the ability to protect the child from danger. The handler can also cue the Autism Assistance Dog to sit, allowing the handler the ability to focus on a task that requires them to take their attention off the child.

Home Environment
There can be no other dogs in the household with an Autism Assistance Dog, with the possible exception of a retired Dogs for Better Lives’ Hearing Dog or Autism Assistance Dog. If you have other pets and are not willing to re-home them, your application may be denied due to the difficulties of having a professionally trained dog work around those types of distractions.

We typically require a fenced area attached to the home. It is crucial to have full cooperation and support of all household members for a successful working team to develop.

Financial Commitment
Those accepted to receive a dog will be required to pay a $500.00 refundable Good Faith Deposit. Once the team has been together for one year, the deposit is refunded.
The cost of feeding and caring for one of our professionally trained dogs could be over $750.00 per year. This includes but is not limited to food, toys, vet care, etc. This does not include any unforeseen illness or injury. The client is financially responsible for the dog’s care once the dog is placed with the person.

Personal Skills
Generally, to qualify for our Autism Program, the child on the autism spectrum cannot be diagnosed with any other disabilities. To provide the best support for our clients, our dogs are trained for one specific skillset and not, for example, dually trained as Hearing Dogs. Please call for more information and clarification.

The Autism Assistance Dog is a trained working animal, not a pet. The entire training program is based on rewarding or playing with the dog every time they work. Consistent practice, patience, and praise are necessary for the dog to succeed.

Please remember that our dogs are not trained to be guard dogs. They are friendly, stable dogs that help people with different challenges and provide companionship only.

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