Program 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 a Program Assistance Dog.


  • We typically require a fenced area attached to the home.
  • Other pets in the home are permitted with a Program Assistance Dog, provided they get along. If the other pets do not get along with the new Program Assistance Dog, we ask that you re-home them.
  • Each of our Program Assistance Dogs is to be placed with a single (1) handler. The handler must be a licensed professional.
  • Only professionals such as physicians, teachers, counselors and licensed therapists who work a minimum of 20 hours per week in the treatment of and work with their clients or students are eligible to apply.
  • You will be required to attend obedience training classes or hire a private obedience trainer as prescribed by your professional Dogs for Better Lives trainer.
  • We select dogs from area shelters based on temperament and age, not size, sex, or appearance.

Please carefully consider the following points
Our professionally trained Program 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
  • Play time and rewards for a job well done each and every time they work for you
  • Exercise and mental stimulation on a daily basis
  • Taking sole responsibility for the care of the dog so that the dog will bond with you
  • Family members to refrain from giving the dog attention until the dog has completely bonded with you

About our Dogs
Program Assistance Dogs go to work with and assist full-time professionals such as physicians, teachers, counselors and licensed therapists in the treatment of and work with their clients and students who have disabilities. Program Assistance Dogs are trained to be calm and relaxed regardless of what is going on around them. The dogs are trained to go to clients or students on command to help ease anxiety and can also be used as a reward for positive behavior. All dogs receive the same basic training, and then each dog receives specialized training depending on the needs of the professional and the clients he/she serves.

These dogs only have public access rights when accompanying the professionals and their clients. Program Assistance Dogs are not therapy dogs. They are professionally trained Assistance Dogs who perform tasks to assist the professional.

Home Environment
There can be no other dogs in the household with a Program 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 unforseen illness or injury. The client is financially responsible for the dog’s care once the dog is placed with the person.

Personal Skills
The  Program 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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