Skilled Companion Dogs

People with disabilities might have trouble reaching a light switch, picking up a dropped pencil or opening a door. Imagine having a dog that could do all of that and more.
Our skilled companion dogs are trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. A facilitator is typically a parent, spouse or caregiver who handles and cares for the assistance dog, encourages a strong bond between the recipient and the skilled companion dog, and is responsible for the customized training needs of the dog.
Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism and Down syndrome.
A Canine Companions skilled companion is bred to be calm, reliable, affectionate and reduces the recipient’s reliance on other people to complete simple daily tasks.
A Canine Companions skilled companion can also serve as a social bridge to people who are not used to relating with a person with a disability.
Not only does this kind of assistance make their physical lives easier, it boosts confidence and feelings of self-sufficiency.

To receive a skilled companion:

  • Choose a facilitator for the team.
  • Request an application.
  • Apply. This process involves several steps designed to ensure success.
  • Upon acceptance, the participant and the facilitator must attend a two-week Team Training class at a Canine Companions regional training center.
  • After the training session and a graduation ceremony, Canine Companions provides on-going support and follow-up services.

Skilled companion dogs and follow-up services are free of charge.