The Experience

Assistance Dogs

Preparing for Team Training

Team Training classes are two weeks in length and are conducted at the regional training centers. The waiting period for a candidate to be invited to a CCI Team Training class, if accepted, varies by category. Invitation to a class is determined by a candidate's position on the waiting list as well as the availability of suitable dogs.

Dogs in the class are fully trained. Therefore, the purpose of the class is to teach students the skills necessary to utilize and take care of a Canine Companions assistance dog. Several student teams participate in these training classes. There is some individual instruction during the course, however, the majority of teaching is done with lectures and group practice sessions. All lectures, individual instruction, and written class materials for Team Training are given in English.

During Team Training

During Team Training, students learn to manage the assistance dog's behavior, to direct the dog to respond to commands it has learned, and to assume responsibility for maintaining the health and well-being of the dog. Students need to demonstrate proficiency in all these areas in order to go home with an assistance dog.

Students must attend this class in its entirety in order to be considered for placement. Students need to be prepared to handle the travel and expense of attending a CCI placement class, as well as transportation during the class. Four of CCI's campuses are equipped with dorm rooms provided at no charge. Students also need to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively handle and care for the dog by the completion of the course. CCI reserves the right NOT to make a placement with any student team that cannot demonstrate these skills.


At the conclusion of Team Training, a graduation ceremony is held where the assistance dog's puppy raiser will hand over the leash to the new team member. This is a touching and moving event, with many family, friends and supporters attending to wish the team well.


Graduates are asked to return to the training facility within the first 3 months of placement so that an initial evaluation can be conducted. Public certification status will be re-tested and reviewed at this first follow-up evaluation.

CCI maintains ownership of the assistance dog even after placement is made. A graduate is personally and financially responsible for the assistance dog's care and maintenance including food and veterinary services.

CCI is committed to the ongoing success of its graduate teams. Graduates must participate in the graduate follow-up program throughout the working life of the dog. Follow-up services include telephone communication, written correspondence, and in-person visits. Support for graduates who need advice or equipment for their assistance dog is provided by each region’s Graduate program.

CCI has many avenues to provide in-person follow-up services. Opportunities include graduate workshops held at the training centers or in locations within the region as well as occasional hometown visits by CCI staff. All CCI graduates are welcome and encouraged to return to the training center at any time for a visit when they are in the area. CCI's follow-up program allows us to provide assistance to our graduates. It also helps us gain information that may help improve our breeding, training and placement programs for future graduate teams.

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