Canine Companions for Independence® provides a variety of assistance dog programs for people with disabilities or individuals who work with people with disabilities. Canine Companions' goal is to teach clients how to successfully manage and utilize these highly trained dogs.
The application process lasts between 3 - 6 months, on average, before an applicant can be accepted into the Canine Companions' program. If accepted, the candidate moves to the waiting list, which can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 ½ years.
Once accepted as a candidate, Canine Companions trains the students how to effectively work an assistance dog during a short and intense two-week period called Team Training. These are held at each of Canine Companions training centers. Canine Companions instructors will only graduate a student with an assistance dog if they feel that person can safely and effectively handle and care for the dog on their own or with the assistance of a facilitator or training assistant.
STEP 1: Complete the online application request form or contact us 1-800-572-BARK to receive one in the mail.
STEP 2: Once we receive your completed application request, we will review it and may contact you to determine which team category will help you achieve your goals for the placement. An appropriate application packet will be mailed to you within 4-6 weeks. Review the material with the application. Complete and return the application to the Canine Companions training center indicated.
STEP 3: Once the application materials are received and reviewed, if appropriate, Canine Companions will contact the applicant to schedule a telephone interview.
STEP 4: After completing the telephone interview, if appropriate, medical and/or professional reference forms will be sent to the applicant. These forms are to be filled out by a physician and a therapist or other professional and returned to Canine Companions.
STEP 5: After review of the medical and/or professional forms, if appropriate, Canine Companions will contact the applicant for a personal interview. The personal interview is conducted at a Canine Companions campus in the applicant's region.
STEP 6: Following the personal interview, the selection review committee will review all of the applicant’s application materials and determine if the applicant can be accepted into our assistance dog program.
STEP 7: If an applicant is accepted, they will be added to the waiting list as of their personal interview date.
STEP 8: Annual update forms are sent to candidates on the waiting list. These forms must be completed and returned in order to remain active on the waiting list.
It is important to remember that although assistance dogs are highly trained in many commands, they are not machines that will respond automatically to commands. There are certain aspects of dog handling that are required to gain and maintain their responsiveness. These include: quick decision making and action or reaction; a degree of physical movement, strength and reaction speed; good judgment in order to make the appropriate handling decisions; and good memory so that the leader is always consistent with the dog.
Canine Companions dogs are responsive, but NOT responsible. A Canine Companions dog cannot take responsibility for the safety of the recipient. A Canine Companions dog does not have the ability to identify a situation that is safe versus a situation that is dangerous. Canine Companions dogs are only able to perform under the direct supervision of an adult, and cannot go to school alone with a child.
Canine Companions can only accept a limited number of applications per year. Although many individuals with disabilities are eligible and in need of an assistance dog, Canine Companions will determine and select those individuals where the tasks provided by Canine Companions highly trained dogs will be of the greatest benefit.
Please keep in mind that the application can be denied at any point during the application process. Canine Companions prohibits discrimination based on race, color, creed, gender, religion, marital status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition including genetic characteristics, pregnancy, sexual orientation, citizenship status, military service status, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state or local laws.
Please read the FAQ's for additional information.