Science and Technology

Learn more about the science and technology we use to develop healthy and strong assistance dogs.

Canine Companions is at the forefront of the assistance dog industry, thanks to cutting edge research in collaboration with major canine health and cognition organizations. Studies on behavior and longitudinal studies help Canine Companions determine what makes a successful assistance dog. How can we predict success from a young age? Might we be able to identify the healthiest dogs to produce the future generations of happy, healthy working dogs? Learn with whom Canine Companions is partnering in an effort to provide the highest quality, healthiest and successful assistance dog partnerships.

What Makes a Successful Assistance Dog

What makes a successful life-changing assistance dog: brains, brawn, or behavior? A new study of thousands of Canine Companions for Independence® dogs may have some answers, identifying predictors of success in a field where the majority of dogs don’t make the cut. Click here to read the full article.

Purdue University - Can service dogs help children with autism?

As the number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder continues to rise, so does the demand for a popular treatment – service dogs.

Puppies at Duke University for the Class of 2019

Duke University's 'puppy kindergarten' will help raise assistance dogs. Learn more and see some media coverage.

Maternal Style Study: What’s mom’s role in successful assistance dogs?

Dr. Evan MacLean and Dr. Emily Bray with members of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona are exploring how a puppy’s early abilities are associated with their later success as an assistance dog. Click here to read the full article.

fMRI Study Helps Reveal Unique Biomarkers in the Reward Center of the Brain

Canine Companions dogs stood apart from the pet dogs in one interesting measurement—the fMRI determined that the reward center of the brain acted differently when our dogs were rewarded by their familiar handler than by a stranger. Pet dogs didn’t have the same biomarker changes. Click here to read the full article.

Duke University’s Puppy Kindergarten

In a new venture between Canine Companions and Duke University, Dr. Brian Hare, a leader in the field of canine cognition, is working with 8-16-week-old Canine Companions pups at Duke to study their traits and experiences. Then he'll track them through formal Canine Companions training to see which qualities turn out to foreshadow success. Click here to read the full article.

Cognitive Characteristics of Young Assistance dog puppies

In 2017, Canine Companions teamed up with long-time collaborators at the University of Arizona and Duke University to begin tracking puppy cognitive development, starting at approximately nine weeks of age and continuing through adulthood, in a subset of our canine population.

Canine Cognition

Assistance dogs are trained to work with people with disabilities. Even among dogs specifically bred to be assistance dogs, only about 50 percent that start a training program will successfully complete it, while the rest go on to be very well-trained family pets. Dr. Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona, is exploring ways to identify the best dogs for different jobs – before they start the long and expensive training process — by looking at their cognitive abilities. Click here to read the full article.