Assistance Dog Program

Assistance Dog Program

Here at Pawsitive Squad CIC, we offer a comprehensive assistance dog program to support disabled under 25-year-olds. We offer support to all disabilities where the child or young person has a disability which has a significant negative impact on their lives. To be eligible for our program, the young person must benefit from 3 assistive tasks** which the dog would be trained to perform outside of the home, which help reduce the negative impact of their disability. 


Unfortunately, we currently are not accepting applications from individuals under 10 years old, whose sole disability is autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, ADD or any combination of those 4 conditions however if a young person has one of those conditions and a significant, diagnosed psychiatric condition or other disability they will be eligible to join our program and would receive assistance task training to support their autism/SPD/ADHD as well. We do not provide brace, counterbalance or tethering within our training due to our canine welfare policies. 


An example of the assistive tasks and areas of support we can train include:

  • Autism & Psychiatric assistance tasks - deep pressure therapy, finding exits, find a parent/carer, interrupt destructive/self-destructive/dangerous behaviours, automatic stopping and refusing to cross the road if a moving car is present, interrupt flashback or dissociative episode, provide tactile stimulation when distressed, retrieve self-care kit, remind to take medication, wake the young person up in the morning, alert to incontinence.
  • Medical alert & response - alert in advance of an acute medical episode (e.g. hypoglycaemia, seizure, disease-specific infection), alert to an allergen in the environment (e.g. latex, nuts),  fetch rescue medication, find and show medical equipment (e.g. where the portable oxygen, suction, rescue medication etc. is), turn off feeding pump if the person vomits, provide tactile stimulation to help recover from the episode, press the emergency alert button, bark for attention during a medical event if no one present, fetch information card for emergency services, pull obstacle from persons face if unconscious (e.g. blanket, pillow).
  • Physical assistance tasks - retrieve dropped items, push in wheelchair feet supports and push down footplates, assist with undressing, open and close doors & cupboards, retrieve named items, unload the washing machine, pull out the plug and turn off taps, pass items to cashier, take rubbish to pin, fetch their lead and jacket, press buttons and turn on and off lights.
  • Communication - teaching the dog to perform tasks & behaviours to eye gaze communication, picture cards, switches, BSL/Makaton signs and non-word vocalisations.

We do not allow brace, counterbalance or tethering without our organisation due to our canine welfare policies. 


As a comprehensive program, not only do we provide your task training, we also offer working skills classes which teach obedience, handling skills and public access skills all of which are vital for assistance dog partnerships. An example of the behaviours we teach includes: teaching the dog to wipe their feet and shake on command to dry off, walk to heel and on the away side on a loose lead, middle, walk behind, dual handling, wait, automatic leave, boundary training, watch me, emergency stop, recall, break (stop the behaviour you were asked to do last, e.g. if you ask your dog to go to bed, 'break' means they can now get off their bed), toileting on command, self-settle and much more. 


How is the training provided?

We usually offer weekly face to face and online small group classes and 3-hour intensive workshops, due to the covid pandemic, all services are currently online. Alongside our live practical training classes, clients also have a virtual learning zone (moodle) to cover all the canine theory they need to know as an assistance dog partnership. This includes welfare, training techniques, managing problem behaviours, dealing with access issues and unwanted public attention and more. Alongside the virtual learning modules to be completed by the young person or adult who takes primary responsibility for handling the assistance dog in public, the virtual learning zone contains various online activities for clients aged 4+ to complete with a range available to meet most ages and abilities. We do not expect young people with moderate to profound learning or intellectual disabilities to complete any of the virtual learning materials. However, the responsible handler for their dog will still be required to. 


What's on offer in the assistance dog program?

For the monthly membership fee, you receive:

  • 3 hours of practical classes per calendar month – either in the form of 4x 45-minute live teams/zoom session, 4x face to face 45-minute classes or a 3-hour face to face intensive workshop (you choose each month which classes you want and can mix and match - e.g. do 2 working skills sessions and 2 physical assistance sessions one month, then a 3-hour workshop the next month etc.).
  • ALL group* assessments included your face-to-face, virtual and written assessments (*there will be a one-off top-up fee if you decide to do live assessments individually).
  • A one to one 15 minute catch up every 3 months.
  • One virtual canine-assisted activity session per month
  • One sibling activity session for any siblings or other children in the household
  • Virtual learning Moodle
  • Weekly parent chat & activity sessions
  • Weekly live Q&A sessions
  • 2 virtual parties per year including yearly award ceremony with trophy & certificate**.
  • Annual 1-page report (can be used for EHCP, DLA, PIP application etc.) upon request ***

All for only £45 per calendar month until your dog passes their gold assistance dog award.


What's on offer once my dog is a fully trained assistance dog (passed their gold award)?

For the monthly subscription fee of £12.50 per calendar month, fully trained partnerships receive:

  • 45 minutes of practical classes per calendar month – either online or face to face, you can choose from any task class, working skill class or the dedicated 'gold level + top-up class.'
  • Annual reassessment 
  • A one to one 15 minute catch up every 4 months.
  • One virtual canine-assisted activity session per month
  • One sibling activity session for any siblings or other children in the household
  • Virtual learning Moodle including access to a continued development course 
  • Weekly parent chat & activity sessions
  • Weekly live Q&A sessions
  • 2 virtual parties per year including yearly award ceremony with trophy & certificate**.
  • Annual 1-page report (can be used for EHCP, DLA, PIP application etc.) upon request ***



For children and young people with certain health conditions, we have a special circumstances pathway through the assistance dog program. To be eligible for this, the young person must meet at least one of the following:

1) Have a degenerative condition which means their physical or cognitive abilities are expected to significantly deteriorate in the next 2 years.
2) Be receiving palliative or hospice care.
3) Have a condition which causes life-threatening medical events on a regular or semi-regular basis requiring significant medical intervention to sustain life.
4) Have a health condition which is considered to be significantly life-limiting (medical prediction of up to 10 more years.)
5) Have a condition which requires now or will require shortly at least weekly hospital medical treatment/monitoring (e.g. dialysis, chemotherapy, weekly blood tests excludes physio, OT, SALT etc) on a long term basis.

6) Have a stage 3 or stage 4 cancer diagnosis.


For more information on the special circumstances pathway to assistance dog training, including how to apply, please click here.


Before applying to join our assistance dog program, unless you're applying through the special circumstances pathway, you must complete the pre-application 8-week course. For more information or to book onto the pre-application course, please click here. 


Please click here to read our assistance dog handbook for more information on our assistance dog program.