Special Circumstances Pathway to Assistance Dog Training

 Here at Pawsitive Squad CIC, we understand that sometimes assistance dog training really cannot wait which is why we created the special circumstances pathway to assistance dog training pathway. To be eligible to join the special circumstances pathway, the young person must meet at least one of the below criteria:

1) The child or young adult has a degenerative condition which means their physical or cognitive abilities are expected to significantly deteriorate in the next 2 years which could prevent the person being able to train their own dog if they have to wait.
2) The child or young person is receiving palliative care.
3) The child or young person has a condition which causes life-threatening medical events on a regular or semi-regular basis requiring medical intervention to sustain life (e.g. for seizures, rescue medication does not meet special circumstances however significant oxygen requirement during seizures or PICU/HDU admissions with seizures would) and they require the dog for medical alert work.
4) The child/ young person has a health condition which is considered to be significantly life-limiting (medical prediction of up to 10 more years.)
5) The child/ young person has 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) The young person had a stage 3 or stage 4 cancer diagnosis.


Applications made under the special circumstances scheme are automatically accepted if the client and dog meet the eligibility criteria without being required to complete the pre-application program. It is, however, important to be aware that families accessing the program must still meet the same standard of training to become an assistance dog partnership and, as always, we can never guarantee a dog will reach this level.


Through the special circumstances pathway, you have access to some additional services upon request, at no extra cost including:

  • one to one catch up session every month 
  • three monthly 1-page development reports 
  • priority booking on space limited classes, events and webinars


  • We also have different expectations and assessment systems in place for clients on the special circumstances pathway to assistance dog training, such as:
  • Instead of having 16 hours of face to face assessments spread across three levels, we have one mandatory face to face assessment at gold level which must be spread over at least 2 days. This is to minimise travelling requirements. 
  • More comprehensive virtual assessments at bronze and silver level to accommodate for not having the face to face assessments at these levels. 
  • Lower minimum training hours to pass gold level (120 hours compared to 180 hours on the standard pathway) and no minimum training hours for the lower assessment levels. 
  • Option for 'limited access gold assessment' in which the dog is only assessed in the environments they know and will regularly be visiting and working in. 
  • Option for single virtual learning module covering all vital information instead of 3 at each assessment level and no obligation for the young person, if they will not be handling the dog alone, to complete any virtual learning zone training. 


This is on top of receiving the same monthly package as all assistance dog teams which includes:

  • 3 hours of practical classes – 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 and you will be able to mix and match (eg do 2 working skills sessions and 2 physical assistance sessions one month, then a 3 hour workshop the next month etc)
  • Virtual learning Moodle
  • ALL group* assessments included – including 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).
  • One virtual canine-assisted activity session per month
  • One sibling activity session for any siblings or other children in the household
  • Weekly parent chat & activity sessions
  • Weekly live Q&A sessions
  • 2 virtual parties per year including yearly award ceremony with trophy & certificate**.


This is all for the same cost as the standard assistance dog program, which is £45 per month which reduces to £12.50 per month when the assistance dog partnership have passed their gold award and at which point the practical classes included within the monthly membership reduce to 45 minutes per month. 

If you'd like to apply to train your dog to be an assistance dog for you or your child through Pawsitive Squad CIC through the special circumstances pathway please click here for the application.