Assistance dogs

DATE: 27 November 2015



Most Australians will have seen a Guide Dog at work, guiding a vision impaired handler. But did you know that dogs are also specially trained to support people with a variety of support needs?

Like their guide dog colleagues, these dogs can take two years to train and require an investment of over $27 000.

There are many types of service dogs​​:

  • Guide dogs
    Guide dogs are highly trained to guide someone who is blind or vision impaired to wherever they need to go.

  • Physical disability
    Physical disability service dogs are trained to retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, retrieving the phone, and many other things.

  • Hearing dogs
    These capable canines are trained to alert their hearing impaired handlers to important sounds. When the phone rings, there’s a knock at the door, or someone calls your name, a hearing dog will let you know.

  • Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) dogs
    PTSD Dogs are placed with people living with post-traumatic stress disorder. These dogs can be trained to provide a combination of physical task-oriented and emotional support to assist their handler and help them manage their condition.

  • Educational support dogs
    Educational support dogs can provide support to students in a number of ways, including offering emotional support, recognising signs of anxiety, and helping to improve concentration and communication skills.

  • Autism service dogs
    Autism service dogs are matched with children and adults on the autism spectrum. They can provide support in communication skills, confidence and independence, empathy to new situations, and a range of other areas.

  • Dementia dogs
    Through special training an assistance dog is taught to respond to cues in ways that promote confidence and independence in a person living with dementia.

  • Facility support dog
    A facility support dog can be placed in a wide range of care facilities, including aged care homes, rehabilitation centres and palliative care facilities.

Technical notes:

Data are from the ABS Survey of Disability, Ageing, and Carers, 2012

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Phone: 03 9666 4500

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