Assistance Dogs

Applications to join our Assistance Dog Programme have now closed.

We train Assistance Dogs to support the families of children with Autism.

It is a big decision to bring an Assistance Dog into your family. Many families find it brings a new responsibility that can be shared by different family members.

The primary functions of our Assistance Dogs are:

  1. to “anchor” a child to stop them from bolting in public;

  2. to stop safely at road crossings; and

  3. to aid transitioning by keeping the partnership moving.

Application Criteria

The criteria to be eligible to apply to join our Assistance Dog Programme are:

  1. Your child must be aged between 4–7 years of age at time of application.

  2. A full multi-disciplinary report showing a diagnosis of autism must be included with the application.

  3. The multi-disciplinary report must recommend that your child should attend an ASD Unit or specialised school. (Note: your child does not have to be attending an ASU Unit or specialised school but the report does have to recommend it.)

  4. A commitment that one parent/guardian will be at home with the dog for most of the time, and not leave the Assistance Dog on its own for more than 2-3 hours per day.

  5. A fully enclosed garden that is safe for a dog to toilet and play in each day.

  6. A safe place inside for your dog to sleep.

Irish Guide Dogs promotes equality, diversity, and inclusion. We consider all applications regardless of race, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, national origin, native language, religion, age, disability, marital status, citizenship, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Is an Assistance Dog right for me and my family?

Our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will help answer many of your questions about living and working with an Assistance Dog.

A welcome awaits

We have created a video to help a family prepare their child for a visit to the Training Centre by showing them what to expect on the day and not to feel daunted by the prospect.

Assistance Dog FAQ

Learn about the Assistance Dog Programme

Find Out More

Handling Tips

How to care for your Guide or Assistance Dog

Find Out More
Mum Trish, son Conor and Assistance Dog Quelda at the park

Mum Trish, son Conor and Assistance Dog Quelda at the park

Residential Training Programme

Our 1-week residential Training Programme at our National Training Centre in Cork will provide you with coaching on day to day life living and working with an Assistance Dog. You will learn canine body language, how to care for the dog's physical and emotional welfare, how to continue their training and how to work as a team with your child.

Luke & Kain

Luke is still non-verbal but when I see him smiling down at Kain it shows me he doesn’t need words to express how happy he is.

Kim & Jango

Meeting Jango was one of the best moments of my life. He’s a beautiful big cuddly dog with the personality to match. From the moment I met him I knew we were going to be best buddies.

Shauna & Esme

When I needed a hand, I found a paw.

Conor & Quelda

When Conor is with Quelda he smiles and is comfortable being out and about which is such an amazing gift – we never leave home without her. She has changed all of our lives.

Aran & Buttons

Being a Guide Dog Owner is such a privilege and positive experience. Buttons has enhanced my life in so many ways and I will always be grateful for that.

Get in touch with us

Get in touch with us to find out more information.

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