Skilled companions are dogs that are trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. A facilitator can be a parent, spouse, or caregiver who lives in the same household as the recipient. The facilitator cares for the assistance dog, encourages a bond between the dog and the recipient, and is responsible for the training needs of the team. Skilled companions are well bred, calm dogs that are reliable and affectionate. They are eager to please and enjoy providing assistance to their handler.
Skilled companions can receive full service dog training in order to have ADA access rights, or they can receive task training only, so that they can provide assistance in the home. Skilled companions that receive task training only are not full service dogs with ADA access rights, and are referred to as Assistance Dogs. They may accompany their handler to pet friendly places, and are well behaved in public, but they do not receive full public access training like fully trained service dogs. Task only assistance dogs are less expensive due to the shorter training requirement.
Requirements for a skilled companion dog:
- Must be at least 5 years old
- Must have a physical or developmental disability
- Live full time with facilitator
- Facilitator Requirements:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Be able to demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively control, manage, and care for a dog
- Be willing to take full responsibility for the care and management of the service/assistance dog team
- Be willing to participate in the training, placement, and follow up visits for the service/assistance dog team