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Autism Assistance Dogs

Autism Assistance Dogs are specially trained to enhance the well-being of children and families living with Autism by providing trained tasks to assist with keeping children grounded and focused while presenting a social bridge for relationships and friendships. Currently serving children who are between the ages of 4–12 in the following states: California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Dogs for Better Lives is an equal opportunity organization who does not and shall not unlawfully discriminate based upon race, political orientation, religion, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, national origin, disability, marital status, military status, or for any discriminatory reason or other status prohibited by applicable law.
Autism Assistance Dog Qualifications

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What is an Autism Assistance Dog?

Life is full of possibilities. But if you have a young child on the autism spectrum, there are times when those possibilities seem limited. At Dogs for Better Lives, our Autism Assistance Dogs are helping families create more possibilities for safety, confidence, and comfort.

Autism Assistance Dogs are professionally trained to redirect repetitive behaviors such as flailing arms, waving hands, snapping fingers, stomping; apply deep pressure; and to provide companionship dedicated solely to the child. Combined with their professional training, an Autism Assistance Dogs’ calm and caring behavior have shown to decrease anxiety, increase calmness, reduce emotional meltdowns, and foster more manageable bedtime routines.

Dogs for Better Lives is the premier provider of professionally trained Assistance Dogs. We are currently serving children between the ages of 4-12 in the following states:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington

Autism Assistance Dog Capabilities

  • Provides a calming effect, may increase a child’s willingness to communicate
  • Provides opportunity to improve social skills
  • Reduces emotional meltdowns
  • Provides redirection for repetitive behaviors 
  • Provides companionship

Our Process


Thank you for your interest in our program. Due to the high volume of applicants, we are currently not accepting new applications. We expect to reopen the application process around July 1st, 2024. Please check back then to apply.


All applicants for Autism Assistance Dogs must have a documented Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. This will be reviewed by the Application Screening Committee. If eligibility requirements are met, then you will be requested to submit additional documentation, such as a Medical History Form.


Interviews provide us with additional information on the applicants’ needs and lifestyles. A Dogs for Better Lives associate conducts this interview; all members of the household must be present for this interview appointment.

Acceptance or Denial

After the interview is completed and returned to us, the entire application packet will be carefully reviewed and a final decision made as to whether or not one of our professionally trained dogs is suitable for the applicant.

Waiting Period

The waiting period is approximately 36 months from the time the person is accepted to receive an Autism Assistance Dog.


Autism Assistance Dogs are accompanied by a trainer to the home of the client. The trainer teaches the teaches the child and family how to keep the dog working consistently and how to maintain the dog’s obedience training.


Following the placement, regular communication is required. The client reports regularly on the progress of the dog. When problems arise or the client has any questions, the trainer offers help and answers questions. In-home follow up is also done.

Dogs for Better Lives provides follow-up support for the life of the team.

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