A service dog is a dog that helps a person who has a physical disability that's unrelated to sight or hearing. (Guide dogs for the blind and the visually impaired, and hearing dogs for the deaf and hearing impaired, fall into a different category of assistance dogs.) Service dogs assist individuals with many tasks, enabling them to live more independent lives.
Helping Paws dogs go through a structured training process to prepare them for life as a service dog. When their training is complete, they and their new human partners work together for three weeks of team training.
Helping Paws dogs can do amazing things.
Trained to pick up dropped objects, open and close doors, turn light switches on and off, and get the phone. They can pick up a dime, help their partner transfer into a wheelchair, and respond to a 78-word vocabulary.
And they also offer unconditional love and companionship!
What breeds of dogs are used?
Great puppies become great service dogs! Because of their temperament, trainability and willingness to work, Helping Paws utilizes Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. We use purebreds to optimize the health history of the dog so it can have a long life as a service dog.
Click here to learn more about Helping Paws breeding program
After it is selected, how does a puppy become a Helping Paws Service Dog?
A puppy selected for the program will spend approximately 2 1/2 years with a foster family who will expose it to a variety of social environments and teach it the skills it will need to become a service dog.
Click here to learn about our foster home training program
Who is eligible to apply for a Helping Paws service dog?
Any person ten years of age and older with a physical disability (other than hearing or vision impairments) who seeks greater independence through the use of a service dog is welcome to apply. We serve Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
For more information on getting a service dog of your own, please go to our Considering a Service Dog page.