Frequently Asked Questions
What type of dogs do you train?
We train and place two different types of dogs:
Service dogs assist individuals with autism or related disabilities who would benefit with these daily tasks.
Facility dogs live and work with a professional who utilizes the dog to help people with autism or related disabilities meet their goals during either therapy sessions or school days.
What’s the difference between a service dog and a facility dog?
A service dog is trained specific tasks to help one person with a disability. Our service dogs are placed with a child as a team of three - parent, child, and dog.
A facility dog is trained tasks to help many people in a designated facility. Our facility dogs are placed with a professional handler who will utilize the dog to assist children with disabilities in their job.
Please review more information on these placements in the chart below.
How much do your dogs cost?
It costs Good Dog! between $26-30,000 to raise, care for, and train each dog as well as educate and support each family throughout the life of the service dog. This includes Team Training week, which teaches a parent all the necessary techniques required to best utilize their new dog. It also provides for all after placement support for the family.
To support us with these costs, the fee for a family to receive a service dog from Good Dog! is $16,000. For families that wish to fundraise this fee, we provide individualized fundraising coaching and resources.
Facility Dog costs are the same as Service Dogs for Families (see above) and help with fundraising is also available.
Please see the chart below for more details on the cost.
How is a Good Dog! chosen for my child?
We know that each family, child, and dog is unique and so Good Dog! custom matches each dog with the unique needs and lifestyle of each family. We use a three tiered system to evaluate personality compatibility, the child’s specific needs, and family environment.
Based on the tasks you would like the dog to perform, the special requirements of your child, and your family’s activity level and desires, we select a dog with just the right temperament, personality, and abilities to meet your family’s needs. Learn more about this process here.
Can Good Dog! train my pet dog to become a service dog?
Good Dog! does not train dogs from outside of the Good Dog! Service Canines program to become service dogs. We recommend you visit Assistance Dogs International to help you find an organization that provides this service.
What type of training is involved with a Good Dog! our child and our family?
Our family and education program is a 3-step program; 1. Prerequisite learning/FETCH Online Classes, 2. Team Training and 3. Ongoing Support and Follow-up.
1. After you are matched with a dog, you must complete required reading and participate in online classes in preparation for Team Training. This learning is encouraged for everyone in the household.
2. The primary handler will come to San Diego with a group of other handlers for a 5-day Team Training. Team Training is an immersive learning experience when you will go through classes on topics related to canine behavior, health, and psychology, hands-on sessions working with your dog, and field trips to practice handling the dog in public. At the end of team training you will graduate with your dog as a team and return with him to your child and family!
3. We provide ongoing support and assistance to service dog teams for the life of the dog, which includes, at a minimum, monthly follow-up contact for the first year after graduation and annual contact after that.
What if we have trouble or questions once our dog is home?
We provide ongoing support and assistance to service dog teams for the life of the dog, which includes, at a minimum, monthly contact for the first year after graduation and annual contact after that. Our team is always available by phone and email.
What disabilities do you serve?
Good Dog! service dogs are specially trained for families of children with autism, and related diagnoses, such as but not limited to Down Syndrome, Fragile X, Apraxia, and ADHD. Good Dogs are specifically trained service dogs that perform tasks to mitigate these disabilities. Examples of tasks include applying pressure, receiving pressure, interrupting or redirecting behavior, providing focus and grounding, and creating a social and communicative bridge.
All service dogs are placed as three-party teams that include the dog, child, and a parent/caregiver who lives with the child and serves as the primary dog handler. View our full eligibility criteria
What do you do with the dogs that don’t become service dogs?
Occasionally, we have a dog that is not suited for the high demands of service work. These dogs are first evaluated for other careers, such as becoming a Facility Dog or a Companion Dog. If neither of these career paths are right for the dog, these dogs become available for adoption as excellent pets, called Released Dogs. Click here to apply for a Released Dog.
Do you provide service dogs to independent individuals with disabilities?
At this time we are NOT able to service independent individuals with autism or other disabilities. Currently our program is designed for a team of three: parent-child-dog. (Over time it may be possible for the child to become the main handler, but there must be a parent present to oversee this process.)
My child is a runner/bolter/wanderer, are your dogs trained to help with this?
We do not specialize in safety. If this is your number one priority, Good Dog! is most likely not the organization for you, but we are happy to discuss your needs with you in a
How is Good Dog! funded?
Good Dog! is a 501(c) (3) tax exempt non-profit. EIN number #45-2627922. We rely on the generosity of individual donors, corporate sponsorships, and grants to fund our program.
It costs Good Dog! between $26-$30,000 to raise, care for, and train each dog as well as educate and support each family throughout the life of the service dog. To support us with these costs, the fee for a family to receive a service dog from Good Dog! is $16,000. Most of our families pay nothing for their service dog program as they choose to fundraise this cost. We provide individualized fundraising coaching and resources to assist each family.
What breeds of dogs do you train? Where do you get your dogs?
We only train and place Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Golden/Labrador Retriever crosses and on occasion LabraDoodles, GoldenDoodles and Australian Labradoodles. Please note that we are unable to accept children/families who require hypoallergenic dogs.
We consider each puppy we bring into the program very carefully because we want to make sure each dog has the highest chance of graduating. We currently obtain our puppies-for-training from purpose bred breeders who focus on even temperament and good health.
How long is the wait for a service dog?
The typical wait time for a Good Dog! service dog is approximately 24 months. This wait officially starts when a family has raised half of their fee-for-service. Due to our custom matching process, wait times can vary depending on the needs of the child and lifestyle of the family.
We know that waiting this long for a service dog can be tough, especially for a child; however, we hold high standards and all of our dogs must go through a rigorous two-year training program.
We are a smaller organization and put extra effort in getting to know each family and child. We tell all of our families that trusting the process to yield them the best dog is the best attitude to have.
Please note: two years is a typical wait time for reputable service dogs organizations, we highly recommend that if you find an organization with less than a two year wait that you fully research the organization before signing up to get a dog from them.
Where can I learn more about the Founders of Good Dog!
Thank you for your interest in the Sylvester Family. There are a few places to go for more information about them and their inspiration to start Good Dog! Service Canines, originally Good Dog! Autism Companions:
Founders Story Blog
2. The bottom of the
Who We Are page