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Our Process

Each family is unique. We are here to help you navigate the journey to service dog ownership.


Applications are currently closed, please check back Fall 2024.

Our application process is designed to make sure that each canine service companion is perfectly matched and custom trained for your family and special child. We provide personalized support for families starting at the inquiry stage, through the training period of both dog and family, and throughout the life of their Good Dog!

Please read about our process below before signing up for a Free Chat.


Prepare for a Group Free Chat

At Good Dog! we like to talk to families in the beginning stages of their service dog search, as one of our goals is to help families navigate the process. In preparation for a Group Free Chat, we encourage you to read the information below about our application process as well as the information on our website about the benefits of a service dog, and client eligibility.



The Group Free Chat

We are here to help families navigate the journey to service dog ownership. Good Dog! is run by a family with an autistic son, so we understand how overwhelming starting this journey can be. Our process starts with a free 60-minute group zoom with our Executive Director. Our Group Free Chat covers information about service dogs, laws, benefits, ADI, our program and other organizations. We will answer FAQs (frequently asked questions) as well as individual questions that you may submit prior to the call. Attending our GROUP Free Chat is required before a family or professional may submit an application. Group Free Chats are offered twice a month.


Before you sign-up for a Group Free Chat we encourage you to review our Service Dog information page. This is also where you will find the link to sign-up.

Free Chat



After the Free Chat, you will receive a follow-up email. If you think Good Dog! is the right organization for your family, replying to this email is the first step in our application process. The second step is to fill out a written application, including a medical form completed by one of your child's medical professionals. The Application Committee will review the application and determine if the application should move on to the next step. There is a $30 application fee at the this stage. 



References & Interview

After your initial application is accepted, we will speak to three disability professionals who know you and your family well.  Following those conversations, we will set up a family interview to get to know you better, to learn more about your family, child, and needs, and to answer your questions. This interview will be done over video and if you live close to a Good Dog! team member we will also visit your home.

References & Interview


Wait Time

The typical wait time for a Good Dog! service dog is approximately 36 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.

Wait Time



It costs an average of $32,000 to raise, care for, and train each dog and provide education and support for each family throughout their service dog's life.

Recipients are responsible for covering a minimum of $16,000 towards their program cost.  For those who can't pay or raise the entire $32,000, Good Dog! is happy to help fundraise the remaining amount through the Good Dog! Family Scholarship Fund.

Good Dog's goal is for recipients to receive their service dogs at little or no cost to them, which is why we offer individualized coaching and resources to families that wish to fundraise. Fundraising is never required; however, many families report that the love and support they receive through the fundraising process can be a healing process in itself.

Please note that recipient travel expenses are separate from the service dog program costs. Families are responsible for covering their travel, lodging, and food expenses for the 5-day Team Training in Southern California. 



Matching and Custom Training

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. Learn more >>>

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. 

Families are eligible to be matched with a dog when they have raised or paid the fee for service ($16,000) and $26,000 has been raised towards the per family $32K cost.  When we have a match for you, we will meet with you to begin custom training the dog for your family and preparing you for Team Training. You will be matched approximately six months prior to your assigned Team Training date.

Matching & Training


FETCH Classes and Team Training

After you are matched with a dog, you will complete required reading and participate in online classes in preparation for Team Training, called FETCH (Family Education and Training Class at Home). This learning is encouraged for everyone in the household. You must have access to the internet and a webcam (or smart phone) to attend FETCH.


The primary handler will come to Southern California 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!

Fetch & Team Train


Post-placement FETCH, Ongoing Support & Follow-up

​We provide ongoing support and assistance to service dog teams for the life of the dog. Families are required to participate in post-placement FETCH classes, all ongoing support which includes, at a minimum, monthly follow-up contact for the first year after graduation and annual contact after that, including in-person or video visits. Families must have access to the internet and a webcam (or smart phone). Our Family Support team is always available by phone and email. 

Process Diagram



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