Each family is unique. We are here to help you navigate the journey to service dog ownership.
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 Your 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 your Free Chat, please 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 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 30-minute consultation with our Executive Director to help determine if Good Dog! is the right organization for your family.
After the Free Chat, if we all agree Good Dog! is the right organization for your family, you will 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 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.
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.
Good Dog! needs to raise $26,000 to raise, care and train each dog as well as educate and support each family. With the help of our Family Fundraising Couch, families accepted into the Good Dog! program pay or fundraise $16,000. The remaining $10,000 is provided to families in need, through the Good Dog! Scholarship Fund. We have seen that the love and support that families receive through fundraising can be a healing process in itself.
Families are never required to fundraise for Good Dog! Service Canines.
MATCHING & TRAINING
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.
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). 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.
FETCH & TEAM 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 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!
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 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.