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Service dog for children

SERVICE DOGS FOR CHILDREN are trained dogs intended to be used for therapy and to help to encourage the development process of children and adolescents with developmental difficulties. This type of combined approach enables a therapy dog to have two roles on the completion of training:

  • as a helper to a child with developmental difficulties, such as: walking aid, getting objects, helping to undress and do other daily routines, alarming, calming down and doing other services depending on the individual needs and abilities of a child;̧
  • as a motivator in daily activities and existing therapeutic/habilitation processes of a child with developmental difficulties.

A young girl with Down Syndrome sitting on a couch with a puppy.

Therapy dogs are assigned:

  • to the families with children with developmental difficulties, in the way that one of the parents/tutors goes through the dog handler training and manages daily interaction between the child and the service dog.
  • to institutions, schools, associations etc.,  where a trained specialist works with individuals or groups of children with developmental difficulties, involving a service dog in their work.

A dog and young boy with Down Syndrome together on a sofa.

Involving a servce dog in daily life and the existing habilitation/therapy affects different aspects of the development of an individual.

  • sensory and motor development
  • social and cognitive development
  • communicative development
  • social and emotional psychological development

It takes 8 months to train a service dog and the training involves obedience, while the specific demands are defined according to the needs of each individual child – user (e.g. hyperactivity, difficulties in different motor, speech or intellectual functions, deafness, blindness, etc.). .


The training programme includes initial assessment of candidates for a suitable dog, which fits best to each individual user by its features of temperament and work. The training of parents in handling therapy dogs is done individually, and it takes 4 weeks (1 week in the Silver Centre and 15 rehabilitation days at the place of residence of the client, when the child -user is involved).

The average working life of a therapy dog with a client is 7 to 8 years. The exact time for retirement of each dog depends on the assessment of the unit by a team of experts.