Skilled Companion Dogs

Skilled companion dogs are typically those that have been released from service dog programs. Chosen for their exceptional temperament, these dogs are generally healthy and possess basic obedience skills. Some may even have specialized training in certain tasks or tricks.

These companion dogs are an excellent choice for children with disabilities who may not be ready to handle the full responsibilities of a service dog. Unlike service dogs, skilled companion dogs are not trained for public access work. Instead, they serve as affectionate pets and companions for children, offering endless unconditional positive regard. Their well-trained nature can also help in drawing the attention of other children, fostering social interactions and shifting the perception of the child from being “disabled” to being the “kid with the really cool dog.”

Most service dog programs reserve their best dogs, which fall short of the criteria for service work, for roles as skilled companions. Reasons for not qualifying might include minor health issues, a lesser inclination for rigorous work, or difficulties in adapting to public environments, none of which detract from their ability to be excellent companions. These dogs are highly valued and are specifically earmarked for children with disabilities. To locate a skilled companion dog, one can reach out to service, hearing, or guide dog organizations to inquire about any dogs they might have available for this purpose.

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