Client Training

Clients live on our 18-acre campus for 5-10 days training with their new Service Dog. Their training involves intensive learning about how to live and work with a Service Dog.

We schedule 2-5 clients to train at one time. Classes occur daily from 10am to 4pm with an hour's lunch break. Classes include active, hands-on exercises with the dog, trips into town restaurants and malls, and sit-down classes in subjects such as health records, first aid, grooming and public access. Most classes are taught by the instructor who has overseen the dog's training and who matched the dog with the client. Other classes are taught by various staff members.

The dog begins to live at the client house with the client after three or four days of training. The client is now responsible for the dog's total care and exercise after class hours. If ten days of training is required, the client gets the weekend off from training. Some clients return home for this weekend, while others relax at NEADS.

Each client must successfully complete the training schedule and also receive a passing score on a public access test to graduate and leave campus with the Service Dog.

Our Campus

NEADS resides on 18 acres of beautiful, protected New England land in the heart of Massachusetts. Our campus encompasses everything we need to produce skilled, happy, accomplished Service Dogs, and offers our clients a quiet respite from everyday life when they come to us for training. Each person has her/his own bedroom, and bathrooms may be shared. Food and food preparation is the responsibility of each client. The house has a full kitchen, television, washer and dryer, and internet access. Any help or support with activities of daily living is the responsibility of the client.

Our campus includes:

  • a model hearing dog training apartment
  • a 26-run indoor/outdoor kennel
  • administrative offices
  • fully accessible living quarters for on-campus clients
  • living quarters for a 24-hour live-in caretaker
  • a Service Dog training arena and education center
  • a visitor welcome center
  • a separate building to house the Laura J. Niles Early Learning Center for our puppies
  • a quiet sitting area next to the Stillwater River, which runs beside our campus
  • the NEADS Shop, where you can find unique and custom apparel, gifts and goodies, proceeds from which support our Service Dog programs
Take a virtual tour of our Kathy Foreman Client House and Training Center and a short tour of our campus

The Route to a Lasting Partnership

  • Bonnie (3)

    The Dogs

    Most NEADS dogs are purpose-bred for temperament, health and personality traits best suited for service dog work. Some NEADS Hearing Dogs are acquired from animal shelters and rescue groups.

  • Jean (l) Banks (r) 1

    Early Learning Center

    Here staff work to housebreak the puppies and lay the groundwork for some beginning commands. Puppies have indoor and outdoor playtime, one-on-one time with staff and volunteers, and socialization sessions.

  • prison pup

    Prison PUP Program

    90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in 7 correctional facilities throughout New England.

  • dogs in training

    Dog Training

    NEADS Dogs are trained to perform tasks and behave obediently through the use of positive reinforcement and clear leadership. We select dogs that are natural followers, so it is easy to guide them into choosing appropriate behaviors.

  • matching process

    Matching Process

    The more we understand about your lifestyle and expectations, the better we can pair you with a dog that fits with you. The matching process includes an online application and a comprehensive, in-person interview.

  • the trainers

    Client Training

    Clients spend one to two weeks at the NEADS campus learning how to work and live with their new Service Dog. Our trainers work closely with the new partners to ensure the match is a strong one.

  • (042918 Fitchburg, MA) Derek Blake, 9 1/2 kisses his social dog Jean during NEADS service dog graduation ceremony in Fitchburg on Sunday,April 29, 2018. Staff Photo by Nancy Lane


    Twice each year, we honor our most recent Service Dog teams, celebrating the partnership between a client and his or her Service Dog.