Frequently Asked Questions
NEADS trains and places:
- Service Dogs for individuals with physical disabilities
- Facilitated Service Dogs for children with physical disabilities (children ages 12 and up)
- Hearing Dogs for individuals aged 15 and older who are deaf or who suffer severe hearing loss
- Service Dogs for children with autism or other developmental disabilities (children ages 8-16)
- Assistance Dogs are partnered with professionals in classroom, ministry, therapy, hospital, and courthouse settings
- Service Dogs for Veterans who have a permanent disability, are deaf or who suffer from severe hearing loss, or who suffer from combat-related post-traumatic stress
You will find NEADS Service Dog teams living in nearly every state of the US.
NEADS DOES NOT train or place:
- balance dogs
- seizure alert dogs
- dogs for people with epilepsy
- dogs for people with Alzheimer's
- guide dogs for the blind
- diabetes alert dogs
- emotional support
- psychiatric dogs
NEADS does not train dogs that are already owned by individuals.
NEADS does not certify dogs we have not trained.
For help with any of the above, we recommend visiting Assistance Dogs International (ADI).
Many of the Hearing Dogs NEADS trains are rescued from animal shelters throughout New England. There isn’t one particular breed that makes a better Hearing Dog, so NEADS often selects mixed breeds from shelters. They tend to be under 50 lbs. and have high energy. Our trainers select Hearing Dogs based on the dog's innate initiative and receptiveness to sound.
Most of the Service Dogs that NEADS trains are purchased from breeders; some are donated to us. Much of the work of a Service Dog involves retrieving or a retrieving-related skill, so we most often work with Labrador Retrievers. Occasionally, we work with Golden Retrievers. In contrast to Hearing Dogs, successful Service Dogs wait until they receive a command before they perform a skill. Service Dogs are laid back and eager to please. More information about our dogs
NEADS trains both male and female dogs of all shapes and sizes. All NEADS dogs are spayed or neutered.
Puppy training begins at 8 weeks. The early experiences and basic commands the puppy learns are the building blocks to raising a socially-confident, skilled, obedient Service Dog who thrives on helping. More information about our puppy Early Learning Center
Though often mistaken for a muzzle, the strap around the Service Dog is actually called a Gentle Leader, and is not a muzzle. It is a type of collar that makes it easier to walk a dog, particularly for those who have limited or no strength in their arms or hands. The dog can still chew and bark with the collar on. More information about our training methods
People find out about NEADS through the internet, referrals from independent living centers and other programs, and by meeting graduates, puppy raisers and volunteers. To apply for a Service Dog, an applicant fills out an application, and schedules a personal interview at the NEADS Princeton, Massachusetts campus (or with a nearby NEADS representative, or via video). If accepted, the individual goes on a waiting list until our staff identifies the right dog for their needs.
How long does it take for someone to get a Service Dog?
NEADS dogs are trained to meet the needs of the individual the dog is matched with. We must identify which dog has the skills and temperament for each applicant -- this process ensures a successful and lasting partnership. Therefore, the wait time varies depending on whether we have a dog that meets the needs of the applicant. The best way to find out how long an applicant will wait for a dog is to contact our staff.
Service Dog work is not right for every dog. Dogs that don’t complete the training (they may have a minor medical issue, be too shy in public, or chase squirrels, for example) make great pets. We affectionately call these dogs "Furloughed Favorites." More information about Furloughed Favorites
What is facility-based training?
NEADS was one of the pioneers in developing this intensive training method. People who receive a NEADS Service Dog live on our campus for 10-14 days for extensive training with their new canine partner. Our clients are able to immerse themselves in the process of bonding and training with the dog. Learn more about client training
Yes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes Hearing and Service Dogs as vital tools for the deaf or hard of hearing and those with a physical disability. People with Hearing and Service Dogs are granted full access to all places of public accommodation. (Because of the separation of church and state, churches are not required to permit Service Dogs. However, many churches will allow access if asked.) More information on the rights and access of people with Service Dogs
Service Dogs perform an important function for their handler -- any kind of distraction could be dangerous for the person. That's why you should always ask before you pet or distract a Service Dog. Most working dogs will wear a harness, cape or backpack in public to identify them as such. Many owners place a patch on the dog’s equipment that reads, “Please don’t pet me, I’m working.”
Usually, the dog is retired as a service animal and becomes a pet for the person with whom the dog was matched. The client may also choose to get another Service Dog.
We can not. NEADS exclusively trains dogs that we get as puppies here on campus. Assistance Dogs International has a list of organizations across the US, some of which will train your own dog. For more information, please visit Assistance Dogs International.