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).
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.
Some 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.
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.
It costs NEADS nearly $45,000 to acquire, raise, train and match a Service Dog. We ask each of our accepted clients to support NEADS by raising $8,000. This contribution will help us continue to provide dogs for future clients.
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.
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.
Depending on the situation, yes, Service Dogs can be placed in homes that already have a pet dog.
Ask a Question
Other questions that you feel belongs on this page? Submit them below, and we'll do our best to provide an answer.
Our Most Frequently Asked Questions
NEADS does not have a Psychiatric Service Dog program. If you are a veteran looking for a Service Dog to help with PTSD, please contact us using the form on this page.
NEADS does not have a program for emotional support or comfort animals.
For a Psychiatric Service Dog program that may be able to help, contact Assistance Dogs International.
For emotional support animals, we suggest talking to a trainer or veterinarian in your area who may be able to help you find and train a dog that can provide comfort in your home.
A: NEADS does not train dogs that are already owned by individuals. Contact Assistance Dogs International for information about other organizations who may be able to help.
Our World-Class Service Dogs complete their 18-24 month training off campus through our Prisoner PUP Program and with our volunteer Weekend Puppy Raisers; therefore we are not able to guarantee attendance of dogs for presentations.
Furthermore, we bring our Service Dogs in Training out in public for specific training exercises. This means they are working, and are not available for petting and playing.
You may want to consider a visit from a pet therapy organization, which you can find by searching online.