World Class Service Dogs

Not every dog can be a NEADS Service Dog. It takes a very specific disposition to graduate from our program. Our dogs must be people oriented, sociable, friendly, and well-mannered. NEADS pups must also be able to work in all environments and be able to recover from stressful situations seamlessly. The three pillars of our World Class Service Dogs are: Purpose Breeding, Healthcare, and Training.

Purpose Breeding

In our earliest days, when our dogs came from shelters and private breeders, our graduation rate was well below 50%. In 2000, we introduced purpose-bred puppies from Guiding Eyes for the Blind and other respected Service Dog organizations into the mix. It soon became evident that by focusing on dogs with specific temperaments and excellent health, we could increase our graduation rate to over 50%.

Purpose breeding is the next step in our evolution and allows us to create an environment in which we have more control of our destiny. Purpose-bred dogs – obtained through our own breeding program and from other Service/Guide Dog organizations - allow us to better control for temperament, health, and overall suitability for Service Dog work. This is key to ensuring that we can get more dogs through training and place more dogs with people in need.

Our breeding program allows us to increase our pool of purpose-bred Service Dogs. Early socialization exposes the puppies to different surfaces, people, sounds and objects. Progressive socialization continues throughout the pup’s training to make sure that when they are matched with a client, they are experienced and confident.

Shelter and Rescue Dogs: Some of the dogs that NEADS trains to be Hearing Dogs are acquired from animal shelters and rescue groups throughout New England. NEADS specifically seeks high-energy dogs who are alert, attentive and engaged. Many dogs with these qualities end up in shelters because people lose patience with them.

Learn more about purpose breeding and the NEADS Breeding Program here.


At NEADS, the health and well-being of our dogs is crucial. From the moment they arrive on campus, our dogs have consistent health monitoring that continues throughout their training. This includes routine exams and care, orthopedic screenings, and vaccinations. NEADS partners with over three dozen veterinary practices and has five veterinary clinics within prison facilities to provide care for the dogs in training. NEADS understands how important maintaining a proper weight is to a healthy dog, we encourage our clients to follow best practices of a controlled diet and regular exercise.


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 behaviors that we like in order to reward them. Learn more about Training here.

PLEASE NOTE: 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.

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