We have developed a highly successful Stability Assistance Dog Programme. It is the only one we know of in Europe. It works by pairing a child who has severe difficulty walking with one of our very suitable Stability Assistance Dogs.

The timing of all of this is really critical because as the child needs to be paired with the dog before they are 12 years old, at the very latest.

We’ve seen dramatic improvement in our partners’ walking abilities with this programme and we are doing everything we can to expand it as much as we can.


What does an assistance dog do?

Disability can lead to isolation, loss of confidence and feelings of low self-esteem. Not only that but for many people living with a disability being unable to do even a simple task like picking up the post can leave them feeling depressed and dependent. Dogs for the Disabled trains dogs to assist with practical, everyday tasks to help a person with a disability to live life to the full, breaking down barriers to the outside world and helping to improve confidence and stress levels.

These are just some of the range of tasks that an assistance dog trained by the charity will be able to help with:

  • Open and close doors
  • Bark to raise the alarm in an emergency
  • Retrieve items such as a telephones or dropped articles like keys or a bag
  • Fetch the post
  • Switch the lights on and off
  • Press a pedestrian crossing button


We know that not all of our puppies will qualify as stability assistance dogs. Therefore we have developed a Therapy Dog training programme for these dogs. These dogs will go to work in community health care settings – such as in Hospitals and Therapy Settings (e.g. with Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Play Therapists).

For example – for a number of years we have worked with the Mercy Hospital in Cork, where our specially trained Therapy Dogs are brought in to visit Patients and Staff there:

Hugo visits the Mercy Hospital Cork.

Since the Mercy Hospital hospital first opened its doors 160 years ago they have welcomed people from all walks of life. But today, during Mercy week, they broke with tradition and welcomed their first dog – Hugo, a therapy dog in training for Dogs for the Disabled. He became the first dog to therapeutically visit patients at the hospital following an invitation by Clinical Nurse Manager Nuala Coughlan.

Hugo visited patients on ten wards during his inaugural visit, touching patients and staff alike, and is looking forward to his return visit

From participating in initiatives like this, it has led to the development of a Canine Assistance Intervention Facility Dog programme. You can read more about it below:

Canine Assisted Intervention (CAI) Facility Dogs

Introducing our new pilot project – Canine Assisted Intervention facility dogs

We are delighted to be launching this program, where health professionals are matched with a purpose-trained CAI facility dog.  The program has been well established in North America with evidence based success statistics.  A health professional such as a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist utilises the CAI dog within their practice, as a bridge and support for clients who would benefit from the presence of a trained CAI dog. The CAI dog is taught certain skills to ease Anxiety, Encourage Participation and Deepen the Trust between therapist and client.

Benefits that a CAI dog can provide to Therapy Sessions:

  • CAI Dogs provide multiple impacts, aiding in physical, social, and emotional healing
  • CAI Dogs can enhance motivation and aid in the healing process for clients by improving mental health and overall well-being
  • CAI Dogs can assist with functional outcome goals – physical, speech and cognitive development as well as with social interactions and language
  • CAI Dogs can enhance feelings of safety and well being for those in trauma therapy   and can reduce stress levels among staff, clients and others
  • CAI Dogs elicit positive social responses when other approaches often fail, and help to mediate interactions in awkward and uncomfortable therapeutic settings

How do I apply?

Are you ready to commit?

  • You must prepare yourself for an interview on suitability
  • Your home and office environment, including all family members, will be assessed for suitability and safety as the dog will reside with you
  • Your organisation will be required to pay all upkeep costs, agree to contract terms and understand the dog remains the property of Dogs for the Disabled
  • You are willing to fully participate in training and testing

For more information / to get involved, please email us at – OR Phone us on 021 431 6627