Frequently Asked Questions
I bought a dog from a private company, they said it would be trained to help me but it is not working out and I am having problems, can you help me?
Unfortunately not. The capacity of our charity’s work is limited by funds and resources. Our charity is already working at full capacity to help our clients who have applied for a Support Dog through our existing programmes. You can learn more about our work and how to apply here at www.supportdogs.org.uk/ourwork.
Do you get any government funding to pay for the dogs and the training?
We receive no government funding and rely entirely on voluntary donations and fundraising to continue transforming lives of those affected by autism, epilepsy and disability.
Do you have a breeding programme?
Support Dogs come from a variety of sources including dogs that are rescued from animal shelters, dogs from families who can no longer keep them as pets and sometimes we train ‘career change dogs’ from Guide Dogs’ breeding programme, we do not have our own.
Is there any research available on the difference a dog makes to someone with a physical disability, autism or seizures?
There is research available in various scientific journals, which explains the relationship and impact of assistance dogs on the lives and health of their human partners. If you are from a research centre and/or have a specific question or request regarding our charity please get in touch via the contact form on this website.
Do you provide dogs to help people with mental health issues, anxiety or panic attacks?
We do not specifically train dogs to assist with these conditions, although some of our clients report that this is a secondary benefit they have experienced in conjunction with all our assistance dog programmes.
How much does it cost to train and maintain a Support Dog?
Over the lifetime of the dog, from initial training, to client training and support throughout its working life, each support dog will cost the charity over £30,000.
Do you provide dogs to people living in Northern Ireland or overseas?
Unfortunately no. Due to our limited resources we currently have to restrict our coverage of support to the whole of Mainland UK (England, Scotland, and Wales). The exception to this is our autism programme, which again due to particularly high demand and limited resources, is restricted to a maximum of 2 hours road travel from our Sheffield training centre.
Why are some breeds and types of dogs not suitable for your training programmes?
Over our 25 years of experience of training and placing assistance dogs we have found that some breed traits, temperaments, characteristics and instinctual drives make them unsuitable for our work. These include: German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Akitas and bull breeds. Cross breeds can be assessed on an individual basis.
My dog is helping me already can I just register with you and buy an assistance dog jacket?
Unfortunately this is not possible. All support dogs must go through a rigorous selection assessment and training programme before they can become a registered assistance dog. This process can take up to 2 years.
Do I need to travel to your Sheffield Training Centre for information days/assessments and training?
Due to limited resources and our thorough assessment processes it is essential that individuals do travel to our centre in Sheffield for aspects of the application process and at periods during training.
Autism is a lifelong condition do you provide dogs to children over the age of ten or to adults with autism?
Support Dogs recognises that the main window of opportunity to make the most significant impact with an assistance dog is when children with autism are between the ages of 3 – 10 years old. Due to this and coupled with the limited resources of the charity and the very high demand for this programme, we have decided to focus our work on assisting this age group.
My pet dog is alerting to my seizures can I register them as a Support Dog?
We do not train or register pet dogs for our seizure alert program. This is because we need to ensure that they have been rigorously assessed for safety and reliability through our intensive training programme. All seizure alert dogs are sourced and supplied to the client by Support Dogs.
Why is the criterion for seizure alert applicants that they must have ten major seizures per month?
There needs to be a sufficient number of seizures for us to train the dog the alerting behaviour quickly and reliably.
I already have a pet dog but would like to apply for a seizure alert dog.
Unfortunately this is not possible. Through our experience we have found that our seizure alert dogs require an intense 1-2-1 relationship with their owner. A pet dog could impact on this necessary relationship and potentially distract the Seizure Alert dog at a crucial moment.
Do you train dogs to alert to non-epileptic seizures?
No. Our charity’s area of expertise is training dogs to alert to epileptic seizures and we are also limited by our resources. Non-epileptic seizures can be confusing for the dog to alert to due to inconsistent changes in the individual.