Training & Cost
Visit our home, and we’ll visit yours
Receiving an autism service dog requires more than learning how to give commands. The dog will become a new member of your family, and each family is unique. For this reason, ASDA does both off-site training at our headquarters in Oregon, and on-site training at your home, wherever you live.
Phase One: Training at ASDA headquarters
The first phase of training requires the child’s primary caregiver to travel to Oregon, where they will spend five days training at ASDA headquarters. This training focuses on teaching the primary caregiver everything they need to know about the service dog matched with their child and family. The service dog will stay with this person during the evenings so that both can work on establishing their relationship. The primary caregiver is defined as the parent who spends the most time with the child, and this is the person who needs to establish the primary bond with and relationship with the service dog. The outcome of this training is that the primary caregiver becomes certified as an ADA compliant service dog handler for the service dog.
If the other spouse wishes to attend, we highly encourage them to come to Oregon for this training. Since the recipient child is not present, parents are able to focus solely on learning how to handle their new service dog.
Phase Two: Welcoming the service dog home
Next, the service dog returns with the primary caregiver to its new home. The next one to two weeks are spent helping the service dog adjust to his or her new home, and integrating the service dog into the family. This time is crucial to helping the service dog familiarize him or herself with all the new family members, and begin experiencing the family’s routines. The primary caregiver continues to practice the training skills and techniques they learned in Oregon.
Phase Three: Our trainer visits
After the one to two week adjustment period, an ASDA Placement Specialist arrives to work with the family for seven days in their hometown. Our trainers stay in a nearby hotel and work with the family every day. This is when the specific needs of the child and family are addressed, and the service dog is fine-tuned to the family’s routine. The tethering process begins, and the trainer visits all the places the family, child, and dog will need to navigate together, such as schools, parks, stores, etc. Three days of this time are dedicated to providing training in the child’s school according to the child’s regular daily routine.
A service dog is an investment for everyone involved
ASDA sets a donation goal of $16,500 for every approved family. It may sound like a big number, but so far, all of our families have been able to reach their goal through fundraising efforts.
Months of training, housing, and veterinary care are invested in each dog. Not all dogs graduate our program, yet the cost of our time and resources remain fixed. ASDA is a nonprofit that does not receive government funding: we depend on general public donations, grants, fundraisers, and volunteers. The full cost to breed, raise and train an ASDA service dog is over $20,000.