Our Services

What can Service Dog Foundation offer?

Matching and placing of Service Dogs

Service dogs are dogs that have been trained to carry out tasks for persons with a disability to make their daily lives easier. Service dogs can be trained to do a variety of tasks, from opening doors for persons in a wheelchair to alerting a hearing impaired person that someone is at the door.


Our focus at the moment is on training dogs to help persons – primarily (but not only) children – who are on the autistic spectrum or who need an alert to check their blood sugar level in cases of hyper- or hypoglycemia. We do consider training dogs for other conditions, so please contact us if you think you or a family member may benefit from having a service dog.

How do the dogs help?

Autism Assistance Service Dogs

An autism assistance service dog is trained to support a person who is on the autism spectrum to stay calm in situations which they may find over stimulating, such as shopping at a supermarket. The dog offers a focal point and is trained to provide pressure therapy when the person is starting to feel overwhelmed. In the case of children who are on the autistic spectrum, service dogs can be tethered to the child and trained to follow commands from parents / guardians to increase the safety of the child such as to stop at doorways and to stop the child from running away. Service dogs have also been known to alert parents of potentially dangerous situations at night (e.g. child getting out of bed and walking around). Another benefit of autism assistance service dogs is that such dogs can help provide a means to interact with others.


If you think a member of your family could benefit from having an Autism Assistance Service Dog please download the relevant application (see below).

Service Dogs

There are a variety of other tasks that dogs can be trained to do to make life easier for a person with a disability. In the past we have trained dogs to help persons with PTSD and mobility issues, among others. Please let us know what kind of assistance you need so that we can assess whether we can help.


If you think you or a member of our family may benefit from having a Service Dog please download the relevant application here. [Service Dog Application- adult] [Service Dog Application-child]


Diabetic Alert Service Dogs

Dogs have a naturally heightened sense of smell which trainers have learnt to harness to train dogs to act as Diabetic Alert Service Dogs. Some people who suffer from diabetes, especially children, are unable to recognise the signs of low or high blood sugar levels or simply do not experience the symptoms most people do when the sugar levels rise or fall to alarming levels. This can lead to seizures or even a coma. When a person is experiencing either a hyperglycemic episode (when blood sugar is too high) or a hypoglycemic episode (when blood sugar is too low) the body produces unique scents which are easily picked up by dogs. A service dog is trained to alert the person (if an adult) or a parent / guardian (in the case of a child) when he detects this scent so that the necessary precautions can be taken before it is too late. Having a Diabetic Alert Service Dog at hand does not replace the need to regularly check blood sugar levels if you are a diabetic, but it does act as a safeguard especially when the diabetic person is a child.


If you think you or a member of your family could benefit from having a Diabetic Alert Service Dog please download the relevant application here. [Diabetic Alert Service Dog Application- adult] [Diabetic Alert Service Dog Application-child]

What happens once I apply?

Once we receive your application (either by post or through email) we will add you to the waiting list for a service dog. As you will see the application is quite thorough and this will help us to assess your needs and what kind of dog would best suit you.


When we have a dog who is nearing the last phase of his training and who we think could match your needs and family situation we will contact you to set up a meeting to get to know you better and to introduce you to the dog. If the dog fits in well with your family we will embark on a series of training sessions that are tailored specifically to your needs. During this last phase you and the dog will be trained as a team and, if all goes well, you will qualify as a service dog team.


Once the dog qualifies as a service dog and you qualify as a handler we will place the dog with your family at no charge on condition that the dog will continue to be monitored on a yearly basis. This service is not provided on a first-come first-served basis because we look for the best match between dog and client. The process of matching the right dog with your family can therefore take some time.


The Service Dogs are given to the persons who need them for free (subject to certain terms and conditions). However, one should remember that these dogs cost us approximately €15, 000 each to train and maintain and persons who are matched with a dog are expected to care for them as instructed by our trainer. The dogs remain the property of the Foundation so should we feel that there is any form of mistreatment or lack of care the dogs will revert back to the Foundation.


Dog-Assisted Therapy

The therapeutic power of dogs has long been recognised. It’s been documented in many therapeutic settings that when a dog is present in therapy, people tend to forget about the other humans and their inhibitions disappear. Dogs can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression; they ease loneliness and encourage exercise and playfulness. They have evolved to become acutely attuned to our behaviour and emotions and to interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. They can pick up when something is not right and they will do what they can to comfort us. Their aim in life is to please us. Moreover, dogs love unconditionally and they do not discriminate. They do not care whether we are old or young, scruffy, well-dressed, rich or poor. And, they can listen without judging.


Dog-assisted therapy is a therapeutic intervention that incorporates dogs into the treatment plan of people with learning and sensory issues including autism, medical conditions, behavioural issues and persons battling illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and addiction. It is used to enhance and complement the benefits of traditional therapy and can be a useful intervention for individuals or groups.


Dog-assisted therapy often serves in conjunction with traditional work done by a licensed psychotherapist, social worker, or other mental healthcare provider. Dogs used for therapy must undergo formal training to be certified as therapy dogs. We offer dog-assisted therapy sessions in both group settings and on a one-to-one basis.

Group Dog-Assisted Therapy Sessions

We offer group therapy sessions with children who are on the autistic spectrum or have sensory, mental health, behavioural or other physical issues who would benefit from interacting with a therapy dog. The sessions are held by a qualified systemic family therapist and a therapy dog trained by the Foundation. Where necessary, a dog handler will assist the therapist during the session.


The aims of the sessions are to:

  • Enhance interpersonal skills through a playful approach.
  • Learn to interact and communicate with a dog in a healthy way.
  • Practice touch and speech. Dogs provide a wonderful reinforcement loop – they engage with us when they appreciate our behaviour towards them and leave when they are displeased.
  • Enhance expression of emotions and empathic responses.
  • Integrate sensory experiences.
  • Increase self-esteem.


The sessions include a variety of playful and sensory activities that encourage the participants to interact with one another and the therapy dog according to their individual readiness and level of comfort.


During these sessions the children will have the opportunity to pet, groom and play with the therapy dog, talk and read to him and even take him on a short walk. These activities will help enhance their expression of emotions and increase their self-esteem and empathic responses to others. The groups are limited to 4 participants grouped by age, ability and specific needs. Preference is given to participants aged 4-7 years. One guardian / parent would be present with the child throughout the session to observe and participate when required. If interested in registering for these sessions please contact us.

1-to-1 Dog-Assisted Therapy Sessions

We offer one-to-one dog assisted therapy sessions run by a qualified systemic family therapist and a therapy dog trained by the Foundation. The structure of one-to-one sessions is driven by the specific needs of the client. For example, children on the autism spectrum who may be mainly non-verbal may be encouraged to give a simple command to the dog, others with sensory issues would be encouraged to stroke and pet the dog and children who need to work on their interaction skills would be guided to walk the dog around the room, recount a story to the dog or read to him. One-to-one sessions are generally held once weekly for a specific duration e.g. 10 weeks. If interested in registering for these sessions please contact us.

Read to the Dog Programme

“Yesterday we saw some astonishing sights: reluctant readers actually reading, special needs students coming out of their shell and new personality aspects emerging from our introverted students.” – Robert Pisani, Librarian, Seminary. 26 April 2018


Learning to read is often less about intellectual limitation than about overcoming fears. “Fear can destroy intelligence,” says educator William Ayers. Animals are ideal reading companions because they: help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure, listen attentively, do not judge, laugh or criticize, allow children to proceed at their own pace and are less intimidating than peers. Participating kids make enormous strides in reading and communication skills while building self-esteem, confidence, and social skills. We offer Read to the Dogs sessions at schools or any other group settings. If interested in booking Read to the Dog sessions please contact us.

Meet’n’Greet Our Dogs

Dogs love to be stroked and humans love to cuddle and pet dogs. This fulfils the basic human need to touch. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a calm animal can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which rapidly calms and relaxes us when we are stressed or anxious. We offer Meet’n’Greet Our Dogs events to companies where we visit workplaces during working hours to introduce our dogs to the employees at their desks and allow them to stroke and pet them. We also offer dog therapy programmes to residents of homes for the elderly, resource centres, schools and other organisations that would benefit from interacting with our dogs. The dogs that are selected by us for training are chosen on the basis of their calm temperament and quick learning ability and are trained to interact calmly with people at an early age as their ability to do so is a cornerstone of their ultimate qualification as a service dog. If you would like to book a Meet’n’Greet event or dog therapy programme please contact us.

Make a Difference in Someone's Life

Your donation supports our service dogs through two years of intensive training before they can be placed at NO COST with the families who need them.
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