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Assistance dogs

Wheelchair users’ assistance dogs are their constant companions, helping them to deal with the day-to-day routine, giving them greater independence and improving their sense of self-esteem.


Link to the Folder «Assistenzhunde» (in German)

Link to our article «Mimo gab mir wieder einen Sinn...» (in German)

Link to our article «Mein Leben mit Kenzo» (in German)

Link to the Article «Ein starkes Team» (in German)

Link to our article «Fragen & Antworten zur Pensionierung» (in German)

Link to our article «Buffy - schwarzes Fell & grosses Herz» (in German)

What are Assistance Dogs?

The work carried out by an assistance dog takes some of the load off relatives and care staff. During the dogs’ training stage, they acquire skills that make a person with a mobility impairment largely independent of other people’s help. The dog:


  • opens and closes doors and drawers
  • helps with undressing
  • picks up items that have fallen on the floor
  • fetches the phone
  • presses light switches
  • empties the washing machine
  • barks in the event of an emergency, and much, much more

In brief, an assistance dog will allow its future keepers to enjoy a quality of life that they have never known before. At the same time, an assistance dog also provides additional opportunities for social contact. Other people often shy away from approaching people with physical disabilities.

Training and team building

Until it is time for them to be trained, the young dogs live with foster carers, who are themselves supported by us. Training then takes place when the dog is aged between 15 and 24 months. The dogs’ upbringing is loving and completely free of force, based on selected motivational techniques and a great deal of positive reinforcement.

After a successful period of training, extensive care is taken when putting together a team. In order for the team to be effective, the assistance dog and its future keeper must be as good a match as possible in terms of their needs, their temperament and their character. During its first six months together, the team undergoes a two-week induction period plus several separate introductory days. The focus at this stage is on the promotion of the relationship between dog and keeper, as well as on instruction and an explanation of the correct method of handling the dog.

The aim of this team-building exercise is for the assistance dog and its keeper to enjoy working together. This team will be supported by our school for as long as it is in existence. In this way, the level of training will be maintained and any new needs that may arise can also be taken into account.

The length of the training period depends on how rapidly the dog makes progress, and what specific tasks the dog will be required to perform for its keeper at the end of its training.

Who can be given an assistance dog?

In principle, anybody with a mobility impairment can send an application to the school. The important consideration is whether keeping an assistance dog could make a significant difference to the quality of that person’s life. If the application is successful, we will ensure that the keeper will be provided with an assistance dog free of charge.


Requirements for keeping an assistance dog:

  • the time to take care of the dog’s needs (free runs and general care) and the willingness to keep the dog in a way that is appropriate to its species
  • the ability to communicate with the assistance dog by means of unambiguous, clearly distinguishable sound or visual signals
  • ideally, we would also like evidence of an entitlement to benefits from the Swiss disability insurance scheme


Are you interested in keeping an assistance dog? If so, please contact us at the following address:


Simone Ruscher, Head of the Assistance Dogs Division, would be delighted to welcome you to a personal consultation visit to Allschwil.

Simone Ruscher, Head of the Assistance Dogs Division
Simone Ruscher, Head of the Assistance Dogs Division