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Father, autism service dog and son

Good to know

Pre-conditions for applying an autism service dog

  • Trained dogs are assigned to children of up to ten years old.
  • The families live in Switzerland.
  • The child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis confirmed by a doctor.
  • The child is able to walk next to a dog.
  • Not both parents work full time and they are able to devote enough time and energy to the wellbeing of both, dog and family.
  • The child and the dog live at home with the family.
  • The family must be willing to cooperate with us for the entire dog’s life.

How are the autism service dogs funded?

Families who have a child with autism receive their autism service dogs free of charge. The Foundation covers the costs of veterinary care. The family only has to pay for the food, once the dog is living with them. The Foundation is funded by donations and legacies from private individuals and by the sale of promotional items.

Why are autism service dogs only assigned to children aged up to ten years old?

The training of autism service dogs is designed for children. For example, the dog has a duty to stop the child before it runs into the road. Children who are older than ten when they receiving a dog would soon be too strong for the dog.

However, autism service dogs already working with a family will stay with that family after the child has reached the age of ten. This is because it has become clear that any potential physical dominance of the child over its autism service dogs is no longer a key consideration once a team has grown close. Furthermore, the aim for the child is to become less «reliant» on the dog, and to be able to go out independently.

What happens to the autism service dog when it retires?

When an autism assistance dog retires at the age of ten, after a working life of providing assistance, it can stay as a family dog within the same household. From then on, it will not wear a working harness and it will lose its rights of access.

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