Service Dogs for Individuals With Disabilities

Canine Partners for Life helps increase independence for people living with physical, cognitive or developmental conditions by providing professionally trained disability service dogs.

Our waitlist for new service dog and alert service dog applicants is temporarily closed.

Click below to be notified when we start accepting applications. We will also make an announcement on our social media pages. Thank you for your understanding!

Service Dog

What is a Service Dog?

A service dog is trained to assist individuals with disabilities so that they A service dog is an animal partner trained to assist individuals with disabilities so they can independently participate in day-to-day activities. Service dogs bring a sense of freedom to their partners 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

A person partnered with a service dog has full public access rights as granted by federal law under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA ensures they can take their dog into all public facilities, so service dogs are never separated from their human partners!

What Disabilities Qualify for a Service Dog?

Many conditions make someone eligible for a service dog, including:

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Arthritis
  • Cardiac-related conditions
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic back or neck conditions
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy and other seizure-causing conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Narcolepsy and cataplexy
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Stroke
  • Vertigo

People with disabilities such as those above may benefit from a CPL service dog. If you have a condition not mentioned here, you may still qualify for a service dog. You can contact us for help determining your eligibility to apply.

Our waitlist for new service dog and alert service dog applicants is temporarily closed.

Click below to be notified when we start accepting applications. We will also make an announcement on our social media pages. Thank you for your understanding!

3 Reasons to Have a Service Dog

Service dogs for people with disabilities provide greater independence, joy, fulfillment, confidence, security and love. Our service dogs are trained to help individuals with a wide range of disabilities. CPL trains service dogs to assist those with conditions affecting their mobility, balance, or use of hands and arms. Our dogs are also partners to people with seizures or cardiac syncope, health-related fatigue, and diabetes or blood pressure conditions.

1. Assisting Mobility

Dogs for people with disabilities can assist with mobility conditions by:

  • Helping individuals walk and safely navigate the world around them.
  • Providing balance or support when standing or walking.
  • Aiding in transition from a wheelchair to a chair or bed and vice versa.

2. Providing Alerts

Some medical conditions cause physical reactions in people that change their scent to a dog. With such acute smelling capabilities, dogs can detect these changes and learn to warn their people of a potential emergency through positive reinforcement. CPL’s medical alert dogs detect and signal people on:

  • An upcoming seizure for those with conditions like epilepsy.
  • Cardiac-related events and sudden blood pressure changes.

Service dogs can be trained to detect and alert on blood sugar changes in those living with diabetes. CPL-trained dogs can also provide environmental warnings, such as alerting to an intruder, siren or car horn.

3. Aiding Tasks

Expertly trained service dogs can help those with conditions that affect the movement of their arms and hands. These conditions can also impact grasp. A service animal can assist in independent living by:

  • Opening doors
  • Retrieving things for their person
  • Turning lights on or off

How Is a Service Dog Trained?

The Canine Partners for Life service dog training program for disability assistance spends two years preparing each dog for its working life.

For their first six months, our puppies live with a volunteer who teaches them fundamental commands and socialization skills. The next six months see them taking part in our Prison Puppy Raising Program, where individuals in incarceration participate in reinforcing the puppies’ skills.

The second year of training is focused on more advanced service skills. It is also during the second year that each CPL dog will be tested to determine whether they have the innate ability to alert to medical conditions.

During the last few months of training, each dog’s skills are tailored to meet their future partner’s needs.

In order for a CPL dog to go through the full training program, they must be innately physically sound, temperamentally stable and happy working partners. Great care is taken to select only the most appropriate dogs for this level of work, but a few common dog breeds are more likely to carry the characteristics required in service dogs for those with disabilities.

Service Dog Breeds at CPL

Our waitlist for new service dog and alert service dog applicants is temporarily closed.

Click below to be notified when we start accepting applications. We will also make an announcement on our social media pages. Thank you for your understanding!

CPL dogs come from three sources — our own small breeding program, donated puppies from responsible breeders, and occasionally from shelters or rescues.CPL uses primarily labrador retrievers in its service dog program.

Labrador Retriever Service Dogs

Lab Service Dog

CPL uses primarily Labrador retrievers in its service dog program. Labs make great service dogs due to their innate loyalty, trainability and size. They are also extremely adaptable, meaning they are flexible to many different lifestyles. With their calm temperament, they can react reliably during a crisis.

Golden Retriever Service Dogs

Golden Retriever Service Dog

Golden retrievers are extremely loyal, highly intelligent, and easy to train for a variety of tasks. Their size and stature make them great at supporting those who need help with balance and walking. These dogs are also great with children and other animals and are active without being overly energetic.

Poodle Service Dogs

Poodle Service Dog

Why do you see so many poodles in dog shows? Along with their looks, poodles are very smart, making them among the most trainable, obedient dogs. Their intelligence combined with a love of working and providing companionship make them one of the top five service dog breeds. Beyond all else, poodles are extremely dependable and adaptable and love being companion dogs with a purpose.

* CPL does occasionally use standard poodles in our program, which are generally suitable for placement with individuals with dog allergies. Please note that the wait for a poodle will be significantly longer than for other breeds. Requests for nonshedding dogs can only be considered when the applicant or a member of their household has an allergy to dogs that precludes placement with a dog that sheds.  

Labradoodle Service Dogs

Labradoodle Service Dog

Although not recognized widely as a service dog breed, labradoodles are a cross between a standard poodle and a Labrador retriever — two of the top breeds with the innate characteristics of a reliable assistance companion. Labradoodles can take on the intelligence of a poodle and the adaptability of a Labrador. They make great companion dogs for people of all ages because of their ability to adapt to each individual’s needs and preferences.

Partner With CPL for Service Dogs

CPL is a nonprofit based in Cochranville, Pennsylvania. While we focus primarily on a surrounding 250-mile geographic area, we can and do help those nationwide obtain highly trained service dogs. We also provide expertly trained home companion dogs for eligible individuals of all ages. Contact us for details, or sign up for notifications when our waitlist opens.