Why an Autism Assistance Dog Guide?

Autism Assistance Dog Guides assist children (ages 3-12) on the autism spectrum. These Dog Guides provide safety, companionship and unconditional love.

Before you apply, please read the Discovery Package to ensure you meet the qualification criteria. Applying is an intensive and emotional journey you will be required to participate in if you wish to move forward. It is important to understand all you can before making this important decision.

We are excited to share that the Autism Assistance program will be opening its waitlist on July 15th at 9 am (EST) until July 29th at 9am (EST). Families interested in receiving an Autism Assistance Dog Guide, either a Labrador Retriever or Golden Retriever, will be able to submit an Expression of Interest.

Please see below for our application process.

Application and Training Process

Step 1


Welcome to the start of your journey with Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides! A lot goes into training each of our dogs so that they can provide their handlers with increased independence, safety and confidence. However an assistance dog isn’t right for everyone. The Discovery process will allow you to learn everything you’ll need to know to help you decide if you’ll move forward with this journey.

During Discovery, you will have the opportunity to spend some time reviewing informative material about our organization, the program best suited to you, and what it takes to work with a Dog Guide. These pieces will help build a foundation of understanding for the journey ahead, including the responsibility of working as a Team and what life may look like with a Dog Guide.

Discovery Package

Step 2

Expression of Interest

In the Expression of Interest phase, we will collect some basic information from you to ensure you meet our program requirements. If you do, a member of our Client Services team will schedule a phone interview with you to gather more information before determining if you can move forward with an application.

Currently, we have 25 spaces available on our waitlist. If we receive more expressions of interest than available spots on the waitlist, we will randomly select a limited number and process those expressions of interest only. Those who are not selected will need to wait for the next time the waitlist reopens to reapply. If you’re unable to complete the Expression of Interest online, please contact our client services team for support at client-services@dogguides.com.

Expression of Interest

Step 3


If you are provided with a complete program application, it will need to be submitted and reviewed to ensure nothing is missing. Our Client Services team will review the information and get back to you within five business days if there are any questions. We will also schedule an in-home assessment that may be completed in-person, or virtually. The assessment gives us a chance to learn more about you and the environment a Dog Guide may eventually live in. Once the assessment is complete, your profile will be presented to our Admissions Committee who will review your application and home assessment to determine if we are able to train a Dog Guide to meet your needs. A member of the Client Services team will be in touch to update you once a decision has been made.

Step 4

Dog Team Matching

If you are accepted into one of our seven programs, Client Services works with our Program Instructors to determine what type of dog would best meet your lifestyle, activity level and the unique needs of your medical or physical disability. Matching just the right dog to each client can take time, but it’s one of the most important aspects of the journey.

Step 5

On Campus Training

Once we have identified a Dog Guide that would be a good match for you, we will contact you approximately 6-8 weeks in advance to invite you to our Training Facility in Oakville, Ontario. You will attend On Campus training with us and to meet your new canine Teammate! Depending on the program, we will invite you to stay with us from 10-21 days to learn about handling your dog, caring for your dog, and to bond and practice together in the comfort of our Training Facility. We have our Program Instructors on site with you during class time to support you, answer questions and help you gain the confidence and skills you need to leave as a new Team.

Step 6

Ongoing Support

Once you leave our facility, you will begin your journey with your Dog Guide, but you and your Dog Guide will never walk alone! The Lions Foundation of Canada will continue to support you until your Dog Guide is ready for retirement. Within the 4-8 weeks of leaving our facility, one of our Program Instructors will visit you in home to see how you are settling in, provide further support and answer any questions you may have. Our Client Services team is also here to support you in any way that will help ensure the ongoing well-being and success of the Team.