Home Apply for an Assistance Dog FAQ

Where is your facility?

Manassas, VA, which is located about 20 miles south of Washington, DC.

What areas do you serve?

Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia

Do you train dogs for the blind or hearing impaired?

No. For those organizations, visit Assistance Dogs International, Inc. for information and links to appropriate sites.

What other resources can I try?

  • Assistance Dogs International
  • International Association of Assistance Dogs Partners
  • Bonnie Bergin University of Canine Studies
  • Delta Society
  • American Temperament Test Society, Inc.

What breed of dog do you train and why?

We train mostly Labrador Retrievers as they are intelligent, eager to please, not aggressive, retrieving comes easily to them and they require less grooming than breeds with longer hair. They also are large enough and strong enough to help a human partner with balance.

Where do you get your dogs?

We breed most of the dogs that we train, but we also get them from other breeders, from donations and sometimes a shelter. We usually breed one litter a year.

How long does it take to train a dog?

It takes about two years of training before a dog can be placed. Basic training begins in puppyhood at the home of the Puppy Raiser until the pup is about 18 months old, up to 2 years, and then continuing at our facility for another six months.  This helps to ensure the dog is physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared.

What training method do you use?

We use positive training methods such as repetition, rewards and lots of love.

For what type of disabilities are the dogs trained?

Any disability that causes mobility problems, the inability to pick up items, open doors, drawers, etc. Many recipients have MS or cerebral palsy. We also train dogs for people with:

  • Mobility impairments
  • Balance problems
  • Autism
  • Seizure alert/response
  • Diabetes alert/response
  • PTSD
  • Other medical alert/response conditions

Do you train seizure alert dogs?

Yes, some are intuitive to that condition, and we can build upon that sensitivity to train them to alert to seizures. We also train seizure response dogs.

I have an autistic child. Can we get an assistance dog from Blue Ridge?

Yes.

I want to train my own dog to be my assistance dog. Can you help me?

Generally we do not train dogs outside our program, but we will evaluate your dog as to suitability. There is a $100 fee for us to evaluate your dog's suitability and the evaluation usually takes 2 hours. A dog over 8 months of age is usually too old to learn the type of training needed out in public.

Do you ever place an assistance dog with a child?

Yes, depending upon the child, the disability and family support.

How long is the application process?

The application process can take 6-8 months.  If you are accepted into the program, you will be placed on a waiting list until the right dog becomes available (which is usually 3 months to 2 years).

How much does it cost?

Obtaining an assistance dog from BRAD is $7,000.  Don’t let the fee prevent you from inquiring about an assistance dog. BRAD can offer information on scholarships and ways to raise money.