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training transformational facility dogs

Facility Dog Curly Outside School

Service Dog Training

Facility Dogs

At Paragon we specialize in raising and training facility dogs tailored to work seamlessly alongside individuals from diverse backgrounds in settings such as schools, hospitals, mental health centers, and first responder environments. A facility dog is not merely a comforting presence within a residential or clinic setting; , it is a highly skilled companion trained to perform specific tasks across various situations, interacting with multiple clients.

what is a facility dog?

Assistance Dogs International (ADI) defines a Facility Dog as a specially trained dog meeting ADI standards who works with a trained professional or volunteer handler in residential, clinical, or educational settings. The work of a facility dog generally includes visitations or professional therapy, and the dog must be trained to do specific, skilled tasks in a variety of different situations within the facility environment. Public access (dog in vest) is permitted in the U.S. only when the dog and handler, who is a trained professional or volunteer, is directly working with a client with a disability.

who we work with?

At Paragon, we consider working with Applicants for Facility Dogs who will meet the above definitions, with the following stipulations: 

The primary dog handler is age 18 or over. A secondary adult handler may also be approved for training. Persons who are not trained by Paragon are not permitted to be the dog’s handler during visitations or therapy sessions.

The primary dog handler is typically a professional, such as a social worker; mental health therapist; physical or occupational therapist or healthcare provider; educator; or first responder. Exceptions may be made for others engaged in appropriate roles, whether paid or volunteer.

The Facility Dog Team will be working regularly in a setting such as a school; therapist practice; clinic; hospital; residential; fire or police station; or other therapeutic, educational, or healthcare setting. Exceptions may be made for other setting types.


phase 1 - application & evaluation

Applicants are reviewed by our applicant review committee, which will conduct additional follow up via email, phone, and virtual meetings. Those applicants approved for a possible facility dog match will be offered an evaluation. An initial client-handler evaluation will be conducted by Paragon staff and will consist of an initial meeting onsite at our facility with a nearby public outing. During the evaluation, our staff will be determining if and what type of facility dog might be a good match for the client-handler; the type of setting(s) and individuals the dog would encounter; and the goals and tasks for the facility dog. The evaluation fee is $200. This fee will be put toward the total fee for a facility dog if the client-handler is approved to move forward. 

phase 2 - handler & special task training

Applicants approved by Paragon staff to enter into Phase 2 will spend two months working in our online Google classroom, which includes reading, videos, and homework assignments. Applicants must be actively engaged and completing assignments. 

During Phase 2, Paragon's training team focuses on the Specialty Task Training necessary for the dog to be able to fulfill its Facility Dog role. Trainers will work with the dog to master specific interactive cues and behaviors needed for an individual client-handler. 

The Phase 2 fee is $2,000. This fee, prorated based on the point in the training process, is refundable if the training is discontinued prior to completion because the Paragon trainers determine during the Phase 2 process that the dog is not appropriate for the specific tasks needed by the client-handler. 

phase 3 - team training (on-site at paragon)

At this point, the client-handler is matched with the specially trained facility dog for a week of team training. Paragon trainers will identify clear goals for the week, including plans for homework to reinforce training and skills. The client-handler should be able to demonstrate the required proficiency of where the dog and/or client-handler should be at each step of the training process and facility task execution. Upon completion of Phase 3, the dog-handler team will be expected to successfully pass the Assistance Dogs International Public Access Test, administered in an appropriate environment and with elements relevant to the dog’s future work. The Phase 3 fee is $3,000. Client-handlers are responsible for costs of meals, transportation, and lodging during the training week.

phase 4 - ongoing support, training & re-certification

Once a dog/handler team has successfully completed Phase 3, including their initial ADI Certification, that Dog/Handler Team becomes a “Forever Team” with Paragon. The Team will be eligible for ongoing check-ins; phone, virtual, and in-person support from the trainers; and six-month and annual recertification necessary to maintain their Facility Team status. There is no fee for Phase 4.