The ADW Owner/Self-Training Assistance Dog course is designed to teach clients to train their own dogs to be their service dog. Training your own service dog is an in-depth process requiring discipline, but can be immensely rewarding.

ADI requirements

ADW is accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), which requires that Owner/Self-Trainer teams work with ADW for a minimum of 6 months, and that the dog be trained to perform a minimum of 3 tasks to offset the owner’s disability.

I.  Initial Assessments and Evaluation

In Stage I, clients have their dog assessed by Assistance Dogs of the West, in order to determine suitability for service dog work. Upon notification of favorable dog assessment, clients complete the Assistance Dogs of the West Owner/Self-Training program application. ADW may request that client have an Occupational Therapy Evaluation by Dogwood Therapy Services, an independent OT provider. After acceptance into the Owner/Self-Training program, you will be eligible to schedule training sessions with ADW trainers.

II.  Private Sessions

Private sessions are one-on-one training sessions with an ADW trainer. Classes run in 12-week blocks.  Classes focus on Public Access,  Scent Training, or Task Work. At the conclusion of the course of training, the ADI Public Access test will be administered to the client/dog team. Most teams will require 2 blocks of classes: one 12-week session in Public Access, and one 12-week session in Scent Training or Task Work. If public access is not achieved within the initial training process, subsequent training will be recommended.


To keep your certification and handling skills current, you will be required to pass the ADI Public Access Test on an annual basis at our facility.  New picture identification cards will be issued at that time.