Is an Assistance Dog Right for You?


Circle Tail provides service and hearing dogs.

Please note, we do not currently train psychiatric support dogs, medical alert dogs (except Diabetes Alert Dogs), or public access service dogs for children with Autism.

Age Policy

Our minimum age requirement is generally 14 years of age. Placement is based on maturity and the disability of the child. The child must be able to give clear commands and maintain control of their assistance dog at all times, including public places.

We receive a great number of inquiries about placement of assistance dogs with very young children. We understand and empathize with the challenges faced by parents with children with disabilities. While we would very much like to help parents and children with these challenges, younger children often do not have the cognitive function and maturity to work appropriately with an assistance dog.

NOTE: It generally takes us 12 – 18 months from the time of application to placement of an assistance dog. If your child is 13 years of age or older, you may want to consider beginning the application process now.

Questions to Consider

Working with an assistance dog can be a rewarding and liberating experience. These wonderful animals can have a tremendous impact on your life. However, it can also prove to be a frustrating and demanding endeavor.

  • Countless hours and money go into training and shaping each Circle Tail Assistance Dog. The dogs have been trained to perform certain skills and tasks. As the recipient of an assistance dog, it will become your responsibility to follow through with the training that started at Circle Tail. At this point you must ask yourself, “am I prepared to work with a dog to perform skills and reinforce behaviors everyday for the next 8 to 10 years?”
  • Timing the receipt of your new assistance dog is crucial. If you have just started college, recently moved or planning to move, or started a new job, it is best to wait before obtaining an assistance dog. The first year with a new assistance dog is a critical period. It is best if you can give 100% of your time and attention to the assistance dog.
  • Circle Tail has a 60 hour training requirement. This requires multiple visits to the Circle Tail training center before, during and after the team partnering process. A potential recipient of a service/hearing dog must be able to make and afford this travel and time committment. You must ask yourself, “can I afford (time, money, energy) for the team training?"

Please read the pre-application information thoroughly and carefully. We will pose several questions for you to consider.

  1. Our service area is 75-90 miles from Circle Tail which is located on the north east side of Cincinnati, OH. Do you live in Ohio, Kentucky, or Indiana, and reside within a 75 - 90 mile radius of Circle Tail?
  2. Are there any other dogs living in your home? We do not place assistance dogs in homes with other dogs.
  3. Do you have a fenced in yard? We will not place a dog in a home without a fence if you live alone or have children in the home.
  4. Will an assistance dog increase your independence and be able to assist you with everyday tasks?
  5. Will you take your dog into public with you (i.e., work, school, restaurants, stores) at least once a week? If you are in need of a dog to assist you at home only, please consider the possibility of an in-home assistance dog and complete the in home service/hearing/companion dog application found on our website.
  6. Are you able to financially provide for all care and supplies (including high-quality food) required for your canine partner? Costs can range from $500 to $1000 or more annually depending on the size and needs of the dog. You must plan in advance how you will afford it.
  7. How will you provide DAILY exercise (at least one hour per day) for your dog? Please consider your living arrangements, physical condition, and family/friend support.
  8. Are you able to attend multiple training sessions (minimum 60 hours) at Circle Tail prior to and following receipt of an assistance dog? Unfortunately, we are unable to provide travel to and from Circle Tail, lodging, and meals costs.
  9. Are there at least two people that would be able to care for your dog if you have an unexpected emergency arise and need to find someone to care for your dog for a short time?

What is Required After Partnership?

In addition to daily exercise, care, and working with your dog’s skills, we request additional requirements be met to maintain partnership. We don’t intend these items to be cumbersome for the recipient. We ask that the recipient demonstrate commitment to the assistance dog partnership by participating in activities that will improve their partnership experience.

If you have carefully considered the questions posed above and feel that an assistance dog is right for you, the next step in the process is to complete a pre-applicant questionnaire. Because there is a $25.00 non-refundable application fee when you apply for a service/hearing dog, we use the pre-applicant questionnaire to ensure that the person would be appropriate for an assistance dog before we send an application packet. Please note, we do not currently train psychiatric support dogs, medical alert dogs (except Diabetes Alert Dogs), or public access service dogs for children with Autism.

Based on the results of the pre-applicant questionnaire, a potential applicant will be asked to come to Circle Tail for an interview. Following the interview, an application may be emailed or mailed to the person. Once a completed application is received, a home visit followed by a second interview at Circle Tail are the final steps in the application process..