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Learn about the client process at 4 Paws for Ability.

The process of applying for a service dog with 4 Paws for Ability is designed to be simple and effective, ensuring that children and veterans from all walks of life receive the assistance they need. From the initial application to the graduation and start of your life-changing partnership with your service dog, our goal is to provide comprehensive training tailored to your specific needs.


To receive a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability, the first step is to submit an application and pay a non-refundable $50 application processing fee. Applications are accepted during open enrollment which starts January 1st and continues until the wait list is considered full. After submitting an application, a confirmation email will be sent along with forms to be completed by a medical doctor and two non-related individuals who can provide a reference letter for the client. Once these documents are submitted, a phone interview will be scheduled to pair the client’s needs with tasks that a 4 Paws service dog can provide.


Following the phone interview, you will receive a contract listing the tasks a 4 Paws service dog can do for your unique needs. After you review and sign the contract, you will begin the online Acceptance Course to fully prepare for the service dog process. You must have a signed contract and complete the Acceptance Course to be an active client.

Fee for Service

The cost to breed, raise, train, and place one service dog ranges from $40,000-$60,000 and as a client, you commit to raise about half of that amount which is typically done through fundraising. This fee for service is $20,000 and certain breeds (papillons and goldendoodles) require an additional $3,000 due to grooming and health considerations. On average, fundraising takes three to six months to meet the fee for service. 4 Paws for Ability commits to fundraising the remaining amount to place the service dog. Veterans Assistance Dogs are currently exempt from this fee due to a grant that covers the cost. 

Class Placement

Clients who meet the fee for service are placed in the next available placement training class, which is currently over a two year wait.  Clients receive match forms and videos a year before their training placement class, and video conferences with 4 Paws trainers are held six months prior to customize the service dog’s training. Class dates are released a few months prior to the start of class.

Class Preparation Course

Three months prior to your placement class, 4 Paws will send an online Class Preparation Course. The course includes information about maintaining good health for your service dog, laws on public access, and more, which can be referred to even after receiving the service dog.

Placement Class

The placement training class in Xenia, Ohio is a ten day program, with a rest day on Sunday. You will meet your service dog on the first day and receive hands-on training from the staff in both group and individual sessions. Training will take place at the 4 Paws Training Center and in public locations. You will have assessments throughout the class, including a public access test. Graduation is on the final day and celebrates the new team formation. 

Follow-Up Support

After graduation, 4 Paws provides additional support during the first year to ensure the service dog team’s success. There will be weekly virtual discussions for the first month with the 4 Paws trainer and your fellow classmates, followed by monthly discussions until the team has been together for six months. Team assessment forms are completed quarterly during the first year. After a year, and annually thereafter, 4 Paws sends out paperwork for recertification, including a team assessment, health form, two letters of reference, and a recent photo of the service dog team. 4 Paws staff are available at any time to assist clients.

Quick Links:

Apply for a service dog from 4 Paws for Ability.
Browse our frequently asked questions.
4 Paws for Ability service children and veterans with disabilities.