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training certification for service dogs UNC Wilimington


Assistance Dog Training Program

UNC Wilmington’s Assistance Dog training program focuses on the integration of Assistance Dogs into clinical and educational practice. 

UNCW/paws4people® Program for Training Assistance Dogs

After a great deal of planning and preparation, August 24, 2011 saw the first class session of the UNCW/paws4people® Assistance Dog Training Program. The inaugural class consisted of 24 University of North Carolina Wilmington undergraduate students with majors ranging from Recreation Therapy to Psychology to Accounting. We are proud to offer this program for training assistance dogs.

This multifaceted group was just what paws4people® had hoped for in order to introduce the world of Assistance Dogs and the people they serve to a group of future professionals in a wide array of disciplines. The ADTP completed its 11th full academic year in May 2022.

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UNCW/paws4people® Assistance Dog Training Minor

The School of Health and Applied Human Sciences offers an interdisciplinary minor in Assistance Dog training. The minor is designed to prepare students to be Assistance Dog trainers and to use animal assisted interventions in a variety of settings, such as schools, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

This program, the first and only comprehensive one of its kind in the country, empowers students to add a unique and marketable skill set to their education.

Program Curriculum

UNCW’s Assistance Dog Training Program is the first-of-its-kind, university Assistance Dog training program focusing on the integration of assistance dogs into clinical and educational practice in mitigating symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and behavior disorders primarily in children, veterans, and wounded warriors; as well as individuals with physical disabilities. The Assistance Dog Training program is a sequence of four courses.

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Student Career Paths

The most distinctive aspect of the education of Assistance Dogs provided in these courses is that they cover not only the most well-known types of Assistance Dogs, but also a variety of certified Facility Dogs that could enhance their own career paths. Assistance Dogs are those dogs whose training is customized to mitigate the disability of an individual, and is placed to spend their working career assisting this individual, i.e. a person who uses a wheelchair. Facility Dogs are those dogs whose training is customized to assist a clinical or educational professional, and are placed to spend their working careers being utilized by those professionals within their fields.

To this end, the students are able to align their coursework in Assistance Dog Education with their field of study and desired career field. Therefore, they are not only learning the ways Assistance Dogs impact others, but rather the ways that they can utilize Facility Dogs to impact their own futures.

Learn more about the UNCW ADTP and Minor on the UNCW CHHS website

paws4people® Success at UNCW

The UNCW/paws4people® Assistance Dog Training Program has grown and flourished at UNCW. The introductory course has an enrollment of over 100 students, and all subsequent levels are at full registration capacity. In turn, this means that the maximum number of paws4people® Assistance Dogs are being trained by UNCW students each semester, allowing paws4people to place even more of these life-saving partners within the community.

In the Media

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USA Today - Dog Training Program Gives Students Far More Than Class Credit

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USA Today - Dog Training Program Gives Students Far More Than Class Credit

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We are UNCW: Telling our story, one Seahawk at a time with Kyria Henry

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Learn More

Learn more about how paws4people®️’s specialized training program is built around the needs of individual clients and their dog.