Do you have a dog for our brave?

Help us rescue two lives at the same time.

Rescue a dog, who rescues a soldier.

Our first consideration for a canine candidate for DFOB is a dog from a rescue or shelter. We strongly feel that rescued dogs have great potential to fulfill this important job and we make every effort to recruit dogs in need for our program. That said, a great service dogs can come from any walk of life and our guidelines below will assist in evaluating a potential candidate.

Rescue Pre-Screening for Dogs for our Brave

It takes a very special dog to become the ideal Service Dog for our exceptionally challenged veterans. Dogs who successfully complete our DFOB training program typically exhibit the following traits, and we encourage rescues and shelters or anyone else with a possible candidate for us to examine your dog carefully for these desirable features.

Overview of Service:

Service dogs partner the disabled in public and private spaces. These dogs assist one disabled individual. To be a credentialed service dog in our program, these dogs will pass the Public Access Test and task testing with a high-reliability score.

Our animal-assisted activity dogs engage with the public in school, library, healthcare and other facilities. These dogs must pass both the CGC and deportment testing akin to the Public Access Test.


For service: 1 – 3 years is ideal. We prefer younger if no obedience training. Age 3 with obedience training (particularly good leash behavior) is fine. Because puppies cannot show us what their adult structure will be like, we cannot accept puppies as service candidates. We need to see their adult bodies.


Purebred and mixed breeds are welcome. We evaluate on a dog-by-dog basis and are not breed-discriminatory, except that we do require a larger, stronger dog as our Veterans are physically challenged by their injuries and they are better assisted with a dog that is physically able to help them in many direct ways. A good rule of thumb would be a dog of minimum weight 60-65 pounds, with an ideal weight range between 75-90+ pounds.

These are the most important factors to help us determine whether or not a dog will make a Service Dog Candidate. Dogs who complete Service Dog training successfully typically have the following traits (not at all a comprehensive list):

  • No timidity, aggression, reactivity or fear issues
  • Not extremely submissive and not extremely strong willed
  • Super balanced, easy going, calm nature
  • Enjoys interaction with humans
  • Social, but not over the top
  • Able to focus on people, even if there’s stuff going on around him
  • Willingness to learn
  • Low touch sensitivity
  • High frustration threshold
  • Not over the top excited about toys or treats
  • Appropriately interacts with other dogs (no hackling, overstimulation, extremely pushy play, etc.)
  • No issues with other animals, including cats, birds or small animals
  • Ability to quietly relax in all environments
  • Travels readily and responds to new places, people and things with few signs of stress
  • Accepts guidance and containment and boundaries willingly and readily

That’s quite a number of things, and it’s by no means a complete list. Here’s what you look for once you take a (hopefully quiet, healthy appearing) dog out of their (hopefully clean) kennel.

First, make sure the dog wants to be with people. Lots and lots of dogs are aloof and independent. They could care less whether a person is there or not. Take the dog out on a leash to the designated meet and greet area and let them get their sniffing out of the way, and then sit down in a chair (or on the ground, if you’re comfortable with the dog), and see what happens. A dog who enjoys the company of people will want to check in with you. They may not stay right by your side, but they will run off to sniff or play, and then return or try to engage you to play. In a nutshell, you want a dog who is more interested in YOU than in things going on around them.

Second, test the dog’s response to treats and toys. We’re looking for a dog who readily takes food from your hand, who is willing to follow a lure, but who isn’t so happy to see food that they can’t contain themselves. The same test with toys—willing to play with toys is fine, but you absolutely do not want a dog who locks onto the toy and can’t think beyond the toy. Try luring the dog into sits or downs—does he readily follow the lure? You want a dog who is willing to continue to engage and who is able to stay on task, or who is at least willing to continue to try.

Third, make certain this dog doesn’t have issues with resource guarding, with other dogs (any size) or with small animals.

Fourth, put the dog on leash and just step on the end. Don’t say anything, don’t try to direct the dog. Just stand quietly and wait. How long does it take for the dog to recognize it can’t go anywhere and stops trying? How long before it just stands or sits quietly or lies down? You want a dog who accepts boundaries readily and who doesn’t get easily frustrated. In a quiet location, with little going on, a dog who is on leash and who has a natural tendency to be a calm, relaxed dog. A dog who will readily chill out or settle down.

Last, check the dog for touch sensitivity. Pet the dog all over his head, body, belly, legs and tail. Touch the ears. Lift them. Look at the teeth. Gently rub the dog’s muzzle. Handle his feet. Gently pinch the skin between the toes. You need a dog who is comfortable with being touched all over, with a good pain tolerance, and isn’t reactive to touch.

Do you have a dog that can pass this evaluation? Please contact us using the form below! A short video clip (YouTube works best) and photos are most helpful.

DFOB Canine Candidate

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