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General Enquiries


Smart Pups Assistance Dogs for Special Needs Children Incorporated is a not-for-profit charity. Every dollar that is raised through donations and fundraising efforts counts and goes directly to helping a special needs child and their family with the cost of raising and training their allocated Smart Pups Assistance Dog.


Fast Facts


• It takes 12 to 18 months to raise and train a Smart Pups Assistance Dog

• It costs $25,000 to cover initial purchase, food, vet care and ongoing training for each dog

• A Smart Pups Assistance Dog becomes a permanent addition to the recipient child’s family

• Smart Pups provides ongoing advice and support as required for family, carers and educators


How is a Smart Pups Assistance Dog different from other dogs?


Smart Pups Assistance Dogs are individually trained to provide assistance to a special needs child. Most people are familiar with guide dogs for the blind, helping people with vision impairment. Smart Pups have special ‘task specific’ training so they can assist a young person, from the age of three and up, with handling day-to-day routines and events.


Is a Smart Pups Assistance Dog like the family pet?


No, a Smart Pups Assistance Dog is more then just a pet. A Smart Pup is a purpose-trained service dog that will require constancy in care and handling and carries papers that allow the handler to take the dog into places where a normal pet would not be allowed.


How can I tell if a dog is really a Smart Pups Assistance Dog and not just a pet?


When they are out in public all Smart Pups Assistance Dogs wear special collars and harnesses with the Smart Pups logo and photo identification of both the dog and their child. All Smart Pups are Public Access Certified and are required to have identification papers on them at all times.


How long can we keep our Smart Pups Assistance Dog?


Some service dogs are retired out of service when they turn nine years old, and the recipient handler is given a new dog. However, a Smart Pups Assistance Dog is permanently placed with their recipient child and will continue to provide assistance and be a friend and constant companion.


How long is the customary waiting period for a Smart Pups Assistance Dog?


It takes 12 to 15 months to raise, train and place a Smart Pups Assistance Dog for a special needs child. This incorporates everything from the point of application approval, confirmation of a suitable match, general and ‘task specific’ training to home placement, orientation and training.


How long is the current waiting period for a Smart Pups Assistance Dog?


Current waiting time is about 18 months. This is due to the increasing demand for our Smart Pups and limited resources, which are presently reliant on donations and the fundraising efforts of volunteers. Smart Pups is currently working on grant applications and seeking corporate sponsorship to help reduce waiting times.


What must I do when an individual with a Smart Pups assistance dog comes to my business?


As all Smart Pups are certified for public access they are permitted to accompany the individual into all areas of a facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with special needs may not be segregated from other customers because of their disability.


If a business has a ‘no pets’ policy can I still enter with my Smart Pups Assistance Dog?


Yes. A Smart Pups Assistance Dog is not a pet and assistance dogs are an exception to the general rule.


Am I responsible for my Smart Pups Assistance Dog when we enter a business premises?


Yes. You are a three-team unit. The care and supervision of both the child and the assistance dog is solely the responsibility of the handler. It is not up to the business to manage or care for your Assistance Dog.


How do Smart Pups train an Assistance Dog?


Dedicated volunteers foster and raise our puppies in their own homes for the first 12 to 18 months of life. When ready, the pup commences a general obedience and socialisation program with our qualified trainers, which takes the pup through a set of assessable modules exclusively designed and tested by Smart Pups.


How can I get a Smart Pups Assistance Dog for my child?


You can complete and submit the online application form for assessment, which incurs a $22 application fee.


How much does a Smart Pups Assistance Dog cost?


It costs approx $25,000 to purchase, raise, train and place a Smart Pups Assistance Dog. This does not include the costs of the follow up services we provide over the dog’s working life. Smart Pups relies entirely on donations and fundraising efforts. We do not charge our clients apart from the $22 application fee, but we do require a $20,000 donation of the total to help us achieve fundraising goals.


What’s the difference between a Guide Dog, Therapy Dog and an Assistance or Service Dog?


Guide Dogs assist people who are blind or visually impaired. Therapy Dogs are usually the personal pets of their owner and visit individuals in places such as hospitals or nursing homes. An Assistance Dog is placed as a permanent companion of a special needs person (or person with a disability) and is trained to assist and enable them achieve greater independence.


What types of Service Dogs do Smart Pups train?


Autism Dogs – Autism Service Dogs are generally matched with a child between the ages of two and 10 with a primary purpose of improving a child’s safety. Smart Pups works with parents and educators to incorporate the dog into the child’s overall educational plan and believe that the greatest success comes from the fullest use of the dog’s skill and training. Autism Service Dogs can be used to help improve a child’s communication skills, form social bonds, ease difficult transitions, and provide emotional and physical support.


Seizure Response Dogs — These dogs are trained to assist children who experience seizures and to aid their recovery. Some Seizure Response Dogs even alert their owners to oncoming seizures, however, it is unknown why only some dogs are able to foresee a seizure. People with Seizure Response Dogs often benefit from an unexplained decrease in seizure activity.

Multipurpose Assistance Dogs – Assistance Dogs are task-specific trained to help children with varied disabilities, for example to assist with mobility or wheelchairs.


I already have a dog and really like my dog. Can you train my dog to become my Assistance Dog?


No, we carefully select the puppies for our training program. These puppies have already passed our temperament and stringent health requirements, and we are better able to match each particular dog’s temperament and strengths to best fit the individual needs of the recipient child.


Does Smart Pups ‘certify’ dogs trained by other organisations or individuals?


No, we do not certify dogs trained by other organisations or individuals.


Where do Smart Pups get the dogs?


Smart Pups only works with Labradors and Golden Retrievers. We breed our own dogs and have also built long-standing partnerships with several trusted breeders. This ensures our dogs are not only healthy, but sound in temperament as well.


How long does a recipient care for the dog?


A Smart Pups Assistance Dog is placed permanently with the recipient child and the family takes full responsibility for its health and wellbeing.


How long does a Smart Pups Assistance Dog work?


A Smart Pups dog is placed permanently with the recipient family. High quality food, excellent veterinary care, sound exercise, proper grooming and plenty of love and attention all help to increase a dog’s working life. Smart Pups keep in touch with the recipient family and follows up three months after initial placement. We also recertify the dog for public access every 12 months.


Is it okay to pet an Assistance Dog?


It’s always best to ask before petting an Assistance Dog and please be willing to respect the person’s decision if they say no. Assistance Dogs working in public should not be petted if it could distract their focus on ensuring the safety of their special needs child.

Sponsorships Enquiries


What is my sponsorship money used for?


Your sponsorship money goes into Puppy Care: Half of your sponsorship pays for a puppy’s food, vet care and preventative vaccinations and heartworm/tick/flea treatments.

Your sponsorship money goes into Training: The other half of your sponsorship pays for basic training, training coats, treats, collars and leads, socialisation field trips, and to ‘task specific’ training including dog/recipient training, public access certification and handover to their new owner.


Will I be my puppy’s only sponsor?


Each Smart Pup has an alliance of sponsors to ensure all costs are covered. Some sponsors choose to be sole sponsors of a Smart Pup and meet the entire cost of raising and training the puppy with a single sponsorship donation or by paying regular instalments over a set period of time.


Will I know how my sponsor puppy is doing?


Smart Pups Community Champions provide ongoing monthly donations to Smart Pups and receive a special login to access their puppy’s updates. These updates occur every two months and you can keep track of a lot of the dogs on our Facebook page. If you are a sole sponsor, you’ll receive regular updates and be invited to fundraising events throughout the year.


Can I visit my sponsored puppy?


Each Smart Pup is fostered by a loving family and we do not organise personal visits. However, we will invite you to Smart Pups fundraising events, which will give you the opportunity to meet some of the Smart Pups in training.


Can I give a Smart Pups sponsorship as a gift?


Yes! You can sign up to one of our Sponsorship packages and give the gift of a Smart Pups puppy by providing us with the gift recipients’ details. We will send them a Sponsorship pack that includes toys, merchandise and a Community Champion medallion offering discounts at local businesses that support Smart Pups.


If you would like more information please email: enquiries@smartpups.org.au


Foster Home Carers and Puppy Raiser Enquiries


Do people that raise and care for a puppy for the first year of its life ever want to keep it?


Foster Carers do become attached to the pup after a year of joy and fun together. However, our Foster Carers have identified the following significant factors they have learnt through their fostering experience:


• The pride of seeing your pup learn new skills as it undertakes specialised Smart Pups training modules

• The joy you feel when your Smart Pup is placed with its recipient child

• The sense of fulfilment in giving something so meaningful to someone with greater needs

• The satisfaction of watching your pup become a certified Smart Pups Assistance Dog

• The absolute pleasure in knowing the difference your pup is now making to the lives of others

• This gift of service that surpasses any personal need to keep the dog


After a Smart Pup is placed, the recipient family often provides updates of their Smart Pup via Facebook and Foster Carers can continue to watch the positive changes their Smart Pup is making to the lives of others.


Quick Links:

Our Sponsors

Contact Details
PO Box 140 Pomona  QLD 4568
Ph: 07 54850031