Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions, we have answers!

We’ll try our best to answer anything you might think of here, if you don’t see your question(s), feel free to contact us!


Pawsitism is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and On-going support to ensure quality partnerships. We provide our dogs and support services free of charge to recipients.

Service Dogs-assist Children with autism with daily tasks.

There is no charge for a Pawsitism assistance dog. Individual participants in our program are not responsible for any of the substantial cost involved in the lengthy process of raising and training each Pawsitism assistance dog. We do ask that each family raise $5000 to go back into the organization for more service dogs to be raised and trained! This needs to be raised by the time they finish their team certification through Pawsitism Inc. 

  • Pawsitism is funded by private contributions from individuals; gifts from businesses, civic groups and service clubs; grants from corporations and foundations; and ongoing fundraising activities such as special events in mailings. Please visit our donate page for more ways to give.
  • Pawsitism is also able to do what we do things for the support of many volunteers. Our largest group of volunteers are our puppy raisers. Every volunteer puppy Raiser helps with raising a puppy. Learn more about our puppy raising program.

Pawsitism uses Golden Retrievers and crosses between Golden Retrievers/Standard Poodle and Bernese Mountain Dogs/Standard Poodles. Most of our dogs come from select breeders within the state. These puppies are donated from these breeders to our training program each year.

We do not train from outside of the Pawsitism program to be assistant stars. Please check out RUFF Academy Real Life Dog Training to be able to assist in evaluating And training a pet dog to become an assistance dog.

Pawsitism puppies are raised by volunteers to take them to puppy classes to teach them basic obedience and house manners. When the puppies are old enough to enter a professional training program, Pawsitism dogs come to our main training center, located in Sheboygan Wisconsin. 

The first 18 months of a dog’s life are spent being trained and socialized before graduating as an assistant dog. The average assistance dog works for eight to ten years. After that time, the dog retires from service and will spend its golden years as a pet.

Pawsitism Inc. typically places two assistance dogs a year. We are hoping to offer more with each year of existence.

Assistance Dog

A Pawsitism Inc Assistance service dog can increase confidence and independence for a child with autism.

  • Tracking
  •  Swimming
  •  Deep Pressure  therapy
  •  Deep gaze therapy
  • Tethering an anchoring
  • Although our graduates find an incredible depth of emotion in the pond between them and their dog beyond just the working tasks, they do not play starts with individuals for the primary benefit of emotional comfort or social support.
  • And addition, positive some dogs are not trained to do the following:
  • Guide work for the blind
  • Seizure or diabetic alert/response
  • To recognize and/or manage undesirable human behavior or provide supervision, navigation, or safety from environmental hazards
  • Mobility assistance, including balance work
  • Respond aggressively or provide personal protection
  • Assist with the management of mental illness as a primary condition

Application Process

  •  People with physical or developmental disabilities, as well as professionals working in healthcare, visitation, educational or criminal justice settings you can demonstrate that in assistance dog will enhance their independence or the quality-of-life in order to qualify to apply
  • Click here to learn more about whether in assistance dog is right for you.

The application process, as well as all lectures, individual instruction and written class materials for the parent process(Team Training), are given in English.

Individuals applying for an assistant dog must be at least 18 years old with an established, stable home life. We find those 25 years of age and up typically are most suitable for an assistance dog. Children must be at least five years old to be considered for service dog.

  • Pawsitism Inc. has a comprehensive and interactive application process. Before we begin, we first exchange basic information to determine whether the program will be a good fit. At each step of the application process, experienced Pawsitism Inc. staff review an applicant’s need and qualifications to determine whether or not the applicant will move on. Refer to the “Is a Dog Right For You” page under “Our Dogs” on the menu.

All inquiring individuals should receive a response from Pawsitism within 2 to 4 weeks.

Once on the list, the wait time varies greatly between categories and based on each individual‘s needs. Typically, Service dog candidates have a longest wait, as Dogs has very specific temperaments are needed for these placements.

Training Process

Each Pawsitism assistance dog spends 18 months with a volunteer puppy raiser learning basic commands and being socialized in public and private settings. While being with a puppy raiser it also receives training at the Main RUFF Academy Training facility to where it will be trained and learning advance commands that will support the work of an assistant start.

It takes an exceptional dog to graduate as an assistant dog, and not every dog is suitable. All dogs must be highly proficient in the trained skills and tasks. In addition, Pawsitism Dogs receives rigorous medical and temperamental screening to ensure that every dog that graduates will be healthy, happy and appropriate in their role.

Matching and Beyond

Once a dog has complete a professional training, and a candidate has reached the top of the waiting list, they are brought together for a two month group class known as “Team Training.” During team training, students learn to manage the assistance dogs behavior, to direct the dogs to respond to commands as it has learned, and to assume responsibility for maintaining health and well-being of the dog.

  • Pawsitism Inc. has a comprehensive and participatory program to ensure the ongoing success of its working teams. Throughout the working life of the dogs, graduations periodically return to RUFF Academy with their dogs for public certification, workshops, seminars and reunions.
  • In addition, Pawsitism Inc. instructors and graduates communicate on an ongoing basis for correspondence, records and by providing advice via telephone and email. Instructors also travel into the field to conduct workshops to address all specific training or behavioral problems in the graduates home and/or workplace environment.
  • Pawsitism Inc. maintains ownership of the assistance dog even after placement. A graduate is personally and financially responsible for the assistance towards care of their service dog.