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About our Dogs


All our dogs are  trained in accordance with guidelines outlined by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) standards.



Most Mobility Dog puppies are purchased from professional breeders, entering our programme at approximately 8 weeks of age. Retrievers and labradors are the breeds used most frequently by Mobility Dogs.

Mobility Dog puppies are raised in a variety of environments, to give them the best opportunity for learning and experiencing public life. Most puppies start training in our Puppies in Prison (PIP) Programme, or with puppy raisers in the community. Each puppy is matched with a prisoner who is selected through an interview process by the Department of Corrections and Mobility Dogs.


Puppies In Prison Programme (PIP)

Puppies and prisoners are matched for the best 1-on-1 training opportunities. The prisoners receive training 1-2 times a week by Mobility Dogs Canine Team staff.  Prisoners receive instruction on various aspects of training, healthcare and socialisation of Mobility Dog puppies.


Community Puppy Raisers/Sitters

Mobility Dogs also have volunteer puppy raisers out in the community who take these puppies for various periods of time.  The vital role these volunteers play is to socialise the puppies in as many aspects of public life as possible: home life, restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets, busy streets, shops, public transit, and public events.

For more information on Community Puppy Raising Opportunities, please contact Lisa Hawes:


Corporate Assistance to support the dogs in training

Mobility Dogs benefit greatly from the support of Mars New Zealand who, on a regular basis, assist in the training of Mobility Dog puppies in their office environments. MARS New Zealand associates generously donate their time during the busy work day to help introduce and train puppies in proper etiquette within a business environment. MARS (Nutro dog food) are also our very generous sponsors of their Nutro dog food feeding all dogs in training and on the prison programme.


Young Adult Dogs (14-18 months)

As young adults, Mobility Dogs gain the specialised skills training they will need for their careers. At this time, the Mobility Dogs Canine Team begin to consider the matching process of dog to recipient on the waiting list. Although each dog has a set of foundation skills they learn (please see What They Do section for more details), there are sometimes additional skills and tasks that are taught to the dog to customise the skillset.


There are 3 categories of Mobility Dogs:

  1. Service Dog – matched with a recipient with a long-term physical disability. The recipient-dog team have full public access in New Zealand. Dogs are required to perform at least 3 tasks in public to assist their recipient with the activities of daily living in community. The dog assists with tasks both in the home and out in community.

  2. Assist Dog – matched with a recipient with a long-term physical disability. In this situation, for various reasons, the recipient is unable to handle the dog alone in public. A Carer/Guardian/Parent receives special training to handle the dog in public. Public access is extended only when the carer/guardian is handling the dog. The dog assists with tasks in the home and provides companionship when in public. Our child placements are usually in this category.

  3. Companion Dog – matched with a recipient with a long-term physical disability. The dog’s primary role is to assist with tasks in the home. No public access is granted for this recipient-Mobility Dog team.


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