Assistance Dogs and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Cost and Time


Some organisations (such as Dogs for Good) provide assistance dogs free to the user (although there may be a waiting list). Other organisations ask users to contribute towards the costs which can be anything between £9,000 and £20,000.

There is then the cost of looking after the dog (feeding, equipment, exercise area, vets' fees etc.) during the life of the dog, which could be up to fifteen years or more.

According to the Dogs for Good website, accessed on 29 June 2018, it costs approximately £1,100 a year to keep an assistance dog, which includes food, health and insurance costs.


The time required to use an assistance dog is considerable because the dog lives as part of the family for many years and requires training, feeding, grooming, toileting, exercising and so on during its working life and beyond.  According to National Service Dogs, an assistance dog has a working life of about eight to ten years, although many families will keep the dog as a family pet once it 'retires'.

According to Burrows et al (2008),

"For parents who were already highly stressed, the service dog could add to their workload as another body in the family that requires feeding, grooming, exercising, and toileting. However, most parents quickly learned how to integrate the dog into their daily schedule. Parents with unreasonable expectations as to what the dog could do were less likely to realize the benefits the dog could provide. It is important for any parent interested in pursuing a service dog for their child to realize that the training of these dogs is ongoing, and failure to maintain the dog's training both in and out of harness can affect the success of the placement."

31 Jan 2019
Last Review
01 Jan 2019
Next Review
01 Jan 2022