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Home > Statistics > 12 Remarkable Australia Service Dog & Pet Therapy Statistics to Know in 2023

12 Remarkable Australia Service Dog & Pet Therapy Statistics to Know in 2023

pet owner and his dog in the park

Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Dogs are our most loyal and loving companions, but for many people, they serve as far more than companions. Service dogs are an integral part of the day to day lives of people with physical disabilities and mental illnesses. The work that these dogs do can provide comfort and a feeling of safety and security, or lifesaving medical intervention.

It’s important to understand what service dogs do to understand why they’re an absolute necessity for some people. When people try to pass off untrained pets as service dogs, they end up harming people who require a service dog for their daily life. To better understand service dogs, here are some interesting service animal statistics and animal-assisted therapy statistics.


Top 12 Australia Service Dog and Pet Therapy Statistics

  1. It can cost $40,000 or more to train and assign an Assistance Dog.
  2. Assistance Dogs have been provided legal protections for almost 30 years.
  3. It can take two years to receive a trained assistance dog.
  4. It has been over 40 years since Assistance Dogs were first recognized in legislation.
  5. There are three types of Assistance Dogs that are accepted under Australian law.
  6. It takes around 2 years to fully train an Assistance Dog.
  7. There are only 23 government accredited Assistance Dog trainers in all of Australia.
  8. In 2019, Assistance Dogs International had 13 accredited members within Oceania and New Zealand.
  9. Assistance Dogs International members placed over 16,000 dogs with people in need in 2018 alone.
  10. Around 48% of the dogs placed by Assistance Dogs International function as Mobility Service Dogs.
  11. The first guide dog in Australia was a Kelpie/Border Collie cross named Beau.
  12. Assistance Dogs International also placed over 3,000 specially trained non-Assistance Dogs in the Oceania region.
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Costs and Legal Protections

1. It can cost upwards of $40,000 to simply train and place an Assistance Dog.

(Assistance Dogs Australia)

The training requirements for Assistance Dogs in Australia are stringent, and they come at a hefty price. It can cost upwards of $40,000 to put a dog through training and then placing them with a person whose needs the dog is trained to meet. Not all Assistance Dogs are the right fit for every person in need, so they are carefully matched.

pet owner sitting beside his dog
Image Credit: Piqsels

2. It has been almost 30 years since Assistance Dogs became federally protected in Australia.

(ABC News)

In 1992, the Australian government passed the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which provides legal protections for Assistance Dogs to accompany their owners everywhere they are needed. The exception to these protections is operating rooms and other sterile environments.

3. It can take two years to receive a trained assistance dog

(Assistance Dogs Australia)

There is a waiting list to receive an assistance dog, whether it is for visual impairment or psychological disabilities. Most people must wait up to two years before getting their dog.

4. It has been over 40 years since Assistance Dogs were first recognized in legislation by the Australian government.

(Service Dog Training School)

In 1976, the Dog Act 1976 was passed. This piece of legislation laid out the requirements of training for an Assistance Dog. It also provided protections that allowed dogs to be trained privately instead of through an accredited organization. However, all Assistance Dogs not trained by an accredited organization must pass the Public Access Test (PAT) to be allowed the protections laid out by later legislation.divider-dog

Types of Assistance Dogs and Training

dog and owner_RebeccasPictures, Pixabay
Image Credit: RebeccasPictures, Pixabay

5. There are only three types of Assistance Dogs that are accepted under Australian law.


Under Australian law, there are three types of Assistance Dogs that are accepted. The first is Service Dogs, which are trained to perform a multitude of tasks to assist people with a variety of physical and mental disabilities. Guide Dogs are trained to assist blind and visually impaired people to safely navigate the world around them. Hearing Dogs are trained to assist deaf and hearing-impaired people to appropriately respond to sounds around them.

6. Training an Assistance Dog is not a short task, taking around 2 years per dog.


Generally, a professionally trained Assistance Dog lives with a volunteer puppy educator for around 18 months, and then moves to approximately 6 months of advanced training and certification. Dogs are carefully selected for training by temperament and personality.

7. There are only 23 accredited Assistance Dog trainers in the entire country of Australia.

(Queensland Government)

Assistance Dog trainers that are accredited by the government must meet specific criteria in their training processes to maintain their accreditation. To date, there are only 23 trainers that are accredited by the Australian government.divider-dog

Accreditation and Assistance Dogs by the Numbers

8. In 2019, there were 13 members of Assistance Dogs International who were accredited Assistance Dog trainers.

(Assistance Dogs International)

Assistance Dogs International is a US-based coalition of non-profit organizations from across the globe. This organization serves as the leading authority in the Assistance Dog industry across the world. They update their membership numbers every 3–4 years, with their most recent update being from 2019. As of 2019, there were 13 accredited members and one accreditation candidate within Oceania and New Zealand.

9. Assistance Dogs International placed over 16,000 dogs with people in need of Assistance Dogs in 2018 alone.

(Assistance Dogs International)

According to their most recent numbers, 8,030 Guide Dogs, 1,003 Hearing Dogs, and 7,733 Service Dogs were placed across the North America, Oceania, and New Zealand regions in 2018 alone.

10. Assistance Dogs International reported in their 2018 census that 48% of the dogs placed in the Oceania region were Mobility Service Dogs.

(Assistance Dogs International)

According to the most recent census, 48% of the Assistance Dogs in Oceania are Mobility Service Dogs. The second most common type of Assistance Dogs is Autism Service Dogs at 23%, followed by PTSD Veterans Service Dogs at 19%, Diabetic Alert Service Dogs at 4%, Seizure Service Dogs at 2.5%, Psychiatric Service Dogs at 1.5%, and Medical Alert Service Dogs at less

than 1%.

11. The first guide dog in Australia was a Kelpie/Border Collie cross named Beau

(Guide Dogs Victoria)

Dr. Arnold Cook introduced the first guide dog to Australia in 1950. Dr. Cook had lost his sight when he was 18. When studying at the London School of Economics, he received a black Labrador guide dog. In 1951, Mrs Elsie Mead had what is believed to be the first guide dog in Australia. Beau was a cross between a Border Collie and Kelpie and helped Mrs Mead spread awareness of the benefits of guide dogs.

12. Assistance Dogs International specializes in more than just Assistance Dogs, also focusing on training Therapy Dogs and other types of support dogs.

(Assistance Dogs International)

In 2018, Assistance Dogs International placed 997 Facility Dogs, 1,407 Companion and Therapy Dogs, and 785 dogs for other purposes, like courthouse support.divider-dog

Frequently Asked Questions About Service and Pet Therapy Dogs in Australia

How many Assistance Dogs are there in Australia?

Unfortunately, since there is no official national registry of Assistance Dogs in Australia, we do not know the official number. Without a national registry, it is too difficult to provide an estimate of how many Assistance Dogs are currently being used.

What is the average wait time to receive an Assistance Dog?

The average wait time to receive a specially trained Assistance Dog of any kind is approximately 24 months due to the lengthy training process. (SmartPups)

Can an Assistance Dog enter businesses and other locations that don’t allow pets?

Yes. Assistance Dogs are considered to be medically necessary and are offered protections that do not extend to pets and Emotional Support and Therapy Dogs. (SmartPups)

What might prevent a dog from becoming certified as an Assistance Dog?

Certain behaviors will lead to an automatic failure when it comes to testing for Assistance Dog certification. Growling, biting, and other signs of aggression can lead to automatic failure. Other behaviors that will cause a dog to fail the certification include relieving themselves with no regard for the location and uncontrolled behavior or overall lack of training. (Queensland Government)

dog with owner
Image Credit: 8777334, Pixabay

What happens to dogs that fail training or certification?

Dogs that fail the training or certification process are often adopted out to people on a waiting list. Even dogs that fail a program are typically highly intelligent and well trained, making them exceptional pets. Most accredited organizations have a waiting list of people hoping to get one of the dogs that fail out of their program. (Assistance Dogs Australia)

What should I do if I see someone with an Assistance Dog?

If you encounter someone with an Assistance Dog, the best option is to simply leave them alone. If you need to interact with them, you should address the person and ignore the dog. Even if it appears the dog is not working, you should assume they are working unless you are told otherwise. You should not distract or attempt to give commands to an Assistance Dog. Do not ask personal questions, especially about the disability of the handler, and don’t be offended if the handler declines to discuss the dog with you. (Queensland Government)

How can someone get an Assistance Dog?

Assistance Dogs can come from accredited training organizations, or they can be privately acquired by the handler and trained to pass the PAT. For financial assistance, the National Insurance Disability Scheme, which is a government-funded organization that helps offset the costs associated with the care of disabilities, can help pay for the fees associated with acquiring an Assistance Dog. NDIS will even help pay for expenses associated with the care of the dog up to $2,600 per year. (Assistance Dogs Australia)divider-dog


Assistance Dogs are a fantastic resource for people with disabilities. Thanks to funding options through the Australian NDIS and donations to accredited programs, these dogs often come at no cost to handlers. However, the training expenses are high, making donations a necessary part of operations for many training organizations.

These dogs make life easier and safer for people with disabilities. It’s important to always treat handlers and their dogs with respect and don’t distract dogs from their job. The handler’s life often depends on the dog paying attention, so it’s essential that you leave them alone and let the dog do its job.


Featured Image Credit: Piqsels


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