Client (Handler/Dog Team) Certification

Succeed and thrive with your dog by your side! 

Benefit from one-on-one support and guidance in training your service dog. 

Atlas supports people with disabilities wanting full participation in the training of their service dog. Atlas clients are paired with Atlas Team Facilitators who will meet with them twice a month for at least six months before being eligible for their Public Access Test and Atlas certification. 

Atlas’ program is focused on the more difficult training skills required of a service dog once foundational obedience training has been completed.  

Training focuses on disability tasks, public access, and gaining confidence as a service dog handler overall. Each client is set up with their own training plan, tailored to their needs and abilities. 

In order to enter our program, you must:

  • Already have a dog
      • Who is at least 14 months old
      • Who has no temperament issues and can pass Atlas’ obedience assessment 
      • Has no unresolved behavioral issues 
      • Is ready to begin working in public 
  • Have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act 
  • Commit to using positive, non-aversive training methods 
  •  

Benefits of Atlas Team Certification

Confidence

Know you and your dog can work at your best in public and challenging settings as our program is designed to meet or exceed all international standards for service dog certification.

Knowledge

Learn how to train and work with your dog with hands on support from our experienced team facilitators as well as benefit from our series of online client courses.

Support

You have access to Atlas as well as our network for ongoing support.

Legitimacy

Upon certification, Atlas provides vests, ID cards, and other materials to help you present yourself as a professional team.

Where We Serve

We are able to support clients in several different areas in the US and are adding support for new areas regularly. Please contact us if your location is not listed and you are interested in being an Atlas client.  If you want to help expand where we serve, please consider applying to be a team facilitator.

Denver Area
(Denver, CO, USA)
Florida Keys
(Key West, Florida, USA)
Portland Area
(Portland, OR, USA)
Seattle Area
(Seattle, WA, USA)
Virginia Beach
(Virginia Beach, VA, USA)
Westgrove Area
(West Grove, PA, USA)

Please read all the FAQs for client/handler team certification before applying.

Please start with the Pre-Application Information package. When you are ready to apply, download the Application package.

When you click on the links below, a zipfile will download that contains the specified application package. Please start with the document titled “Client- READ ME FIRST” in the Pre-Application Package. This is our helpful Getting Started Guide.

Feel free to contact info@atlasdog.org if you have any questions.

FAQ

There is no requirement in the United States to have any type of certification or paperwork for your service dog. However, many organizations such as Atlas offer certifications and many handlers chose this route as a confirmation and validation of their hard work. 

Atlas certification means that Atlas has confirmed through testing, training, and documentation that: 

  • The dog and handler can work safely and appropriately in public places 
  • The client meets the requirements of the American with Disabilities Act 
  • The dog and handler have been trained to work effectively as a team and the dog has specially trained skills that directly mitigate limitations of the client’s disability 
  • The dog is healthy and able to do the work 
  • The dog is being treated well, and all the dog’s needs are met (including food, health, exercise, and companionship) 
  • The dog and handler team are trained to recognized international standards 
  • The client uses only positive, non-aversive training methods in compliance with Atlas’ Training Policy 

Atlas strives to keep costs to our clients as low as possible. In most cases, our fees total $675, broken down as follows:

Application fee: $25

Evaluation: $100 (Evaluation is performed by an Atlas Team Facilitator Lead. This includes temperament and obedience testing.)

Training fee: $450. This is the standard fee for six months of training with an Atlas Team Facilitator (equivalent to $75 per month of training). If you need more than 6 months, we add $75 per month. Additional fees may apply If you need more involved disability skill training or live further than an hour’s drive from your Team Facilitator.

PAT fee: $100, which also covers the cost of the vest and ID card.

No. Our model is for people who wish to and can be actively involved in the process of training their own dog. We recommend you either contact one of the non-profit foundations or programs who specialize in providing fully trained dogs or contact an Atlas Certified Trainer or other trainer in your area to see if they offer extended boarded training.

Yes. The veterinary health form we ask you to have your veterinarian complete as part of the application process must include a statement that the dog has been spayed or neutered.

Atlas is currently in the process of meeting the criteria for ADI candidacy.

Part of our mission at Atlas Assistance Dogs is to provide financial aid for individuals with privately owned dogs that need assistance dog certification. We presently have a small scholarship fund that will offset part of the certification fee for applicants. We are continuing to work toward a scholarship program that can provide additional aid.

While we strongly recommend our Atlas Certified Trainers, you may work with any private or group trainer of your choice, or you may work on your own without a trainer.

Download the Pre-application package to get a better sense of what you want to work on to prepare. Feel free to contact us at info@atlasdog.org with any questions.