Application FAQs

Can you train my personal dog to be a service dog?

No, we do not train dogs for private individuals. We only train dogs that we breed at our facility.

What breeds of dogs do you train?

We mostly breed and train Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and a mix of these two breeds. We occasionally breed “doodles”, which blend our Golden or Labrador Retrievers with carefully selected Poodles to produce Goldendoodles and Labradoodles. We occasionally acquire puppies from other specialized breeding programs.

How old are the dogs when they are placed with a client?

Age can vary depending on the placement, but most of our dogs are approximately 18 – 24 months years of age at the time of placement.

How long is the application process? Is there a wait list?

The application process can vary in time to completion. It is imperative we get a completed application with a medical release form as quickly as possible. We do not have an active wait list, but we anticipate one for our next graduating class of Service Dogs. Please submit your application early and promptly.

What is a service dog?

Understanding the different types of Service Dogs can be confusing.

There is no single source of definitive definitions in this arena. “Assistance Dog” is the most general term. More specific types include “Hearing Dog”, “Sight Dog”, “Diabetic Alert Dog”, “Seizure Response Dog”, “Balance Dog”, “Psychiatric Dog”, or “PTSD Dog.” Others differentiate dogs by the relationship to humans or an environment, such as “Facility Dog.”

At Retrieving Independence, we say, “Service Dogs.”

We prefer this term as it indicates that our dogs meet the legal definition of “service animal” in US Federal ADA legislation, which states an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability.

How much does a service dog cost?

Our fee is all-inclusive for the Service Dog, matching process and the Training Camp including accommodations and several meals.

Any specialized equipment that may be needed for individualized functions the dog may perform (such as a harness and hard extended handle), are up to the participant to purchase. We will make you aware of any of these needs when we verify the functions to be performed at the time of the Home Visit. Personal choices (such as added jewels or special leather tooling) can significantly increase the cost of specialized equipment, but the basic specialized equipment is usually under $150. We will assist you with any necessary measurements, but we ask you to purchase it directly and then make it available to us for final training the last couple of months before Training Camp.

Please contact us for specific pricing.

What tasks are Retrieving Independence dogs trained to do?

Our dogs are trained in more than 110 commands, including retrieving and delivering dropped items, tugging and pushing, and alerting and emergency response behaviors.

What tasks are Retrieving Independence dogs NOT trained to do?

We are not qualified to train dogs as assistance dogs for visual impairments or hearing impairments. However, during the application process, we may determine that a combination of behaviors, impairments, or disorders may not be mitigated by any dogs we anticipate having available for placement. Should this be the case, we will discuss this forthrightly with you, along with any recommendations.

Please note, a Retrieving Independence Service Dog cannot take responsibility for the safety of the recipient and does not have the ability to identify a safe versus a dangerous situation. They are, therefore, not appropriate for ensuring that a recipient does not wander or help them cross a street.

Who is eligible to apply for a dog?

Children over the age of 10 years and adults with physical or developmental disabilities who can demonstrate that an assistance dog will enhance their independence or their qualities of life are eligible to apply.

All applicants must live within 275 miles of Nashville, Tennessee.

We do not place dogs with children less than 10 years of age. If your needs are for a younger child, we encourage you to speak with us about your needs and expectations prior to completing an application.

Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to help with fundraising for your service dog. Before applying for a Retrieving Independence Service Dog, please have your funds secured.

What kind of environment does my Service Dog need?

We work with families with all kinds of home environments. Having a fenced yard is preferable but is not necessary. We do place dogs in homes with other pets such as cats, other dogs, birds, etc.

Can you provide a speaker to make a presentation at our event?

Our staff members are happy to work with you to accommodate your requests. Please contact to let us know what you need!

Are business owners required to allow Assistance Dogs in their space?

Yes, in the United States, there are both federal and state laws that mandate access for people with disabilities when accompanied by Assistance Dogs.

Can I adopt one of your dogs?

Yes, but is it rare. Please inquire if you are interested.

We work hard to select and breed dogs that will be suitable for service work. Some dogs do not display the temperament or physical attributes necessary for this role. We search for a suitable placement for these dogs. We will always inform you of the reason the dog is being released. Dogs are then carefully matched to ensure that both the applicant and the dog will adjust well to the transition.

All dogs will be spayed or neutered before release. Retrieving Independence has a large investment in each of our dogs. We will place these dogs for a fee. This can be discussed further on a case by case basis.