Skilled Companions

The partnerhip between dogs and humans extend far beyond that of Service Dogs and Facility Dogs. FTK9’s recognizes the special bonds that develop between dogs and their families.

Skilled Companion Dogs provide partnership and benefits, in a home setting, to individuals with physical disability or a mental health diagnosis.

While our Skilled Companion dogs train alongside our Service Dogs and Facility Dogs, they do not graduate from our Service Dog or Facility Dog programs. Skilled Companions do NOT have public access rights.

Skilled Companions do graduate with extensive training, they complete our entire obedience curriculum from puppy classes to advanced obedience. Skilled Companions can help you receive the benefits of a well-trained, intelligent and empathetic dog quickly, without the added stress of selecting and training a dog for your needs.

A man's hand is stroking a dog. Love for pets and friendship concept. Close up dog portrait.

Benefits of Skilled Companions

Relief from Insomnia

The presence of a Skilled Companion dog can be reassuring and comforting for individuals who struggle to sleep through the night. These dogs can sleep in the same room or in the bed to provide a sense of safety and security and even light pressure therapy as needed.


Individuals who have been diagnosed with disabilities may have fewer opportunities to go and engage with their community and may spend more time at home, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. A Skilled Companion provides a source of friendship and company right where they need it most.

Increased Sense of Safety

Skilled Companion Dogs can provide a sense of safety for individuals who may live with a disability or who live alone. Individuals with anxiety or physical rehabilitation needs may also find great benefit with a well trained walking buddy.

Routine and Purpose

Routine and purpose are key components of many treatment plans for a wide variety of disabilities. A Skilled Companion dog is a great way to start building a daily routine, responsibility for another and a resulting sense of accomplishment. A Skilled Companion can help build confidence and a sense of purpose.

Sensory Support

The large, soft and comforting presence of a Skilled Companion dog may help individuals with a wide variety of cognitive and mental health diagnosis and those who struggle with sensory disorders by providing just the right amount of sensory input. Skilled Companion dogs can also provide day-to-day support, which may reduce stress and anxiety for individuals with various disabilities.

Reduce isolation and increase socialization

Many individuals with diagnosed disabilities can struggle to make connections. They may feel isolated and hesitant to join social gatherings or even uncomfortable when it comes to talking with others. A Skilled Companion dog provides a built-in stepping stone toward friendship. These companions make great conversation starters, as people are often more eager to talk to someone with a dog. Walking the dog in their community can provide more opportunities to meet new people and form friendships.

Why Choose a Skilled Companion?

Ready for you

Selecting and training a puppy to fit into your lifestyle and household can be challenging for any family, even without the added complications of daily life that happen when disabilities present. Skilled Companion Dogs are highly capable dogs that have been selected for their intelligence, trainability and empathy. Your Skilled Companion arrives fully trained with early puppy socialization and all three levels of our obedience classes completed, along with some specific commands for their special job.

Independence, security and purpose

In 2017, 6.3 million Canadians aged 15 or older had been diagnosed with a disability. Many of these individuals struggle to find independence, security, purpose, and social acceptance. Skilled Companion Dogs can help them regain these things.

The right prescription
Not all individuals diagnosed with disabilities require the support of a medical device in public settings. Some disabilities are best served with support at home. A Skilled Companion providing at home support may be what an individual needs most. Your medical professionals can consult with our Client Services to determine help you determine if your medical needs might include a Service Dog or Skilled Companion.

Wait times

FTK-9’s recogizes that the demand for Service Dogs is immense and the wait-time can be difficult. There so many benefits in sharing companionship with a well trained dog and Skilled Companions can help fill this need.

Serving more individuals

FTK-9’s mission is to serve military veterans, firefighters and police officers. Our Service Dogs and Facility Dog’s training is specific to the unique needs of veterans in those professions. However we are aware that many more people need support, including working professionals and individuals with developmental, and cognitive challenges that are beyond FTK-9’s mission. Skilled Companions can help support this broader community.

Skilled Companion Eligibility

Skilled Companions are matched with individuals over the age of 18, who have been diagnosed with a disability, including mental health diagnosis.

To be eligible for application individuals must;

  1. Be able to provide a doctor’s note pertaining to their diagnosis.
  2. Be able to support the daily care of a dog, including covering the cost of all food, grooming and veterinary care.
  3. Complete 15 hours of training with FTK-9 to learn all about your dog
  4. Have no more than two personal dogs living in your home
  5. Not leave the dog home alone for more than 8 hours a day

Application Process

The Skilled Companion application process includes the following;
  1.  Eligibility questionnaire
  2. Phone interview to learn more about your lifestyle and review your questions and concerns.
  3. Detailed application including reference letters and your doctor’s note.
  4. Application fee of $100.
  5. In-home interview to meet the applicant and discuss further questions and concerns.
Final acceptance is determined following the in-home interview; applicants may be disqualified at any time during the application process.  FTK-9’s will consider all applicants equally regardless of race, sex, gender, religion or creed.
Applications are currently CLOSED

Skilled Companion Cost

FTK9’s receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations from the general public, corporate sponsors, fundraising events, and community supporters.  The cost of breeding, selection, care and training for a Skilled Companion can exceed $15,000 per year and their lifetime value far exceeds this figure.

Sponsorship opportunities are available to help us provide Skilled Companions at reduced cost to individuals. Skilled Companions may also be purchased for $10,000.

Sponsor a Skilled Companion Dog Team

Full Sponsorship: $10,000

Fire Team K-9’s Inc. is a proud Service Dog provider for Wounded Warriors Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command.

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