Assistance Dogs

Susquehanna Service Dogs

Our assistance dogs give people the confidence to live more independently and do things they didn’t think were possible. These dogs change lives.

A program of Keystone Human Services, Susquehanna Service Dogs breeds, raises, trains, and places service dogs and hearing dogs, as well as facility dogs, to assist children and adults with disability to lead the lives they want to live. Founded in 1993, we have placed over 350 assistance dogs throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding states.

We work hard to match people and dogs to form a successful partnership and follow each team for the working life of the dog and through the dog’s retirement. Whether our assistance dogs are retrieving dropped items or helping their partner navigate a crowded store, they’re assisting their partners to live full, rich, meaningful lives.

Apply for an Assistance Dog

Become a Volunteer or Puppy Raiser

Puppy Cam

“A mulligan in golf is a second chance, a do-over. SSD Mulligan is my second chance,” said Alison, partnered with SSD Mulligan. “It’s going to be a renewed life. It’s going to be a chance to move beyond fear…. In the course of my condition, I’ve isolated myself a lot, so I’m looking forward to driving, just getting out in public. Just being part of life.”

Every step of our process of creating life-changing partnerships like Alison and SSD Mulligan’s is based on science, from our breeding program through placement and the working life of the dog. Training begins the moment the puppies are born. At nine weeks, they join volunteer puppy raisers, who spend 15 to 18 months teaching the puppies good house manners and basic cues, as well as introducing the puppies to various public settings. The dogs then enter our advanced training program, where our professional trainers work with each dog to identify the type of work the dog is best suited for. Candidates on our waiting list then meet several dogs to determine a match, and the dog is trained specialized skills and tasks to assist with their partner’s specific needs. Everything we do is designed to create individually trained assistance dogs that will assist their partners to be more independent.

Support Susquehanna Service Dogs to Change Lives

Make a donation that will change lives! Your support is essential to create lasting partnerships between partners and their assistance dogs.

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Contact Us

Susquehanna Service Dogs
1078 Gravel Hill Road
Grantville, PA 17028

Phone: 717-599-5920

Email: [email protected]

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Mobility Assistance Dogs
Autism Service Dogs
Psychiatric Service Dogs
Seizure Response Dogs
Facility Dogs
Hearing Dogs
In-Home Service Dogs
Companion Dogs

Mobility assistance dogs assist people who have a disability that interferes with their ability to walk, allowing them to more freely interact with their environment and other people. Mobility dogs include balance dogs and wheelchair assistance dogs. Specific tasks may include:

  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Opening doors
  • Helping to remove clothing or shoes
  • Acting as a counterbalance
  • Providing forward momentum or side to side stability
  • Bracing to go up and down stairs
  • Providing assistance to rise from a chair or get up from the floor
  • Turning on and off lights
  • Taking clothes out of the dryer and pulling a laundry basket
  • Finding and retrieving a cordless phone
  • Assisting with shopping

Request an Application for an Assistance Dog

Autism service dogs are trained to assist a person with autism to improve their social interactions and relationships and expand their verbal and/or nonverbal communication. The dog can also intervene when their handler becomes over-stimulated, helping to alleviate stress. An autism dog can help a person deal with transitions from place to place or activity to activity, increase responsibility, and add consistency to each day. Examples of how a service dog may assist a person with autism include:

  • Providing various levels of deep pressure to prevent or respond to over-stimulation or dysregulation
  • Interrupting stimming, or repetitive behaviors
  • Resting their head in the person’s lap to ease anxiety or agitation and provide opportunity for tactile interaction
  • Sitting between the person’s feet for tactile interaction which may increase focus and alleviate anxiety

If a child or adult is unable to safely handle a dog independently, at least one adult must be trained to handle the dog in conjunction with the applicant and/or provide handling supervision depending on the placement requirements.

Please note: Susquehanna Service Dogs does not permit tethering of an individual to a dog to prevent elopement.

Request an Application for an Assistance Dog

Psychiatric service dogs are trained to minimize the symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and other psychiatric disabilities. In addition to performing specific tasks, the dogs give the person something to focus on rather than negative or fearful thoughts. Susquehanna Service Dogs trains psychiatric services dogs for veterans and non-veterans.

Dogs may be trained to:

  • Interrupt early signs of anxiety, panic attacks, and nightmares
  • Provide varying degrees of deep pressure for calming
  • Create space in front and behind the person in public settings (initiated by the handler, not the dog)
  • Find a family member during a time of crisis in the home
  • Rest their head in the person’s lap or sit between their feet for calming or refocusing
  • Turn on the lights before waking the person from nightmares
  • Retrieve items

Apply for an Assistance Dog

Seizure response dogs respond to their partner during and after a seizure. They may provide some intervention to prevent injury during the seizure, get help within the home, or remain with their partner to assist them in recovering from the event. We do not train dogs to alert to oncoming seizures.

Dogs may be trained to:

  • Lay close to their partner, nudging or licking
  • Provide varying forms of deep pressure
  • Retrieve a phone, medication, or other items
  • Activate an emergency button or pull cord
  • Get help by alerting another person within the home

Apply for an Assistance Dog

Facility dogs work with professionals in a variety of settings, such as courthouses, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities, and oncology clinics. They are trained specific skills to motivate and inspire, improve social behavior, encourage communication, and help people feel more comfortable and positive.

Facility dogs may be trained to:

  • Provide light or deep pressure
  • Engage people by offering tactile stimulation to alleviate stress and encourage participation
  • Interrupt unwanted or disruptive behaviors
  • Help someone stay with a group by walking on a double leash
  • Act as a motivator during therapeutic activities
  • Perform a brace for standing, sitting, or walking
  • Push or pull objects with a person receiving therapy to encourage muscle activity
  • Perform directed or automatic retrieves
  • Take part in supervised handling by a student or person receiving therapy

Request an Application for a Facility Dog

With the assistance of hearing dogs, people who are deaf or hard of hearing do not need to rely solely on visual signals. Hearing dogs alert to specific sounds by touching the person with their nose and taking them to the source of the sound, with the exception of the smoke alarm. To alert to a smoke alarm, the dog touches the person with their nose and lies down.

Sounds may include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Person’s name
  • Door knock and doorbell
  • Smoke alarm
  • Alarm clock
  • Oven timer
  • Phone ringing

Request an Application for a Hearing Dog

In-home service dogs provide assistance and perform tasks but do not have public access. These dogs are beneficial to children and adults who need a specially trained dog in their home but do not need their assistance in public settings.

In-home service dogs may be trained to:

  • Provide deep pressure
  • Offer support to go up and down stairs
  • Provide assistance to rise from a chair or get up from the floor
  • Open or close interior doors
  • Turn lights on and off
  • Help to remove clothing
  • Remove clothes from the dryer and pulling a laundry basket
  • Interrupt self-stimulating or repetitive behavior
  • Find and retrieving a phone
  • Retrieve dropped items

Request an Application for an In-Home Service Dog

Companion dogs are specially trained dogs that provide comfort, companionship and motivation within the home for one or more family members. Companion dogs do not have public access and must follow local dog laws and access rules for housing and public accommodations.

Families must live within two hours of Grantville, PA.

Request an Application for a Companion Dog

Name a Puppy
Host a Puppy Socialization Event
Sponsor an Assistance Dog Harness
Sponsor a Team Training Kit
Donate Items from Our Wish List

Leave a legacy and make a difference in the community by naming a puppy or an entire litter of future assistance dogs. Email [email protected] or call 717-599-5920 ext. 2 to learn more.

*Due to COVID-19, we are not currently holding puppy socialization events.

Would you like to hold puppy hugging at your organization or event?

Susquehanna Service Dogs’ litters of puppies are available for special puppy socialization events. We ask for a minimum donation to support our work to train and place the puppies as life-changing service dogs.

Please note that events are subject to the availability of our puppies.

For a $100 donation, you can provide a harness for one of our assistance dogs to wear in public with their partner.

Give Now

For a $200 donation, you can provide all of the items that are given to a partner when they complete Team Training with their new assistance dog. Items include a leash and collar, treat pouch, clicker, food bowl, grooming tools, starter bag of dog food, heartworm and flea and tick preventatives, and more.

Give Now

Donate items we use regularly, such as food for our dogs in advanced training, cleaning supplies, dogs crates, toys, and more. Items can be dropped off at our facility in Grantville, PA or you can call 717-599-5920 ext. 4 to make other arrangements.

View Our Wish List

It Takes a Community

Raising, training, and placing assistance dogs is a community effort. Volunteers, donors, and the community all play a role in supporting our puppies-in-training as they grow to become highly skilled, life-changing working dogs.

It takes over $30,000 to fully fund an assistance dog from the moment they’re born through their entire working life. We receive no government funding and only a small portion of our funding comes from fee for service, adoption fees, and merchandise sales. We rely on philanthropic support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to make it possible for dogs to change lives.

An assistance dog can make a huge difference in someone’s life, giving them independence, confidence, and hope. When you support Susquehanna Service Dogs, you share in that impact.

Learn more about Susquehanna Service Dogs and what service dogs can do.

Become a puppy raiser to make a difference and change lives!