Service Dogs for children with AutismECAD's Canine Magic is a specialized program focused on providing Service Dogs to children with Autism. ECAD is one of the few accredited Service Dog providers which accepts children with Autism as young as two years old.

These dogs assist a child with Autism in areas of social, emotional, and cognitive development, but the dog's primary duty is to increase the child's physical safety by "anchoring". Anchoring is a method in which the dog wears a harness that is attached to the child's belt. The child also holds the harness and is taught to walk with the dog, but a third party facilitator (usually a parent or teacher) holds a second leash attached to the dog's collar. The parent can then give the dog a command to "stay" if the child becomes distracted, frustrated, or tries to bolt away, enabling the child to function well in situations that were previously impossible to handle.


The caregiver and child must

  • Be willing and able to travel to our training center in Connecticut for interviews and a 13-day Team Training.
  • Demonstrate they can put into practice the information they have learned in Team Training.
  • Develop a bond with their Service Dog and perform safely as a team in public.
  • The child must be less than or equal to 70 pounds in weight.
  • In need of a Service Dog to assist in activities of daily living due to some type of physical restriction.
  • Accepting of his or her disability.
  • Able to commit to uphold the training for the life of the dog.
  • Able to show that he or she has the appropriate environment and resources to properly care for a dog.


Primary caregivers must attend a 13-day team training where they are educated through lectures, dog handling drills, and community field trips. Their child joins them for the last 3 to 4 days of training to create the integrated Team of three: caregiver as the primary handler, child and Service Dog. During Team Training, attendees have the option to stay on-site in shared lodging.

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