Alert: All of our programs are at capacity at this time. We are currently not accepting new clients.

Working works with privately owned dogs with a focus of training your dog to be a future service dog. A dog for every need exists. We work with people of all ages with a disability and the goal is to ensure a perfect match whether this is your dog or a dog that we find for you.

The mandate at Working is to include anyone with a developmental or physical disability who could benefit from a service dog regardless of a person’s age. Working Paws caters its service to meet your personal needs.

Do you want to work with me?
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A Little About Me

I have been involved in the service dog industry specializing in training and placing service dogs for children with Autism for 17 years.

In 2006, I assumed the role of puppy program coordinator for National Service Dogs and managed the puppy training for this charity for 4 years. Puppies ranged in age from 10 weeks to 24 months. There was a maximum of 60 dogs in training at any given time. Training classes focused on socialization skills supported with appropriate obedience skills.

In 2010, I joined Autism Dog Services (ADS) as the Puppy Program Coordinator and Business manager. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a new challenge as advance trainer. Dogs in advance training lived in my residence and I worked with these dogs on a daily basis. Positive training techniques used by the charity met and exceeded Assistance Dog International (ADI) standards. I placed dogs with families waiting for service dogs and also administered Public Access Tests (PAT) for the clients when and where required.

In 2013, I accepted the role of Executive Director for ADS and continued training dogs in the advanced training program. I retired in 2016 and founded in 2017.

Cooperslane and Working Paws Service Dogs

Our circle of friends includes Cooperslane Kennels. Reflecting back to 2018, Working Paws has had numerous labs from this Kennel join our program. I have captured grads along with class pictures from 2018 to 2020.

Graduates 2018-2020

1 Finn - Kevin (Grad 2020)
2. Kasha – Laura (Photo-shoot)
3. Sabina - Kim & Robin (First time in a mall)
4. Sabina - Kim & Robin (Grad 2020)
5. Valka – Amanda (Grad 2020)
6. Marlowe – Emma (Grad 2019)
7. Misty- Brittany (Grad 2018)
8. Bailey – Deb & Frank (Christmas 2020)
9. Barry (Bear) (First time in our home)
10. Kasha – Laura (Photo-shoot)
11. Bailey (Christmas 2020)
12. Finn (Puppy Class)
13. Valka (Grad 2020)
14. Kasha (Photo-shoot)
15. Misty – Davis & Cody (Mall Workshop)
16. Kasha (home for the first time)
17. Bailey Kida & Marlowe (Puppy Class)
18. Sabina – Robin (in lockdown at home on her computer under Sabina’s direction)
19. Misty (Chilling in a mall)
20. Misty & Aspen (in jacket remember we can’t touch each other in jacket)
21. Valka, Marlowe & Arwen ( Puppy Class)
22. Misty & Cody (Time for a snooze… you make a nice pillow)
23. Amanda – Valka, Cody & Arwen (Puppy class )
24. Kasha & Laura ( starting SD training)
25. Doug & Laura ( Grad 2019)
26. Fin Valka & Marlowe(Puppy Class)

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What our customers say

"Excellent client service combined with his strong training skills is foremost"

I first met Doug when he was an advanced trainer with Autism Dog Services and was impressed with his ability to run a class full of puppies with such discipline and calm. At the time I was a puppy raiser for ADS, although I knew I would be needing a service dog in the future for myself. A mutual friend jokingly suggested that I should hire Doug to train my dog for me, and when the time came, I found out that he had not only retired from ADS, but that he had started his own private program.

Doug has been with me every step of the way training my service dog Marlowe. From driving me out to Arthur Ontario to meet with potential breeders (and laughing at me when I fell in love with a dog and put down a deposit on the spot for a puppy), to helping me temperament test a litter of puppies to find one that would suit both my personality and my working needs. I cannot emphasize how much this stage meant to me, Doug was able to help me select from a litter of adorable and lovable puppies one that is my absolute soul mate.

Doug helped me raise Marlowe from that adorable squealing puppy into a service dog that suits my very specific needs and unusual needs. From his structured and highly educational puppy classes and socialization outings, to last minute house calls to deal with all the developmental stages a puppy goes through, it has been an incredible experience to work with and learn from him. Doug is one of those people who is a real ‘dog whisperer’, and he was more than willing to work with me on some unusual tasks and alerting behaviours.

Having a service dog has absolutely turned my life around. Before I had Marlowe, I was unable to leave the house without a family member for medical reasons. Now that I have Marlowe, I have regained my independence and my confidence, and my family has gained peace of mind knowing that regardless of my health problems, I am always being looked after by Marlowe. He is my guardian angel and is always at my side, whether we’re in the hospital or attending graduate school.

I cannot recommend Working Paws and Doug enough for anyone planning to privately train a service dog, and I always recommend him to people starting on their service dog journeys. I will never be able to thank him enough for what he and his program have done for me.

- by Emma

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"Doug Chives is not only an amazing dog trainer but also an extraordinarily kind and caring person. He has an immense amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to raising, socializing and training service dogs and it really shows. He uses humane training techniques and always, no matter what, thinks of the dog’s wellbeing first, to ensure that Working Paws’ training program produces stable, safe and happy service dogs that want to work for their handlers.

It is clear that Working Paws was created to help people with disabilities that are not eligible for a service dog from most service dog programs such as civilians with PTSD or teens and adults with Autism.

Kasha, my dog, may still be in training but she has already changed with life and allows me to be independent despite my disabilities but this would not be possible without Working Paws and for that, I am forever grateful.

I can’t say enough about this organization and I would always recommend Working Paws to those planning to privately train a service dog!"

- by Laura

young woman

I have known Doug for many years and witnessed firsthand his skill in training Service Dogs. When I needed to retire my Service Dog in 2017, I faced a road block from established Service Dog Training Centres. I turned to Doug and he agreed to help me in finding and training a new Service Dog. Doug located a dog and went with me to meet and assess the dog. This dog, Lilly, had no training or social skills, but Doug saw the potential as she was very smart and eager to please. Training was intense and difficult due to my disability, but Doug remained positive and encouraging. He tailored the training to my unique situation and ensured that I was never over-whelmed. I now have a wonderful, well trained and attentive Service Dog. If you want training with a personal touch and commitment to success, Doug is the trainer you need.

- by Marian

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We have had the pleasure of working closely with Doug since our dog, Cody, was a puppy. Our son, Davis, has complex medical and behavioural issues and has been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. He has always had much difficulty with emotional regulation, particularly in school and other situations and has had major sleep issues his entire life. Davis has always had a special connection with dogs and we felt that he would greatly benefit from having a service dog, but unfortunately the waitlist through other organizations was incredibly long, so we decided to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder and pursue private training for Cody. We feel so blessed to have come across Doug Chivas and we could not be happier with the level of training and support provided. Having had the opportunity to have have Cody at home since he was a puppy while he was going through the training has allowed for a special bond to be established between Cody and Davis. Cody sleeps with Davis at night which has helped immensely and, after passing his public access test, has been able to be at school with Davis everyday. Throughout this entire process, Doug has helped support us at every step and he continues to provide ongoing guidance for our family and for the school. He is professional, experienced and knowledgeable.

- by Cheryl and Carlos

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When I met Doug in Waterloo we discussed the steps for Marley, my 3 year old mini Golden Doodle to meet the standards for a service dog. There were several challenges for both me and my dog. Marley and I as a team had to pass a public access test. I wanted to do the training and lived in Toronto.

During our initial meeting Doug outlined a training plan. The plan changed very quickly. Doug completed his evaluation of Marley and agreed to train my dog. During our initial meeting Doug outlined a training plan. The plan changed very quickly. I could not commute from Toronto to Waterloo, attend his weekly training class and also do my job. Doug agreed to take Marley into his home and work with him on a daily basis for several months (boot camp).

Once Marley completed his training, Doug met and worked with both of us a team for a period of time. We passed the public access test and today I have Marley with me. I continue to specialize in the photography field and Marley joins me in public.

I recommend Doug should you be looking for someone to train your dog as a service dog.

- by Matthew A.

Air Canada

We found Working Paws Service Dog Training Centre when searching the Internet for reputable, credible service dog trainers for my husband‘s dog. I’m so glad we met Doug Chives who runs Working Paws. He has impeccable credentials, a strong knowledge base and reputation, and a combination of high performance standards and kindness that was perfect for our needs. Following a lengthy evaluation and subsequent training, our dog was approved and certified by Working Paws to be a service animal. She was approved by Air Canada following their review of all required medical and training documentation. We recently completed our first flight where she performed flawlessly. Many thanks and appreciation to Doug for his dedication and professionalism. I would highly recommend Working Paws Service Dog Training to potential clients.

- by JV Toronto

My Process

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In Home Consultation

Working Paws provides in-home consultation. This ensures the individual gets an opportunity to describe their goals for their future service dog. All family members are encouraged to participate in the consultation. Discussions also include the impact of a service dog on the family as well support for their dog in the home. The assessment includes the ability to care, maintain, provide all the necessary needs for your future service dog.

Client Owned Dog

If an individual has a dog that they feel could qualify as a service dog I will assess the dog’s temperament, soundness in public, social skills, obedience and potential trainability. I will also assess the individual’s handling and ability to work with their dog, and their ability to maintain the standards set by Working Paws. If an individual wants a puppy or an older dog to potentially be their future service dog Working Paws can support them in the search and development of the dog. The process will be discussed as part of the assessment.

Equipment and Certification

Clients and dogs accepted into my program are provided with a “Dog in training Jacket”. Once Working Paws is satisfied that the team meets the standard for a service dog, I will administer a public access test (PAT). Upon graduation Working Paws will provide equipment that includes the following: a service dog jacket (Working - Do not Pet), an identification card, and a certification letter stating you as a team have completed my program successfully.


Clients must attend weekly puppy classes, usually located in a public location such as a mall. Additional classes may include training in a private area such as your residence, depending on the specific need. Your dog will always be in a training jacket while in public and expected to meet the standards prescribed by Working Paws while in training. Homework assignments are dependent on specific weekly goals. The service area for this option is restricted to a radius of 70 kilometers from the City of Waterloo.

Frequently asked questions

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Is there a difference between a service and companion dog?

Yes, a service dog is protected from discrimination, has full public access and rights. Your dog is identified as a service dog by its working jacket. An ESA often referred to as a companion dog will provide comfort to an individual and does not have public access rights nor is the dog protected by legislation.

The most popular breeds with service dog schools are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. They are selected for their temperament, willingness to please, and adaptability. Other breeds can be used as long as they have been socialized, they’re good with people, and respond well to training. Working Paws will carefully assess your private dog during the home consultation.

Do you have insurance coverage while working in a public venue with my dog in training?

Yes, we carry a commercial liability package that covers you while in training with your dog. Clients are encouraged to exercise diligence in this area.

Does every dog qualify as a service dog?

No, As part of the interview process Working Paws will assess your dog and ensure the dog is a match to your needs and lifestyle.

What are my legal rights?

Any person with a diagnosed disability has the right to enter any public facility with their certified service dog. A person with a disability is protected against discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act passed in 1985 and the Ontarian with Disabilities Act. Clients are required to carry a letter from their physician stating that they have a disability and that they require a service dog. Working Paws will provide you with a letter of certification stating that you have completed my training program as well as a photo ID card for your jacket.

Working Paws service area

Working Paw’s service area is restricted to a 70 km radius surrounding Waterloo, Ontario. Clients must attend weekly classes in Waterloo, Ontario.

Training Standards

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Provincial Regulations and Canadian Standards

Working Paws is a private for profit organization. Working Paws adheres to current regulations described in the Ontarian Disability Act for the province of Ontario. Working Paws is associated and a member with CFAS. Working Paws supports and endorses Canada’s First Voluntary National Standard of Canada (NSC) for Animal-Assisted Human Services (AAHS). The standard was approved and published in 2022 by the Human Research Standards Organization (HRSO) a Canadian Charitable Organization. For more information click the link below and download the standard.

Download this NSC

Memberships - Canadian Association of Service Dog Trainers

Canadian Association of Service Dog Trainers:

Their Mission:

1. To foster the growth and development of a Canadian-based and managed professional service dog trainers’ organization that in turn will work with end users of service dogs, directly related stakeholders and organizations, and governmental regulators of service dogs, in order to enhance public access for service dogs, and ensure the production of service dogs of the highest quality within Canada

2. To work with members of the Association to develop an internal code of ethics, and create Quality Assurance Benchmarks and Best Practices for the training and delivery of service dogs, and related guidelines

3. To support independent research initiatives, conduct public forums and trade shows, produce Media releases, and interact with governmental regulators, each with the collective goal of improving the public acceptance for service dogs within Canada

4. To produce and circulate internal information relevant to the collective mission of the members within the Association

5. To foster a sense of unity and common purpose within the Canadian service dog community

6. The Association will operate on an exclusively not-for-profit basis

The Canadian Foundation for Animal Assisted Support Services:

Canadian Foundation for Animal-Assisted Support Services (CFAS) is an impartial national registered charity that promotes the availability, credibility, and sustainability of Animal-Assisted Human Services {AAHS} excellence.

Our Partners



Since 2017 has worked with Valerie and Jennifer from Cooperslane Kennels in Arthur Ontario. Four Labrador retrievers have entered our program during this time period. Two labs have graduated as service dogs and two of their puppies are in training and attending puppy class on a weekly basis.

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    Harvest: Placed Autism

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    Kasha: Placed Medical Alert

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    Marlowe: Placed Medical Alert

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    Misty: Placed PTSD

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    Finn: Placed

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    Sabina: Placed

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    Bear: In Training


Newtrix Collar:

Working Paws uses the Newtrix Collar for working with future service dogs. As a trainer, I believe this is a gentle way to correct a lunge or pull when asking for a good heel. Without exception, my clients praise the success of this collar.