Working works with privately owned dogs with a focus of training your dog to be a future service or therapy 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 or therapy 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 of ADS Doug and continued training dogs in the advance program. I retired in 2016 and founded in 2017.

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What our customers say

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

When I met Doug in Waterloo we discussed the steps for Marley, my Mini Golden Doodle to meet the standards for a service dog. My goal was to take Marley to Ireland. There were several challenges for both me and my dog. Marley and I had to pass a public access test. I wanted to do the training but 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. I could not commute from Toronto to Waterloo, attend his training class and do my job. Doug agreed to take Marley into his home and work with him on a daily basis.

With minimal notice I had to leave Canada for Ireland before Marley completed his training. I contacted Doug and asked if he would consider flying Marley to Ireland. Doug explained the restrictions for a Pet Passport for Marely and the challenges to gain access to Ireland. He explained that he would be required to deal with several organizations; Canadian Food Inspection Agency, a local vet in Waterloo, Air Canada, and finally the Department of Agriculture in Ireland. He also stated that the timing dealing with each agency prior to flying to Ireland was critical to ensure Marley was not quarantined upon entry. Doug agreed to fly my dog to Ireland.

The trip was successful and today I have Marley in Ireland with me. I continue to specialize in the photography field and enjoy having Marley join me in public. Doug walks the talk.

Excellent client service combined with his strong training skills is foremost. I recommend Doug should you be looking for someone to train your dog as a service dog.

- by Matthew A.
Dublin , Ireland

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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
Whitby, Ontario

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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
Kitchener, Ontario

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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
Guelph, Ontario

My Process

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In Home Consultation

All clients receive an in-home consultation. This ensures the individual gets an opportunity to describe their needs and a full assessment. Family members are included in the consultation. Discussions include the impact of a service dog in the home as well support for the dog in the home. The assessment includes the ability to care, maintain, and provide all the necessary needs for a 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 level, and trainability. I will also assess the individual’s handling and ability to work with their dog daily, and maintain the standards set by Working Paws. If an individual wants a puppy or an older dog to potentially be their future service or therapy dog Working Paws can support them in the search and development of the dog. The process will be discussed as part of the assessment


Clients will be provided with the dogs working equipment i.e. “dog in training Jacket” while attending training. Upon graduation equipment will include a working service dog jacket, identification card, letter of certification, and a leash.


Option 1: Clients attend puppy classes located in both public (a mall) and private venues (your residence) depending on the need. Your dog will always be in a training jacket while in a public venue. In addition to attending classes you will be assigned homework depending on specific goals.

Option 2: Your dog lives in a private residence for a specified period of time. Training workshops are conducted on a daily basis. Once complete your dog is returned to your residence. Follow up training is undertaken with you and the dog.

Frequently asked questions

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Is there a difference between a service and companion dog?

Yes, a service dog has full public access identified by a working jacket and is supported with your identification card. A companion dog would provide comfort to a person in their home and not have public access or be protected by legislation.

What dogs are most suitable?

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.

Can Working Paws certify my dog?

Yes, Working Paws will adhere to rules and regulations established in the Province of Ontario.

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 Ontario Disability Act. Working Paws will provide you with a letter of certification as well as a photo ID card for your jacket.

Does everyone qualify for a service or therapy dog?

No understanding the expectations of what a dog can do for you is very important. It must be something you feel is really going to benefit you and your family. A working dog needs a lot of ongoing training, daily exercise, grooming, and outings.

Training Standards

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Working Paws is a “for profit organization” and supports future Service Dog Standards for the Province of Ontario. These regulations will ensure approved trainers and future service dogs meet minimum standards of training prior to certification. These standards will address formalized training, certification by approved certifying bodies, and renewable ID documents (similar to a driver's license).

Assistance Dogs International (ADI) currently only certifies organizations Registered Charities in Canada and does not offer Canadian membership to “for profit organizations” to train Service Dogs.

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: Puppy in Training

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    Marlowe: Puppy in Training

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    Misty: Placed PTSD


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.

©2017, 2018, 2019