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Assistance Dogs - Specialty Dog Training

Assistance Dog Training BrisbaneAssistance dogs are trained to enhance the quality of life of physically or mentally challenged persons whilst still maintaining as much independence for the handler. This means that the dog will be a permanent working companion for the disabled handler and will assist with a myriad of task work but whilst still having the handler work and interact as much as physically or mentally possible.  In many cases, a secondary handler will be necessary to help with health, hygiene and exercise and to give play and environmental enrichment to the dog.

Assistance dogs are trained to turn lights on and off, open and close doors, pick up and or retrieve dropped or wanted items, indicate when handler needs assistance either by alerting a carer or by pushing a medical alarm etc. We train each dog to the individual handler’s needs. There are basic tasks that are taught to each assistance dog but every handler will have different physical needs so there will be different individual tasks required for every handler.

Recently the Queensland Government introduced the new Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act which will endeavour to work in with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act and it's new amendments.  This will now mean for Assistance Dog owners that regardless of if the dog was professionally trained or owner trained, all dogs and handlers will have to go through and pass a Public Access Test.  Under the Act, Trainers have to be Certified through the government, and then they can carry out the Public Access Test on dogs and handlers.  A dog and handler whom have passed will be issued an identification card and special badge for the dog's jacket or harness.  Craig A Murray Dog Training now has three government Certified Assistance Dog Trainers.  We were among the very first to pass and therefore we are able to certify dogs and handlers.

Craig A. Murray Dog Training is a small family run business that has 8 dog trainers working for the business.  Due to the fact that we are a small business and as part of our business operations we have several management staff who are also certified assistance dog trainers under the ‘Queensland Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog’ act, we needed to adopt the policy of never certifying any dog that we did not either raise or train ourselves.

We do not have any charges or fees or similar for our assistance dog services and whilst we are not a non-profit organization, we still strongly believe that our policy of not charging for these services is the correct way to operate at present. 

Because of our policy of not charging for assistance dog services, we have to be very strict and stringent on our operations or we could drive ourselves into financial difficulty due to being overstretched on resources and funding.    Furthermore, in consideration of the fact that we only have 3 certified trainers who are all part of our management staff and who volunteer their time to assist the community where possible, we cannot spare extra time or resources on certifying handler or owner trained dogs or even dogs that are trained by other organizations.   This would require that we adopt a charge for these services and we do not believe at present that this is the way we want our business to be operating or how we wanted to grow.

Whilst we realize that there are many very good owner handler trained dogs and dogs that have been trained by other organizations, we still could not afford either the time nor the financial burden of offering this service to anybody other than recipients that receive one of our own raised or trained assistance dogs.

Some Factors that Affect Assistance Dog Applicants

We do not train other people's dogs to be either assistance dogs or facilitated dogs or even therapy dogs as we have not got the time to spare generally.  To train a dog that is not the perfect candidate is extremely time and resource consuming and often does not get the desired results.  Whilst we are putting effort into a dog that hasn't been professionally and specifically chosen for assistance dog work, recipients could be waiting longer periods of time to gain a reliable working partner.

We do not place assistance dogs in homes that already have other pet dogs as it is not fair on the assistance dog and is very counter productive.

We reserve the right to choose the dogs that we partner and won't be told that only a certain breed of dog is wanted and we will not train certain breeds which we do not believe are the best candidates for the job.

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Pushing Traffic Light Button

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Luke & Assistance Dog 'Jerry'


Ronald McDonald House Dog 'Molly'


Assistance Dogs Questions
Where do we access Assistance dog candidates?

We currently assess Golden Retrievers, Labradors and other acceptable breeds to be able to pick the best possible pups from the litter to run on and train. We also check dog pounds, giveaways, etc. and assess each particular dog to ensure that they would have the correct training drives that we would require them to have to be an Assistance dog candidate. We have a select group of breeders that are purposely breeding for sound temperament and great drives that suit our Assistance Dog program. We have a strict selection process that we adhere to ensuring that we take on cadidates that are suitable and capable of doing the job required.

What do we look for in an Assistance dog candidate?What do we look for in an Assistance dog candidate?

We look for a well socialised dog that has a great outlook on life. We require them to be extremely social with people and all other animals. They shouldn’t have any fears or phobias that would prevent them from doing their job. They also have to have an extreme play and food drive that we can naturally enhance to achieve the desired responses in their training regime.

How long does it take to train an Assistance dog?

How long is a piece of string? It also depends on each individual dog and their particular learning curves. For a well motivated dog, it could take as little as four months. The norm is around the six to eight month period. Occassionally we will come across a dog that excels in it’s training and if it seems to be a natural in it’s learning, it could be possible to get a dog out with a handler within three months of solid training.  Each assistance dog that we train is individual as each handler will have individual needs for the dogs to be trained to assist them with. 

How much does it cost to produce an Assistance dog?

This depends on each individual handler’s needs. The basic cost for a reliable, sociable Assistance dog with several tasks and public access would be approximately $20,000.00. Every handler has individual tasks that they will require with their particular dog and this is training development that needs to be done once the dog has bonded with the new handler. The cost for an Assistance dog that is trained to an advanced level that has multi-tasks would be approximately $50,000.00. There is always maintenance training that is required as the dogs are not robots and definitely need ongoing development and basic maintenance training.  We usually gain corporate or business support to fund our program.  Variety Queensland, Aussie Pooch Mobile, Royal Canin and Pet Crazy are very active in fundraising to assist families in need of assistance dogs.  Because this program is our community service, to date, no recipient has had to pay for a dog.  This may change in the future but we will endeavour to continue to provide this service with the wonderful support of our support partners.

How do we fund our Assistance dog program?

We currently use funds from our commercial dog training business to fund our Assistance Dog program. We also rely on donations from businesses and the public to assist us with our program. Every bit of help and assistance is greatly appreciated! Our aim is to enhance quality of life and independence whilst also providing companionship for the dog and handler.  Aussie Pooch Mobile Dog Wash Australia are also active fundraisers for our Assistance Dog program working tirelessly to organise fundraisers and events to contribute funds to help us to provide assistance dogs to special needs children.  If you need your dog washed, please contact Aussie Pooch Mobile or check out their website to make a booking.  http://www.aussiepm.com.au   By supporting this business, you are also helping to support our assistance dog program.

Variety Queensland, the Children's Charity are also fantastic supporters of our assistance dog program.  Over the previous 5 years, we have had ongoing relationship with Variety Qld, providing assistance dogs for children that had been successful through their appeals process.  To qualify for a Variety assistance dog appeal, it is imperative that the recipient be under 18 years of age and meet all the criteria for both the Craig A Murray assistance dog process and the Variety Qld - the Children's Charity appeal process.  Please contact us for more information if required.


                                                       L to R: Tracey & Craig Murray, Anthea Holmes, kids & assistance dogs             

Previous Events:

After recently naming a rockstar lineup of 10 nationally acclaimed chefs for the June 14 Variety of Chefs Ball in Brisbane, Variety - the Children's Charity of Queensland announced that monies raised during this inspired culinary event will help fund life-changing Variety Assistance Dogs to enhance the lives of special needs children.  

Now in it's fifth year, the chef lineup for the Variety of Chefs Ball 2014 stars the hottest names in food -

  • Matt Moran - ARIA Restaurants Brisbane & Sydney, Chiswick, North Bondi Fish, Riverbar Kitchen
  • Adrian Richardson - owner chef at La Luna in Melbourne
  • David Pugh - owner chef at Restaurant 2 in Brisbane
  • Alastair McLeod - Alfreshco
  • Matt Golinski
  • Jeremy Clark - Executive Chef at the Brisbane Hilton
  • Jiro Numata - Executive Chef at Wasabi, Noosa
  • Ben Williamson - Executive Chef at Gerard's Bistro, Brisbane
  • Kym Machin - owner chef at Bare Bones Society, Brisbane
  • Ben O'Donohue - owner chef at Billy Kart Kitchen, Brisbane

2014 Variety of Chefs Ball

When:           6.30pm Saturday 14th June 2014

Where:         The Grand Ballroom / Hilton Brisbane

Dress:          Black Tie / Formal

Cost:            $275 per person / tables of 10 $2750

Website:      www.varietyofchefs.com.au/brisbane

Tickets:       07 3907 9306 or marty.molloy@varietyqld.org.au

"Variety Assistance Dogs, under the Variety Freedom Program, are trained to assist special needs children to lead an independant and integrated life.  We are continually seeking funding to allow for more dogs to be trained and more children to have a companion and a carer for life," said celebrity chef and La Luna Bistro Melbourne owner, Adrian Richardson.


"We're thrilled to be involved with this event and are looking forward to training life changing dogs for some very special little people" 
Craig and Tracey Murray



State Legislation

The Queensland Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 came into force on the 1st July 2009.

As of this date, all assistance dogs must be certified by an accredited trainer/training organisation, and must wear an identifying garment when out in public. Craig A Murray, Tracey Murray and Anthea Holmes are the first Trainers certified under the new act to train and place assistance dogs.

Disability Services Queensland

Ph:  1800 210 976
TTY:  07 3877 8226
W:  http://www.qld.gov.au/ghadogs

Federal Legislation

Disability Discrimination Act: Part 1, Section 9 covers the rights of people accompanied by an assistance dog.