Defence Bank - Defence Community Dogs

Defence Community Dogs


The Defence Community Dog program provides highly trained Assistance Dogs to serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members who need support to deal with injuries and illnesses including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  These dogs are not a magic cure for PTSD but can be a valuable part of a rehabilitation program. Based on the feedback from Veterans who have received dogs in the past, the dogs give them purpose and help reduce the feelings of isolation that many people living with PTSD suffer from.   


Every dog in the program is rescued from a pound or shelter, but to be selected the dog must pass a strict temperament assessment before being accepted into the program.  Each dog is then trained specifically to assist Veterans coping with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).


Once a dog has their training, they are matched with a suitable Veteran.  Most dogs will take approximately eight (8) months or at least 200 hours of professional dog training to reach the Service Dog Assessment Standard which is the level they must attain in order to graduate.  The Veteran is then responsible for completing the Public Access Test (PAT) in their state to register their dog as an Assistance Dog.


Successful Veterans attend a comprehensive handover program where they spend at least a week working with the trainers and program staff, learning how to correctly handle, command and care for their new service dogs. This also affords the veterans an opportunity to gradually bond with their dog whilst under the constant supervision of a professional dog trainer.  The handover is then reinforced through on-going dog training at the veteran’s local dog training group until the dog qualifies as an Assistance Dog by passing their Public Access Test.  Follow up and support is provided throughout this period.


The dogs in the program are trained at the Bathurst Correctional Centre, NSW and the Numinbah Correctional Centre, Qld, with the assistance of professional dog trainers and inmates at the centre under the guidance of one of Australia’s leading dog trainers, Steve Austin. 


How to support the DCD program

It costs $10,000 to train each dog.  If you would like to sponsor a dog or make a donation, click here. 


Want to find out how to apply for a DCD Assistance dog?

If you know someone who would benefit from a DCD Assitance Dog, please ask them to email DCD at [email protected] for an ‘Applying for a PTSD Dog Fact Sheet’ and ‘Application Form’.


For more information about the DCD Program or to apply for a dog, visit