Qualifying Criteria

Owner Assisted Training Classes

The qualifying criteria for enrollment in the Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC Owner Assisted Training Program are simple and few but mandatory and without exception.

Program Requirements

  • You must have a medically documented disability.

  • You must complete an enrollment application, a consultation with you and your dog will be scheduled to meet and discuss your needs and our services, and you must be able and willing to attend and complete the entire Owner Assisted Training Program including one 60-minute class per week for up to 36 weeks. 

If you live in another state

Unfortunately, our program may be out of your reach unless you are in a neighboring state and are willing to commit to being in Wilmington, North Carolina each week.  


The help you need to train your own service dog

You read the information on Owner Assisted Training and you are ready to get started. This is a commitment of time and energy on your part.  You get out of the classes what you put in.  If you attend the classes and do not work with your dog outside of class then your dog will not progress.   

  1. Complete an OAT Application and pay the application/consultation fee.

  2. Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC will contact you once your application is reviewed to schedule a consultation.  Please allow at least one to two hours for the in-person consultation with you and your dog.  A significant other or care giver can attend with you.

  3. If you and your dog are accepted in the OAT, an agreement will be prepared by Four Paws outlining the commands and skills that will be targeted.   Some adjustments may be made during training to best achieve the objective.

  4. Once the agreement is approved by both parties, a class date will be scheduled. 

  5. Fees are payable in full before the initiation of any level of training. Each module of training is billed separately and paid at the beginning of the module of training. Fees are non-refundable if your dog is found unable to continue training for any reason. 

  6. Most OAT participants can expect to work for between 24 to 36 weeks before being ready to schedule the Public Access and Skills Assessment necessary to complete the program.


The program is divided into different levels. Each level builds upon one another and will be taught in order. Dogs with previous training experience will still need to start with our beginner level.


The Dog

Big or small we love them all


Small or large dogs, pure-bred or mix-breeds are eligible for training with some criteria that is simple, yet mandatory. 

  • The dogs' size must be appropriate for the disability served.  

  • Dogs need to be a minimum of 6 months of age and have had some level of training. 

  • The dog must not be aggressive to people or other dogs or have been trained in aggressive techniques such as protection.


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FELONY CONVICTIONS ARE INELIGIBLE:  Anyone convicted of a felony, domestic violence, a sexual offense of any kind or any type of animal mistreatment, abuse, neglect, or cruelty cannot qualify for this program.


VISUALLY IMPAIRED:  Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC cannot assist someone with visual impairment or blindness.  Our team does not have the necessary skills to train a seeing-eye dog.

NON-VERBAL:  Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC cannot assist someone who is non-verbal or using a communication board. 

THIRD-PARTY HANDLER:  Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC cannot assist someone who requires a handler for their service dog.  While the ADA does allow for this type of situation, we believe the use of a service dog is to make someone with a disability more independent.