Canine Program



Since the earliest days of human existence, canines have been essential to the inner dynamics of individual, familial, and tribal relationships. Whether they played roles in hunting, early warning detection, gathering, or even companionship, canines have almost always maintained a mutually beneficial relationship with humans. Scientific research has quantified the benefits of canine companionship, including increased oxytocin (a neurotransmitter that correlates with feelings of comfort), decreased stress, increased self-compassion, and improved quality of life. The Canine Program at Clear Path for Veterans harnesses the healing power of canine companionship through training and placement of service dogs with veterans impacted by their time in service.

Veterans interested in applying to this program must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a veteran, or active-duty service member who is pending retirement or separation from the military.
  2. Must have a service-connected disability rating from the Veterans Administration (VA) for Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with Military Sexual Trauma (MST).
  3. Be able to provide a medical referral from a current clinician that shows proof of treatment for a period of no less than six months. The veteran must commit to remaining in treatment for the duration of training.
  4. Must be able to identify at least three people who are part of a support system. Peer support is available for those that express interest or identify a need.
  5. Must have a clear understanding that this program does not guarantee service dog placement/certification. Successful program completion is dependent upon completing training and placement requirements.
  6. Must have reliable transportation to Clear Path for Veterans headquarters in Chittenango, New York to train twice a week during business hours (Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm).
  7. Must have an increased desire for independence.
  8. Be open to learning new coping mechanisms to deal with anger/frustration.
  9. Show the willingness to provide support for the dog's physical and mental wellbeing.
  10. Be willing and able to implement modern, canine training concepts from Clear Path’s Canine trainers and staff.

For those meeting the above criteria, please refrain from adopting a dog or additional house pets without first consulting a representative from Clear Path's Canine Program. The process of matching a dog with a prospective veteran and their home environment is taken very seriously and several considerations must take place to ensure the best possible chance at a successful team.

Puppy Development Program

The Puppy Development Program raises purpose-bred puppies who will later progress into our service-intensive training program. In the early stages of development, we ensure the dogs are properly socialized and trained to increase the likelihood of success in a career as a service dog. After 24 months, the dogs are matched with a veteran meeting the above criteria to begin intensive training. Puppies owned by members of the public are not eligible for this program.

Owner-Trainer Model

The Owner-Trainer Model is a potential path to enrollment specifically for veterans already in ownership of a dog between 18 to 24 months. Before acceptance, an applicant's dog would be required to pass a suitability test conducted by a representative from Clear Path's Canine Program. As mentioned above, please contact the Canine Program prior to any adoption. If you would like further details on the selection criteria for a dog, please contact the Canine Program via email at

Ready to apply?

After reviewing our Canine Program webpages, if you have questions about the program, please contact us at