Special Needs

Research shows that animals have the natural ability to improve our mood, lower our blood pressure and provide a pleasurable rush of feel-good chemicals; for children and adults with special needs animals play an incredibly important role.

**DogAbility is approved for reimbursable self-directed funds through OPWDD.**

Dogs are naturally trusting and want to be accepted and don’t judge humans by our disabilities or limitations. A few hours a day or week with an animal can do wonders for someone with special needs. It is particularly beneficial for individuals that struggle to communicate verbally. Because of its hands-on approach, canine-assisted therapeutic activities are also useful for children and teens that have difficulty focusing.

Interacting with and caring for a dog has many therapeutic benefits, including:

  • Decreased stress
  • Increased physical activity
  • Relief from anxiety and depression
  • Increased focus and attention through hands-on interaction
  • Improved communication and social skills
  • Learning the appropriate way to treat themselves and others
  • Unconditional love, affection and nurturing
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Elevated mood
  • Reduced loneliness and enhanced sense of purpose
  • Setting and respecting boundaries

DogAbility certified dogs undergo extensive training before working with our participants and our skilled handlers understand how to help people with a broad range of health concerns.

People with the following disabilities, conditions, and injuries may benefit from the animal-assisted therapeutic activities that we provide:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Behavioral Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma, Grief or Loss
  • Alzheimer’s Disease / Dementia
  • Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Cerebral Palsy

During our sessions one can learn to give a dog commands, walk and play with a dog, and pet and care for a dog. We will spend some time introducing a participant to the dog upon initial contact, letting him get used to the idea of being around the animal and learn its behaviors. The pace of the session depends on a person’s level of comfort with the dog and the environment but will eventually increase to meet his/her specific needs.

As the participant becomes at ease around the dogs, more activities will be added to help them learn how to focus on specific tasks, such as increasing spatial awareness and social skills.

What is the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs?

Comments from some of our participants:

"Thank you so much for helping Matthew and for having this most wonderful place where he can come and have such positive interactions and just feel good. This was a hard week and that smile on his face is just amazing to see." ~ Stacy Z

"These are some awesome dogs and some awesome people...They have visited us with their dogs and offered an open house for us during our Special Olympic event. Stop in for a visit and see for yourself. Dog slobber included." ~ Joan C / Nassau County PAL Special Needs Unit

"We had an absolutely fantastic time at DogAbility today and I wanted to thank you and your staff for a wonderful experience. It was truly terrific." ~ Toni N / Town of Huntington Dept of Parks & Recreation

"My son and I were at your facility on Saturday. Everyone had such an amazing time. This is truly a special place. My son, Bill, has always been a little apprehensive around dogs his entire life. He was so comfortable with your dogs and had the best time playing with them! He has expressed to me since Saturday that he really wants a dog." ~ Carol C

Email us to book a session now! 


Hours of Operation

Monday to Friday - 10 am to 6 pm
Saturday - 10 am to 5 pm
By appointment only


Contact Us:





We are located on the property of:              

Presbyterian Church of Sweet Hollow                            95 Old Country Road                                                      Melville, NY 11747

Mailing Address

PO Box 7437, Hicksville, NY 11802-7437

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