Our beneficiaries

Arthanis Assistance Dogs are specifically trained to support children and adults with a variety of special needs. We assign our dogs at no cost to individuals who we have determined, together with our medical advisors*, that they will truly benefit and who, as a result, will enjoy a better quality of life.

Arthanis also trains Assistance Dogs for conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, physical and emotional disabilities, hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Our dogs are trained according to the specific needs of the recipient, and using this personalised training programme approach, Arthanis strives to meet a great variety of needs.


* The Ad Hoc Selection Committee is made up of members of the various boards of the Foundation, namely :
● medical officer
● medical specialist
● dog trainer
● member of the Arthanis Foundation Board

 Our dogs are mainly intended for people suffering from type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, narcolepsy, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or physical disability.


In Switzerland, some 80’000 people are affected by epilepsy, including 15’000 children – approximately 1% of the population. According to Epi Suisse, 30% of people affected are unable to reduce the seizures with medication. They live in fear  of an imminent seizure. This affects  independence, their potential ability to work and overall quality of life.

An Alert Dog is trained to anticipate a seizure a few minutes before it occurs. The dog touches the person with its nose to alert, giving them time to reach a safe place, take their medication and, if necessary, call for help. This type of dog is referred to as a Seizure or Alert dog.

The dog can also comfort the person during the seizure and maintain a physical contact with them. It can also help the person out of danger, for example, if they are near a road, ,and summon help by pressing an alarm button, or alert someone nearby. This type of dog is  referred to as a Response Dog. 

Seizure Dogs are anticipating the seizure whilst Response Dogs will intervene during the seizure. Arthanis Dogs are trained as Alert and Response Dogs, with the necessary caveat concerning the ability to alert before a seizure occurs.
Assistance Dogs cannot and should not replace medical treatments, but they do increase their human partners’ self-confidence, safety, independence and are an immense comfort. In many cases the presence of these dogs reduces the frequency of seizures, resulting in much less stress.

Physical disability

People with physical disabilities may find it very difficult or even impossible to perform everyday tasks. Specially trained assistance dogs can perform a number of tasks that will allow the person to be independent.

For example, they can pick up and return objects that are out of reach, open and close a door or drawer, empty the washing machine, turn switches on and off or call for help.

An assistance dog can also learn to help a person undress, stand up, sit down, go up or down stairs by supporting their balance.

The Arthanis Foundation’s assistance dogs are trained according to the individual and specific needs of their future partner. In addition to their learned skills, they also offer undeniable emotional support, thus reducing anxiety and stress in their owners.

The skills of our dogs enhance the independence, safety and quality of life of their beneficiaries.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are part of the broader category of neurodevelopmental disorders. They manifest differently from one individual to another, each presenting unique characteristics.

This is why our dog training programs are tailored to the individual needs of the beneficiary to whom they will be assigned.

Our dogs are not suited for all forms of autism, and we prioritize the most complex situations, particularly children with severe developmental disorders.


In Switzerland, about 500’000 persons live with diabetes (425 million worldwide). Of these, about 40’000 people live with Type 1 diabetes. This serious form of diabetes necessitates frequent blood glucose controls, day and night. It is for these people that our Arthanis Assistance Dogs are intended.

Thanks to their sense of smell, specially trained dogs can detect hypoglycaemia, or even hyperglycaemia, both potentially life-threatening conditions. The dog (Alert Dog) signals the danger to the person by touching them with their nose, or displaying another particular behaviour. This will give the person the opportunity to take the necessary measures to avoid an episode or to limit its consequences.

The trained dog can also alert people nearby to help, activate an emergency call system or bring a first aid kit to their human partner (Response Dog).

Our dogs are mainly trained to support insulin-dependent diabetics, providing them with increased safety and a better quality of life. However, Assistance Dogs do not replace a regular monitoring.

Narcolepsy and IHS

Narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia (IHS) are rare sleep disorders. Often misunderstood, these disorders can be very disabling and negatively impact daily life, causing difficulties at school, at work, in relationships. Social isolation is common, alongside  a high risk of accidents.

Narcolepsy affects about 3 people in 10,000 and can begin in childhood. It is characterised by severe daytime sleepiness and an irrepressible desire to sleep that can occur at any time of day, regardless of the situation, whilst driving, at school etc. Accompanied by cataplexy – a sudden relaxation of certain muscles, narcolepsy cause unexpected falls and related injuries.

Idiopathic hypersomnia (IHS) is characterised by daytime sleepiness despite long periods of quality sleep. Waking a sufferer is a protracted process often requiring third party assistance. This condition usually affects adolescents or young adults .

These symptoms manifested by sleepiness at all times of the day, requiring long naps after which the patient will not feel rested.

Arthanis Assistance dogs are trained to suit the individual needs of people with narcolepsy. Always vigilant, they can warn their human partner of sudden sleepiness or cataplexy attacks and ensure they reach a place of safety.

Our dogs are also trained to wake a person with idiopathic hypersomnia. In agreement with the person, we identify  dog behaviour that will work best (eg. barking, licking, jumping, jostling etc.). One of the outstanding qualities of a trained dog in these circumstances is its perseverance. Our dogs will only stop when their partner is perfectly awake and safe.

Our Assistance dogs are trained to the individual needs of sufferers of these disorders.These specially trained Assistance Dogs give their partners independence, security, increased freedom and a happier and more fulfilling social life.

The Elderly

Arthanis Dogs in training regularly visit the elderly or people with health problems either at home or in care facilities. Visits by our well-balanced, companionable dogs are always eagerly awaited, providing a moment of tenderness, exchange and an opening to the outside world.

Arthanis also organises outdoor activities and demonstrations with our dogs during which the residents can interact with our companions; a great source of joy, and hugely beneficial.

The Arthanis Foundation also offers Visitor Dog training to dog owners who wish to volunteer for this programme.

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