Our Mission and Philosophy

black lab dog service dog in training

Our Mission

Paws and Affection is a nonprofit 501c3 with the mission of training and placing service, facility, and companion dogs with young people who have a range of disabilities in the greater Philadelphia area and to educate the public about service dogs and their role in the community. Our goal is to empower these children with independence and confidence by matching them with amazing dogs.

At Paws and Affection, we’ve found the most effective and humane approach to successfully working with our dogs is to understand what they need and show them what we need. Working as a team, using body language and tone of voice, has proven effective in cultivating our dogs’ ability to think, giving them high self-confidence, lowering anxiety, and teaching them problem solving skills.

Our Philosophy

Our puppies come to us during a critical socialization period and we immediately begin exposing them to the world in a positive way.  We train in a manner that sets our puppies up to make the right choices, making them active participants in their own learning process.

Bonding is the foundation upon which the working partnership with our dogs is based. Our love for, respect of, and commitment to our dogs is infectious. It fosters reciprocal feelings, giving them a reason and desire to help us. There is nothing more critical with dogs than building a bond to forge a strong relationship. A solid bond ensures a positive connection, causing the dog to be much more willing and eager to respond and commit to the directions given.

Giving our dogs the chance to make their own decisions helps strengthen our bond. We need them to know we love them no matter what and we have their backs in any and all situations. While our dogs are here to help and want nothing more than to make us happy, we also need them to trust us and know that our love is unconditional and not based on their performance or choices.

The result is confident, creative, cooperative, and amazing dogs.

golden retriever puppy receiving a kiss

Pet Matters Interview

Learn more about Paws and Affection from our Executive Director, Laura O’Kane, along with Winni, who was in training at the time, in this 30-minute interview on Pet Matters from MLTV – Main Line Network.