Therapy Dog Training

The Therapy Dog training class prepares teams by practicing behaviors, handling & socialization skills needed for evaluation by a national registry of therapy dogs,specifically Alliance of Therapy Dogs & Love on a Leash. The goal of this class is to prepare for volunteering at local facilities & individuals requesting therapy dog teams. Successful completion can result in evaluation by one of the therapy dog organizations. During class, dogs gain experience in a variety of settings including medical & child centered facilities and a variety of situations requesting pet therapy services.

  • Prerequisites: Dog is at least 1 year old and have taken Beginning Obedience or have instructor approval (need basic obedience skills) (Jr Handler – 4H/AKC jr. handler must be with a Parent (simultaneously). See specifics below.* )

  • Equipment: 4ft leash, harness & gentle leader allowed. (no prong collars) 

  • If possible, study the guidelines to membership for each of the 2 groups tested locally. 

*Requirements for junior handlers vary for the national certification groups. Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires jr. handlers to be 12-17, have parent/guardian supervision and be accompanied by a certified Alliance of Therapy Dogs handler with or without a dog. Jr Handlers may accompany a T/O on a visit prior to beginning the evaluation. Love on a Leash requires teams be 16-18 & accompanied by a parent or guardian who is a certified member in good standing. 

Therapy Dog Testing

Therapy Dog certification testing is offered regularly throughout the year for both Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Love on a Leash. Please see the CGC & Therapy Dog Testing Page for upcoming dates and registration information.

Therapy Dog Information

Many members of the Club also do therapy work through several local and national organizations and would be glad to assist you in your journey to do pet therapy.  Once deciding to participate in pet therapy, we recommend that you research the national organization’s guidelines, handling and observation requirements to determine if it’s a good fit for you and your dog (links below).  TMDTC will support that decision by teaching you to develop a strong teamwork and obedience skillset with your dog

The Therapy dog class offered in the summer is of course an excellent starting point. Also Star Puppy will give a pup the social skills and confidence needed to move forward through the Obedience classes.  Fun-dations, Tricks, and Rally Novice can help keep your dog’s brain engaged and ready to meet young, old, and infirm, and give them a smile.  

If you already have a strong working relationship with your dog,  we recommend that you consider taking the Canine Good Citizenship (CGC) test, or if you have already done so look into the CGCA and CGCU. These tests are not required by any of the therapy dog organizations, but the better trained your dog, the better prepared for therapy work.  Once prepared, you must be certified with one of the national therapy pet organizations.  We provide testing for several of the national therapy organizations.   Once active in the therapy community, you and your dog can earn AKC Therapy Dog titles for serving others.

From working with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.  Therapy dogs are not service dogs.  Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability.  An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability.  Service dogs stay with their person and have special access privileges in public places such as on planes, restaurants, etc.

Therapy dogs, the dogs who will be earning the AKC Therapy Dog title, do not have the same special access as service dogs.  It is unethical to attempt to pass off a therapy dog as a service dog for purposes such as flying on a plane or being admitted to a restaurant.

Therapy Pet Organizations and Information