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How to Become a Therapy Dog Team

The Top 5 Reasons You'll be Happy You Became a Therapy Dog Team

  1. You and your dog will impact someone’s life in a very unique and powerful way.
  2. You and your dog will have the privilege of supporting and comforting someone.
  3. You will spend quality time with your dog while helping others.
  4. You and your dog will have the opportunity to give back to the community.
  5. You will gain perspective and appreciation for life and its challenges.

Will My Dog Qualify?

We use several criteria to determine if a dog will make a great therapy dog. Candidates for therapy dog work undergo a testing session and three-to-five evaluations in a healthcare facility with a TDV tester/evaluator. Read below to help answer the question, “Is my dog a good candidate to work as a therapy dog?”

  • Your dog must be at least one year of age.
  • Your dog must NOT be on a raw meat diet. Click here to an article by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Your dog must be healthy and current on its rabies vaccination.
  • The dog must have been owned by, and living with, the handler for at least 6 months (i.e., if a dog has been adopted).
  • Handler(s) must be at least 14 years of age.

Please be sure you read, understand, and are in agreement with TDV therapy dog team policies and requirements before you apply.  These policies and requirements are in the Certification Packet.

A Good Therapy Dog Candidate Must

  • Have excellent manners and on-leash obedience training.
  • Be under control and well-behaved (without the use of treats and/or toys, and using only the approved training equipment:  for more information, please refer to the Certification Packet).
  • Be able to work calmly around other dogs and be free of dog-to-dog aggression or reactivity.
  • Be social with people, enjoy being touched, have a stable temperament, and be free of fear and aggression.
  • Remain calm in new situations and in distracting environments.

What’s the next step: Prep Clinic or Certification Testing/Evaluation?

Enroll in a Prep Clinic if you:

  • Think your dog might meet the requirements, but you aren’t quite sure and would like an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to be a great therapy dog team
  • Would like an opportunity to practice the certification test with your dog and gain some new skills to help you be a great therapy dog team.
  • Haven’t had your dog for the required 6 months but want to prepare.
  • Have a dog that is not a year of age yet and you want to get started (dogs should be at least 6 mo. old for the clinic).

If you are confident your dog easily meets the requirements and exhibits the positive behaviors of a good candidate, then register for a test. Clinic attendance is not required before testing.