What Does it Take to Become a Certified Children’s Therapy Dog?


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Characteristics of Successful Therapy Dogs

So you’re interested in having your dog becoming a certified therapy dog. Now you’re wondering, but what does it really take to become a therapy dog that visits children’s hospitals?

Therapy dogs must possess certain characteristics to be successful at their job. The most important aspect of becoming a therapy dog is temperament. Dogs that become certified have to be confident, patient, gentle, friendly, and at ease in all situations that arise. When going down this process, it is important to remember that registering your dog as a therapy dog does not give your dog the same rights as a service dog.

Service dogs have legal access rights that therapy dogs do not. Certified therapy dogs are only allowed in places that specifically allow therapy dogs.


Basic Certification Requirements 

If you’re thinking about registering your dog as a therapy dog, there are a few different routes that you can go down. Different organizations have different requirements in the process of becoming a certified therapy dog. However, there are some basic certification requirements that your dog must meet.

Step 1:

Your dog must be at least one year of age and have recently received a clean bill of health from a veterinarian.

Step 2: 

Your dog must possess basic obedience skills. How well your dog listens to you, interacts with other people, and reacts to other dogs around will all be evaluated in the certification process.

Step 3:

You must contact a therapy dog certification organization. In this process, both you and your dog will be supervised and evaluated by a trained observer. Upon successful completion, you and your dog will become a certified therapy team!


How Do I Get My Dog Certified?

There are many organizations that exist offer Therapy Dog Certification. The following are the top five organizations that offer therapy dog certification. Each of these organizations are professional and reputable organizations that have a long-standing history in the therapy dog world.

  1. Alliance of Therapy Dogs 

  2. Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs

  3. Love on a Leash

  4. Pet Partners 

  5. Therapy Dogs International

A complete list of therapy dog certification organizations in the United States can be found on the AKC website. So now that you know more about the process, does your dog have what it takes to become a therapy dog that visits children’s hospitals?

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