How to Get a Therapy Dog

Dogs make many people happy. There are many health benefits of owning a pet. They help to reduce stress and increase enjoyment in one’s life.

If you are experiencing anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, or any other mental or physical health disorder, a therapy dog might help you to feel better. Research and studies have been done to show how having a dog as a companion can help people to feel better emotionally.

Building a bond with a dog can provide you with the emotional support you need to overcome a range of mental health conditions and emotional issues. If you have a disability, you may also want to look into getting a service dog

If you want to know how to get a therapy dog, this guide will give you the information you are looking for. 

Therapy Dog Certification Process

If you are looking for a support dog or comfort dog, getting a therapy dog or getting your dog registered as a service dog could be the best choice for you. The first thing that you need to do is to learn more about the therapy dog certification process. 

You will first need to find the dog that you want to adopt. You will need to spend some time researching what dog breed will be best and which dog breed is right for you.

There are some dog breeds that make the best therapy dogs. For instance, you might want to get a labrador or a golden retriever.

In addition, you should pay attention to the dog’s temperament and behavior. You will likely want a dog that likes you to pet him or her and to play with them. After you have found the dog that meets these requirements, you can start training them. 

The training process is essential if you are going to have a therapy dog. You might want to work with a professional and get dogs that are easy to train. If you are going to train the dog on your own, you should teach them the following:

  • To sit and lay down
  • Not to jump
  • Not to bark a lot 
  • Not to chew on inappropriate things
  • To come when you call them
  • To lay down with you when you need cuddles

These are just some of the things that you might want to train your soon-to-be therapy dog to do. 

After you have trained your dog, it is time to register them. There are numerous organizations that will certify your dog as a therapy dog. Generally, these organizations will require the dog to be 1 year or older. They will need to have all the required shots and vaccinations. You might need to prove your dog’s medical history and dog’s age to the organization, as well. 

There will likely be a certification test that proves your dog has the best qualities to become a therapy dog. If your dog doesn’t pass, they might need more training. You might need to pass a test to show that you can manage your dog when they are in public or in other areas. 

Learn More About the Therapy Dog Requirements

If you want your dog to become a therapy dog, they might need to meet certain requirements. Some of these include the following:

  • Good temperament - Your dog shouldn’t become angry or stressed easily. They should handle touch well, too.
  • Social - Your therapy dog should be friendly and social. They should be able to cheer you and others up. If your dog is too energetic, they might not be the greatest therapy dog. They might be all over the place when they should be cuddling with the person who needs them. 
  • Adapts well - A therapy dog should be able to adapt well to different environments. For instance, the dog might need to live in a smaller area if you move. They need to handle changes well. If you need to take them into town, they should be able to handle the crowds.
  • These are some of the requirements of having a good therapy dog. 

    Therapy Dog Classifications

    It is important to know that therapy dogs aren’t usually protected by the Emotional Support Animal law in the United States. They are also not the same thing as a service dog. Learning more about the classifications of a therapy dog can give you a better idea of what role your dog will play in yours and other people’s lives. 

  • Visitation dogs - There are some therapy dogs who are visitation dogs. You might take them into a mental health facility or a hospital to help patients feel better emotionally and mentally. 
  • Emotional support animal - These types of therapy dogs are specifically meant to help someone overcome a certain emotional issue such as high levels of anxiety. These dogs will generally help one specific person with their emotional issues. 
  • Animal assisted - With this therapy dog, you will generally take the dog to a rehab clinic. They can help someone to move around better. 
  • These are just some of the types of therapy dogs that you should know about. It is also a good idea to learn more about having a therapy dog.

    Having a Therapy Dog

    If you are thinking about getting a therapy dog, it is important to know that the experience can be very rewarding. However, you will have quite the responsibility, as well. To some degree, the well-being and happiness of the people you are bringing your dog to, will be dependent on your dog and yourself. You will need to make sure your dog is properly trained to best help these people. Regular veterinarian visits and spending a lot of time with your dog will likely be necessary. 


    It is a huge decision to get a therapy dog. However, if you believe you are ready to do this, be sure to follow the steps and information mentioned above. Once you find the right dog to get as a therapy dog, you can start the training and registration process. After your dog is certified, you can take them around to certain facilities to help people out. You can also have them help you overcome certain mental or emotional issues you might be having, too. 

    How to train a therapy dog?

    Your dog will need to be trained not to nip, jump, or bark a lot. They will need to enjoy meeting people and follow all commands that you give them. Your dog should also handle new smells, noise, and environments well. They should stay calm when around people, too.

    Can therapy dogs go anywhere?

    It is necessary to mention that therapy dogs aren’t treated under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They can’t go into places that allow service dogs. They aren’t allowed to enter restricted areas such as public transportation or grocery stores. They can only go to the places that allow  them in for visits.

    Is a therapy dog a service dog?

    Service dogs are specifically trained to help someone with a disability perform a certain task or set of tasks. Therapy dogs are trained to offer comfort and affection to those who are nursing homes, hospitals, school, disaster areas, etc. Therapy dogs are not the same thing as service dogs.

    Check out our blog and follow me on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date!

    Related Posts

    Written by Leo Roux

    Leave a comment