Brianne is a Tester/Observer for Alliance of Therapy Dogs (formerly Therapy Dogs, INC). She is an active member of ATD and performs several visits a month with her registered therapy dog, Knox. She is available for testing potential therapy dog teams upon request. If you think your dog may have what it takes to become a therapy dog, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We’re happy to answer any questions or help set up a training plan for you and your pooch.

Therapy Dog Training

Therapy dog training can be done as part of your private lessons, or through our group lesson program!

If your dog has little or no basic obedience training, you can expect to spend at least 6 months training them to be a therapy dogs. While therapy dogs do not perform special tasks, they should be able to walk on a loose leash, be calm in a variety of settings, be comfortable with having their entire body touched, and be attentive to their owner.

We strongly suggest enrolling your dog in our Level Up group classes if you would like to pursue therapy dog volunteering. This gives you and your dog the opportunity to practice in lots of different environments surrounded by lots of different people and dogs!

You must be in Level 4 (or demonstrate the completed Level 3 skills) of the Level Up program to participate in therapy dog group classes. Our Therapy Dog Essentials (TDE) class incorpates all the essentials to being a successful therapy team, as well real-life practice on field trips. TDE is offered as needed throughout the year.

What type of dog can be a therapy dog?

ANY DOG! Any breed of dog can become a therapy dog. A therapy dog must have good manners, a stable temperament, be in good health, have a desire to be with people, and must pass any required testing and observations of your chosen organization (we suggest Alliance of Therapy Dogs!).

Among other things, a  therapy dog should:

  • be friendly and outgoing
  • listen to their handler
  • be comfortable being touched all over their body
  • have a steady and predictable temperament
  • be healthy and free of internal and external parasites
  • be clean, well groomed, and always presentable on visits
  • walk on a leash without pulling
  • be calm around strange noises or situations
  • not be afraid of strange people, medical equipment, and people walking in an unsteady manner

What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a pet dog that has been specially trained to bring joy to others through visitation, performing tricks, or even just being a calming presence.

Therapy dogs most often visit patients or residents in hospitals, nursing homes, extended care facilities, and more. They can also participate in reading programs at schools and libraries! Countless studies have proven the calming effects of dogs and many facilities are openly seeking dogs to make visits to their patients and residents.

Therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They do not have the same right of access as these highly trained dogs and do not perform any special service or task for their handlers. Becoming a registered therapy dog team does not grant you and your dog access to restaurants, airports, or other businesses that do not already allow dogs to visit.

Anyone may request and be tested as a therapy dog team, regardless of participation in classes or training. You DO NOT have to take lessons to test.