Is your dog a certified therapy dog?

If so, what organization did you select for the certification?

How much time do you spend each month going on visits? Do you mostly go to retirement type facilities or working with kids?

Any words of wisdom or warning?


Not any longer, but I have had 2 Gordon Setters and a Keeshond that were registered with Therapy Dogs Inc.

Almost every weekend, I would go with the local group I belonged to, Pet-A-Pup, to various nursing homes and hospitals. We also did an occasional library program for kids and school program, teaching kids how to care for and train dogs. The programs generally lasted between an hour and two hours, and the nursing home visits could last several hours, depending on the size, how many dogs were there and the interest.

They were some of the most rewarding times of my life and I miss it greatly.

My dog is NOT a registered therapy dog. He is a completely untrained, but extremely cute and friendly, Bichon Frise. Random strangers on the street see him and burst into paroxysms of happiness. I wonder if he has potential to make me loads of money as a therapy dog? Just a thought. I could happily retire on his potential.

Sorry Tim… therapy dogs are totally unpaid, it’s strictly volunteer. Your ‘pay’ is the happiness you bring others.

Yes, but I have let his registration lapse as he has gotten older and he has gotten cataracts. He used to visit Hospice and nursing homes occasionally. My current job has a long commute so I have less time to take him places, but he made many people happy in his visiting days. Children love him, but he seems to have a special connection with the elderly and those with dementia. He has a calming effect on them.

I wanted so badly for Dolly to get certified but we did trial runs of the tests at obedience school and she was great at everything except the part where I was to leave the room. She was there in school with people and dogs she knew, and a trainer she loved, but she’d spazz out when I left.

So now we just live as co-dependents, being each others’ therapy animals.

That is the only part that I am worried about. My dog doesn’t spazz out, but she does whine and stare in the direction in which I was last seen. I hope that I can work it out so that I can get her certified.

This was my experience, too. My dog passed all the CGC (canine good citizen) tests with flying colors, he was so good! But when it came to the 3-minute separation, he failed. Someone at a dog playtime meeting told me about another CGC test that doesn’t do the separation part, but I didn’t have time to follow up on it.

Just as a potential point towards encouragement … I’m allergic to dogs, but I considered getting a dog for my daughter who has some special needs. She would definitely have benefitted. I would love to have a place for her to visit weekly to meet a canine friend. So, please know that the need is out there, and your time and effort is certainly appreciated.

InsomniaMama - There are plenty of people like me around who have great dogs who can’t pass the therapy dog test, but would love to help you out. Reasons a dog can’t become a certified therapy dog but would be perfectly acceptable for your purposes: 1) it can’t ignore food on the ground 2) it whines or barks if its owner leaves 3) it is freaked out by wheelchairs and so on and so on.

My dog had a 3 year old kid steal her brand new peanut butter filled Kong (a dogs most prized treat) from under her nose. She followed the kid around looking wistfully at the fishnet in which he was carrying the precious cargo until I reclaimed the Kong and returned it to her. And yet she still may not get certified since while she will leave me, she whines and stares after me if I leave her.

I sent the paperwork in 2 years ago to certify Sampson. Love on a Leash rejected it. I haven’t followed up on it. I spend about an hour every Friday afternoon at one nursing home with him. We also distribute bulletins from our church to the members living there.

Sampson isn’t your typical therapy dog. He worked as a guide dog until losing his sight at 8 years old. My friend and dog sitter has some mobility problems and was using one of her dogs as an accomodation before it got too old. So when I was in the hospital Sunday night, I wasn’t too surprised she showed up with Sampson in the mobility harness. Legit? She does meet the physically impaired standards and he has been trained to accommodate her needs. I may need to let her use him more.

She also had the puppy we are fostering for the guide dog school. I know in this state they are allowed in some medical facilities. We will have both dogs most of the weekend at a both promoting guide dogs at a convention we are attending.

Oh, yes, I forgot my wife takes him one day a week with her to the residential 5-12 school for troubled youths where she teaches. The school uses care of horses as part of their treatment, but encourages the staff to bring in pets.

No. Instead, my dog is a dog that needs personal therapy. So sorry to disappoint. (The Rain Monster is coming tonight and Captain is shaking like a leaf, thank you.)

This is something I would like to work toward with either or both of my dogs in the future. Right now they just provide me with therapy.

One thing you might look into is working with your local library and setting up a “Read to Fido” hour or something of that sort.

We have two therapy dogs (Maggie, a black lab and Da’Sharq aka Dasher, a beautiful blonde ex-show dog/professional coursing Saluki) who come to our library for storytime a couple times a month and the kids LOVE having them there. I’ve noticed that after storytime, when he’s had a chance to stroke/pet/love on the dogs all he wants, Slim is MUCH calmer for at least an hour or so afterwards. It’s made me at least play with the idea of getting a therapy dog for him (he has ADHD and Asperger’s, among other things).

Sigh. Same here. Except it’s two (out of three) of them that could use some counseling. Also, extremely loud personal hygiene is not generally considered helpful therapy.

Almost a year later… We took the test today and she passed! I am so excited.


Not an official therapy dog, but I do take Coda, my lhasa apso mix to a local long-term care facility where I also volunteer on my own. We do “pet visits” about twice a month, visiting with a dozen or so of the residents for around 5 minutes or so - spending around an hour or so total in the facility.

He is VERY well behaved when we visit - tho could perhaps be a bit more affectionate with some of the little old ladies who want him to come up in their laps! (He’s not a lap dog with my husband or me either, unless it’s really cold in the house!) He does interact with the residents, especially when I give them a few dog treats to offer him!