Therapy dogs are personal pets who have been trained by their owner and are well mannered and obedient. The dog must maintain an even temperament along with good hygiene. As a team, you and your dog can become the messengers of hope and comfort. If you think you and your dog have what it takes to become a therapy dog, read on.
This page briefly outlines the process of becoming registered with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, a national organization that provides the structure, guidelines, and insurance for therapy dogs. For full information on Alliance of Therapy Dogs, please visit the ATD web site and explore the information there.
After you registered with ATD, you can visit on your own within ATD guidelines. Local organizations, such as Lehigh Valley Therapy Dogs, help coordinate visits in the local area.
Is your dog suited for therapy dog work?
Does your dog make you smile? Does your dog get along with other dogs? Is she/he well mannered? Does your dog respond to basic commands? Does she/he portray a willingness to be petted? Then, your dog may have what it takes to be a therapy dog. A good therapy dog is calm, controlled, confident and cordial. She/he will encounter a variety of situations when visiting and must be trusted to respond in a safe and appropriate way.
Your dog should have a good temperament and be well mannered
Your trained dog must be able to sit, stay, follow and come on command. This training can be done by the owner or with the assistance of a trainer. You should review the ATD testing evaluation form to know what will be expected of you and your dog during the testing. (on the ATD Website, Click on ‘Join’ and then ‘Be a Member’ link for more information about the test.)
Join the Alliance of Therapy Dogs
Follow the steps on the ATD website to become a member of ATD. See How Do I Become a Therapy Dog Member on The Alliance of Therapy Dogs web site.
- Complete the background check
- Download and complete the paperwork
- Find a Tester/Observer
Tester/Observers can be found on the ATD Website https://www.therapydogs.com Enter your zip code. Select anyone from the list.
- Paperwork and fee
- Download the ATD brochure to find out more about the organization.
- After ATD accepts you as a member, you and your therapy dog are ready to share smiles and joy! To stay a member in good standing of ATD, you’ll need to visit at least once every three months.
Optional – Joining a local group of Therapy Dog Volunteers
As a registered Therapy Dog/Handler team with your ATD credentials, you are welcome to visit on your own in any facility that welcomes Therapy Dogs as long as you make arrangements with the facility. You also have the option of joining a local group that has established visits. You may do a combination of individual and established organization visits. Joining a local organization can make this requirement much easier to achieve. One local group is Lehigh Valley Therapy Dogs.