Therapy Dog is an AKC program which recognizes the necessary therapy work performed by dogs through accepted organizations based on the number of visits. Therapy work involves volunteers who schedule visits to various facilities and locations such a nursing homes, classrooms, libraries, assisted living centers, hospices, funeral homes, schools, shelters even courtrooms.

Whether they’re working with a child who is learning to read, visiting a patient in a hospital or a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people. A dog can provide a valuable sense of reassurance, joy, or calmness to people experiencing stressful, lonely or depressing situations or general times in their life.

Earning a therapy dog title is rooted in the number of visits made: The more visits you make, the more titles you can earn:

  • AKC Therapy Dog Novice (THDN) – Must have completed 10 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog (THD) – Must have completed 50 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA) – Must have completed 100 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Excellent (THDX)- Must have completed 200 visits.
  • AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished (THDD) – Must have completed 400 visits.

The first step to enrolling in the program is to have our dog trained and certified by a qualified therapy dog organization. Then, start keeping a record of your visits, for which you can use the Therapy Dog Record of Visits Sheet. Just make sure you understand what constitutes a visit:

  • A visit is one-day per facility/agency.
  • For a single facility: As an example, if you see multiple clients over a 2 hour time period on the same day, that is one visit. [In a hospital, you visit Mr. Jones, Ms. Smith, Mr. Roberts, Ms. White, this is one visit, not 4 visits].
  • For each day/date at a facility, no matter how many clients one sees, this counts as 1 visit. If you take a break and return to the same facility on the same day, this counts as one visit.
  • For multiple facilities: Example: You do therapy work on your day off. In the morning, you go to an assisted living facility. You take your dog home at lunch to rest. In the afternoon, you go to a school. THIS IS 2 visits, no matter how many clients you saw per facility.

When you’re ready to apply for an AKC Therapy Dog title, just complete this AKC Therapy Dog Title Application and mail to the AKC address shown on the application with a $20 recording fee. If your application is not approved for some reason, we will notify you and refund your fee.

For more information please visit the American Kennel Club.

*The above information is provided by the American Kennel Club