Learn how your dog can get certified to become a therapy dog and share her good vibes and companionship with people who need her.

Like so many Americans are doing these days, it’s time for your dog to train for a new career. It’s the least he could do with everyone else working so hard. Plus sleeping all day starts to get boring after a few years. So after a thorough evaluation of his skills (i.e., cute, easy-going, extremely loving), he’s ready for a bright future as certified volunteer therapy dog. And thanks to Therapy Dogs International (TDI), he can get certified to share his good vibes and companionship with people who need him. TDI’s the oldest and largest therapy dog organization in the US and so far, its all volunteer organization has tested and registered over 19,000 therapy dog/handler teams throughout the country.

Getting Your Dog Certified as a Therapy Dog

TDI is dedicated to regulating, testing and registering therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and wherever else they’re needed to provide companionship and comfort. To get started, your pup must be at least one year of age and of utmost importance, be outgoing and friendly to all types people, tolerant of other dogs and non-aggressive toward other pets. Certification requires an evaluation by a Certified TDI Evaluator and dogs must pass a therapy dog evaluation for suitability, which includes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test, among other tests that assess the dog’s behavior around people.

Does your dog have the stuff to make a good therapy dog? TDI offers informational sessions all over the country where you can learn more, have your pup evaluated, and prepare for your dog’s dream job. Once certified, you can join a local TDI Chapter or join other local organizations, some of which may do their own evaluations and testing. Find out more at the links below. Your dog’s too good to keep all to yourself.

The Scoop:

Visit Therapy Dogs International (TDI) for more information about certification, membership and the type of facilities that therapy dogs visit.

Find links to national and local therapy dog organizations.

Thank you to Deb on flickr for the photo.

Originally published April 2009; reviewed and updated November 2016.