How to Get Your Dog Certified As a Therapy Dog

A dog needs to be non-reactive, have a calm temperament, and be affectionate to be certified as a therapy dog.



11/15/2021 2 min read

Maybe you've asked yourself: Could My Dog Become a Therapy Dog?

Well, did you know that petting a dog can release tension, lower blood pressure, and decrease anxiety, depression, and loneliness? So, YES! Your dog can become a therapy dog, and the process is quite simple.

If you feel you are probably confusing a therapy dog with a service or assistance dog right now, let us make a few things clear:

What Is An Assistance Dog?

An assistance dog is trained to help people who are going through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For example, a police officer is involved in a traumatic shooting. This officer can be soothed by a dog trained to guide them back to safety.

What Is a Service Dog?

A service dog is trained to reduce any problems that his handler might have due to a disability. For example, a visually impaired person's dog is trained to guide his owner through his eyes.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

"Therapy dog" is a designation given to canines providing physiological and psychological therapy to their owner and other individuals. For example, patients in a hospital who are depressed by their ongoing treatment can be cheered by a therapy dog that knows how to respond to different facial cues. These dogs are qualified by Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Psychologists.

Traits of a Therapy Dog

  • They are gentle

  • They like to be petted

  • They are intelligent

  • They are adaptable

  • They are calm

  • They know how to ignore stimuli

  • They are always eager to please

  • They are balanced (Not too excited or friendly)

  • They get along with others

Top 3 Personalities of a Therapy Dog

If you are planning to get your dog certified as a therapy dog, he needs to have the following three personalities:

Calm Temperament

Dogs that get overly affectionate with people or excited around them cannot be therapy dogs. Since they will calm people with anxiety or patients in hospitals, they need to be on their best behavior.

Loving New Environments and Being Open to New People

Some dogs don’t like being around unfamiliar people. Since therapy dogs meet new people every day, this is one trait that’s a must.


Therapy dogs are surrounded by multiple people at a time. So, they might encounter unfamiliar objects and sounds that can distract them. If your dog gets distracted, he might not be good at this job.

How Can My Dog Become a Certified Dog?

Now that you know about the traits and duties of a certified dog, let's look at how your dog can snag this title:

First of all, your dog needs to be enrolled in Therapy Dog Training Classes with an Accredited Institution. A dog is trained for 4 hours for several weeks. After this period, a test is conducted to see how well the dog follows basic commands. Lastly, the dog will also need a health certification every year, proving he is fit and capable of being around people.

So, if your dog has the qualities mentioned above and knows how to behave well, he can be a service dog and bring smiles to many peoples' faces. 

In the meantime, you can keep your doggo happy and healthy with DhohOo's dog supplements!