AKC Therapy Dog – American Kennel Club


As soon as a volunteer with a therapy dog ​​walks into a room, you can instantly feel a change in mood. All eyes are focused on them, while smiles appear on everyone’s faces. Therapy dogs are NOT assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are dogs specially trained to perform one or more tasks to help a disabled or handicapped person. A service dog must be with him at all times and has special access privileges in public places.

Therapy Dog is an AKC program that recognizes the necessary therapeutic 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 as nursing homes, classrooms, libraries, assisted living centers, hospices, funeral homes, schools, shelters and even courtrooms.

Whether working with a child learning to read, visiting a patient in a hospital, or an elderly person living with assistance, therapy dogs and their owners work as a team to improve the lives of others. A dog can bring a precious sense of comfort, joy, or calm to people who go through stressful, lonely, or depressing situations or at general times in their lives.

  • To start


    Obtaining a therapy dog ​​title depends on 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 in enrolling in the program is to have our dog trained and certified by a qualified therapy dog ​​organization. Next, start keeping a log of your visits, for which you can use the Therapy Dog’s Visit Log Sheet. Just make sure you understand what constitutes a visit:

    How to count visits

    • One visit is one day per establishment / agency.
    • For a single establishment: For example, if you see several customers over a period of 2 hours on the same day, this corresponds to 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 in an establishment, regardless of the number of customers you see, this counts as 1 visit. If you take a break and return to the same establishment on the same day, it counts as a visit.
    • For several establishments: Example: You are doing therapy work on your day off. In the morning, you go to an assisted living facility. You bring your dog home for lunch to rest. In the afternoon, you go to a school. These are 2 visits, regardless of the number of clients you have seen per establishment.
    • When a therapy dog ​​works with a professional (eg psychologist, counselor, police officer), a visit counts as 1 day. The number of clients seen in a day is not counted. Professionals must meet the same certification requirements as other volunteers to earn AKC Therapy Dog titles.
    • For virtual tours, a visit counts as one day. The number of clients seen in a day is not counted. Post-covid virtual tours can be used in cases where clients cannot see the dog and the volunteer human in person (eg, medically at risk). For virtual tours to count, there has to be an agency that can provide documentation.

    When you are ready to apply for an AKC Therapy Dog Title, simply complete this AKC Therapy Dog Title Application and send it to the AKC address listed on the application with a registration fee of $ 25. If your request is not approved for any reason, we will notify you and refund your costs.

  • Title eligibility


    To earn an AKC Therapy Dog â„¢ title, you and your dog must:

    1. Be certified / registered by an AKC recognized therapy dog ​​organization.
    2. Make the number of visits required for the title you are applying for.
      • 400 visits to earn the AKC Therapy Dog Distinguished (THDD) title.
      • 200 visits to earn the AKC Therapy Dog Excellent (THDX) title.
      • 100 visits to earn the AKC Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA) title.
      • 50 visits to earn the AKC Therapy Dog (THD) title.
      • 10 visits to earn the AKC Therapy Dog Novice (THDN) title.

    In order for dogs to receive a title, owners must have a dog number on our records so that title information can be recorded. Find out what types of numbers are available and which one is best for your situation.

  • AKC Therapy Products for Dogs


    Congratulations on your AKC therapy dog! Now that your dog is a working therapy dog, you can purchase some AKC products that showcase and recognize the great work you and your dog do. Send the AKC Therapy Dog Order Form to the American Kennel Club, Performance Dept., 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Raleigh, NC 27617, or fax it to (919) 816-3905.

    AKC Therapy Dog Magnet and Towel are also available in the AKC Shop.


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