How to Become a Therapy Dog Trainer

How to Become a Therapy Dog Trainer: Though it is gratifying to become a therapy dog trainer, it requires many skills, patience, and works. First, the trainers need to love the animal and be affectionate towards their dogs. Showing affection is the beginning of training the therapy dog.

How to Become a Therapy Dog Trainer

The next step that a trainer needs to follow is that analyzing the dog’s behavior. After that, dog trainers compel the dog to assist in specific activities. In the beginning, dogs tend not to listen to their master, but slowly they start to obey their trainer’s guidance. Finally, these dogs learn to do the trained tasks in given situations.

Although therapy dog training is quite a challenging job, anyone can decide to train their dogs. Neither it demands any institutional certification nor requires any formal training. Most dog trainers are self-taught even though there are lots of dog training organizations, courses, booksOpens in a new tab..

You can follow most trainer’s methods, or you can get yourself admitted to any professional training program. Below we will cover all the ways to become a therapy dog trainer so that you can easily decide which path to choose and start learning. Let’s begin:

Before moving onto the actual training, you need to gather knowledge about therapy dog training’s usual facts.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

In short, a therapy dog is a carefully and specially trained animal that accompanies disabled persons. Some people believe that service dogs and therapy dogs are similar in behavior and their jobs. Although both dog types receive the training to follow orders, their jobs are different.

A therapy dog’s responsibility is to provide physiological and psychological therapy to individuals.

These dogs tend to be friendly, have a stable temperament, and easy-going personalities. They aid in reducing people’s heart rate, anxiety and make people feel happy. The therapy dogs visit schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and more. They interact with people of different types and nature.

What Do the Therapy Dog Trainers Do?

In essence, the therapy dog trainer trains the dog to work with people with physical disabilities. They teach dogs in which situation these dogs should accomplish which task. Usually, when people think about a dog trainer, they visualize someone is standing in front of a pup, holding a stick and making dogs learn the required lessons.

The reality is entirely different; dog trainers don’t only train dogs but also train a team, a human, and a dog. They demonstrate how their dogs should work with human beings. And they provide the training modestly rather than being rude. These trainers make dogs identify the specific disabilities of people and compel dogs to act accordingly.

They do it by spending a significant amount of time with their trainee dogs and individual disabled person. In short, they teach dogs how to work together. Anyway, as you can see, it is a challenging job yet gratifying. If you pose the desire to train your dogs, you may continue reading this article thoroughly.


You don’t need any official qualifications for being a therapy dog trainer. It needs how much trust you can put on the dog’s hand rather than gathering a professional training certificate.

But if you are keen to learn the skill for business purposes, you should be supervised by professionals in this industry. Plus, try to achieve a professional certificate in therapy dog training because you want people to trust you, and people don’t want distracted or poorly trained dogs.

On the other hand, if you need to train a dog for personal use, you can start learning and practicing with your dog independently. You will see lots of independent trainers out there. You may find those trainers and consider their recommendations on training the therapy dog.

Preferred Skills

As you know, you don’t need any specific qualification to become a therapy dog trainer, but you need to master some essential skills. Alongside the required skills, you also need experience. You should gather experience and build aptitude for training therapy dogs to the highest level.

You need to make sure that your trained dogs can respond a hundred percent of the time correctly. Plus, these dogs should understand people’s disabilities and how they can be used as a helping hand to those disabled individuals. Below we will describe those skills briefly.

Therapy Dog Training Skills

If you want to shine in this dog training industry, you must have excellent dog training skills. You should know how to make dogs obey commands and respond accordingly. You should also learn how to determine if the dog is best suited for training or not. It will save your precious time as you won’t spend a lot of time training a dog that is entirely unsuited to the task.

You can follow a variety of paths to learn the skills for training the therapy dog. The significant way is to apprentice yourself at a therapy dog training academy.

The academy will certify you when you complete the apprenticeship. You can also admit yourself into a higher education institute, offering such type of training. However, these methods are crucial if you intend to work as a professional.

Another essential fact regarding dog training is that you need to study people’s disabilities and work closely with disabled persons. For that, you can seek a specialized training program.

Can Anybody Be a Therapy Dog Trainer?

Technically, anyone can be a therapy dog trainer as dog training doesn’t require any qualification or certification. You can check out some useful online resources if you want to train your therapy dog. You can follow expert’s recommendations, get admission into an institution, and even can learn the skills from professionals in person.

Do Therapy Dogs Need to Pass a Test?

They don’t need to pass any specific test to become therapy dogs. And your dogs don’t need to get registered anywhere as therapy dogs. However, it can be helpful for those who want to take it as a profession. If their dogs are registered as therapy dogs, their owner will easily get a lot of clients.

For instance, if you own a dog for diabetes or mental health issues, the documentation can be useful in such a case. Many organizations provide therapy dog registration. Before registering your dog, they will want a demo if your dog is capable of providing services or not.

They will monitor how your dog sits, runs, goes through car doors, etc. They also check if your dog is publicly handleable by you or not. After checking and ensuring all the skills, they will register your dog as a therapy dog for specific services.

How Much Can I Earn Being a Therapy Dog Trainer?

The income opportunity for therapy dog trainers varies from person to person. Trainers who work for an agency earn more or less than an independent therapy dog trainer.

In the USA, the average cost for a therapy dog is around fifteen to thirty thousand dollars. However, it must take into consideration the cost of owning a dog, feeding and caring for a dog during the training, and the time needed to train both the dog and the person who deals with the dog.

Note that most puppies can start serious dog exercises only from six months of age and will require approximately six months to complete, which can take up to 18 months.

Moreover, once the trainer delivers the dog to its owner, he should be responsible for the ten-year follow-up training.


Now, you might know that dog training isn’t an easy field to work in. You need to take on many responsibilities because you aren’t only working with a dog; you are also working with people your dog will support.

If you pursue therapy dog training as a profession, you should be serious about the training and experience you need. Try to learn from the industry experts and get hands-on experience. You master the skills of training therapy dogs and also monitor various disabled persons.

Try to understand what is suitable for those people and what is not right for them. Train your dogs to understand certain behaviors of human beings and make them respond accordingly.

Note that people will appreciate both you and your dogs if your dog serves well in this dog service industry. And if anything horrible happens, you will be responsible for such incidents. We hope you get the right information through our content and go one step ahead of learning how to become a therapy dog trainer.

Lila Hughes

As the owner and author of, I have always had a passion for animals. I have always been interested in pet health and nutrition and have extensive knowledge in the field.

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