Therapy dogs go with their owners to volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.  From working with a child who is learning to read to visiting a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.

* Therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability. An example of a service dog is a dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a dog who assists someone who has a physical disability. Service dogs stay with their person and have special access privileges in public places such as on planes, restaurants, etc. Therapy dogs, the dogs who will be earning the AKC Therapy Dog™ title, do not have the same special access as service dogs.

It is unethical to attempt to pass off a therapy dog as a service dog for purposes such as flying on a plane or being admitted to a restaurant.

The Purpose of This Program

The purpose of this program is to recognize AKC dogs and their owners who have given their time and helped people by volunteering as a therapy dog and owner team.

  • AKC does not certify therapy dogs; the certification and training is done by qualified therapy dog organizations. The certification organizations are the experts in this area and their efforts should be acknowledged and appreciated.
  • AKC Therapy Dog titles can be earned by dogs who have been certified by AKC recognized therapy dog organizations and have performed the required number of visits.
  • The AKC Therapy Dog™ program awards official AKC titles to dogs who have worked to improve the lives of the people they have visited.

Therapy Dog Titles

  • 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.

AKC Therapy Dog