AKC Therapy Dog Course
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.

  • The AKC Therapy Dog™ program awards official AKC titles to dogs who have worked to improve the lives of the people they have visited.
  • 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.
  • 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.

​WHY DID AKC START A THERAPY DOG TITLE?
AKC has received frequent, ongoing requests from dog owners who participate in therapy work to "acknowledge the great work our dogs are doing." Many of our constituents are understandably proud of their dogs. Earning an AKC Therapy Dog title builds on the skills taught in the AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy® and Canine Good Citizen® programs which creates a sound and friendly temperament needed by a successful therapy dog.

HOW TO EARN THE TITLE:
​QUALIFICATIONS

To earn an AKC Therapy Dog™ title, you and your dog must meet the following criteria:

Certified/registered by an AKC recognized therapy dog organization.
Perform the required number of visits for the title for which you are applying. For your convenience in helping you track your visits, you can use the Therapy Dog Record of Visits Sheet.
  • 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 dog must be registered or listed with AKC.​

A​ll dogs are eligible to earn AKC Therapy Dog titles, including purebreds and mixed breeds. To earn an AKC Therapy Dog title, dogs must be registered or listed with AKC and have a number. This includes any one of these three options:


  1. AKC Registration Number (purebreds with registered parents)
    ​This is often known as the "AKC papers" provided to a dog owner by a breeder. If you have received a registration paper from your breeder or previous owner you can register online.
  2. PAL Number (purebreds not registerable)
    ​PAL is Purebred Alternative Listing. PAL (formerly called ILP) is a program that allows unregistered dogs of registerable breeds to compete in AKC Performance and Companion Events. PAL dogs include the many wonderful purebred dogs who may have come from shelters or rescue without AKC registration.
  3. Canine Partners Number (for mixed breeds or non registerable)
    ​Used by mixed breed dogs (and dogs otherwise not registered with AKC such as some purebreds from other countries). A special Canine Partners Therapy Dog Enrollment Form is available for mixed breed Therapy Dogs needing to obtain a dog number in order to receive their Therapy Dog Title. This form must be submitted together with the Therapy Dog Title Application.