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

  1. Certified/registered by an AKC recognized therapy dog organization.
  2. Perform the required number of visits for the title for which you are applying.
    • 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.
  3. The dog must be registered or listed with AKC.


Therapy dogs volunteer with their owners to help brighten people’s days in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. Therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people.   (from AKC Therapy Dog Program)

Meet Tank

Tank is a grey and white 15 lb Mini-Schnauser/Bicschon mix, 3 years old, male, thinks and acts like a big dog (he was raised by his brother of another mother:  a White Husky named Kobee.)  Little Tank howls like a Husky, it’s hysterical because little dogs don’t howl.  He also loves his feline brother and sister even though they are near twice his size.  His sister walks with us around the yard and they love to chase each other.   His brother is 15 and they sleep together and cuddle.

Tank is studying to become a Canine Good Citizen and will soon take the test.  He is hypoallergenic, doesn’t shed, well groomed, well-behaved, pretty mellow once he settles in, and he’s full of love and affection.

He is intuitive to people’s feelings, and will console someone who is sad or in distress, a natural trait.  He has also demonstrated on multiple occasions that he will alert someone of danger.  One incident involved jumping on me to wake me when soup was billowing smoke on the stove at 2am.  I’ve tagged him as a Therapy Dog before I even met him (“The next young puppy that comes along I want to train as a Therapy Dog.”)  A week after I said that, my daughter asked if I wanted a 10-week old puppy without knowing my intentions.  I said yes without knowing anything about him.

Amazing Tank is obedient and learns new tricks quickly.  He will shake (give paw), give a high-five, “pound it” (paw to fist), stand up, walk forward and backward on his back paws, dance on back paws (spin around), herd chickens back into their pen…  I’ve never heard of a Chicken Herding little dog before!

He’s up to date on shots and health, protected from fleas & ticks, an excellent watch dog, protective of the young, old, weak, and disabled.  He plays soccer rough to the point of a challenge for an athlete, but passes the ball gently with a 2 year old.  He loves to cuddle an gives lots of hugs and kisses if wanted.  The hugs are real with paws around the neck with a gentle squeeze, and sometimes you need to tell him “enough” because he doesn’t want to let go (he’ll stop on command).  Wet Willies (tongue in the ear) are a sign that he’s happy but he’ll stop on “enough” or they could be avoided by commanding “no Wet Willies.”  He also says thank you by giving a quick kiss on the nose.

Tank is a superstar.

Canine Good Citizen

The following skills are required to receive the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification:

1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation.

2: Sitting Politely for Petting

This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler’s side, (either side is permissible) to begin the test, the Evaluator approaches and asks, “May I pet your dog?” The Evaluator then pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise.

3: Appearance and Grooming

This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner, to do so. This test also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility.

4: Out For A Walk

(Walking on a Loose Leash) This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. (NOTE: The left side position is required in all AKC obedience competitions).

5: Walking Through A Crowd

This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places.

6: Sit and Down on Command/Staying in Place

This test demonstrates that the dog has training and will respond to the handler’s commands to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler. The dog needs to 1) sit on command 2) and down on command 3) then, stay in a sit or down.

7: Coming When Called

This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. With the dog still on the 20-ft. line from Item 6, the handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and will call the dog. The handler may use body language and encouragement when calling the dog.

8: Reaction to Another Dog

This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 15 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on.

9: Reaction to Distractions

This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations.

10: Supervised Separation

This test demonstrates that a dog can be left in the presence of a trusted person and will maintain its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like for me to watch your dog?”