How To Become A Therapy Dog Trainer: A Step-By-Step Guide

Imagine being able to help people, improve their lives and build your own business doing something you love. If you’re thinking about becoming a therapy dog trainer, you should know that it’s not an easy job. You’ll be faced with emotional struggles on a daily basis and need to be strong enough to handle them. 

But if you’ve got what it takes, training dogs can be very rewarding! In this post, we’ll walk through how to become a therapy dog trainer step by step so that no matter where your journey takes you next, you’re prepared for whatever comes along the way.

First Ten Steps When Training A Service Dog!
If you’re interested in becoming a therapy dog trainer, there are a variety of resources available to help you get started.
Proper training, socialization, and certification are all crucial components of therapy dog training.
Therapy dogs can offer numerous benefits to individuals and communities, from reducing stress and anxiety to providing comfort and emotional support.
The training process can take several months to a year to complete, and may require patience and hard work.
A well-trained therapy dog can be a valuable asset to a variety of facilities and organizations, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools.

Step 1: Earn Your Dog-Related Certification and License

In order to become a therapy dog trainer, you’ll need to earn several certifications and licenses. This will ensure that you have the education and training needed to train dogs as well as keep them safe while doing so.

You must be certified in dog training. In other words, you need to be able to teach your dog specific behaviors and this means more than just walking on a leash or basic commands like “sit” and “stay”. 

You’ll also need certification for working with advanced tricks such as jumping through hoops or fetching items from different locations around your home.

You must be licensed as a dog trainer (or at least apply for your license). This means registering with the state where you live so that they can track what type of credentials/courses were necessary before awarding them this title officially…!

Therapy dogs can have an incredibly positive impact on individuals and communities alike. To learn more about the training process, check out The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Therapy Dog.

Step 2: Get Your First Job In The Field

Once you’ve decided on the field that you want to work in, your next step is to find a job that suits your skills and experience. It’s important to know what types of jobs are available in this field and how much they pay.

You can ask around for recommendations from friends who have been working for a while (especially if they have connections with an organization). 

Be prepared to take on any kind of job, even if it’s not the exact one you want. You can learn a lot from different jobs and different organizations! Be patient; it may take some time before finding the right fit, but once it happens you’ll know it!

Step 3: Learn the Typical Job Duties

You’ll also need to learn how to train dogs and work with people. If you have no experience training dogs, then consider taking a course in dog obedience training or reading up on the subject. 

For example, if your dream is to become a therapy dog trainer, you should be well-versed in health conditions that may affect children and adults alike.

A good way to start this process is by searching through the websites of local shelters and rescue organizations for opportunities where you can volunteer as an animal caretaker or trainer. 

This can give you valuable experience while also providing an opportunity for networking with others who share your passion for animal welfare and who may become future clients of yours!

It’s important that you not only understand what it takes to train dogs but are able to communicate effectively with both adults and children especially those who are disabled or ill….

Job DutiesDescription
Interacting with ClientsCommunication with dog owners, discussing training goals, and providing updates on progress.
Conducting AssessmentsEvaluating a dog’s temperament, behavior, and training needs.
Developing Training ProgramsCreating personalized training programs based on clients’ needs and goals.
Conducting Training SessionsLeading group classes or one-on-one training sessions to teach dogs new skills and behaviors.
Monitoring ProgressMeasuring the effectiveness of training and making adjustments as necessary.
Administrative TasksMaintaining client records and scheduling appointments.

Day-to-Day Responsibilities

For aspiring dog trainers, learning the typical job duties and responsibilities can help to create a clear idea of what the profession entails. As a dog trainer, you will be responsible for assessing your clients’ dogs, developing personalized training programs, leading training sessions, and monitoring progress.

Communication with clients and administrative tasks are also key components of the role. By understanding what is expected of you in a typical day, you can best prepare to succeed as a dog trainer.

Step 4: Understand the Working Conditions

You should be prepared for the working conditions that come with being a therapy dog trainer. The job may take up a lot of your time and energy, especially if you want to do it well and make an impact on both clients and animals in your community.

Work hours can be long and stressful for this position, so if you’re not ready for that kind of commitment, then perhaps this career isn’t right for you. 

You will also likely have to work in various environments, from hospitals to nursing homes to schools as well as many other places where people need comfort and support while they’re struggling through difficult times in their lives.

The variety of people who will be interacting with your dogs is another reason why this career can be so rewarding—but also sometimes challenging! 

While there are days when things go smoothly (and those are always nice), there are other days when someone has been expecting one kind of interaction but ends up getting something else instead (this is especially true when dealing with children). 

These situations might feel awkward at first but usually turn out better than expected once everyone gets used to each other’s responses over time.

While training a therapy dog may seem straightforward, there is actually a lot of science behind the process. To get a better understanding of the intricacies involved, read The Science Behind Training Therapy Dogs: What You Need to Know.

Step 5: Assess Your Marketability

Now that you’ve made it to the final step, it’s time to assess your marketability. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to know what your strengths and weaknesses are before you dive into this process. You don’t want to be overconfident or under-prepared.

In addition to assessing yourself, also consider the competition in your area. What do they do right? What are they missing? Look at what is available in terms of training programs and certifications and figure out how they compare with yours.

The industry trends can also be helpful in assessing where the industry is headed and how quickly (or slowly) the field will grow or shrink as a result of those trends. 

Finally, look at market research data about therapy dogs and their role within society today so that you know whether there really is a demand for your services before spending time developing them

Key FactorsDescription
DemographicsTarget customer’s age, income, location, living arrangements, and lifestyle habits.
CompetitionAnalysis of competing dog training businesses in the same market, including their services, pricing, and customer reviews.
Unique Selling PropositionDifferentiation from competitors and what sets your dog training business apart in the market.
Industry TrendsOverview of current trends and forecasts for the dog training industry, such as popular training styles or emerging technologies.
Referral PotentialConsideration of customer referral potential and how to incentivize word-of-mouth marketing.

Step 6: Get The Experience You Need

The next step is to get the experience you need.

In order to become a therapy dog trainer, you’ll need to spend time working with dogs. You could volunteer at a local shelter and care for the dogs who are waiting for adoption. Another option would be to work with an experienced dog trainer or professional trainer who can show you how it’s done!

One of the most important aspects of therapy dog training is socialization. Without proper socialization, dogs may struggle to adapt to new environments or situations. Learn more about this crucial component of training in The Importance of Socialization in Therapy Dog Training.

Step 7: Build Your Professional Network And Find A Mentor.

Building your professional network and seeking mentorship are both ways to leverage the knowledge of others.

As a new therapy dog trainer, you may not have any professional connections at first, but these things come with time. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way—the more people who know about you and what you do, the better!

If there’s someone in your life who has been successful at something similar to what you want to do (and can help), ask them if they would consider being your mentor or coach. 

If they say yes, ask them what kind of things they would be willing to help with: perhaps they could recommend reading material or give advice on how to get started in the industry? You can also seek out mentors online via forums or Facebook groups designed for people who work in this field.

The benefit of having a mentor is twofold: firstly, it gives you an outside perspective on your situation; secondly, it shows other people (potential clients) that someone else trusts in your abilities enough that they’re willing take time out their busy schedule just so they too could benefit from all those skills being shared.”

Not sure what to expect during therapy dog training? Check out What to Expect During Therapy Dog Training to get a better sense of the process and what each step entails.

Step 8: Create A Business Plan For Your Dog Training Business.

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to do with your therapy dog training business before you get started. 

A written, formal business plan will help ensure that all of the necessary steps are taken, and that the goals are met in an organized way.

The main focus of a good therapy dog trainer’s business plan would include information about:

  • What services or products will be offered (e.g., group classes or private sessions)?
  • Cost structure (how much each service costs)? Are there discounts available? Is there anything included in certain packages?
  • Marketing strategy (what kind of marketing materials will be used, who will use them, when they’ll be distributed)? How many clients can be expected per day/week/month? What other ways are there besides advertising via social media channels like Facebook and Instagram? And if so, how often should these posts go out?
Key ElementsDescription
Executive SummaryBrief overview of your dog training business plan.
Market AnalysisResearch on the current state of the dog training industry, competition, and potential target customers.
ServicesList of specific dog training services offered (e.g. obedience training, agility training, behavior modification).
Pricing StrategyDetermination of pricing structure and packages offered for dog training services.
Sales and MarketingStrategies for promoting your dog training business, such as social media advertising, referral programs, and community partnerships.
OperationsDetails on who will be responsible for running the business, hours of operation, and equipment needed.
Financial ProjectionsEstimation of startup costs, revenue, and profit margins for your dog training business.

Plan for Success

Creating a business plan can be a critical step in achieving success with your dog training business. By assessing the current market, defining your services and pricing, and creating a clear sales and marketing strategy, you can lay the groundwork for a thriving enterprise.

Step 9: Keep Learning About Dog Training

Now that you know how to become a dog trainer, it’s time to learn what it takes to become a dog trainer.

The most important part of any training is learning how the dog thinks and acts. You need to be able to understand what your dog is thinking so you can train them quickly and effectively, without causing any harm or confusion for them.

There are many different types of training techniques out there but the best way for someone who wants to start their own business from home using this method would be through classes because they will help teach everything from basic commands all the way up into advanced obedience techniques as well as new tricks based on where their interests lie in relation with their skill level with dogs (elderly people may prefer sitting therapy).

The benefits of training your dog as a therapy animal are numerous and far-reaching. From reducing stress and anxiety to providing comfort and companionship, these animals can make a significant impact on others. To learn more about these benefits, check out The Top 15 Benefits of Training Your Dog as a Therapy Animal.


For those who are considering this field, it’s important to know that you can earn certification through organizations such as Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International. 

These organizations offer online courses and in-person training opportunities to help would-be dog trainers get their start in the industry. They also provide advice about how to find jobs or start a business working with animals.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about therapy dog training, check out the following resources:

Become a Therapy Dog Trainer: This article from Hepper provides a step-by-step guide to becoming a therapy dog trainer.

How to Train a Therapy Dog: The American Kennel Club shares a comprehensive guide to training therapy dogs in this article.

Your Dog Can Become a Therapy Animal: The Spruce Pets outlines the steps you can take to train your own dog as a therapy animal.


How do I know if my dog is a good candidate for therapy dog training?

Dogs that are friendly, calm, and enjoy interacting with people are often ideal candidates for therapy dog training. Other factors, such as obedience, are also important to consider.

How long does it take to train a therapy dog?

The amount of time it takes to train a therapy dog can vary depending on the dog’s temperament, current obedience level, and the specific training program used. Generally, it can take several months to a year to complete training.

Do therapy dogs require any specific certifications?

Certification requirements for therapy dogs can vary depending on the organization or facility where they will be working. Some organizations require therapy dogs to obtain specific certifications or complete a certain amount of training hours.

What types of tasks do therapy dogs typically perform?

Therapy dogs are typically trained to provide comfort, companionship, and emotional support to individuals in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They may also be trained to perform specific tasks, such as retrieving items or assisting with physical therapy exercises.

Are there any breed restrictions for therapy dogs?

There are typically no specific breed restrictions for therapy dogs. However, some facilities and organizations may have their own policies regarding the types of dogs they allow to participate in therapy programs.