AKC Therapy Dog Titles

Earn AKC Therapy Dog Titles

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes dogs and their owners who have volunteered in the capacity of  a therapy dog and owner team. As a recognized AKC Therapy Dog Program, Pets and Friends’ Pet Therapy Teams are eligible to earn AKC Therapy Dog Titles.

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 or, in Pets and Friends’ organization, registered by AKC recognized therapy dog organizations and have performed the required number of visits.

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.

How to Earn the Title: Qualifications

To earn an AKC Therapy Dog title through Pets and Friends, you and your Pets and Friends therapy dog must meet the following criteria:

  • Be registered by Pets and Friends and up-to-date on your membership.
  • 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.
    • Tail-Wagging Tip: A visit is one day per facility.
  • The dog must be registered or listed with AKC.
    • Tail-Wagging Tip: All 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:
      • 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.
      • A 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 pure breeds that may have come from shelters or rescue organizations without AKC registration.
      • Canine Partners Number (for mixed breeds or non-registerable dogs). 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.

Apply for an AKC Therapy Dog Title

If your dog meets the criteria and you would like to apply for an AKC Therapy Dog title, please complete this AKC Therapy Dog Title Application and mail to the AKC address shown on the application with a $20 (USA) recording fee. AKC accepts check or money order made out to “American Kennel Club” and Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express cards.

Documenting Visits

Visits must be documented with time, date, location and signature of a staff person at the facility (i.e.: hospital, seniors’ residence, cancer centre, etc.). This documentation can be achieved by submitting one of the following:

  • Therapy Dog Record of Visits Form (you may use this form or Pets and Friends’ form) or
  • Certificate from Pets and Friends indicating your dog has made the required number of visitations or
  • Letter from the facility (i.e.: hospital, senior’s residence, cancer centre, etc.) where the dog is visiting as a therapy dog. Letters must be on facility letterhead. Contact information for verification purposes should include facility name, address and contact person’s name, phone number and/or email address. For a sample letter, please have your coordinator contact Pets and Friends.

Please note: Pets and Friends must receive documentation outlining the number of visitations prior to submitting paperwork to the AKC.

If you have any questions about earning an AKC Therapy Dog title as a Pets and Friends volunteer or to receive a letter from Pets and Friends validating your documented number of visitations, please contact us today.