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Essential Standards For Therapy Dogs

The Founders of Service Animals Australia are actively involved in setting nationwide standards for all Therapy Dogs

Recognised Qualifications

Brad & Melanie Rundle Founder Service Animals

Active Members

Service and Therapy Animals Australia Ltd. has developed the essential standards for Therapy Dogs placed in schools, aged care, hospitals, private practices, and other workplaces.

Recognised Dog Terms – Across Australia

Therapy Dog

Facility Dog (subcategory of Therapy Dog)

Visitation Dog

The term ‘Therapy Dog’

For ease of reference, we use the term Therapy Dog as a general term encompassing Therapy Dogs, Facility Dogs (subcatagory of Therapy Dogs) and Visitation Dogs. Although the terms Wellbeing Dog and School Support Dog are used within the community, these are not formally recognised terms or categories in Australia.

Therapy Dog Standards

minimum training requirements

training methodology

breed suitability

animal welfare requirements

individual dog temperament

risk management

dog handling

on-site management protocols

Appropriate Dog Breeds

It is important to be aware that not all dogs, regardless of breed, are suitable for Therapy Dog work. Likewise, it is inappropriate to simply bring a dog and place it in a workplace or institution without being compliant with all the Service Animals Australia Essential Standards for Therapy Dogs including appropriate formal therapy dog training. Doing so could negatively impact occupational health and safety and be detrimental to the welfare of the animal.

Therapy Dog Placements

Schools, TAFEs & Universities


Private Practices

Other Workplaces

Personal Home Use

Service Dogs at Attention

Placing and integrating a Therapy Dog

Placing and integrating a Therapy Dog into a workplace and or institution involves significant planning and requires a thorough approach.

A hasty approach to the planning, training and integration will result in an oversight of key elements. These may seem insignificant in the short term but create unnecessary problems that ultimately lead to the failure of the program.

Responsible Approach to Integration

A responsible approach to placing and integrating a Therapy Dog is a process that requires outside support and expertise to ensure that all aspects of the Service Animals Australia Essential Standards for Therapy Dogs have been met and that best practice is maintained.

Meeting all the standards to become an appropriately trained & certified Therapy Dog

An appropriately trained Therapy Dog meets all of the Service Animals Australia Essential Standards for Therapy Dogs and fulfils a role that goes far beyond a well-behaved dog.

Effective Therapy Dog training programs take time and require ongoing commitment and maintenance for the full working life of the dog. Training cannot be completed in a short period of time. It takes significant practice to consolidate and proof the required behaviours for a Therapy Dog.

Progress checks and formal assessments are crucial and must be completed in person by a suitably qualified trainer with a minimum nationally accredited Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training coupled with significant experience within this field.

Personal Therapy Dog Training
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