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We know you have questions

Deciding if a therapy dog is the right option for you or your family is a big decision. We are here to answer your questions. Choose the topic below that you’d like to contact us about and we’ll tell you how we can help.

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Can you train or certify my dog to be a therapy dog?

Therapy Dogs New Zealand cannot train or certify your personal pet to be a therapy dog. Our therapy dogs are bred specifically for their role to ensure they have the right temperament and no underlying medical conditions that might affect their work.

This means we are not responding to emails about training or certifying personal pets, however we have some resources that might help you.

If you are interested in training your personal dog to visit hospitals or rest homes, then these organisations might be able to help:

Canine Pet Therapy:

Outreach Therapy Pets by St John:

In special circumstances, this organisation might be able to assess and help you train your personal dog to become a service dog. Please reach out to them for more information:

Perfect Partners Assistance Dogs Trust:

What is the cost of getting a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is an investment in your overall health and wellbeing and a stepping stone to supporting an individual with a disability or disorder or supporting a family with a child with a disability, rare condition or disorder. Our therapy dogs go through an extensive amount of socialisation, training and handling before they join their forever life-long handler (that’s you).

This means if your application is successful you need to be prepared to purchase your therapy puppy.

The cost is $18,975 (including GST). This may feel like a lot but it reflects the 24/7 time and effort plus expense that goes into breeding therapy natured Labradoodle puppies as well as training your puppy and giving you ongoing support.

The cost covers:

  • Purchasing a therapy-natured Labradoodle puppy bred by a reputable breeder in New Zealand or Australia
  • 5-6 months of extensive 24/7 socialisation and training including boarding, veterinary care, hip/elbow x-rays, pet insurance and food costs
  • 1:1 training with you and your newly allocated therapy puppy over 4 days based here in Tauranga when the therapy dog is ready to join you
  • Equipment you need – TDNZ training jacket/medallion, collar, lead/harness, a range of interactive and specialty dog toys, food bowls, training treats/natural chews, grooming tools and products, dog crate/mattress/bedding and 17kg bag of Acana dog food to get you started
  • Follow up support as you transition into life with your therapy dog – phone follow-ups and a home visit in 4-6 weeks where possible

We know that this cost can feel overwhelming. Keep in mind that there are several ways our clients cover the cost of their therapy dog ie. private funding, fundraising in the community, or via grants.

If you would like to apply for a therapy dog then you can start the process here.

What is the wait time to get a therapy dog?

There is high demand for therapy dogs at this time. Regretfully, due to this increased demand for our therapy puppies we have no choice but to pause our waiting list temporarily until we work through the clients that are already waiting for a therapy dog for their families. You can join our mailing list and we will alert you when the waiting list reopens.

We expect the waiting list will be closed for 2 years from May 2022 but this time could reduce if we encounter a reduction in the waiting list sooner than expected.

We appreciate this may be a disappointment to new applicants wanting to apply for a therapy dog, however we do need to maintain our standards of training and adapt to when puppies are available for purchase and our volunteer puppy raisers’ availability to take another puppy.

Wait Time Once An Application Has Been Successful

Once a therapy dog application has been successful, you then need to wait while your puppy is bred and trained which takes about 16 months. During this time you enter the waiting list, your puppy is born and we then spend 5-7 months training your puppy. This timeframe allows us to access specifically bred puppies with therapy attributes and allows our trainers the time to provide individualised training to each puppy. We are also taking some of the litters through longer training programmes, which has increased the wait time from one year to 16 months.

If you would like to apply for a therapy dog then you can start the process here.

Do therapy dogs have public access?
The short answer is not yet.

Service dogs have special access rights and privileges and are legally granted public access status. We do not have these rights, instead we’ve had great success introducing our therapy dogs into their new communities and helping our handlers request access from proprietors for the limited number of places they frequent with their new therapy dog.

How do I apply for a therapy dog on behalf of someone else?

The therapy dog application process is the same if you are applying on behalf of someone else. Please register your interest in applying for a therapy dog here. Once you’ve joined our mailing list you will be sent an FAQ booklet on the application and training process.

Can landlords deny having a therapy dog on the property?

At this stage, our therapy dogs do not have the same rights as service dogs. This means that you need to ask permission to take them to public places or onto rental properties. You would need to have the permission of the landlord before a trained therapy dog is placed in your rental home.

Unless you are a client of Therapy Dogs New Zealand we are unable to support you in talking to your landlord about having a therapy dog in a rental home.

Media or donation enquiry

If you are interested in contacting us regarding a media engagement or donation then please use the contact form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Media or Donation Enquiry


I have a question that is not listed above

That’s okay. Use the contact form below to send us your question. Please note that we are a very small team and very busy out of the office and it will take time for us to get back to you. If your question is already answered in the above sections then we may not respond to your email.

General Enquiry from Contact Form