Let's Get Started

Applying for a Therapy Dog
Let’s Get Started

Applying For A Therapy Dog

If you think a therapy dog could be the right decision for you, your child or a family member then the next step is to join our mailing list. Once you’ve joined the list we’ll give you lots of extra information about the therapy dog training process that will help you prepare for your application.

We’ll then email you when our therapy dog applications open and you can apply to join the therapy dog waiting list. Please read the frequently asked questions below before joining the mailing list.

Common Application FAQs
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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: https://www.caninefriends.org.nz/

Outreach Therapy Pets by St John: https://www.stjohn.org.nz/what-we-do/community-programmes/partnered-programmes/outreach-therapy-pets/

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: http://www.ppadt.org.nz/

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 by joining the mailing list below.

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 by joining the mailing list below.

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 by joining our mailing list. Once you’ve joined our mailing list you will be sent an FAQ booklet on the application and training process.

Join The Mailing List

What type of therapy dog are you interested in applying for?(Required)
Select the boxes that apply to you or the person you are filling in the form on behalf of. If you aren't sure which option to choose, then please read the definitions at the bottom of the page.

Therapy Dog Definitions

Adult Emotional or Disability Assist Therapy Dog: These therapy dogs can help an adult with severe anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Asperger’s syndrome and some mental health conditions.

Child Emotional Support or Disability Assist Therapy Dog: These therapy dogs can help a children suffering from one or several of the following conditions: Severe anxiety, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autistic-like traits, attention-deficient / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), anorexia, grief, trauma, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical disability and other rare genetic disorders.

School Support: These therapy dogs can help support children within a school environment. For example reading and learning programmes, specific sessions working with children with learning difficulties, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), global developmental delay, anxiety symptoms, grief, trauma and other genetic disorders. This type of therapy dog is different to a child emotional support or disability assist therapy dog as a school support dog is trained to help many different children, whereas a child emotional support or disability assist dog is trained to help one specific child.

Facility Support: These therapy dogs can bring companionship and support to people in hospitals, dementia units, hospice, assisted living communities and nursing homes. Often working professionals like counsellors or psychologists might apply for a facility dog that can help clients during sessions. These working professionals then become the handlers to the facility therapy dogs.