Let's Get Started

Therapy Dog Application Process
Let’s Get Started

How To Apply

We believe that every Kiwi living with a disability deserves support and we’re here to help you live your life to the fullest.

Our therapy dogs can help create a confident and happy life while providing support, companionship and safety.  If you think a therapy dog is the right solution for you, then it’s time to learn more about the application process before joining our mailing list.

Please read the information on this page carefully.


Frequently Asked Questions
Can you train my dog as a therapy dog?
No. Our therapy dogs are breed specifically for their role to ensure they have the right temperament. This means we do not train other dog breeds or personal family pets to become therapy dogs.
Are therapy dogs the same as service dogs?
Therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs. Service dogs are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability e.g. a guide dog who guides an owner who is blind, or a mobility dog who assists someone in a wheelchair who has a physical disability.
Can a therapy dog go to public places?
Service dogs have special access privileges and are legally granted public access rights. Therapy dogs do not have the same special access rights as a qualified service dog at this time and it is unethical to attempt to pass off a therapy dog as a service dog for the purposes of acquiring public access.

Therapy Dogs New Zealand is planning to apply for access rights for clients that require their therapy dog to accompany them into restricted situations especially in the case of children with ASD or people with PTSD.

Is a therapy dog suitable for every family?
A therapy dog may not suit some families. A more qualified service dog trained to perform a range of specific tasks may be a more suitable option for more serious conditions, or extreme cases where the dog is required to perform a life-saving role i.e. preventing a diabetic low, anchoring an autistic child (preventing them from running on the road) or alerting when a person urgently requires medical help or has fallen from their wheelchair.
Is A Therapy Dog a Big Commentment?
A therapy dog is a big decision, which requires a commitment of ongoing training, time and expense. This means a therapy dog might not be the right option for some families.
Do Therapy Dog Applications Ever Get Declined?
We reserve the right to decline an application for a therapy dog if the safety of the dog’s environment is not adequate, the client is unable to afford the costs to maintain a therapy dog in optimum health or they are unable to meet the needs of the dog in terms of on-going training, affection, exercise and companionship.

We may also decline a therapy dog application if the person applying for a therapy dog is unable to manage the full care of the dog independently, and has no alternative support system in place to ensure the dog’s needs are always met.

From start to finish

The Application Process


Join our mailing list. We’ll contact you when our therapy dog applications are open. Once you’ve submitted your application form we’ll contact you to discuss your requirements, expectations and family situation. Next we’ll set up an in-person or Skype interview.


Once we’ve accepted your application in writing, you’ll join our waiting list for a therapy puppy. You’ll also need to pay a deposit to secure your puppy. You can find ideas for fundraising here.

Puppy Matching

Next we find the right therapy puppy for your family either sourced locally or imported from Australia. We consider your colour, size and sex preferences as well as the puppy’s temperament when matching a puppy. Then your first payment is required before training starts.


Now we start training your puppy! Over the next four – six months, your puppy receives the training it needs to become a therapy dog. During the first four months of training a training fee needs to be paid each month, and then a final payment is made to cover the last month of training and any training equipment needed for your puppy.


Your therapy puppy is placed with your family and a hand-over covering health and training is provided in your home (where practical). We keep in touch and follow-up contact and training support is given at 8, 10 and 12 months of age.


At 12-15 months the puppy and the main handler is assessed, and accreditation certification is granted to become a therapy dog. There is an additional fee payable for certification.