Therapy Dog Training

What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy Dog is a dog certified to visit hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions whose patients or residents would benefit from a therapy dog. Therapy Dogs increase emotional well-being, promote healing and improve the lives of those visited. A dog needs to be social and friendly with other dogs and people. A Therapy Dog must know basic obedience commands and be under control at all times while visiting.

How can my dog and I prepare to become a Therapy Dog team through the Misty Pines Pet Company Therapy Dog Training Program?

Step 1: Attend an Orientation – Puppy Orientation for those pups under 6 months and Starter Orientation for dogs over 6 months.

Step 2: Attend group training classes – Our class syllabus prepares dogs and handlers to achieve their Misty Pines Therapy Dog (MPTD) certification.

Step 3: Attend our TD Prep Classes. By attending Misty Pines TD Prep Classes you and your dog will go through each exercise that is on the test. You will know exactly what you will need to practice in order to pass the test. See Calendar or Specialty Classes page for availability.


Optional 1: Attend a Private Dog Training Lesson, coupled with private training lessons or group training classes, which concentrates on training you as the handler and also specific behaviors with your dog.

Optional 2: Dog Boot Camp – concentrates on training specific behaviors with your dog.

Optional 3: Daycare Training – concentrates on training specific behaviors with your dog.

Therapy Test Requirements

  • Dogs must be at least 1 1/2 years old (18 months) on day of testing and handlers must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Dog must have lived with the handler for a minimum of 6 months and have their Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification prior to testing.
  • Dogs are to wear a Scruffy Guider Collar while testing.
  • Rabies, Bordetella, and Distemper must be up to date (in accordance to Misty Pines vaccination policy).
  • Dog and Handlers must attend 3 Misty Pines Obedience Classes prior to testing, which may be any combination of: Therapy Dog Preparation Class, Level One, Level Two and/or Multilevel.
  • Handlers must obtain their own liability insurance through their home owners and proof of coverage must be presented prior to testing.
  • Dogs with a bite history and females in heat are not permitted to test.
  • This is a Pittsburgh based Therapy Dog program, and teams are only certified to visit facilities located in and around the Pittsburgh area.

Additional Requirements for the test: Handlers may encouragement and praise throughout the test. Food treats and toys of any kind are not permitted. Reasons for immediate dismissal from the test include; defecating or urinating during testing, growling, snapping, biting, or any such attempts.

Misty Pines offers the TD test several times per year.