Therapy Dogs.

Providing companionship and emotional support to people, families and facilities.
A black labrador Pets as Therapy Dog. The dog is seated outside on its back legs and it's wearing a Pets as Therapy dog coat. The dog is looking at the camera with its head tilted slightly.

About the Therapy Dog Program

The Therapy Dog Program is a community focused service that Guide Dogs NSW/ACT have offered for over 30 years.

A Therapy Dog provides comfort, companionship and emotional support to individuals, families, and people visiting or living in facilities. Therapy Dogs can particularly support people who experience:

  • behavioural, emotional, developmental and mental health conditions
  • physical disabilities
  • isolation caused by age or illness.

We currently offer two Therapy Dog Programs: Therapy Dogs for individuals and Therapy Dogs for facilities.

Therapy Dogs for Individuals

The primary role of a Therapy dog for an individual is to provide companionship and emotional support to individuals who might benefit.

Therapy Dogs for Facilities

The primary role of a Therapy dog for a facility is to provide companionship and emotional support on a broader scale to appropriate facilities, such as schools, nursing homes, psychologists, counsellors, and rehabilitation clinics.

A person and a yellow Guide Dog, in harness, sitting on grass outside. The person is smiling at the camera and the Guide Dog is a profile view.

Am I eligible for a Therapy Dog?

Am I eligible for a Therapy Dog?

To apply for a Therapy Dog you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be capable of exercising a large breed dog for a minimum of 1 hour each day outside of the home
  • Our Therapy dogs are raised to be around people inside the home and are not conditioned to be left alone for long periods of time throughout the day.
  • Ensure your backyard and fencing is dog proof.
  • Committed to health checking and grooming the dog daily.
  • Be able to afford the ongoing costs of dog ownership.
  • Willing to commit to caring emotionally, physically and financially for a dog for 10+ years.

A full list of criteria is provided in the Self-Assessment which you will receive upon application.

A yellow labrador Therapy Dog sitting outside. The dog is looking at the camera and is wearing an orange Therapy Dog coat.

How can I receive a Therapy Dog?

How can I receive a Therapy Dog?

If after reading the above information you feel you might be a good candidate to receive a dog from our Therapy Dog Program, or for any further inquiries please contact us on 1800 436 364 or email tdp@guidedogs.com.au

A black labrador Pets as Therapy Dog. The dog is seated outside on its back legs and it's wearing a Pets as Therapy dog coat. The dog is looking to the left of the camera.

Frequently Asked Questions

Therapy Dog FAQs

Dogs used in the Therapy Dog Program are Labrador Retrievers, and Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. We do not offer small breed dogs.

Dogs in the Therapy Dog Program are typically placed with clients when they are 14-18 months of age.

Unfortunately, no. If you experience allergic reactions to dog hair, please be aware that Labradors and Labrador/Golden Retriever mixes shed a lot of hair, and this may irritate people with allergies to dog hair.

Therapy dogs may assist those with behavioural and mental health conditions, physical disabilities and illness by reducing anxiety, increasing a sense of community, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course, providing unwavering friendship.

Our Therapy dogs are Labradors from our own breeding program that are trained in basic obedience, have great home manners, are reliable on lead, and are exposed to mobility equipment where necessary.

Do Therapy Dogs have Public Access Rights?

Therapy Dogs are placed with Clients in the capacity of a companion animal, not an assistance animal.

Therefore, they do not have public access rights.

Although Therapy Dogs are matched to Clients based on carefully considered criteria, they are not trained in behaviours to specifically assist with alleviating health concerns and so cannot be considered an Assistance Animal. Please see www.assistancedogsinternational.org for more information regarding assistance dog standards and types.

Should you wish to take your Therapy Dog into public places—like medical appointments, school grounds, café’s, or other similar places—you will need to seek permission from each individual establishment which may or may not grant access.

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT complies with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Companion Animals Act 1988 NSW Legislation in relation to welfare, training, allocation, and public access of Therapy Dogs.

How can I support the Therapy Dog program?

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is a sponsor, donor and volunteer-driven charity.

As a result, we rely on the generous contributions of our supporters for over 80% of our funding.

Donate now to support the Therapy Dogs program.

A man and a young child walking along a street. The child and man are holding the leash of a black labrador dog who is wearing an Autism Assistance Dog jacket.

Join PAWGUST, Guide Dog’s Biggest Online Challenge

Walk or run every day this August to raise funds for Guide Dogs.