PROFESSIONAL THERAPY DOGS
An FSD Therapy Dog is matched with one working professional who has written permission from their workplace to incorporate the dog into their work. When the handler is not on duty, the dog enjoys time off-the-clock as a pet in the professional’s home.
We pair professional therapy dogs with mental health and/or crisis support providers, such as therapists, social workers, law enforcement, and more. Our dogs partner with these professionals to provide therapeutic support in places like police departments, fire stations, hospitals, schools, assisted living facilities, and more.
According to Animal-Assisted Intervention International (AAII), Therapy dogs need to:
- Be comfortable with and not overreact to distractions, unusual situations (e.g. sudden noises/movement, etc.) in the environment, or equipment that is commonly present
- Display genuine signs of interest for socializing with people and receiving attention from a variety of people, demonstrating appropriate responses
- Remain relaxed with different people petting, checking over, and handling/grooming the dog IF that is what is expected in the dog’s normal line of work
Things Therapy dogs can help with and do:
- Processing traumatic events
- Lessening impact of job-related stress
- Positive interactions with those served and community as a whole
- Help build rapport and engagement between individuals/community, and professionals
- Provide affection and comfort in anxiety provoking situations
- Help to make difficult topics easier to explore by applying parallels with the dog
- Work alongside their handler as a team to improve lives
- Be adorable, cuddly, and make people laugh!
How to apply for a professional therapy dog
Step 1: Determine whether a professional therapy dog is right for you
Is your workplace an appropriate setting for a trained therapy dog? Will you have the time and resources to care for a dog at your workplace? Are you prepared to be part of the continued training and support required by FSD throughout the lifetime of the dog, including monthly and annual reports, and annual recertification?
Additionally, please keep in mind that the fee for a professional therapy dog is $2,500.
Step 2: Apply
Prior to applying for a professional therapy dog, ensure that you have a letter of written permission from your workplace verifying that you are allowed to incorporate a professional therapy dog into your work. For school employees, this might require permission from the school district. In the private practice setting, you may need permission from the owner of your building or workspace. Permission must be granted before you are matched with an FSD professional therapy dog.
To apply, please fill out the Professional Therapy Dog application below.
Step 3: Join our waitlist
After reviewing your application and completing an interview, our team will determine whether or not our program matches your needs. If you are accepted onto our waitlist, our team will look at therapy dogs in training with your needs in mind. If we find a dog that might be a good match for you, we will contact you to set up a time for you to meet the dog. Our wait time varies based on your needs and the characteristics of our dogs, but a wait of one to three years is typical.
Step 4: Attend placement class
After you have been matched with a professional therapy dog, you will attend the next one-week placement class at FSD's facility in Englewood, Colorado, and pay the $2,500 fee for your dog. You will work with FSD trainers to learn how to handle and work with your new partner. For the continued life of the dog, FSD will provide support through recertification, responses to your monthly/annual reports, and additional training, all at no charge to you.
Please note: We cannot train or certify your pet dog as a therapy dog.
If you’re experiencing difficulty accessing the Therapy Dog application, please follow these Therapy Dog Application Troubleshooting Steps. We apologize for any inconvenience as we work to improve the application.