Photo: The Dogist

Become a Therapy Dog Team​

Maybe you have been thinking of becoming a therapy dog team.  You see how much your dog brings to your life and how much others enjoy him. Maybe you have been thinking about volunteering but didn't know how to go about it. 

There are so many ways in which you can give back with a therapy dog.  In addition to Fair Shake, therapy dogs visit children and adults in hospitals, residents in nursing homes, and help college kids de-stress during exams. 

Wondering if your dog has what it takes?  The most important determinant is temperament. Dogs that are highly social with people and good in new situations are best-suited for therapy work.  Dogs must also be tolerant of handling and know basic manners. They may be calm or energetic as long as they are under the handler's control and make those they are visiting feel confident. Therapy dogs may be any breed or mixed breed.  Because of the nature of the work, therapy dog teams volunteering with A Fair Shake are generally 15 or more pounds.  

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Photos: The Dogist


There are two major therapy dog organizations in New York City -- Pet Partners, the largest therapy dog organization in the country, and The Good Dog Foundation, the largest regional therapy dog organization

Pet Partners

  • Complete the handler training, either the Online Handler Course (2-3 hours) OR One-day in-person Workshop for humans only ($70 and $125 respectively)

  • Pass the hands-on evaluation of you and your dog (including basic manners, working around distractions, crowds, and medical equipment, reaction to a neutral dog and clumsy and exuberant petting)

  • Dog may not be on a raw food diet 

  • Dogs must be at least 1 year old, and have lived with their handler for at least 6 months 

  • Registration fee of $95 ($50 for 55 or over)

  • Re-evaluation and registration renewal every 2 years

Learn more about volunteering with Pet Partners here


Training Classes for Prospective Pet Partners Teams

While not required, we encourage prospective Pet Partners teams to take therapy dog training class to help you and your dog:

  • Build clearer and more effective communication 

  • Get comfortable working around medical equipment

  • Build confidence in working around food, toys, dogs and people

  • Role play visiting scenarios

  • Determine what kind of work your dog will enjoy

Classes are taught by Jane Kopelman of All About Dogs. Jane is a consultant to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Caring Canine Program, a certified trainer, behaviorist, and owns an animal shelter in upstate New York.


Upper West Side

Tuesday evenings 7:30-8:30

Dog Days of New York

2581 Broadway

 Currently no classes scheduled


For more information or to enroll in an upcoming class, please download our class registration packets here:

Class Packets

The Good Dog Foundation

  • Complete an online pre-screening form and in-person evaluation with a Good Dog trainer

  • Successfully complete a Therapy Skills training class with your dog -- 4 weeks, 1.5 hours per week, $265

  • Complete a first therapy visit under the supervision of a Good Dog trainer

  • Dogs must be at least 1 year old, and have lived with handler for at least 4 months

  • Re-certification required on an annual basis, $85 fee


Learn more about volunteering with The Good Dog Foundation here