Therapy Dogs

Providing companionship and emotional support to people, families and facilities.
A yellow Labrador wearing an orange therapy dog jacket

About the Therapy Dog Program

A Therapy Dog provides comfort, companionship and emotional support.

Therapy Dogs can particularly support people who experience behavioural, emotional, developmental and mental health conditions, physical disabilities or isolation caused by age or illness.

We currently offer two Therapy Dog Programs:

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.

Please note that Guide Dogs Victoria does not offer training for pet dogs to become Therapy Dogs, and are not able to assist in registering your pet dog as a support animal.

A black labrador dog's face. The dog is looking to the right of the camera.

Am I eligible for a Therapy Dog?

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

  • Reside in Victoria, Australia
  • 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.

To find out more about the Therapy Dog Program or the application process:

A person seated on a couch with a black labrador dog seated in front of the person. The person is looking down at the dog.

Apply for a Therapy Dog

Therapy Dog Program

The Therapy Dog Program is now accepting expressions of interest. Enter your details below to be sent an information booklet and a self-assessment form.

    Expression of interest

    Fields marked with * requiredare required.

    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.

    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.

    Some dogs provide security, assistance and friendship to those with PTSD as a result of their time in service.

    Integra Service Dogs Australia work with Veterans and First Responders living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and their families by enriching lives through highly-trained canine guardians.

    A not-for-profit organisation, Integra supports Veterans and First Responders through the provision of dogs that provide security, assistance and friendship to those with PTSD as a result of their time in service.

    Once a dog is identified as showing potential for this work by GDV staff, Integra Service Dogs Australia carry out a more specific assessment of the dogs’ potential before providing additional training in readiness for matching with one of their own clients.

    Contact Integra Service Dogs Australia via their website here for more information.

    Meet Kenzo, who has a special role as the "Director of Happiness" at a hospital in Victoria.

    How can I support the Therapy Dog program?

    There are many ways you can get involved with Guide Dogs to support the Therapy Dog Program

    Donate now to support the Therapy Dogs program.

    You can also become a Puppy Pal, where you can follow the journey of a litter of puppies and donate to help them become life-changing Guide Dogs.

    Or if you would like to get involved in a volunteering capacity, apply to become a Puppy Raiser, or explore other volunteering opportunities in your area.

    A yellow eight week old puppy outside with its front paws perched on a ledge. The puppy is looking straight at the camera.

    Bring joy to Clients like Melissa.

    Donate before June 30