What does Canine Therapy Corps do?

Canine Therapy Corps utilizes the power of the human-animal bond to provide goal-directed and interactive animal-assisted therapy interventions to promote and encourage psychological and physical well-being. For example, volunteers may assist a person who has suffered a stroke to complete physical exercises to regain use of the affected part of their body (ex. using simple hand commands, such as “come” or “stay,” or throwing a ball for the dog with the affected arm).

We mobilize teams of volunteers to handle Canine Therapy Corps-certified therapy dogs in a variety of healthcare and human services settings, including but not limited to: hospitals, social service organizations, rehabilitation/recovery programs, and schools. Our therapy dogs are typically owned by the volunteers who handle them and are regular pets at home. Canine Therapy Corps does not adopt or own any dogs directly.

See our Programs page for more information.

Can I certify my dog to be a personal therapy dog?

It is important to note that Canine Therapy Corps certifies and runs programs for therapy dogs exclusively – not service animals or emotional support animals (ESAs). The difference is that therapy dogs do not serve the individuals they live with – they are well-trained to go out and volunteer with their handler among a variety of populations. They do not, however, provide physical or emotional support for their owner, like service animals and ESAs do. We do not train or certify ESAs or service animals.

Mainly, therapy animals are well-trained and tested companion animals that volunteer with their owners (or another handler), providing support and companionship to others in the community. At home, they are regular pets and do not provide any type of formal support to individuals in their households.

Here are some helpful references if you are seeking a service animal or ESA:

This chart provides a quick reference of the difference between Therapy Animals, Service/Assistance Animals, and Emotional Support Animals:


Canine Therapy Corps sounds great, but I live/work outside of Chicago. Do you travel for outreach visits? Can I certify a dog with you and work in my home area?

Please note that Canine Therapy Corps is not a therapy dog registry.  Our certification is only valid to work in the programs that Canine Therapy Corps runs in the city of Chicago and select near suburbs.  If you are looking for therapy dog programs with more geographic and/or programmatic flexibility, we recommend certifying with a national therapy dog registry, such as Pet Partners.

Since our programs and events are largely staffed by volunteers who live in Chicago, we are unable to travel outside of the Chicago city limits to provide services. Please visit our Related Organizations page for therapy dog programs with more geographic and/or programmatic flexibility that may be able to accommodate your outreach request.

Does Canine Therapy Corps provide home visits?

We wish we could accommodate every kind of visitation request, but unfortunately, we cannot offer home visits. Therapy Dogs International lists home visits as a service that they provide, so you might try reaching out to them. 

Do you have on-site visitation opportunities?

At this time, we do not offer on-site visits at Canine Therapy Corps headquarters due to our office build-out taking place. Once this is completed, we do intend to offer on-site services to individuals who are not currently involved with our regular programming. Stay tuned for more information!

I work at a social services organization that would benefit from a CTC Volunteer Team visit. How do I request a visit and how much does it cost?

Great! Please complete an outreach request form.  Outreach events are free of charge, but donations are encouraged if possible. Please note that we need to schedule events at least two months in advance, so be aware of that when submitting your request.  

My corporation would like to bring in therapy dogs for an event. How do I apply and how much does it cost?

For corporations, businesses, or professional associations, we have a special program called “Partners In Healing,” which provides therapy animals for corporate events. Because businesses and corporations fall outside of our regular service populations, we request that corporations and businesses make a tax-deductible donation in exchange for our services. Canine Therapy Corps does not receive government funding or insurance reimbursement for our services. Instead, we rely solely on the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations to sustain our valuable work.

For more information, please complete a corporate event request form.

Is there an age requirement for my dog to test?

Dogs must be at least a year old in order to be eligible to complete our certification test.

How old do you have to be to volunteer with Canine Therapy Corps?

All volunteers must be 16 years of age or older.

Where can I volunteer with my dog?

Once certified, volunteers can serve in professionally-led Canine Therapy Corps programs with their dogs as they are scheduled. Read our current list of programs here!  All of our programs are located in the city of Chicago and Park Ridge.

Do you take volunteers without dogs?

Yes! We have a limited amount of opportunities for individuals to assist with our certification sessions. However, our greatest need is for individuals who can certify their dogs and staff our programs. If you would like to be notified of our next orientation session to volunteer without a dog, fill out this form.

What does your certification test entail?

Canine Therapy Corps’ certification test is a 14-exercise test, which is used to measure various temperament and obedience factors to simulate real-life visits. For example, we need to make sure dogs can visit with an individual amidst distractions, including but not limited to: another dog being present, unfamiliar hospital equipment, as well as the basic commands of “sit”, “stay”, “heel” and “come”.

A copy of our test is on our Forms and Downloads page for review.

What training is required to certify my dog? How long will it take? How much will it cost?

Each dog is required to have taken a 6-week group obedience class or four private training sessions with a professional before taking the certification test.  Unfortunately, puppy training classes aren’t eligible to be counted towards the training requirement. Other than that, there is no required training process for each therapy dog – however you want to train your dog for the test is up to you.  That said, most candidates require professional assistance to pass the test.   

How long the training process will take depends entirely on how much training your dog has already had, how well you have maintained that training, and how quickly the dog learns.  It is different for everyone.  Likewise, the cost is also very dependent on these factors.  Some individuals pick up training methods easily and are able to pass the test with a majority of training taking place on their own, while others may spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on professional training resources. 

Need training resources? We have a resource sheet with dog trainers who have helped others pass our test on our Forms and Downloads page. We also offer prep classes and private training sessions at Canine Therapy Corps! Feel free to email us to inquire about rates and availability.

Thank you for looking on our FAQ page! If we missed anything, please give us a call! Look forward to hearing from you!