Heel to Heal - Touching Lives

Therapy dogs bring comfort and joy to people in the community who do not have access to a loving pet.  Improving health and well being, therapy dogs touch lives to make a difference in the community.



The Canines for Therapy program trains owners and their dogs to provide animal-assisted visitations in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, group homes and treatment facilities. Our comprehensive training program gives canines the healing touch.  The 6-week course is designed to provide a hands-on approach for people and their dogs to learn the skills needed for successful animal assisted activity and therapy visitations. After completing the program, teams become certified Canines for Therapy Teams and can volunteer in their community.



A therapy dog can be any size and any breed. A good candidate for pet therapy is a very social dog that is even-tempered, good-natured, likes a diverse population of people, does well with other animals (especially dogs), has good obedience skills and enjoys interacting with other people. Does your dog sound like it would love pet therapy? Come be a part of our team of pets helping people in our communities.

A therapy dog is not a service dog. It does not have legal access as a service dog does. It is a well-trained pet that volunteers in the community visiting people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc., brightening their day and making them smile. It can be any size and any breed. 


  • Canines for Therapy is a comprehensive training program for the handler and the dog.  

  • Our program requires attendance at a workshop and requires the handler to train with the dog they intend to certify. 

  • Compared to other therapy programs, we are the platinum standard in pet therapy training. 

  • Canines for Therapy team certification is for 2 years.  

  • A team must be reevaluated within 90 days of the expiration date listed on their identification.



The dog must be at least 1 year of age and have lived in the handler's home for at least 6 months prior to participation.

  • Dogs must have strong and reliable basic obedience skills (sit, down, stay, recall and walking on a loose leash) and have successfully passed an AKC Canine Good Citizens test within 2 years of the class start date.

  • Dogs are not allowed to be fed raw diets or modified raw diets; no exceptions. (AVMA policy)

  • Dogs that are incontinent and unable to hold their bladder or bowels are not allowed.

  • Neck buckle collars, cloth martingale collars or head harnesses (i.e. Halti, Gentle Leader, Snoot Loop) are the only acceptable equipment allowed. A 6-foot leash is mandatory; no retractable leads.

  • The first night of class, handler must provide their completed registration form and a copy of the animal’s  vaccination record. All dogs must have rabies, DHPP and Bordetella vaccinations or titers.  The Canine Influenza vaccine is also highly recommended. Dogs without proof of vaccinations or titers will not be able to participate. 

  • The person handling the animal must be at least 10 years old. Handlers younger than 17 must be accompanied by a participating parent.

  • Dogs trained to aggressively protect and/or encouraged to actively bite, even as a component of a dog sport (e.g., bite work that is part of Schutzhund) may not be therapy dogs.


Wilmington, NC

Canines for Service Facility

This location must have a minimum of 7 people and dogs to conduct a class. 

Class Schedule:

Class meets once per week for 2 hours each week for 6 weeks. The sixth week is the evaluation.​ New classes will begin on the following dates:

  • Monday, October 12, 2020

Click to register for the Wilmington Class

Raleigh, NC

Hearts for Paws Dog Training

Please visit Hearts for Paws Dog Training website for class schedule and additional information.

Renewing Canines for Therapy Teams

Renewing Canines for Therapy teams must complete renewal paperwork and be evaluated with their dog.  In Wilmington, renewal assessments are scheduled on a quarterly basis. Please contact the office for more information.

For Raleigh area teams, visit Hearts for Paws Dog Training's website to schedule a renewal assessment.


221 Old Dairy Road, Unit 1
Wilmington NC 28405

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Canines for Service Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to Canines for Service Inc. are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by applicable law.  Tax identification number: 56-2118747

Canines for Service Inc., Canines for Veterans and Canines for Therapy are registered trademarks of Canines for Service Inc.  All rights reserved. 

©2018 Canines for Service Inc.