Therapy Dog Program

Our therapy dog program is a unique program for pet dogs who will work within their owner's workplace to support children & young people with additional needs, who identify as LGBTQ+ or are recovering from trauma. 


Our therapy dog program consists of two-part:


1) Foundation Training - our foundation therapy dog training program takes 6 weeks and consists of 5, 1-hour long zoom sessions and self-directed learning through a virtual learning zone which includes a variety of assignments. The foundation training covers:

  • canine emotions, including recognising fear, stress and anger and how to respond
  • canine welfare & how therapy work could effect it
  • enrichment, routines and consistency
  • training techniques & handling skills
  • Obedience & behaviour expectations for therapy dogs 
  • health and safety considerations
  • meeting a therapy dogs health and care needs
  • how to conduct a canine-assisted activity session with your dog
  • Socialisation and desensitising to their working environment


The foundation training costs £75 for registered non-profit organisations and  £125 for the 6 weeks for profit-making organisations. The foundation zoom sessions are held in 5-week blocks on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm. Once the foundation training has been completed and the handler is confident their dog can meet the list of obedience and behaviour expectations, there is an hour-long behaviour assessment which can either be held in Nottingham, Derby or via video link (but outside of the house). 


Once the therapy dog team have passed their foundation training and assessment, they will be given a therapy dog in training jacket and lead sleeve and be welcome to start socialising the therapy dog within their working environment around children and young people. 


2) The second part of the therapy dog training program is the advanced training:

The advanced training is what makes our therapy dog program really special. We have 6 signature canine-assisted activity programs for therapy dog partnerships to learn to provide to the children and young people they support. Each canine-assisted activity program focuses on specific need or area for development including teamwork and leadership skills, social skills and awareness, developing trust and empathy, gross and fine motor skills, literacy and numeracy skills, emotional regulation and sensory exploration. 

The training for each signature program takes 6 weeks and includes 6, 45-minute zoom sessions and a virtual learning program. Once the therapy dog in training team has completed at least one signature canine-assisted therapy program and the therapy dog is confident and working well within their working environment, the therapy dog team have their final assessment within their usual working environment. This assessment can be either face to face or via video link. Each 6-week canine-assisted activity training course costs £60, and the final assessment costs £35. 


What our current therapy dog clients have to say:

"The Pawsitive Squad Therapy dog programme has changed mine and my school's life. That is a huge statement to make, but without Pawsitive squad and without Heather's guidance we would not be where we are with Bella today. Before March, I had very little knowledge of therapy dogs in schools, but Heather has supported and guided us since day one. She has given me the confidence to be a handler and pushed us both to be the best we can be. I would highly recommend the programme, it is very thorough and well thought through, and also very easy to follow. Heather is so knowledgeable and offers support whenever it is needed. Heather has helped up overcome lots of hurdles with this knowledge and the support of the programme." - Ellie Blessed, an alternative education school for 13 to 16-year-olds.


"As an Occupational Therapist, I had been looking for some time to find a suitable company to train my own dog into a Therapy Dog to use within my work. Having searched around, most courses available either required me to use their own trained dog or could I could train in traditional therapy dog where patients would purely stroke the animal. I wanted training that would mean my dog could be incorporated into sessions that I already run to aid engagement and participation for those more vulnerable clients that struggle. I was recommended Heather at Pawsitive Squad by a local lady and looked into her services further.

Although pawsitive squad is not based near to my home address, it provides the luxury of offering sessions on online via zoom. This makes it easier to fit into an already busy diary and means I can practice in-between sessions at my own pace.

I have recently started the Nourish module. This is perfect for the work I am already doing with children that struggle with their sense of self and regulation. The module is easily adaptable to make it suitable for many aims or client goals and can easily be adapted to suit a variety of situations once you and the dog have learnt the skills needed.

In addition to the live sessions, I have been able to access face to face assessments and feedback to help me improve what I am doing and direct me when necessary. There is an online system to provide feedback following written assessments and this is all easily accessible. Furthermore, Heather is approachable and willing to answer and support with a variety of situations whenever needed between sessions. Highly recommend the Therapy Dog programme to anyone wanted that special slant on the services they can provide." - Rachael, Blossom Children's Occupational Therapy Ltd.


"As an occupational therapist working with a variety of different people, I have known the benefit that dogs bring to therapy. I wanted to use my own dog as part of my therapy offer. I searched everywhere for a training company that was able to train me and my dog however felt frustrated by the closed doors and lack of understanding of what I was trying to achieve. Most training programmes were too prescriptive and offered no flexibility of how I would use my dog in therapy. This was until I found Pawsitive Squad. I have been able to be trained by a professional who not only understands what I'm trying to achieve but also has a unique perspective being both a user and trainer of therapy dogs. Heather has been able to take us through the initial mandatory modules and also provide valuable advice on the process. I'm looking forward to engaging with the next therapy modules." - Moyna, Moyna Talcer Ltd.


To be eligible to join the Pawsitive Squad therapy dog program, you must have completed the pre-application 8-week course. For more information on the pre-application course, please click here.