This unique and comprehensive training programme provides Therapy-Dog Certification and Therapy-Dog Handler Certification taught by the leaders in the industry. It builds skills progressively via a number of short courses, culminating in a Certificate of Animal-Assisted Interventions (Canine)

There are three levels of certification for handlers with Lead The Way Institute;

Lead the Way Certified Handler badge

Certified Handler

6-day course

Lead the Way Certified Handler Advanced badge

Certified Handler Advanced

4-day course

Lead the Way Multi-Dog Handler badge

Optional Multi-Dog Handler

Lead the Way Certified Practitioner badge

Certified Practitioner

9 months practice, masterclass & home study

There are two levels of certification for therapy dogs with Lead The Way Institute;

Lead the Way Visiting Therapy Dog badge

Visiting Therapy Dog

6-day course

Lead the Way Advanced Therapy Dog badge

Advanced Therapy Dog

4-day course

Foundation Course – Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Certification

This intensive 6-day course is the first step in our training programme, and will provide both you and your dog the certification required to start your work together as a therapy dog and handler.

The Foundation Course provides a solid foundation to begin your work in professional therapeutic settings (such as Animal-Assisted Therapy – AAT), schools and educational settings (such as Animal-Assisted Education – AAE) or visiting, volunteer or recreational settings (such as Animal-Assisted Activities – AAA). The course provides a comprehensive background to Therapy-Dog training with the Canine Leadership System, handling, socialisation, psychology, body language, first aid, and Canine Good Behaviour Shaping. It also provides information to help get you started in Animal-Assisted Interventions, including the research how Human-Animal Interactions (HAI) are beneficial, how to manage ethical and legal issues, and understanding occupational health and safety. Participants will learn how to safely handle, manoeuvre and introduce their dogs to a range of clients. At the end of this course, you will have the skills to begin your work together in visiting or professional settings.

Alpha Canine Professional

Delivered in partnership with Alpha Canine Professional

Advanced Course – Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Certification

For certified teams wishing to expand their knowledge and skills, the Advanced Course is a great option. This intensive 4-day course is focussed on developing creative interventions, and training therapy dogs for advanced, off-lead reliability.

The Advanced course is designed for graduate teams (handler & dog) who wish to extend their theoretical knowledge and practical application skills. Participants will learn about the Neurobiological Model of Animal-Assisted Therapy (NB-AAT) developed by our founder Melanie G Jones, and will be taught how to apply the model in a range of different settings, for a variety of clients. There is a focus on creating a strong working partnership with the therapy dog and a deeper understanding of their unique contributions to the work. Practical classes include establishing ‘off-lead’ reliability, the fundamentals of trick training, and the basics of agility exercises with workshops linking these to creative interventions. At the end of this course, teams will have a greater understanding of how to work together with their dogs to deliver AAI, develop effective interventions for their clients, and have a tool-kit of tricks and ideas to try.

Alpha Canine Professional

Delivered in partnership with Alpha Canine Professional

Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler teams are eligible for certification to work in multi-dog groups – Find out more.

Practitioner Certification – Certificate of Animal-Assisted Interventions (Canine)*

Practitioner certification is available to those handlers who complete the entire certificate programme, offering certification as an Animal-Assisted Therapist, Animal-Assisted Educator, or Animal-Assisted Activities Co-ordinator. The certificate programme recognises the unique skills and abilities of highly trained dog and handler teams who provide interventions in line with their own professional disciplines.

The full certificate programme includes successful completion of the Foundation and the Advanced courses, attendance at a minimum of one discipline-specific masterclass, plus a total of 9 months (228 hours) supervised practice, 25 hours of self-paced home-study and two online exams.

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*Please note: There are no AAI courses in Australia accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). This course is therefore not a Nationally Recognised Training Course or VET course under Australian law.

Practitioner Masterclass

The discipline-specific Masterclasses form one component of the Practitioner Certification (Certificate of AAI), but are also open to other graduates.

Practitioner Masterclasses include

AAI in Mental Health

This masterclass will focus on the theories and practices of AAT and NB-AAT in mental health. It is suitable for clinicians working in the mental health sector, such as psychologists, counsellors, social workers, welfare workers, OTs etc. Participants will learn to combine established and emerging theories of AAT with their current clients, and workshop interventions with other participants.

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Delivered in partnership with Jenny Dwyer Associates and Guest speaker Chelle Taylor

AAI in Trauma treatment

This masterclass will focus on the theories and practices of AAT and NB-AAT in trauma treatments. It is suitable for clinicians such as psychologists, counsellors, social workers, welfare workers, OTs etc. Participants will explore the role of therapy dogs in interpersonal neurobiology, and develop an appreciation of novel animal-assisted trauma treatments such as EMDR. Opportunities to workshop interventions with other participants will be provided.

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Delivered in partnership with Jenny Dwyer Associates and Guest speaker Chelle Taylor

AAI in Education

This masterclass will focus on the theories and practices of AAE in school and educational settings. It is suitable for teachers, trainers, coaches and other educational staff working in a variety of formal and informal institutions. Participants will learn about the various ways therapy dogs are being employed to enhance educational and associated outcomes, including behaviour and classroom management, stress and welfare. Participants will learn about whole-of-population and individual approaches, and will have opportunities to workshop interventions with other participants.

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Delivered in partnership with Gemma Olsen Patient Paws

Animal-Assisted Activities Co-ordination

This masterclass will focus on the theories and practices of AAA in visiting settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools or workplaces. Participants will learn about engaging customers in activities, understanding the limitations of visiting settings, partnering with professionals, and will have opportunities to workshop interventions with other participants.

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Delivered in partnership with Gemma Olsen Patient Paws

AAI in Allied Health

Coming soon