Advanced Therapy Dog & Handler Certification Course. Extend your AAI knowledge and application skills

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.

*Please note this course has been adapted due to COVID-19 and is now being delivered partially online.

The Advanced course is designed for graduate teams (handler & dog) who wish to extend their theoretical knowledge and practical application skills. It can be taken as the second step towards Practitioner Certification or as a stand-alone certification. 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 the model may be applied in multidisciplinary 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.

 Pre-requisite: The course is open to successful (human) graduates of our Foundation Certification course. Current (up to date) certification as a Visiting Therapy Dog competent across all domains* and ability to work safely around other dogs are pre-requisites for the Advanced Therapy Dog Certification. All dogs must provide proof of a current C5 vaccination and parasite control (fleas/worms), and a current Vet Check

As there will be limited opportunities to re-visit your dog’s skills it is recommended that teams actively practice to ensure that they are up to date with those sills covered in the foundation course. 

* Please note that mild separation anxiety is not exclusionary for Advanced Certification, provided this can be shown not to impact the dog’s capacity to work; e.g. the dog can be left alone in familiar places, or can be left with a trusted Secondary Handler/support person if necessary during a work day without distress. If  the dog has not previously attended the Foundation course, it must have obtained current Certification at a (Re)Certification day prior to attending the Advanced course.

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): There is no RPL available for this course, given the unique nature of the course content.

Location: Brand new venue in 2020. Mullum Therapeutic Farm, Panton Hill, Victoria.

Dates & Times: 4 consecutive days, (usually Wednesday – Saturday) 9am – 5pm. All upcoming course dates can be found in our Events Calendar, and Application Form

Cost: Early bird (pay in full two weeks prior to due date) $1450
Standard: $1640

Note: A maximum of 10 participants will be accepted into each course. Please enrol early to avoid disappointment. A 20% NON-REFUNDABLE deposit is required to secure your place in the course. Fees must be paid in full 28 days prior to course commencement.

The 4-day Advanced Therapy Dog & Handler Certification Course supersedes the 3-day Advanced Therapy Dog Interventions course from 2019.


Learning Objectives

The Advanced course is designed for graduate teams (handler & dog) who wish to extend their theoretical knowledge and practical application skills.

The course will enable participants to;

  • Describe the theoretical underpinnings of the Human-Animal Bond (HAB) and how this applies to Animal-Assisted Interventions
  • Apply a framework to the application of Canine-Assisted Interventions
  • Develop ‘off-lead’ communication & reliability with their Therapy-Dog
  • Develop skills in trick training and an understanding of how these may be used in AAI
  • Develop skills in agility and an understanding of how these may be used in AAI

Course Outline

Participants will be provided with many and varied challenging scenarios in which to extend their skills; working their dogs under higher levels of distraction, and with more advanced training, behaviour and manners.

Teams will workshop various intervention scenarios, and will develop a greater understanding about the applications for Therapy-Dog interventions in a variety of contexts, from visiting, to educational, therapeutic and rehabilitative.

Teams will be encouraged to explore new skills, including agility and trick type applications, under the guidance of our experienced instructors.

Day One


  • Applied obedience and manners in complex and challenging settings
  • Developing off-lead reliability & communication


  • The role of Canine Good Behaviour Shaping (CGBS) in ‘off-lead’ scenarios. Establishing and extending consistency. Understanding drives and distractions.
  • Advanced AAI applications – introduction to the Neurobiological Model and framework
Day Two


  • Advanced socialisation principles – inter-dog socialisation


  • Trick training methods, and the role of ‘tricks’ in Leadership Obedience


Includes prac. and role play

  • Fundamentals of trick training & therapeutic applications

Day Three


  • Combining ‘tricks’ with distraction, keeping dogs on task


  • Agility type activities, working with dogs and clients


Includes prac. and role play

  • Fundamentals of Agility type activities & therapeutic applications
Day Four


Includes prac. and role play

  • Intervention planning using the Neurobiological Model and tricks/agility


  • Off-lead control in complex environments (including simulated client interactions)
  • Role-play assessment
  • Handling assessment

Course Specific FAQ’s

What should I wear?

Please wear sensible clothing, including sturdy, closed-toe shoes and bring a coat, sunscreen and a hat. Adequate undercover training areas and an indoor air-conditioned classroom are available.

Is the course catered?

Light refreshments will be supplied every day. Boiling water, fridge and microwave are also supplied for your convenience.

To help keep costs to a minimum, please bring your lunch.

What should I bring?

Participants will be expected to bring their dogs to the centre each day of the course. During lectures, dogs will be learning to settle alongside their owners. When not with their owners, dogs will be provided with secure undercover pens or outdoor exercise yards.

You will be provided with comprehensive course and lecture notes and given ample time to ask questions relevant to your particular interests or profession. Please bring a pen and some additional paper to take notes if required.

I am travelling Interstate, where can I stay?

There is limited shared accommodation available on-site (contact us for more information). There are also many local accommodation options such as B&B’s. An Internet search will provide you with many options.