Level Three

Advanced Certification for Therapy Dogs & Handlers.

Level Three – Advanced Theory and Preparation

This Certification level is ideal for working CAI professionals who wish to develop stronger theoretical foundations and a deeper understanding of the interactions between their clients and therapy dogs. It provides handlers with the skills to begin developing play-based interactions using off-lead training techniques, trick training and agility. Online and in-person options available.

Learn with the best!

On this 3-day intensive course handlers learn about the theory of the Oxytocin Effect and how to apply the Neurobiological Model to their client work in human mental health, wellbeing and learning contexts. Teams develop knowledge and skills in advanced, off-lead training for complex environments, and workshop trick training and agility skills.

At this level, graduates understand creative interventions and the neurobiology of interactions. They understand how to apply the Neurobiological Model of Animal Assisted Interventions (NB – AAI) to client interactions and interventions in multidisciplinary settings. Handlers develop creative interactions that are specifically targeted to meet individual client goals, and develop the skills to prepare Visiting Therapy Dogs for advanced training and assessment.

Mode: Live online delivery, OR in person (Melbourne) comprising theory lectures and Instructor led workshops

Pre-requisites: Dogs and handlers must be currently certified at Level Two. Dogs must meet the suitability criteria (see below)

Duration: 3 day intensive

Access: Enrol in your preferred dates via the online application form below

Course Overview

This 3-day intensive expands on the knowledge and skills of Certified Teams, exploring advanced training and socialisation and how they apply to canine assisted interactions. Teams learn a range of trick training methods and begin developing skills in tricks and the use of small agility equipment. Theory lectures explore the Oxytocin effect and the  Neruobiological Model which are used as foundations in the development of goal-directed and play-based interventions.


Level Two – Certified Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team 

Current Certification as a Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team

Dogs must continue to meet the Therapy Dog Suitability Criteria as outlined below. Dogs attending in-person must be safe to work off lead with other dogs and people in the presence of food and toys.

3-day intensive

Level Three: Advanced Theory and Preparation

This intensive course runs live online Monday to Wednesday and can be completed from the comfort of your own home anywhere in Australia or the world. Students participate in live online workshops with our dedicated instructors interspersed with online lectures.

NOTE: Students can opt to attend this intensive in-person in November each year (Melbourne, Australia)


  • Course introduction
  • Dog training refresh and extend workshop
  • Advanced canine training and behaviour lecture and workshops
  • Advanced socialisation and drives lecture and workshop
  • The fundamentals of trick training lecture and workshops
  • Small agility safety briefing and workshop
  • Underlying mechanisms for efficacy: Oxytocin and AAI lecture
  • The Neurobiological Model of Animal Assisted Interactions (NB-AAI) lecture and workshop
  • Course conclusion and future directions

Learning Objectives

  • Develop skills in advanced ‘off lead’ dog handling within the home environment and an understanding of the process to off lead reliability under distraction
  • Identify and understand advanced canine socialisation concepts including the management of drives (in particular play drives)
  • Describe how the oxytocin effect can be used to assist different clients in various AAI settings
  • Describe how the Neurobiological Model can be used to develop appropriate canine assisted interactions and interventions for clients at different phases of learning or treatment
  • Use the Neurobiological Model to describe the different roles of clients, dogs and handlers/practitioners in CAI
  • Identify and describe various trick training methods and begin teaching tricks to the therapy dog
  • Safely introduce the therapy dog to small indoor agility equipment and obstacles, whilst building trust and confidence

Attendance requirements

Each day is divided into a combination of practice and theory. Lectures are designed to enhance participant’s understanding of the skills gained each day, and the knowledge will build over the course. Participants must attend all components of the course, as learning is both sequential and cumulative.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

There is no RPL available for this course, given the unique nature of the course content.

Assessment and Certification

Online (theoretical) content is assessed via online (open book) questionnaires. Participants are required to obtain 100% correct in order to pass the assessments. Three attempts are provided to pass each assessment. If participants are unsuccessful, they must contact the course instructor for further support.

The practicum component of this course is not formally assessed for competence. Handlers are provided with a written statement of their dog handling progress, and are notified of any concerns identified which may negatively impact on their dog’s ability to progress to Level Four –  Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification.

Suitable for

  • Dog and handler teams who have current (up to date) Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification (Level 2) and would like to expand their skills and knowledge in CAI

  • Teams should feel confident that they have consolidated their on lead training. For more information, see When is my Dog Ready for Advanced?

  • Experience in working or visiting together as a team is an advantage

  • Dogs must continue to meet the suitability criteria listed in the Visiting Therapy Dog Suitability Checklist (see below)

  • Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of enrolment on the application form

Please note: All of our courses are delivered in English, requiring a high level of written and spoken English language skills, including discipline specific terminology. Recommended proficiency level is C1 – Advanced (proficient)

Visiting Therapy Dog Suitability Checklist

All dogs must provide proof of a current C5 vaccination and parasite control (fleas/worms). If your dog works as your assistance or service dog, you must contact us prior to enrolling. Visiting therapy dogs must not engage in activities that promote aggression to people (e.g., protection or guard dog work or training), or to animals (e.g., hunting, herding or fighting).

Visiting Therapy-Dog Suitability Checklist

Use the following checklist as a handy reference guide:

  1. My dog is part of my life and my household, e.g. comes into the house, participates in activities. They have lived with me for 3 months or longer, and I know them well. I can confidently answer the checklist questions
  2. My dog is comfortable meeting strangers (e.g. in the park or the street), and shows this by approaching or seeking attention if allowed
  3. My dog is happy when we have visitors come to the home, and seeks attention from them
  4. My dog likes children
  5. My dog likes elderly or disabled people
  6. My dog is not fearful of cars, bikes, trolleys, skate-boards or other moving objects
  7. My dog is not fearful of stairs, shiny floors, elevators, lights, fans or other typical environments
  8. My dog enjoys being patted, touched and cuddled by strangers
  9. My dog can be left alone at times without becoming distressed or destructive
  10. I can leave my dog tied up or tethered in a safe location for brief periods without them becoming distressed or destructive
  11. My dog will happily go off with a friend or family member without me, without becoming distressed
  12. My dog is reliably toilet trained, and does not ‘mark’ inappropriate objects/furniture indoors or outdoors
  13. My dog enjoys outings and novel activities, for example visiting a new person or place
  14. My dog is generally willing to comply with requests, even if unsure or nervous (e.g. tolerates grooming, being taken off/sharing their bed, having a toy or treat taken away, visiting the vet, being checked over or having a wound looked at) without growling or becoming fearful
  15. down (even if only informally at home) without resistance or aversion. (Note: dogs should have received basic training prior to attending a Certification course)
  16. My dog will cope with being in a room with other dogs (on-lead) and learning obedience in close proximity to other dogs without growling, lunging or becoming fearful
  17. My dog is fit and healthy enough to travel to a workplace and engage physically with strangers
  18. My dog is fully vaccinated and treated for parasites (e.g. fleas, worms) by a licensed Veterinarian
  19. My dog has NO untreated or unstable medical conditions
  20. My dog is NOT afraid of strangers, and does not growl at or avoid strangers, e.g. men in hats, toddlers running, people carrying equipment or making odd noises etc.
  21. My dog does not ‘mouth’ (place mouth or teeth on people) even in play (including puppies)
  22. My dog is NOT aggressive towards other animals such as small animals, cats, native animals (e.g. possums/birds) chooks, ponies or farm animals e.g. enjoys their company, is inquisitive (even excitable), or is indifferent (does not chase/hunt)
  23. My dog does NOT have any obvious fears or phobias (e.g. thunderstorms, electrical equipment, vacuums, cleaning chemical smells)
  24. I do NOT have any concerns about the way my dog interacts, and I feel s/he would genuinely enjoy physical contact with strangers, including being hugged and picked up
  25. My dog does NOT engage in activities that promote aggression to people (e.g. guard or protection training) or to animals (e.g. hunting, herding, or fighting)
  26. My dog does NOT perform a life-saving alerting function for me or another person (e.g. medical alert dog, PTSD service dog, Autism service dog) which would represent a potential conflict for the dog during client work
  27. My dog has NEVER bitten or attempted to bite a person

Access and Pricing

Level Three – Advanced Preparation and Theory

Course practicum dates can be found on the application form and on the training calendar

$990 AUD (Inc. GST)