Training and Certification in Canine Assisted Interactions and Interventions (CAI) for Therapy Dogs and Handlers

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 Interactions (Canine)* & Practitioner Certification

* Please note: There are no CAI 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.

All students begin their training at the Foundational level. Short courses provide theoretical background which can then be used as pre-requisites for Certification. Each level of Certification can stand alone, or can be used as the basis for optional Advanced and Professional Certifications. Students are encouraged to explore the short e-courses to see if the training is right for them. We provide a mix of online self paced learning, instructor led live online training, and face to face practical training and assessment.

There are three levels of training for handlers with Lead The Way Institute, each representing a step towards the Practitioner Certification


  • Foundational e-courses provide theoretical foundations of AAI and CAI
  • Provisional Handler Certification Canine (online only) – Step one. Provisional Handlers understand the necessary OH&S, welfare and organisational requirements of CAI and can prepare and socialise their dog for training and Certification
  • Certified Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team – Step two.  Certified Handlers facilitate safe interactions. The Visiting Therapy Dog has been assessed as responsive on lead and enjoys people.


  • Advanced course preparation and theory (online only) – Step three.  Certified Handlers understand creative interventions and the neurobiology of interactions. They understand how to apply the Neurobiological Model of Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) to client interactions and interventions in multidisciplinary settings.
  • Certified Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team – Step four.  Advanced Handlers are competent to develop and deliver creative interactions. The dog is assessed as being highly responsive and can work off lead with clients.
  • Advanced MultiDog Group and Handler – optional. Advanced MultiDog Handlers can work with more than one Advanced Therapy Dog simultaneously during client interactions. The dogs have been assessed as working well together in a group.


  • Professional supervision. Students develop a supervision plan for their 9 months of professional practice with one of the Institute’s approved supervisors. Via supervision, students refine the integration of their CAI skills with their primary professional practice of Therapy, Education or Activities.
  • Masterclasses.  Certified Handlers may attend discipline specific Masterclasses to workshop interactions with some of Australia’s most inspiring masters in their fields. Note, only Certified Advanced Therapy Dogs may attend Masterclass.
  • Certification as a Practitioner in Animal Assisted Therapy, Animal Assisted Activities, or Animal Assisted Education – Step five. The final stage in the Certificate is to sit the final knowledge exam, demonstrating consolidation of the training over the five steps.