A partnership with

Therapy Dog Team Training in the Bronx

Program Description

BronxCare Health System, in partnership with The Good Dog Foundation, is recruiting community residents with loving, well-behaved dogs to join its NEW THERAPY DOG PROGRAM.

Therapy dogs are pets who, accompanied by their owner, come to the hospital − for no more than one hour each visit − to help patients, their families, and our medical team recover from stress, anxiety, and trauma.

Visit Opportunities

  • Patients of all ages & family members
  • Patients undergoing surgery
  • Patients with emotional challenges
  • Dedicated healthcare workers
  • Inpatient & outpatient locations

Why can some dogs do this?
Dogs and humans evolved together over tens of thousands of years. Our two species can communicate without words, often in powerful ways. Scientific research shows that some especially loving dogs, when properly trained, can help adults and kids recover from illness-related anxiety, which can help people heal. Which is why we want to build a therapy dog program at BronxCare.

Exciting Benefits for Those Accepted Into This Program

FREE training for you and your dog – Good Dog and BronxCare teach you everything you need to know – at no cost to you, including:

  • Good Dog Manners Training, if your dog needs it.
  • Good Dog Certification Training for you and your dog to become an official therapy dog team.
  • BronxCare Onboarding Instructions, so you know hospital rules and your way around.

You also get:

  • Free annual veterinary checkups and dog vaccinations.
  • Help with affordable primary care for you and your family, if you need it.
  • A doggie gift from BronxCare – for applying and coming in for evaluation, if invited.
  • And, if you need it, there will be help covering your travel expenses to and from the hospital, arranged through BronxCare.

What We Ask in Return

In return, we hope that you and your dog, once trained and certified, will give BronxCare an hour of your time (weekly or monthly) visiting patients and staff. The Good Dog Foundation will help you with visit scheduling.

The Good Dog Foundation is the national leader in training and fielding dogs and humans to work together as therapy dog teams. Good Dog will provide not only the training but the annual re-certification required.

Therapy dogs and their human-handler family members, when trained and certified by The Good Dog Foundation, also are able to visit Good Dog-approved schools, nursing homes and libraries. This is a wonderful way to help others!

The Good Dog Difference

Good Dog is unique from other therapy dog organizations in offering:

Hands-On Training. Four weekly one-hour, in-person classes for Good Dog Manners (if needed) plus four weekly 90-minute, in-person classes for Certification as a therapy dog team. Multiple classes allow our trainers to observe you and your dog over time, assessing skill retention, offering correctives.

Authentic Certification. Good Dog is the only organization in the NY Metro offering authentic Therapy Dog Team Certification and annual reevaluation / re-certification.

Site Visits To Ensure Safety. Good Dog volunteers visit only those facilities (like BronxCare and other hospitals; or schools, nursing homes and libraries) that are pre-inspected and have signed a Partnership Agreement ensuring a safe dog-human environment. Good Dog therapy dog teams get free liability insurance coverage on their scheduled visits to partner facilities, including BronxCare.

Scheduling & Feedback. Good Dog, working with BronxCare, will help you schedule your therapy dog visits and quickly, easily report on visit outcomes. In this way, you are like a “citizen scientist” who is contributing to knowledge about how dogs and humans interact.

Protection For Your Dog. We limit volunteering to one hour a day to protect dogs from fatigue and stress in challenging environments like hospitals, schools, etc. As a handler, you’ll find your pet gives its all when wearing the Good Dog bandana.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for asking about our volunteer dog therapy program, we are very excited about it! We know how much joy and healing therapy dog teams can bring to patients and staff in health centers.

What is a volunteer therapy dog team?

A volunteer therapy dog team is a dog and their owner who are willing to share their love with others.

BronxCare is partnering with The Good Dog Foundation, the nonprofit leader in training and fielding dogs and humans to work together as therapy dog teams. Good Dog will provide the training and annual re-certification we require.

Volunteer teams are often surprised at how much they and their dogs enjoy these visits!

How much does it cost to become a volunteer therapy team?

It’s free! We are covering the costs of Certification training and Manners training (if needed). Once admitted and trained, we can also provide you with basic veterinary care and annual vaccinations for your dog and medical clearance for you. In addition, we can help you with transportation costs to get to and from the volunteer site if needed.

All we ask is for you to donate some of your time, which we know is precious. We know you will find it well worth it!

What types of dogs can become therapy dogs?

We accept all breeds. They must be at least one year old and have lived with you for at least 4 months.

Can more than one person be certified with a dog?

Yes. A second person (“Additional Handler”), who is a legal owner or lives with the dog, can take the same therapy classes along with you.

Attendance at all classes is mandatory for all human handlers and dogs…no one is allowed to substitute for you if you are unable to attend a class.

Can my teenager volunteer?

Human volunteers must be 18 years of age.

Does this training mean my dog will be a service animal, or emotional support animal?

No! Service animals or emotional support animals provide support to their human family members.

Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and joy to people outside of their homes, such as at BronxCare.    


What do I have to do to become a volunteer therapy team with my dog?

Apply online at www.thegooddogfoundation.org.  Then, select the Training / Certification tab at the top of the screen and scroll the drop-down menu to select “BronxCare Certification.” Complete the application.

Your application will be reviewed by a Good Dog trainer.  If accepted, you and your dog will be invited to an in-person evaluation.

During the in-person evaluation, the trainer will observe your dog’s manners, temperament, sociability with humans and other dogs, as well as its relationship with you.

After the evaluation, the trainer will determine whether you and your dog are appropriate candidates for Therapy Skills Certification training or if your dog may benefit from manners training first.

We are offering free manners training for those who need it.  If you and your dog successfully complete it,  you will be assigned to a Therapy Skills course for Certification training as a Therapy Dog Team.

The Therapy Skills course is four 90-minute classes usually scheduled weekly.  The course prepares you and your dog to visit health care settings as well as schools and nursing homes.  Manners training, if needed, is four 60-minute classes.

You will also be required to have your dog be medically “cleared” for therapy work by a veterinarian. If you don’t have a veterinarian, one will be provided at no cost to you for annual checkup and vaccinations, as needed.



Is there anything BronxCare requires before I can volunteer there?

While you are completing the Good Dog Therapy Skills course, you can get started on your volunteer application with BronxCare.  A background check, medical clearance, and orientation are required to volunteer at BronxCare.

Once you apply, you will be scheduled for BronxCare orientation.  The orientation will introduce you to the BronxCare community and help prepare you for your visits. The orientation can be completed online.

You also must complete medical clearance, which is available at BronxCare Employee Health Service at no cost. BronxCare can also take documentation from your medical provider. Medical clearance includes a history and physical examination, PPD skin test, and drug test.  (Please be aware that you will need to return to BronxCare to have your PPD read 48 hours after it was planted).

You must be up to date on your vaccinations, or be willing to receive any required vaccines.

Once you have completed medical clearance and the volunteer orientation, you will be scheduled for an appointment with BronxCare security.  You will be fingerprinted and go through a background check.  Once cleared, you will receive your BronxCare Volunteer ID.

Once you graduate from the Good Dog Therapy Skills course and complete the BronxCare Volunteer requirements, Good Dog will schedule your first visit to BronxCare with your Good Dog trainer. This will be your “final exam” before Certification.

I am a BronxCare Employee, can I volunteer?

Yes!  We would love for you to volunteer! Your volunteer time cannot be during your regular work hours.

BronxCare Employees will work with the hospital’s Volunteer Department to make sure that you are ready to volunteer.  

Is there a time requirement to volunteer?

Certified therapy dog teams (dog + human handler) visit the hospital for no more than one hour per day, to protect the dog and their human handler.  The work is rewarding but can be tiring!

Volunteers are not limited to how many days they can volunteer.  We hope you will visit BronxCare often! We will work with you to schedule your visits.

What is it like to volunteer at BronxCare?

BronxCare Health System statement:  “BronxCare is a diverse non-profit organization of dedicated healthcare professionals striving to improve the health and well-being of each and every one of our patients.  We take pride in our work and want the best for our patients and our staff.  Our community has many struggles which can affect our patients’ health, such as poverty, mental illness, substance use, and chronic illness.  We also have a lot of strengths and resources, including our dedication to each other.  Being a volunteer at BronxCare means becoming a part of this dedicated family.

During your visits to BronxCare, you will meet patients and staff from all backgrounds who have the same thing in common—a desire for patients to live healthy and happy lives.  You will be part of a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, medical assistants, community health workers, patient advocates, and administrators united in this goal.  You may visit BronxCare patients and staff on its inpatient or outpatient Family Medicine and Psychiatry sites.  

Once my dog and I are certified, can we do therapy visits any place besides BronxCare?

Yes you can. But, Good Dog therapy visits are covered by insurance that restricts you and your dog to work in a volunteer capacity during scheduled one-hour-per-day sessions at Good Dog-designated Partner Facilities only.

After completing at least 6 therapy dog visits at BronxCare, you are welcome to introduce Good Dog to a South Bronx school, nursing home or library you would like to visit, and Good Dog will do its best to engage that facility in a Partnership Agreement. For more information, email: info@TheGoodDogFoundation.org.

When and where is the next training?

We will have our first training in July 2024. We will schedule it once we have enough interested volunteers who have been accepted.

Trainings will have 5-10 volunteer teams.

Trainings will be held in the evenings.

Trainings will be located at BronxCare’s Fulton Campus, 1276 Fulton Avenue, Bronx, NY 10456.

For any other questions, please feel free to email renee@doggiecouch.com.

We welcome an application from you and your dog.

Major Support For This Program

Additional Support