Therapy Work

THERA-NEWFS! - Thera-Newfs is a NCNE committee founded on the belief that the human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial relationship that can improve the well-being of others through interactions with our dogs.

Mission Statement

  • To create and maintain a database of NCNE members active in pet therapy. Database to be maintained by the committee chair or designee.

  • To provide a network of registered volunteer teams to serve as a resource for pet therapy requests received by the NCNE.

  • To provide support and education to registered teams and to NCNE members interested in pet therapy work.

  • To build a connection among NCNE members who have a shared interest in pet therapy activities.

Member Eligibility

  • Owner/co-owner must be NCNE member in good standing.

  • Must be registered with a nationally recognized pet therapy agency that evaluates, registers, and insures the team.


In recognition of the work done by our pet therapy teams, NCNE will now offer an award to be presented at the annual meeting to those teams that provide comfort to others with 20 or more visits a year.  Teams that have already been recognized by the AKC at any level of pet therapy work, will automatically qualify for the first year award.  The award for the first time a team qualifies will be the lovely bib with the Thera-Newfs logo, as seen modeled here by Wrigley. Subsequent awards to a team will be a tee-towel (drool rag) which will also be embroidered with the Thera-Newfs logo.  

Award Criteria

  • Handler and owner/co-owner must be a NCNE member in good standing.

  • The team must be registered with a nationally recognized pet therapy agency that evaluates, registers, and insures the team.

  • Team must complete 20 visits during the one year period from January 1 – December 31.

  • Handler agrees to submit photo, article, or comment about pet therapy work for use in NewfPrints and/or the NCNE website.

  • Handler/owner must complete and submit Thera-Newfs form documenting visits (click to download pdf form) (click here for word version) to committee chair by March 1 for award to be presented at the NCNE Annual Meeting in June. (For dogs with AKC therapy titles, see note below.) Documentation may be emailed to Laurel at or USPS mailed to: Laurel Rabschutz, 256 Jared Sparks Road, Willington, CT 06279.

NOTE: NCNE member dogs who are already recognized as therapy dogs by the AKC will automatically be eligible for the Thera-Newfs annual award upon submission of proof of an AKC title (copy of certificate or other appropriate documentation).

Getting Started


Interested in doing pet therapy work with your dog?   Involvement with any aspect of pet therapy work can be very rewarding for you and your dog, but becoming a successful team does take planning and some training.  To get started, review the registration requirements for pet therapy organizations that are active in your area.  (A listing of some of the most popular websites can be found at the end of this article.)  To be a part of the NCNE team, you and your dog must be registered with an agency that provides evaluation and registration of your dog and insurance coverage for your pet therapy visits.

Most Newfs are well-suited for pet therapy work, but every dog’s personality is different.  A good candidate for pet therapy work should:

  • enjoy interacting with all types of people
  • be healthy
  • have reliable basic obedience skills
  • be comfortable being around other dogs
  • calmly accept attention from strangers
  • be familiar with a variety of environments
  • be unconcerned by clumsy petting and being touched and handled
  • be capable of handling noise and chaotic situations
  • and, most importantly, look to you for guidance and support.

The human partner has to do their share of the work as well.  A good handler is:

  • able to understand their dog’s body language, particularly when they are stressed or anxious
  • able interact positively with their dog with praise, encouragement, and reassurance
  • able to cue or redirect behaviors
  • able to interact with the people you visit while remaining focused on your dog
  • professional and abides by the practices and policies of their registering agency
  • and, most importantly, an advocate for their dog’s well-being at all times.

Of course, no team is perfect; we all have our strong and weak points.  What’s important is for you to know your dog’s weakness and dislikes and make smart choices in the types of visits that you do.

Begin preparing your dog for therapy work by socializing in as many different locations as possible.  Even a quick 5 minute walk around a strange area can be useful.  As your dog becomes comfortable in different locations, slowly add additional stimulus such as being near a noisy playground or outdoor concert.  If your dog is not comfortable, stop and take a step back.  Keep working your dog in a less stressful environment and gradually build confidence before taking on more difficult locations.

Check your local training center or obedience club for classes designed to prepare you for pet therapy work.  If no such class is available, consider taking a family dog or cross-training class.  Let the instructor know your interest in pet therapy and the types of behaviors you will need for the evaluation.

Pet Therapy Links

Our Teams At Work