|Become a Four Paws NC 

  Animal-Assisted Therapy Team

Compassionate People Sharing the Love of Their Dogs 


Become a member of our team and help bring joy and happiness to people in your community. You will gain hands-on training and educational experience by the most experienced trainers in Carolina's preparing you and your dog to volunteer together in the community.   While in training, participants will experience "real-life" situations based on over 20 years practicing animal-assisted therapy in the field in many environments. 


Bring compassion and empathy to others and share the love of your dog within your community.  Experience giving to others at a depth you never thought possible.  This is a very personal and rewarding experience. 

What dog is best for animal-assisted therapy work?

Animal-assisted therapy dogs are at least one year of age, health, and friendly.  They are neutral towards other dogs and animals, patient and intuitive to the needs of others.  They enjoy people and seek the company of people.

As Easy as 1-2-3


Enroll in a class in Raleigh or Wilmington North Carolina

Successfully complete the class and take the assessment

Complete the paperwork online or hard copy

Receive your certification letter, identification, vest, leash sleeve or patch for your dog

Start visiting

Wilmington area classes

We are hopeful a class will be offered in early 2021.  Check back soon.



Raleigh area classes

Refer to the class schedule by

clicking the 'enrollment' link below


Class Prerequisites 


  • The dog must have completed basic and intermediate obedience training; formally or informally and be AKC CGC ready.

  • Dogs must be Behaviorally Healthy and not have aggression issues with other dogs.

  • Dogs must be at least 1 year of age at the start of class and should have lived with their handlers for a minimum of 6 months to be eligible for the Therapy Dog evaluation.

  • All dogs must have Rabies and DHPP vaccinations or titers.   Proof of vaccinations or titers must be brought to first class.  Canine influenza vaccination is highly recommended.  Proof of vaccines required. Dogs without proof of vaccinations or titers will not be able to participate.  

  • Pre-registration with pre-payment is required.

  • Equipment for the Dog: Flat buckle collar, cloth martingale collar, or head collar, Easy Walk or Freedom harness with instructor approval.   No choke, chain or prong collars allowed. 

Sample of skills covered during classes:

  • Walking past and leaving items dropped on the ground

  • Walking on a loose leash

  • Working around medical equipment

  • Walking past a neutral dog

  • Working with a crowd of people

  • Various situations that may be encountered on a visit

  • Allowing a stranger to hug the dog



Successful certification provides:*

  • AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluation

  • Two-year animal-assisted therapy certification

  • Identification as an animal-assisted therapy team of Four Paws and a Wake Up-NC

  • A unique vest or leash sleeve for your dog when on animal-assisted therapy visits

  • General and volunteer liability insurance coverage with $1,000,000 coverage and a supplement and supplement automobile liability

  • Support as questions arise working in the field

  • Invitations to group animal-assisted therapy events

  • Continue your training by becoming a certified R.E.A.D. Team


*certification fees additional at the successful completion of assessment; background verification required

Complete the Paperwork
Click the link below to complete the certification packet online.
Renewing Teams
Click the link below to complete the renewal survey
Pay Certification Fee

Disclaimer: Due to applicant criteria and limited resources, not every individual who applies for a service dog can or will be served

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Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

- Isiah 40:31NAS