Service or Therapy Dogs

As an experienced dog trainer, who is also an assessor for new Story dog volunteers and a Minddog prefered trainer, I not only have credentials but first hand experience.

Here in Queensland if you have a genuine need for a support dog (physical or psychological) that you require to take into public places not normally allowed by pet dogs then you and your dog need to pass a PAT test.

If you have come to this page then either you know that you are wanting a service/assistance dog or you have an idea you want an assistance type dog, and are sourcing information.  Or you may want to volunteer with your dog as a therapy dog.

Whats The Difference

As a rule therapy dogs are not required to undergo a Public assess test (PAT) but have no more rights than a pet dog. Therapy dogs are doing a job to help a third party, ie a child or adult to relief stress or enhance quality of life. A service dog or assistance dog (whether physical or psychiatric) is there to help the sole individual 24/7, and is required to pass a PAT and should have ID on them, so they are permitted into all public areas, with a couple of exceptions in Qld.  There are two legislations that cover this, in Qld we have The Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 and then the Commonwealth disability Discrimination Act.

Volunteering With Your Dog

Story dogs is one organisation where you visit a school on a weekly basis with your dog for reading sessions with children.  You need to have a suitable dog as in temperament and some training .  It can be wise to have some training sessions even with an older dog to equip you and your dog with the necessary skills to pass the assessment. Email me if you want to book in for some training sessions. For more info on Story dogs go to

Delta therapy dogs go into hospitals and nursing homes, very similar process. Go to

There are other organisation that place dogs into venues.  All these dogs need to have a good level of training.

Psychiatric Support Dog

MindDog organisation is for individuals with a mental health disorder and a dog, (your own dog) mindDog will test that dog for suitability, oversee the training, test, and certify that dog as an assistance dog.  K9 Potential is affiliated with Minddogs to do your localised training.  Go to

Hilary is one of the handful mindDog approved trainers in the Brisbane area helping pet parents prepare their dogs for the mindDog Public Access Test. To enroll in the mindDog program, please use the online form 

Training is quite straightforward with clear requirements. You will receive ongoing personal/mail/phone support between training sessions.

You will receive a detailed training report after the initial assessment including homework. After that, we will work out a time that suits for the next visit to start working towards your goals.

Assistance Dog For You Or A Family Member

There are many ways to get an assistance dog, there are organisations that specialise in training dogs for you for a fee, or you may choose to go through a not-for-profit organisation. Firstly you do need to qualify for such a dog and have your medical practitioner sign a form.  If you are just thinking about getting a dog to be your assistance dog and training privately then get in touch with the training organisation or K9 Potential for help in choosing and training the right dog. 

The training style for any dog but particularly a service or assistance type dog should always be force free, so not using any equipment designed to inflict pain or any intimidation, bodily or vocal.

School Dog

A number of primary and high schools are having therapy dogs come into the school for assisting children with social/emotional anxieties. This is an unpaid voluntary position. The dog does need to be able to cope in the environment and not be affected by the stress, and have a suitable temperament.  Training also needs to be of a high standard. Whether you are a school or an interested volunteer then we can help.

Fee Structure

For one on one training sessions the fees are $75 per session (1hour).  Travel may be extra. I have tried to keep the fee low, so as many clients may be able to use their NDIS funding, I can supply invoices/budgets/reports to submit to your case manager.