Becoming a Certified Team

  The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and animals that positively influences the health and well-being of an individual.


Through our partnerships, licensing, and insurance, we provide well-prepared and exceptionally qualified teams for animal assisted interventions.  We are full members of Animal Assisted Intervention International (the only organization in Iowa with this designation) and adhere to their standards as well as have established our own policies and procedures. Our program has been created through our combined years of experience, countless hours of active therapy animal training and volunteering, continuous and rigorous education and research, and a strong commitment to professionalization of animal assisted intervention services.

The AAP Therapy Animal Program includes two educational tracks:

1. A professional certification program

2. A volunteer-based registration program

What is the difference between registration and certification?

Many local groups refer to their therapy dog teams are "certified" however, that is not accurate.

Registration implies that the handler, the dog, and the team working together has been screened
against some set of internal organizational criteria.

Certification typically implies evaluation of formal education/training. In the case of AAIs, a
certification would require that one organization offered formal education to both human and
dog in the category for which the human carries credentials. For example, in AAT, a therapist and
dog would train together at a professional level – by someone who has up to date
knowledge/experience in both therapy and animal training/behavior/communication for that
professional level of work. Certification is typically achieved by having an independent third party
evaluate the education given by a separate organization. For example, an occupational therapist
attends university for several years and then achieves certification by taking their board exam by
the National Board of Certification of Occupational Therapy, NOT the university in which they
received their training. In professional level healthcare, human service provider and education
fields, it may be considered unethical for an organization to offer the education and then offer the
final certification exam. The exception is university programs that have an internal structure for
this kind of program. AAII FAQ Revised January 18, 2021

Both the professional certification program and the volunteer-based program have prerequisites for the team, handler and animal, to meet all requirements to earn either a certification or a registration.

AAI for Professionals Certification Program:

AAI for Professionals is a certification program focused on advancing the field of animal assisted interventions within the state of Iowa. This certification provide a foundation for professionalizing and standardizing AAI as emotional support and/or a complementary therapy modality within an existing professional practice.

Individuals who complete the certification will be credentialed as a certified therapy canine team and will have demonstrated knowledge of best practices within AAI that include canine training, behavior, and handling, canine welfare, ethics, and professional best practices.


To qualify for acceptance into this program individuals should work within a professional capacity that enables the practice of goal directed interactions and/or animal assisted therapy and/or animal assisted education. This may include (but is not limited to) individuals employed as mental health professionals, physical therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors, clinical social workers, board certified behavior analysts, behavior technicians, speech and language pathologists, nurse practitioners, paraprofessionals, crisis intervention specialists, long term care administrators, memory care directors, etc.

All interested teams are required to submit an application for acceptance into the program before they are eligible to register.

 February 6th, 2022 start date: Applications due no later than December 31st, 2021

May 8th, 2022 start date: Applications due no later than March 31st, 2022

August 7th, 2022 start date: Applications due no later than June 30th, 2022

October 9th, 2022 start date: Applications due no later than August 31st, 2022

Email for an application!

AAA for Volunteers

  AAP offers therapy dog training classes to prepare teams specifically for volunteering in a variety of settings with the area of Animal Assisted Activities (AAA). Through our AAA for Volunteers program, registered therapy animal teams visit individuals in long term care communities, residential care facilities, hospice, schools, libraries, rehabilitation facilities and more.

We also provide assessments, evaluations, and registration of non-canine species including cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mini horses, and birds (we are always looking to add non-canine species to our program). Email for more information.

Ready to get started? Start by registering for the next session of Therapy Dog Class (Level 1) and attend the required orientation. In orientation we will discuss the process, answer questions, and provide access to the application materials. Click the icon below to sign-up for the next session of classes.


Clients and Partnerships

Below is a list of a few of our client & training locations, locations of active therapy dog teams (AAT/AAA/AAE), and partners. We are always looking to expand our reach and, our volunteers are always looking for more opportunities to provide AAI. Contact us if you would like our teams to visit your location, to offer classes or support groups with us, or work directly with a student, resident, patient, or client. We also can provide informational presentations, seminars, & wellness events.

WesleyLife Communities:

Edgewater, Wesley Acres, & Brio of Johnston

      --current class locations: Wesley Acres, Brio of Johnston, The Village (Indianola)

WesleyLife Hospice

Ramsey Village

West Des Moines Public Library  (Tails with Tales, Sensory Spaces)


Johnston Public Library  (Paws to Read)

Urbandale Public Library (Sensory Spaces)

Franklin Ave Library

Des Moines Public Schools

Hamilton's Funeral Home & Academy of Grief and Loss

Iowa Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association

Drake University Law School- SLADF

Drake University- Cowles Library

State Center Specialty Care- Care Initiatives

Mercy College of Health Sciences

Please Pass the Love

NAMI of Central Iowa

Alzheimer's Association

St. Augustin school

Bondurant High School