If you think that your dog might be a suitable therapy dog, there are a few things to consider and then a few steps to take before the dog actually can become a therapy dog. Be aware that not every dog can work as a therapy dog; if you have doubts about your dog's personality or suitability, consider some different ways to offer community service or spend quality time with your dog. It is also important to recognize that every therapy dog needs a handler, and if you want your dog to do therapy work, you need to be prepared to commit.
The first thing you should do is determine whether or not you want to become a therapy dog handler, whether or not you have a dog. Start by finding and talking with therapy dog organizations, and visiting the facilities that they serve on your own. If you feel uncomfortable, this type of service might not be well suited to you. You might also want to visit with a therapy dog and his or her experienced handler, to see what it's actually like to work with a therapy dog.
If you are still interested in working with a therapy dog, think about your temperament and the temperament of your dog. You should be relaxed and outgoing with strangers, for example, and your dog should be amenable to petting and distracting environments. If you don't have a dog, spend time volunteering with a therapy dog organization to get familiar with the work and the traits of dogs that tend to do well.
Once you have acquired a dog or established that your dog is suitable to become a therapy dog, you need to submit to training. Training for therapy dogs accustoms them to clumsy handling, hectic environments, and a wide range of people. A good therapy dog is patient and calm with everybody, as is its handler. After training, your dog will be tested to ensure that he or she can handle real-world situations which might arise before he or she can become a therapy dog. Testing is often modeled after the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen Test.
Working with a therapy dog can be very rewarding, but it also requires a time commitment. A therapy dog organization will often pay for training, but in return they expect a minimum time commitment. Plan on serving for at least a year, so that the therapy dog organization can consider their investment in you worthwhile.