A Therapy Dog is usually owned by a pet owner that has a desire to volunteer their time to give back to the community by doing visits to different places with their dog to provide a warm and enjoyable experience to the client.  To join the Empower Therapy Dog Team, a dog must undergo an initial assessment to ensure they are a suitable candidate to interact well under all social situations before commencing their training course.  A Therapy Dog should not show aggression and must have a stable disposition as they will be entering a myriad of different environments such as work places, hospitals and special schools etc. so they must be adaptable in attitude.  A Therapy Dog does a great service also for the community but they do not have any legal standing under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 to be granted public access which means they are only allowed to legally visit places any pet dog is allowed under all laws and acts and visits to facilities are only upon approval of management of those places for visit sites.  

A Facility Dog is a dog that is usually trained to work in a facility on a regular basis.  The facility could be an Aged Care facility, an educational facility such as a School or Special School, a Hospital, O.T. or Physio department, Psychiatric or Mental Health Facility, Airport, Dental Clinic or a variety of other facilities where the use of canine support would be beneficial.  The dog must have great social skills and have undergone assessment and a training program to ensure it is a suitable and reliable candidate to be able to do the role of supporting clients or patients of the facility, and it also must have stable temperament and great health. The Facility Dog may live on site or it may live predominately with a staff member that then takes the dog into the workplace on a daily basis to interact and provide positive emotional experiences with the clientele of that facility. 

Empower Assistance Dogs runs a Therapy and Facility Dog Program whereby the dogs are assessed or selected, raised and trained for the individual environments in which they are required to work also undergoing a maintenance training and development program which includes a validation process to ensure the dog and handler teams remain at optimum performance. Facility dogs do not have public access rights but they do have agreements or contracts with the facilities in which they work to be able to access and provide their service.

If you would like more information on how to include a Therapy or Facility Dog into your working environment, please do not hesitate to contact us via this website or email 

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Cookie and Marco are the reason so many of the patients smile when they come for their dental treatment with Dr Ruth R Parrag at Advanced Dental Care Clinic in Oxenford on the Gold Coast, Queensland. 

Both of the Advanced Dental Care Clinic Facility dogs are pure-bred Havanese. The perfect combination of friendliness, cuteness and intelligence to train them in this field. 

Cookie is a 4 year old black-tan girl. She loves meeting new people and gets excited, always smiling and wanting a pat. Marco is a 3 year old black-tan boy. He is so placid and calm but make sure you give him a pat too! They are a delight to have working with in the clinic and making the atmosphere a bit more special for everyone. 

So if you or someone you know, has an anxiety about visiting the dentist and would like to have some cuddles from our fur babies, just let us know. 

A big thanks to Tracey, Craig and the team at Craig A Murray Dog School and Empower Assistance Dogs for their wonderful training and support. Regards, Ruth Parrag

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The Youngcare and Wesley Mission Queensland Apartments at Coomera, Gold Coast, are home to 10 young people with high care needs.

Each resident enjoys the space and privacy of self-contained, one-bedroom apartments, as well as the light and bright social area that backs onto a beautiful garden, a spa and a guest room for family and friends to stay over.

This stunning home allows residents to embrace coastal living in a relaxed and comfortable home whilst receiving dignified and age-appropriate care.

Therapy dogs are a very important part of our community here at Youngcare Coomera. The dog’s help improve the quality of life for the residents here and bring joy, companionship, meaningful activity, love and most of all fun!

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Harristown state school

pam & Jello

pam & jello

After many years in the workforce, in administration, in business as a Beauty Therapist, and various volunteer positions, with Teen Challenge, Queensland Police Service (Community Support) and Hope For Our Children (providing support for foster children) the perfect vocation for me is working with a Therapy Dog providing comfort to people in need.

One big part of my heart is for children at risk, and to combine providing comfort to these children via my other great love, dogs, is so good.

Searching dog trainers online, I happily found Craig A. Murray Dog Training and spoke with Tracey whom also runs Empower Assistance Dogs and joined me up to the Empower Therapy Dog Team.  Now I am happily caring for and handling Jello, the beautiful and perfect well-trained yellow Labrador.


We are preparing for extraordinary events where there will be positive consequences beyond expectations.

Warm Regards, Pam Blunt


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Rachel & casper

After being on the receiving end of the kindness and support of close community 13 years ago when my families world as we knew it fell apart, I had always hoped that one day I would be able to return the kindness.  

I have a rehab nursing background and was hoping to one day return to nursing as I had always found the work incredibly rewarding, however after a car accident and subsequent back surgery in 2011 I knew that nursing wasn’t going to be a good fit for me anymore. So after moving interstate a couple of years ago and getting settled into a new life, I felt the time was right to seek out something that I knew Casper and I would find rewarding and would also help make a difference to the lives of others less fortunate.  I am the proud owner of an amazing Golden Retriever called Casper and thought that with my nursing experience and Casper’s calm and friendly nature something we could do together would be a perfect fit for both of us. The Empower Therapy Dog course was fabulous, I learnt some great tips for handling Casper under unique situations, the kind we would experience when visiting others with special needs in the community. 

Casper and I have been visiting the residents at Young Care in Coomera on a fortnightly basis since May 2019 and he already knows he’s going to work before we’ve even left the house. His excitement is infectious.  As we round the corner and enter through the main doors we’re usually greeted by staff who are clearly excited to see us. We move beyond the foyer into the main communal area and begin paying a visit to each of the residents who are keen. They’re usually easy to spot, they’re the ones grinning from ear to ear!  The smiles are contagious as Casper’s pace quickens for a friendly pat. 

We visit a number of residents, some more able bodied than others, spending as much or as little time as is needed.  Casper provides his paws for pats, will jump part way up against a chair so residents can reach him for cuddles, pats and kisses.  He’ll lie quietly with a resident on their bed if they so choose, while we have a chat.  Those able bodied can help take Casper for a walk.     

Volunteering as a therapy dog handler has gotten me (and Casper) out of the house a little more, which has been great for me (and him) as I work from home Monday to Friday.  It’s also given me the opportunity to make new connections and friends since moving interstate.  It’s such a great feeling to look in the rear-view mirror on the way home from visits and see Casper and I both have grins from ear to ear!  Those days are always good days 😊

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