Do you and your dog have the qualifications to become a great therapy dog team? Any size or breed can become a therapy dog except wolf or coyote mixes. Qualifying for the AKC Canine Good Citizen award is great preparation for becoming a pet therapy team. A therapy dog and handler team should have the following attributes and skills:
Therapy Dog Attributes and Requirements
Attracted to and enjoys interacting with all people
Calm, confident, and friendly with people and animals
Not aggressive or fearful
Responds to basic obedience commands with distractions
Tolerant of clumsy petting, loud noises, smells, and medical equipment
Tolerant of other animals in the area
Clean and healthy
At least one year old and living with you at least six months
Current on vaccinations, negative fecal exam within one year
Confident, attentive interaction with clients
Knowledgeable of facility’s policies
Positive guidance and control of your dog at all times
Alliance of Therapy Dogs requires a general behavior test of both handler and dog. Three observed visits by a certified tester are required, two of which are to be conducted in a medical facility. Books or classes are not required, and training is done during the observation process and written in the downloadable handbook. No fees are required until testing is completed and registration is applied for. Dogs must be a minimum of 1 year old and have current rabies (or acceptable titer level) and have had a negative fecal test done within the past year.
The Pet Partner Team Evaluation is scheduled and completed after successful completion of the Pet Partner’s Handler’s class. The evaluation is a mock therapy animal visit conducted with a Pet Partners licensed evaluator. The evaluator will assess your ability to interpret and manage your animal’s behavior, as well as your animal’s response to your cues. Evaluations are scheduled 4 to 5 times per year.
Team Training Workshops Pet Partners (online): $70 Central Oregon Community College (Bend): $125 with workbook COCC Instructors: Jack Barron, Selina Witt Pet Partners Team Evaluation: $45 Pet Partners Registration: $95 (2 years, discounts available)
Therapy Dogs International
To belong to Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) all dogs must be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator. A dog must be a minimum of one (1) year of age and have a sound temperament. Each dog must pass a TDI temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog. The test will also include the evaluation of the dog’s behavior around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).