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
- Aware and responsive to your dog’s body language
- Takes action to relieve your dog’s stress
- Protects your dog from adverse situations
- Register with a therapy dog organization:
Alliance of Therapy Dogs (Test and Observations)
Pet Partners (Handler Class, Team Evaluation)
- Contact an experienced therapy dog handler to arrange a “Meet and Greet” with your dog
- If you have questions Contact Compassionate Canines
Alliance of Therapy Dogs
We are an international registry of certified therapy dog teams. At ATD, we provide testing, certification, registration, support, and insurance for members who volunteer with their dogs in animal-assisted activities. Our objective is to form a network of caring individuals and their special dogs are willing to share smiles and joy with people, young and old alike.
Our Human Members
We do not rely on fundraising to succeed. No one you see in action nor our testers are paid nor can they charge any fees. Even our board of directors is made up of volunteers. Our only paid employees are our office staff. By keeping our membership costs low, we can provide therapy dog services at no cost to facilities that we visit.
Our Canine Members
We are focused on the well-being and the behavior of your dog regardless of age or breed. We look for well-mannered, well-behaved dogs that enjoy meeting people. While obedience training can be useful in a therapy setting, ATD doesn’t require formal training, certifications, or tests other than our own. All dogs tested for ATD’s certification must be up-to-date on vaccines and have a negative fecal exam in the last year. There is no restriction on diets or supplements given our canine members. Dogs may also be fed treats on therapy dog visits if the facility also allows treats. ATD is open to register any breed of dog except wolf or coyote mixes.
Our Testing Process
Unlike other therapy dog organizations, we have a unique testing process that involves handling your dog. Our testing is designed to make sure you and your dog have a good relationship with each other and that your dog has the right temperament for therapy dog work. After the test, a Tester/Observer (T/O) will monitor you and your dog during three visits to facilities that include two visits to a medical facility. During these supervised visits, the T/O will instruct you and your dog on the art of visiting and give you advice and guidance while observing you in action. If all goes well, the T/O will pass you and your dog and recommend you for certification with ATD.
Where We Work
Our teams provide therapy in many settings, including but not limited to airports, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, mental health institutions, schools, hospitals, cancer centers, hospice facilities, college campuses and can also provide therapy in patients’ homes. ATD doesn’t restrict where our teams visit. ATD teams may choose to be members of local therapy dog groups. They may also participate in nation-wide therapy dog initiatives with organizations like the Red Cross and R.E.A.D. Additionally, we allow our members to visit with teams who may be registered with other organizations.
Registration is very affordable. For $30 a year (plus an initial one-time $10 new member fee), a team can be registered with ATD and covered by our insurance in order to share in the mission of sharing smiles and joy with their dog.
For more information click:
Alliance of Therapy Dogs Home
Alliance of Therapy Dogs Test Demo
Pet Partners’ mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial interaction that improves the physical, social, and emotional lives of those we visit.
Pet Partners has a diverse membership of more than 10,000 registered teams with teams representing nine species. Teams consist of the human handler and their animal partner (dog, cat, equines, rabbits, guinea pigs, llamas/alpacas, pigs, birds and rats).
Training and Evaluation
We accomplish our mission with best-in-class handler training (available on line or in person), ongoing handler education, support resources, and a scenario based hands on skills and aptitude team evaluation.
Handler Training teaches, among several topics, how to identify stress in animal partner, how to handle typical scenarios in visits, how to support animal partner, to recognize that the handler is their animal’s best advocate and responsibilities associated with that role, infection control processes, and skills and characteristics of successful therapy animal teams.
Pet Partners requires therapy teams to renew their registration every two years. This ensures an objective view on animals ongoing willingness and enjoyment of the work and their health. This is important for the animals’ welfare. It also is an opportunity to ensure that handlers are prepared for situations that might arise on a visit. This check-in is important for clients’ and staff members’ safety and trust.
Pet Partners teams visit in a wide variety of situations and communities such as patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students, veterans with PTSD, people who have experienced crisis events, and those approaching end of life. Typical locations include (but are not limited to) schools, hospitals, colleges, mental health facilities, daycare facilities, and doctors’ offices/clinics.
Team Training Workshops and Evaluations
- Pet Partners Handler’s Class online or in person at Humane Society of Central Oregon (Bend): $45 including workbook
- Pet Partners Team Evaluation: Free
Workshops and Evaluations are posted on the News & Events page
Pet Partners Registration Fees
Due every two years including liability insurance coverage while visiting as a pet therapy team.
- Pet Partners of Central Oregon member: $50 (membership open to all PP teams volunteering in Central Oregon)
- Or registration without PP of Central Oregon membership $95
- Or Seniors (55+), minor, military, or disabled: $50