Therapy Dog Registration and Certification

therapy dog registration and certification

Therapy Dog Registration and Certification- Certification

Practically any dog, regardless of breed, may be eligible for therapy dog certification, provided that it can pass the required training and temperament testing, such as the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test. Passing the CGC Test is a requirement for many therapy dog groups, and the official AKC test includes:

  • Sitting politely for petting
  • Appearance and grooming
  • Walking on a loose lead
  • Walking through a crowd
  • Sit and lay down on command
  • Coming when called
  • Reaction to another dog
  • Reaction to distraction
  • Supervised separation

Therapy Dog Registration and Certification- Registration

A few therapy dog organizations only require that you submit a copy of an AKC certification along with your application in order to register with them. Most organizations, however, require that you be evaluated by members of their own organization.

If an organization offers a training program, it’s a great way to prepare for their evaluation. But whether they do or not, one of the best things you can do to prepare is to volunteer to assist at an evaluation and observe those being evaluated.

One of the most important things you can do during your evaluation, and in the therapy animal work you do afterward, is to be proactive. Most organizations do not treat the evaluation like an obedience trial, where a dog is to perform flawlessly with only minimal direction from its handler. In an evaluation, you are welcome to assist your animal just as you would on the job.

Here are a couple of examples of therapy dog handlers being proactive:

1. If you see another dog enter the room, tell your dog so it doesn’t feel the need to tell you with a bark. This is being proactive, rather than acting after your dog barks, which would be reactive. Or doing nothing, which would be inactive.

2. Let’s say three people are aggressively moving toward your dog and asking to pet it. That could be scary! So be proactive, and reach down and pick up your dog or bend down and physically connect with it. It will then feel secure with your contact, and should be fine being petting by any number of people.

Taking these proactive actions is exactly what you will be doing on the job.

The registration process follows training and evaluation, and often requires the submission of a health evaluation form completed by your veterinarian. Completing the process of registering with a therapy animal organization generally ensures that you and your animal are ready to safely serve your community, and that you are being responsible in protecting yourself with insurance.

If an organization doesn’t provide one or more of these services directly, it will guide you to another organization that does. For example, a local organization may provide all the support you need to become a therapy animal team, but they may refer you to a national organization for training, evaluation, registration and/or insurance.