What it Takes to Get Certified as a Therapy Dog

Someone said they wanted to know more about being a therapy dog.  I suggest checking out Therapy Dogs International’s website to start with.

Riley and I are certified with Therapy Dogs International.  There are other organizations available to get certified with, but TDI is one of the major organizations to get certified with.  Another good therapy dog organization is the Delta Pet Partners program.  TDI has handlers in all 50 states and in some places in Canada.  According to their website, TDI had over 21,000 therapy teams registered in 2009.  A therapy team is made up of a dog/dogs and their handler.

To be certified, a dog has to be at least 1 year old (all breeds are eligible for certification–even Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Akitas, etc.) and must pass a temperament test that includes the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test (CGC).  In addition to that, dogs are tested around wheelchairs, crutches, and children.  They must pass 15 testing requirements.  Check out the Testing Requirements Brochure.

Riley and I went to obedience school for about 10 months training to become a therapy dog team.  Obedience school is not required to be able to pass the test but I would definitely recommend it because it really helps.  For example, your dog has to be able to walk on a loose leash, sit, down, stay, come, etc. for the test and these are basic commands learned at obedience school.  You cannot use treats, a clicker, or harnesses, head collars, prong collars, or check collars for the test, so it is important that your dog be able to walk on a loose leash on just a regular collar.

Here are some pictures of when Riley took her test back in April of 2010:

Tomorrow I’ll post about what it’s like to go on a therapy visit!

The Newest Certified Therapy Dog!

Riley was a little excited at the test but she still passed!  My mom went to take pictures but had to leave at the beginning of the test because Riley just wouldn’t focus with her in there.  After she left, Riley did great!  Here are some of the pictures we did get:

Riley on the way to the test.

Where Riley has been going to obedience school for the last 10 months.

Before the test.

Greeting someone in a wheelchair.

Walking by someone using a walker.

Sitting on command.  Do I look proud or what??

After the test, being petted by the evaluator.  I believe her exact words were, “Nice dog.”

Practice Makes Perfect

We’re getting down to the wire here…4 days until Riley’s therapy dog test.  I had my mom take pictures of us practicing in the backyard today:

Practicing heeling in the backyard.

Still heeling.

Sitting when I stop walking.

Putting her in a down-stay.

Down-stay by herself while I walked off.  I called her to come right after this but she came so fast that we couldn’t get a good picture.