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!