Therapy dogs are family pets with a good temperament who have been trained to be at ease in unfamiliar settings. As a team, you and your dog can become the messengers of hope and comfort to those who may need it most. If you think you and your dog have what it takes to become a therapy dog, read on.
This page briefly outlines the process of becoming registered by Alliance of Therapy Dogs, (formerly Therapy Dogs Incorporated) a national organization that provides the structure and guidelines for therapy dogs. Full information on the ATD web site and explore the information under the ‘About Us’ and ‘Members’ links at the top of the page.
After you registered with ATD, you can visit on your own within ATD guidelines. Local organizations, such as Lehigh Valley Therapy Dogs, help coordinate activities in the local area.pleasure for those in need.
|Is your dog suited for therapy dog work?
Is your dog your best friend? Does he make you smile? Is she part of your family? Then your dog may have what it takes to be a therapy dog. A good therapy dog is calm, controlled, confident and cordial. He will encounter a variety of situations when visiting and must be trusted to respond in a safe and appropriate way.
|Your dog should have a good temperament and be well mannered
Your trained dog must be able to sit, stay, follow and come on command. This training can be done by the owner or with the assistance of a You should review the ATD testing evaluation form to know what will be expected of you and your dog during the testing. (Click on ‘Members’ link and then ‘Become a Member’ link for more information about the test.)
|Be evaluated by a ATD Tester/Observer
You and your dog will be evaluated as a team. First, your handling skills will be evaluated. After successful evaluation, then you will be observed in three site visits. During these visits you and your dog will become familiar with the visiting process and be evaluated as a team. Visit the ATD web site and click on ‘Find a Tester/Observer’ link at the top of the page to locate a Tester/Observer near you.
You will need to visit the ATD web site and locate the following documents. Print and bring these documents with you to your initial test:
|Complete your registration with Alliance of Therapy Dogs
Registration provides you with the benefits of being associated with a nationally recognized organization. Member teams are insured while on a therapy dog visit and have the support of the national organization. Your Tester/Observer will give you the paperwork necessary to complete your registration.
|Optional – Joining a local group of Therapy Dog Volunteers
As a registered Therapy Dog/Handler team with your ATD credentials, you are welcome to visit on your own in any facility that welcomes Therapy Dogs as long as you make arrangements with the facility. You also have the option of joining a local group that has established visits. You can also of course do a combination of individual and group visits. The choice is yours. You, as a handling team are required to make a visit every three months to keep your ATD membership active. Joining a local organization can make this requirement much easier to achieve. One local group is Lehigh Valley Therapy Dogs.