Would my animal and I make a good therapy team?
A therapy dog can be any breed or mix of breeds. Therapy animals must be at least one year old and have lived with the owner for at least six months. Dogs trained to aggressively protect or actively bite, even as part of a sport like Schutzhund, will not be considered. Animals may not be fed a raw protein food diet. A therapy animal is interested in meeting people, has an easygoing, friendly temperament, is well-mannered, and enjoys seeking out the company of adults and children. We are looking for animals that are reliable, predictable, and controllable.
The human part of the team can be as young as 10 years old (but, must be at least 16 years old to participate without a parent or guardian), must enjoy interacting with a variety of people, and is well-mannered and outgoing, and willing to be the animal’s advocate. Please note that until 16 the parent or guardian must remain next to the minor for the entire visit or event.
Steps to become a Pet Partners Team
- Training: Learn the skills necessary to visit safely with your animal. Dogs On Call hosts classes held at Meriter. Visit our Calendar page to find the next class available. A home-study version of the training course is available through the Pet Partners website if you cannot attend an on-site class.
- Health Screening: All animals that participate in the program must be healthy and free from parasites, disease, or infections. The health screening is completed by your animal’s regular veterinarian who will complete the required form to send with your Pet Partners registration.
- Team Evaluation: This is not an obedience test. The team evaluation process evaluates the animal and handler as a team; how well the handler helps the animal and manages the animal’s behavior, and how well the animal responds to the handler. The test is about 40 minutes long and consists of two parts: the Skills Test which will demonstrate whether the animal can be controlled by the handler and follow basic commands, and the Aptitude Test which will simulate conditions you may encounter on a visit. All our evaluation dates can be found on our Calendar page.
- Register with Pet Partners and join Dogs On Call, Inc: Submit your registration packet to Pet Partners along with your registration fee and you are done! You will receive your ID number and badge from Pet Partners. Complete details of this process can be found on the Pet Partners website. We will invite you to join Dogs On Call and we will help you get started with mentoring, finding a place to visit, and the many events Dogs On Call participates in!
This may seem like a long process, but really it’s not. Pet Partners is the gold standard in animal therapy and one of the few therapy organizations that trains the handler. Many facilities will only accept teams trained by Pet Partners. Check our Contact page to get started with your therapy animal experience!