Become a Pet Therapy Team

One of the cornerstones of Caring Canines is the requirement for participating volunteers to be registered therapy teams – screened, tested and qualified in temperament and skills to do animal-assisted interactions. We are affiliated with Pet Partners® Therapy Animal Program to ensure our teams achieve the highest standards in certification.


If you are considering becoming Caring Canine Pet Therapy Volunteer Team certified though our affiliated Pet Partners® Therapy Animal Program, here is some information for your consideration.

Good Candidates for the Therapy Animal Program

Typical Attributes of a Great Therapy Animal are:

  • Is comfortable being crowded by a group of people
  • People-oriented/sociable, friendly and confident
  • Will initiate contact, stay engaged, make eye contact, and allow their behaviors to be re-directed
  • Is able to cope with stressful situations
  • Knows how to respect personal boundaries; doesn’t jump up on people
  • Is non-aggressive towards animals and people
  • Is comfortable being touched, at times awkwardly
  • Is controllable, predictable and reliable
  • Well-mannered interactions with other animals
  • Reliability despite distractions
  • Ability to be cued from different positions
  • Able to disregard food or toys on cue, i.e. with a “leave it” command
  • Comfort level around health care equipment


Typical Attributes of a Great Handler are:

  • Is friendly – makes eye contact, smiles, etc
  • Is a proactive advocate for their animal
  • Is a considerate and caring leader
  • Develops a relationship with their animal that reflects a loving partnership
  • Prepares themselves and their animal for each visit
  • Assesses a visit before, during and after
  • Knows how to enhance their animal’s abilities to be its best with the people it’s visiting
  • The handler is aware of signs of animal stress, behaviors, and positions, and can reassure their animal with cues, or commands (as needed) to help the animal be successful.

Necessary Skills

Before you can begin the process your dog must have good foundational obedience skills including a reliable “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come when called” and “leave It”. Your dog should be able to walk at your side with a loose leash. Click the following link to view examples of the skills you and your dog will be evaluated on during the Pet Partners® Therapy Team Evaluation. Click Here for the Team Evaluation PDF

If you feel you need more training we recommend Paws & Possibilities who offer specialized training classes in preparation for Pet Therapy Certification.

Complete the Handler Course

You may take an in-person workshop, or if there are no instructors in your area, you may take the Handler course online.

For in-person workshops, go to www.petpartners.org/courses and search by state for currently scheduled classes, or search www.petpartners.org/directory to contact a local instructor to inquire about future courses.

To take the course online, go to www.petpartners.org/Online_Courses_Home

Animal Health Screening

Upon completion of the Handler course, you can begin your registration paperwork. This includes an Animal Health Screening Form to be completed by your veterinarian. Written proof of rabies vaccination is required.

Team Evaluation

A critical step in the registration process is the team evaluation. During this approximately 45 minute event, you and your animal will meet with a Pet Partners licensed evaluator and complete a role-play of a therapeutic visit in the community. Because teams evaluate individually, you should schedule your session early.

Go to www.petpartners.org/courses and search by state to see current evaluation dates, or search www.petpartners.org/directory to contact a local evaluator to inquire about future evaluation dates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click the link below for answers to frequently asked questions regarding preparation and other requirements related to becoming a Certified Pet Therapy Team.

Click Here for the Caring Canines FAQ PDF