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Therapy Dog
Certification

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Temperament

If your pet has a friendly temperament in all environments and gets along with other animals, you may have a good candidate for pet therapy work. All pets who volunteer at hospitals, long-term care facilities, psychiatric facilities, libraries or schools are required to meet and maintain the TDA Certification requirements. In addition, pets who attend some of our specialty programs are required to meet the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification requirements.

PLEASE NOTE: Therapy Dog Association Certification provides accreditation for handlers and their pets to attend TDA sanctioned AAA and AAT pet therapy visits only. TDA does not certify emotional support pets, guide dogs, or other service animals.

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Applying for Certification

Before beginning the certification process, you must submit an application to TDA. Please be sure to have electronic copies of proof of rabies vaccination. Click here to apply.

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Initial Evaluation

After reviewing the initial online application, TDA will contact the prospective volunteer to set up an initial evaluation.

At the initial evaluation, the following will be assessed:

• Temperament
• Basic Obedience (for canines)

• Volunteer’s Handling Skills

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Certification Assessment

After the Initial Evaluation, we will select the ones with suitable ability to attend the details certification assessment:

Read the detailed certification criteria for dogs.

If your pet does not successfully pass the initial evaluation, we will invite pets that need minor corrections for a second evaluation, for others we recommend training and time to mature (generally a six-month break to obtain documented, we offer professional training to support candidates before being retested).

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Initial Certification Fee

Each pet that passes the certification process will be charged a $600 certification fee ($300 for rescued dogs) which will be due at the time the dog passes the initial evaluation. For pets that continue in the program long-term, every two years, when the pet successfully passes the required re-certification, an additional $600 fee will be required.

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New Volunteer Orientation

Upon passing the initial evaluation all new volunteers must complete an online volunteer orientation, volunteer member agreement, and choose an evaluation facility.

Facility Evaluation

The evaluation process will continue with six supervised visits in the assigned facility. Most facilities are scheduled for monthly visits, thus, the facility observation portion of the evaluation is completed over the course of six consecutive months.

First Visit: Handler attends without their pet. The purpose of the initial visit is for the handler to observe the visit, meet the group leader and the other volunteers, and become acquainted with the facility, staff, and residents without their pet.
 

Second to Sixth Visit: Handler attends with their pet. The pet must demonstrate proper behavior during the visit and the handler must demonstrate proper handling of their pet. The group leader will observe and evaluate the pet handler team during these visits.

The criteria against which the handler/pet team will be assessed by the supervisor is available here.

After the sixth visit, if the Supervisor has assessed that the team has met all the necessary requirements, the volunteers will complete their TDA Therapy Pet Certification and can continue to visit at that facility on a routine monthly basis. The Supervisor will report to the Board of Directors that the team has passed the certification process and the team will be mailed an official certificate and bandana. The pet must wear the bandana at every visit moving forward as proof of certification. If you are interested in ordering a TDA vest, instead of the bandana, please contact us to order a customised vest.

Maintaining Your Certification

Teams are re-assessed every year to ensure consistent demonstration of the necessary behavior and temperament requirements to be a TDA volunteer. It is the handler’s responsibility to contact TDA to schedule the re-certification evaluation. The annual evaluation includes the same testing criteria as the initial evaluation. A $600 re-certification fee is due at the time a pet successfully passes the re-certification evaluation

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Volunteer Requirements

TDA volunteers are asked to visit at least one facility per month with their pet. Visits typically last 45-60 minutes. We appreciate and encourage volunteering at multiple facilities, but recommend that the frequency of visits not exceed 4 hours a day. This helps to ensure that our pets do not become overwhelmed. In addition to monthly facility visits, our volunteers have many opportunities throughout the year to volunteer with or without their pets at various community events that TDA attends.

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Ongoing Membership Fees

As a non-profit volunteer organization, TDA is financially dependent upon fundraising, community donations, and membership fees in order to sustain our operations.

Each pet that passes the certification process will be charged a $600 certification fee which will be due at the time the dog/cat passes the initial evaluation. Every years, when the pet successfully passes the required re-certification, an additional $600 fee will be required.

This annual fee for certified pets covers costs associated with a volunteer’s application/orientation process, volunteer scheduling platform, as well as costs associated with on-going administrative operations, our ongoing education initiatives, awareness campaigns and therapy dogs community programs.

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Re-Certification Policy

If a pet has not visited any facility in six months or more, that pet, along with the handler, must complete the entire certification process (from application through testing). If a re- certification is required due to a six-month lapse, an additional $300 fee for each pet may be required to accommodate the expenses associated with the complete re-certification.

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