Photo: The Dogist
Become a Therapy Dog Team
Maybe you have been thinking of becoming a therapy dog team. You see how much your dog brings to your life and how much others enjoy him. Maybe you have been thinking about volunteering but didn't know how to go about it.
There are so many ways in which you can give back with a therapy dog. In addition to Fair Shake, therapy dogs visit children and adults in hospitals, residents in nursing homes, and help college kids de-stress during exams.
Wondering if your dog has what it takes? The most important determinant is temperament. Dogs that are highly social with people and good in new situations are best-suited for therapy work. Dogs must also be tolerant of handling and know basic manners. They may be calm or energetic as long as they are under the handler's control and make those they are visiting feel confident. Therapy dogs may be any breed or mixed breed. Because of the nature of the work, therapy dog teams volunteering with A Fair Shake are generally 15 or more pounds.
Photos: The Dogist
There are two major therapy dog organizations in New York City -- Pet Partners, the largest therapy dog organization in the country, and The Good Dog Foundation, the largest regional therapy dog organization.
Complete the handler training, either the Online Handler Course (2-3 hours) OR One-day in-person Workshop for humans only ($70 and $125 respectively)
Pass the hands-on evaluation of you and your dog (including basic manners, working around distractions, crowds, and medical equipment, reaction to a neutral dog and clumsy and exuberant petting)
Dog may not be on a raw food diet
Dogs must be at least 1 year old, and have lived with their handler for at least 6 months
Registration fee of $95 ($50 for 55 or over)
Re-evaluation and registration renewal every 2 years
Learn more about volunteering with Pet Partners here.
Training Classes for Prospective Pet Partners Teams
While not required, we encourage prospective Pet Partners teams to take therapy dog training class to help you and your dog:
Build clearer and more effective communication
Get comfortable working around medical equipment
Build confidence in working around food, toys, dogs and people
Role play visiting scenarios
Determine what kind of work your dog will enjoy
Classes are taught by Jane Kopelman of All About Dogs. Jane is a consultant to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center's Caring Canine Program, a certified trainer, behaviorist, and owns an animal shelter in upstate New York.
Upper West Side
Tuesday evenings 7:30-8:30
Dog Days of New York
Currently no classes scheduled
The Good Dog Foundation
Complete an online pre-screening form and in-person evaluation with a Good Dog trainer
Successfully complete a Therapy Skills training class with your dog -- 4 weeks, 1.5 hours per week, $265
Complete a first therapy visit under the supervision of a Good Dog trainer
Dogs must be at least 1 year old, and have lived with handler for at least 4 months
Re-certification required on an annual basis, $85 fee
Learn more about volunteering with The Good Dog Foundation here.