Most of these reputable organizations do not require any specific training or classes to test your dog- however, you must be able to pass all test exercises with your dog. Training classes are recommended if you don’t have training experience yourself. When looking for a trainer, seek out an individual who has experience with therapy dog testing (has therapy dogs themselves and has had multiple students pass the test). Seek out a qualified obedience instructor; not the big box chain pet stores, whose instructors often have little dog experience and training, and cannot pass on to you the skills required to pass the test or work as a therapy dog team.
If you have a dog who meets the above description and you would like help in El Paso training to prepare for the Therapy Dog test, suggested K9 Fun Works group classes are:
A THERAPY DOG is a dog who has passed a therapy dog test and has been registered with one of several Therapy Dog organizations. Therapy Dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other such facilities- they provide emotional support and stress reduction for strangers. This a volunteer activity. Therapy Dogs, unlike Service Dogs, are not allowed special privileges under the Americans with Disabilities Act, because they are volunteers, not working dogs.
TDI (Therapy Dogs International) and Delta Society (Pet Partners) are two of the most common, but there are others such as Therapy Dogs Inc., Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, and Love on a Leash. Check what's available in your region by looking at the websites of these different organizations. All are different, but the testing and requirements to register with each organization are similar. Dogs must be at least 1 yr of age, of sound health, calm and friendly with all strangers and other animals and have stable temperaments. Documentation of health and inoculations may be required from your vet. They must be able to perform a variety of skills such as walking on a loose leash, staying when told and coming when called, in addition to being comfortable with medical equipment and public situations. Each organization has its own set of rules and regulations, so check with the organization you are interested in joining for more detailed information. Some Therapy Dog organizations provide insurance to members- this is very important, and you should check with the organization you are interested in joining to see if this is included.
BEWARE of websites online selling “THERAPY DOG KITS” with no testing requirements. They are selling you a meaningless certificate and badge. No reputable Therapy Dog organization accepts dogs who have not been evaluated by a knowledgeable evaluator in their organization.
If you are a person with a disability (as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act) and you have a dog you would like to train as a Service Dog for yourself (or you have a loved one who meets that description), the first step should be basic obedience and manners. Your dog should be able to pass the AKC CGC, Community Canine (CGCA) and/or Urban GCG (CGCU). Once your dog has passed these tests, we can talk about specific task related training and public access training. Please do not call and ask about Service Dog training, or Service Dog certification, if you are unwilling, or your dog is unable to do the necessary foundation work. If your dog is unable to pass the CGCA or Urban CGC due to unstable temperament, your dog does not need to be a Service Dog with Public Access. Period. A Service Dog must be safe in public. If your dog lacks the foundation skills to pass the CGCA or Urban CGC, it is unlikely your dog will be able to function as a Service Dog should in public, or be able to complete the necessary task related training.
Recommended classes for potential service dogs are :
Cost for Service Dog training varies, and is dependent on the needs of the disabled person. Once the prerequisite group classes have been completed, cost for training will range from $2,000 (most PTSD Service Dogs) to $5,000 (Retrieving & Mobility).
A WORD ABOUT “FAKE” SERVICE DOGS:
BEWARE of organizations who offer a registration or “certification” (ID Card and/or certificate) without any training or testing required. These sham organizations are eroding the legitimacy of service dogs in our country! If you have a lovely pet you would like to take everywhere with you, please DO NOT parade it as a service dog or use one of these organizations to obtain documentation. Only dogs who provide a legitimate service(s) to a person with a disability should be allowed public access. There are many dog friendly places you can take your pet. Save the Service Dog classification for those who are TRUE service dogs, so that people with true disabilities will have continued access to this very important resource.