Therapy Dogs: What it Takes to Register

Recently, my Grandpuppy Mya had her first birthday. We celebrated with presents for her and pink cupcakes for the humans. Besides being a milestone birthday, it was also an exciting day because it meant that she became age qualified to start testing to become a registered pet assisted therapy dog!

Dogs are required to be at least one year of age to be considered for pet therapy testing. My daughter Jade and I worked for 8 months to get Mya well socialized with people and other dogs and to walk nicely on a leash, all important skills on her road to becoming a therapy dog. Mya quickly showed that she was going to have a natural personality that enjoyed attention from everyone she met.

Many people have asked me how dogs become registered pet assisted therapy dogs, so I thought I’d share a bit about our process and road. About a month before Mya’s birthday I contacted Midlands Pet Therapy/Therapy Dogs, Inc. and arranged a date to meet for our handling test and first observation. This lady also works for an organization that provides a safe environment for kids after school. She offered to conduct the handling test and first observation at their facility.

Jade put a new collar on Mya, grabbed her new four-foot Sergeant’s leash, proof of rabies vaccination and proof of clear fecal check. We also took Bo with us to help show Mya what we wanted her to do, since he’s been a therapy dog for years. Bo was proud to show Mya the ropes. We were so excited to get started with the new stage of her life.!

Bo and Mya were curious to know where we were when we pulled into the parking lot. They gladly let us put their leashes on and headed straight to the building door. There were kids coming up to us as we entered the building asking to pet our dogs. It was great to hear these kids asking permission before approaching the dogs and seeing that the kids there had such good manners with pets. The staff was also excited to see Bo and Mya and showed us to the the Trainer/Observer’s office.

The T/O put us through the paces of each portion of the handling test. Walking nicely, turning different directions, letting her touch Mya’s ears, throat, stomach, feet and tail. Happily, Mya passed each section of the test. We were then taken to a few different areas of the facility to visit with many different kids and some other staff. With Bo’s example, Mya went up to be petted, allowed people to approach her and turned on the sweet personality. What a charmer!

We will still have to have two more observation visits with this T/O before we can mail our paperwork in and Mya can become a registered therapy dog. We are so excited that she passed the first steps with flying colors! You never know when you adopt a puppy or dog of any age if they will have what it takes to be a great pet assisted therapy dog. We have been so very lucky to have another great candidate join our family. Jade and I are very anxious to complete our other observations and get Mya’s official red heart shaped therapy dog tag.

Keep your fingers crossed and please wish us all good luck! Hopefully very soon, another loving dog will officially be out and about, comforting and encouraging humans who need a little extra love.

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