Stress relief. Comfort. Smiles. Joy. These are just a few of the things therapy dogs and K-9 Reading Buddy teams bring to the people they interact with. If you’ve ever considered becoming a therapy dog or K-9 Reading Buddy team, there are a few requirements before you can begin:
- Registered therapy dogs must be at least one year old.
- All handlers need to have had a relationship with the dog for at least three months before testing.
- Registered dogs are required to have an annual health examination by a veterinarian. They must also have an annual fecal check for parasites, which must be negative.
If you meet these requirements, your first step to getting your dog registered as a therapy dog is to locate a Tester/Observer in your area. That’s right, this means there are no special obedience class requirements. If you have a well-behaved dog that enjoys meeting people, you can be tested for membership with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), formerly known as Therapy Dogs Inc. (TDInc.) Testing is free of charge. There is no cost until you complete the ATD registration process and apply for membership.
Have more questions? Download this list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding ATD membership put together by K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore (K9RBNS).
Once your dog is officially registered as a therapy dog, you’ll want to schedule some therapy visits to get experience before becoming a K-9 Reading Buddy. To setup therapy visits, K9RBNS suggests calling the activities director or volunteer coordinator at the place you’re hoping to schedule a visit, introducing yourself, and inquiring whether they accept therapy dog visits. Common places for visits include assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Once you and your therapy dog have made a few visits, you can contact Carole Yuster from K9RBNS to get the process of becoming a K-9 Reading Buddy started. It generally takes about three months from your first point of contact to your first volunteer opportunity. Download the full information guide from K9RBNS here.
Thank you to K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore for providing the information on how to become a Therapy Dog/K-9 Reading Buddy Team.