Step 1: Class
Everyone who wants to become a certified Project Canine therapy handler must take our Therapy Dog Preparation Class with their dog. The class will give you a basis in therapy dog fundamentals and will prepare you to take the exam. Watching you and your dog in class allows us to evaluate if you and your dog are appropriate and ready to become a therapy dog team. We'll give you written feedback after class letting you know if you're ready to proceed and what, if anything, you need to work on in order to be ready to test. You'll have six months from your class date to take your exam, take Practice Lab (or in OR to complete your shadow visits), and complete your registration.
We believe in humane, relationship-based training that engages a dog's mind rather than just controlling its body. Read more about relationship-based training.
- This is not a dog obedience training class. If you think your dog is lacking some of the skills necessary to become a certified therapy dog, please see our overview of therapy dog skills and readiness.
- Remember, 1 person + 1 dog = a therapy dog team. If you have multiple family members who would like to certify with your dog, each family member must go through the process and each handler must pay to attend class, take the exam, participate in Practice Lab, and register. There is a discounted rate at the end of the process for adding an additional handler for a dog.
- If you are certified or have been certified with another organization, you must still complete our 4-step process (including class), as we must thoroughly evaluate you and your dog as a team. Remember, you may not feel you are new to therapy animal visiting, but you are new to us and we take providing our certification very seriously.
Things you might want to know:
What equipment can I use to train, test, and visit?
How do I know if my dog is ready?
Have more questions?
Click here to go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you want to certify a puppy (5 months to 12 months), please read our Puppies page, and let us know you'll be attending with your puppy when you sign up for class.
Test Your Knowledge
Did you know that dogs communicate with body language? Our dogs try very hard to tell us what they're feeling so they can be safe and make good decisions. What we consider inappropriate behavior from our dogs often happens because we haven't heard and responded appropriately to what they're trying to tell us. That's why we teach our handlers about canine stress signals and how to advocate for their dogs. Take the canine communication quiz.