Therapy Dog Testing
Our Examination for Therapy Dogs although not identical, is similar to the testing conducted by the Delta Society. For example, watch this VIDEO and study the temperament testing procedures below to learn about what to expect at a Screening.
This assessment will examine your dog’s relationship with you and you will be asked to make your dog perform simple tasks. The evaluators will check that the dogs remain relaxed and attentive throughout each exercise. You may use verbal praise to encourage your dog during the exercises but must refrain from rewarding with treats.
A high level of dog training is not a pre-requisite, however, your dog needs to be under control at all times. You and your dog are a team and the evaluators will check whether your dog is generally responsive and attentive to you and that you have a good understanding of your dog’s body language. It is essential your dog is very comfortable during the assessment and that you can recognize and act on the signs your dog shows you if it is not. The evaluators will also check that your dog is interested in people and interacting with strangers without becoming concerned or overly excited. Your dog must not jump up on anyone or pull towards people. The simulated crowd scene ensures your dog can remain calm in the presence of a large group of people.
Test 1: Controlled Walk
Your dog must walk close to your left or right-hand side as directed. The dog should not pull on the lead and you should not pull or tug on the lead at any time. You will then need to ask your dog to sit, down and stand in any order when asked by the assessor. The dog should be able to respond to you with no more than 2 requests.
Test 2: Accepting a Friendly Stranger and Sitting Politely for Stroking
Your assessor will, while talking to you, pat your dog on the head and chest. Your dog may remain sitting or may stand while your assessor pats it; however, your dog should not jump on the assessor.
Test 3: Held by a Stranger with Owner Out of Sight
Your assessor will hold your dog's lead while you will be asked to go out of sight for at least 60 seconds. Your dog may move about but should not strain at the end of the lead or become too distressed while you are absent.
Test 4: Leave an Item
Your assessor or an assistant will place a muffin/biscuit on a plate on the floor while your dog is watching. You will then be required to slowly walk your dog within a meter of this plate and ask your dog to ignore the food. You may use a word, hand signal or both, but you may not drag the dog away from the food or physically move it away.
Test 5: Take Food Gently
Your dog will be required to take food gently without mouthing or nipping someone's hand. Your assessor will offer your dog a plain biscuit or a piece of the muffin on an open palm. If your dog does not take food from your assessor then you will be asked to feed it You can use words like “gentle” for this exercise.
Test 6: Release Dog and Recall from a Minimum of Five Metres
This exercise may be done on a long lead, or off lead in a secure area. You will be asked to wait until your dog wanders a short distance away and is distracted (not looking at the owner) by its surroundings (e.g. sniffing the ground). You will then be asked to call your dog which should come back to you promptly. You may use words and praise or change position or posture to encourage your dog to return. When your dog has returned, you will need to attach the lead to your dog’s collar.
This assessment will assess your dog's ability to cope with noise and distractions during visits. The assessor will consider your dog’s level of confidence when faced with the unusual. It is normal for your dog to be curious and at times apprehensive, but we do not want your dog to show excessive startling or try to escape, become aggressive, jump or bark. Your dog will need to remain sitting or standing without moving away or showing signs of nervousness.
Test 7: Reaction to Another Dog
This test requires another person and their dog (both dogs are on lead). You will be required to walk towards each other from about 5 meters away and then stop (person to person) about 2 meters apart. Your dog will be expected to maintain a sit position while you have a brief conversation and then continue walking past. Both dogs should show no more than a passing interest in each other.
Test 8: Exuberant and Clumsy Petting
Your assessor will begin by patting your dog’s head and gradually move their hands up and down your dog’s body, including the tail and ears and becoming increasingly clumsy with their handling.
Test 9: Staggering and Gesturing Individual
A person wearing a shawl and wide-brimmed hat, using a wheelchair, walker or walking stick will approach your dog with an unsteady gait. The person may gesture wildly and use a wailing voice, but will not threaten or directly target your dog.
Test 10: Angry Yelling
A volunteer standing approximately two to three meters away from your dog will shout in an angry voice and wave their arms about.
Test 11: Walking Through a Crowd and Reaction to Distractions
You and your dog will be asked to walk through a moving crowd of at least four people (both men and women). Your dog will need to remain close to your side. Your dog can show some interest in strangers, without appearing over-excited (e.g. jumping), shy or fearful (e.g. pulling away on the lead, backing away). You will not be able to pull the lead or physically maneuver your dog through the people. The second time you and your dog pass through the crowd, the crowd will make some noise. The crowd may talk to each other and clap; one person may be using a cane, wheelchair or walking stick and make an erratic hand or body movements. One of the crowd will drop a metal bowl from waist high on a hard surface no closer than 4 meters behind the dog (if testing is on grass then two saucepan lids will be banged to achieve a similar noise).
Test 12: Crowded or Patted in a Group
At least three people (both men and women) – one using a cane, crutches or walker – will gather closely around your dog and begin to gently touch it. All people will be talking and all will try to gain your dog's attention. Your dog will need to accept the attention without signs of nervousness.
Test 13: Being Bumped from Behind
While your dog is distracted, a person will gently bump/nudge the body of your dog.
Our Fostering Program is called Foster Pets Rock! because our volunteers provide foster care for animals in distress when patients at hospitals and hospices have no way of caring for their animals at home.
Frequently these animals are taken to shelters where an uncertain fate awaits them and the patients never see their beloved pets again.
Our volunteers foster these animals at the patient's home or at their own home and take them to see their owners in the hospital so they are never deprived of the wonderful love of their pets. This often provides much comfort and helps relieve the anxiety many patients feel and indeed helps in their recovery process.