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Become an Ottawa Therapy Dog Team

Do you want to make a positive impact in our community? Do you and your furry friend have daytime availability during a weekday and want to provide support to vulnerable individuals?

Please click here to place your name on our list to be notified when we open registration for our next in person Information Session! 
Please send an email to: to learn more about this incredible volunteer opportunity with your dog! 

We also encourage you to subscribe at the link below for updates on recruitment of new volunteers and other events! 

Volunteers are at the heart of the work we do and we appreciate your interest!


Orientation Sessions

Overview of animal-assisted interventions

How to conduct yourself on a therapy visit

Best practices for good grooming, emphasizing infection control

How to recognize stress in your dog and avoid burnout

Benefits of joining Ottawa Therapy Dogs

Confidentiality agreements

Question and answer period

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To become a therapy dog team, you and your dog must pass an evaluation. Dogs must wear a buckle collar during the evaluation. Greyhounds are not required to sit during the evaluation.


Evaluations include:

Approach by a friendly stranger

The dog allows a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.


Sit politely for petting

The dog allows a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. The dog should sit at the handler's side as the evaluator approaches and begins to pet the dog on the head and body only. The dog may stand in place to accept petting. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.


Appearance and grooming

The dog welcomes being groomed and examined by a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog, combs or brushes the dog and lightly examines the ears and each front foot. The dog's nails must be clipped short and rounded smooth to avoid scratching fragile skin.

Walk on a loose leash

The handler is in control of the dog. The dog can be on either side of the handler. There must be a left turn, a right turn and an about turn, with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The dog does not need to be perfectly aligned with the handler or sit when the handler stops.


Walk through a crowd

The dog can move in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to at least three people. The dog may show some interest in the strangers, but without appearing overly exuberant, shy or resentful. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not be straining at the leash.


Sit, down and stay on command

The dog is trained and responds to the handler's commands to sit, down or stay. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to make the dog sit and then go down. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward 20 feet. The dog must stay in place, but may change position.


Come when called

The dog comes when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet away from the dog, turn to face the dog and then call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell the dog to stay or wait, or they can walk away, giving no instructions to the dog as the evaluator provides mild distraction, such as petting.


React to another dog

The dog behaves politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from 10 yards apart, stop to shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about five yards. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other.


React to distractions

The dog is confident when faced with common distractions, such as the dropping of a large book or a jogger running in front of the dog. The dog may express a natural interest or curiosity, or appear slightly startled, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark.


React to medical equipment

The evaluator judges the dog’s reaction to common medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, crutches, cane, walker, or other devices that would be found in a facility.


Leave it

The handler walks with the dog on a loose leash three feet away from food on the ground. Upon command, the dog should ignore the food.


Acclimate to infirmaries

The dog is confident when exposed to people walking with an uneven gait, shuffling, breathing heavily, coughing, wheezing or other conditions that may be encountered in a facility.


Take a treat

This test demonstrates that the dog will refuse the treat, or if they do take it, they do so very gently. The dog cannot use its teeth, snap or lunge for the treat.

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