Become an Ottawa Therapy Dog Team
Do you and your dog want to make a positive impact on children and youth coping with physical and mental health challenges? We are currently recruiting volunteer handlers and their four-legged friends with daytime availability to join our team! As an OTD team, you will leave pawprints on the hearts of those in need of comfort and support in our community. Learn more below!
Complete our On-Demand Information Session to learn about the commitment requirement and to determine if Ottawa Therapy Dogs is a good fit for you and your dog.
Submit a Membership Application
Attend an Orientation session to learn about liability, potential placements and how to advocate for your dog. (At this time we are unable to offer these sessions, due to COVID-19 restrictions).
Pass an Evaluation with your dog as a team
Arrange for a Vulnerable Sector Check
Visit your veterinarian to complete an Annual Health Record
Pay the $40 annual membership fee
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
Question and answer period
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.
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.
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.
The dog can be left with a trusted person and will maintain its training. The evaluators will ask to watch the dog and then take the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine or pace, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.