TRAINING IS OFFERED BY INVITATION ONLY once we have received both parts of your application and all of your paperwork has been checked. You will then be put on our waitlist. We will notify you when a spot has opened up for you to start training. We suggest you try to get your CGC (Canine Good Citizen) in the meantime.
Training Classes are held at Bellaire United Methodist Church
There is no start or end date for classes. Classes are continuous, like a giant conveyor belt. Each human/pet team is evaluated individually. Teams in class will work on the same drills every week until the dog is ready to pass the CGC test. Classes are ongoing, and pets are sent to our AKC evaluator for testing for certification as each pet is ready. Some pets may take only one or a few classes, and some may take many months of training before they are ready to be certified.
If a primary and secondary handler have signed up, they must BOTH show up to all training classes and testing. Humans can be any age, but youth handlers are limited in the facilities they are allowed to visit and those under 18 must always be accompanied at all times by a parent, both in class and on visits. Pets must be at least 6 months old to become certified.
Animals must never show aggression to humans or to other animals. All animals are screened during training and invited to test and join. Handler and pet will be evaluated together. Some pets will not have the temperament appropriate for pet therapy and will be refused membership.
Most of our certified pets are dogs, but we also welcome cats and rabbits. We do not use reptiles or exotic animals. Dogs must pass the CGC (Canine Good Citizen) test and/or Temperament test. These tests are authorized and administered through the AKC (American Kennel Club). Cats and rabbits must pass Temperament testing. Pets must be current on all vaccinations and there is a form to have your vet complete. Some of our members have more than one certified pet. A few facilities will allow us to bring more than one certified pet (up to 2) on a visit.
- Dogs must pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test and/or a Temperament test to be certified.
- Cats, rabbits, and birds must pass a Temperament test to be certified.
The following 10 basic items make up the CGC test and will be practiced during our classes:
- Greets a friendly stranger
- Sits politely for petting
- Welcomes being groomed, brushed; allows paws, tail and ears to be handled
- Walks as directed on a loose leash
- Moves politely through a crowd
- Sits, lies down, and stays in place on command
- Comes when called
- Behaves politely around other dogs
- Reacts with confidence to distractions
- Can be left with a trusted person (3 minutes)
Usual obedience commands that dogs will be expected to obey:
- “Heel” “Sit” “Down” “Stay” “Come”
- Two additional commands we teach and use: “Watch Me” “Leave It”
Cleared to start volunteering
Starting as soon as you and your pet are certified with us, we require that you make at least one monthly visit with our group to one of the scheduled visits.
- Our group has visits arranged at nursing homes, hospitals, elementary schools, libraries and rehab centers.
- Most of our facilities do not have special requirements, but some will need you to take a TB test, flu shot, and/or attend orientation. Some also require a certain dress code, their own ID, or need to run a background check.
- Tricks are not necessary – most of our facilities are happy with a pet that just likes to be petted.
- We encourage you to dress up your pet for all visits. Residents love this. Dress-up may be as simple as a neckerchief.