A wonderful resource for training is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. This international organization provides information on how to choose a trainer as well as a dog trainer search. Due to the risks of dog-human interactions, it is highly recommended that
animals involved in therapy work are certified through a reputable therapy dog agency such as the ones mentioned below.
In the US, the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is an excellent first step toward therapy dog credentialing. Visit the AKC website, then search “CGC.” This program is open to all owners and dogs, including mixed breeds. Dr. Thompson is a certified evaluator with the CGC program and all three of her dogs have obtained the CGC title.
The use of animals as healing agents to people grew to the point that Therapy Dog International, Inc. (TDI) was founded by Elaine Smith, a practicing nurse in 1976. TDI is the oldest and currently the largest therapy dog organization in the United States. It is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing, and registering therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, schools, and wherever else therapy dogs are needed. In 2006, over 15,000 dogs and approximately 13,000 handlers are registered with TDI. Dogs registered through TDI are rigorously evaluated
and are graduates of basic obedience classes as well as other specialized forms of training. To maintain their therapy dog certification, the handler must renew their annual membership with TDI, which includes an annual veterinary visit, current vaccinations, and routine check-ups. For additional information go to www.tdi-dog.org. All of Dr. Thompson-Rottier’s play therapy dogs have been registered therapy dogs with national organizations.