After you assessed whether or not your pet has the basic temperament to become a therapy pet you are ready for the next step, basic training. This is especially relevant for dogs. Cats, bunnies, and other small animals might not need additional training and can proceed to the evaluation. However, working on making travel easy and making handling by strangers pleasant for cats and other pets can be excellent preparation.
You can train your own dog, work with a private trainer, or take a group obedience class or Canine Good Citizen Preparation Class. Therapy Pets of Northern Arizona does not currently offer basic training or endorse any specific trainers or programs. Flagstaff does has numerous trainers and classes that can assist you.
Before taking the next step and enrolling in a therapy dog preparation class, or before taking the evaluation, your dog should be well mannered and reliably and consistently know and be able to perform the following commands:
- Come when called
- Respond to its name
- React appropriately to other animals and people (no jumping, aggressiveness, fearfulness, extreme excitability, barking)
- Walk well on a leash (no pulling or crossing sides, walking well using flat collar – no prong or choke collars, chains, etc.)
Pet Therapy Training
You can prepare for the evaluation and volunteering with your pet on your own. Or, we currently offer Pet Therapy Training classes, which teach you, and your dog, the specifics of volunteering with your pet and prepares you for the evaluation.
The 5 week class is offered twice a year, in the fall and spring and provides practical training for you and your dog, and covers all the important information about volunteering with your pet. Class includes information on conducting a successful pet visit, liability and insurance, appropriate equipment, how to appropriately prepare yourself and your pet for a visit, determining whether a facility is appropriate for you, tips on contacting and working with facility staff and scheduling visits, types of facilities and programs in Northern Arizona, identifying signs of stress in your pet, how to work with different populations, self care and addressing handler emotional stress, as well as desensitizing your dog to other dogs and loud noises, introducing them to wheelchairs and walkers, preparing for the evaluation (skills and aptitude test), the registration process and other important information.
To enroll in this class, and take the evaluation your dog needs to be at least a year old and have been with you for at least 6 months prior to the class start date. Visit our Classes and Events page for information about upcoming classes.