DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thank you for being there when we need you. Can you please tell me how to go about getting a dog therapy certified? Thank you so much. — D.G., Lewiston

ANSWER: Sun Spots started at www.caringk9.com. It says: “To certify and then register your dog as a therapy dog, we recommend that you first take the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen test. This will give you a good idea of your dog’s success at becoming certified as a therapy dog.”

At the AKC website is this: 

“At the CGC test, owners should be given two parts of a three-part test form. On the form, owners are instructed to send in one copy of the test form with the recording fee of $8 to receive the certificate. Owners may choose to not purchase a certificate and to use the copy of their test results as proof of passing the CGC test. Certificates take 4-6 weeks for processing and printing.

“Please note that in order to receive the certificate, the owner must send the paperwork to request the certificate to AKC within two years of the CGC test date. After that time, the dog will need to be retested.

“This does not mean CGC certificates expire every two years. At this time, there is no expiration on CGC certificates; however, because behavior can change over time, we encourage owners to have their dogs retested every few years. When the CGC award is used as one of the requirements for therapy dog work, admission to a dog park, insurance, etc., these agencies will most often require that the dog will have passed the CGC test within the last two years.”

At ehow.com, a posting said that passing the CGC is only the first step and that you also need to have your dog certified further:

“The two main organizations that certify you are Therapy Dogs International and Delta Society.

“The tests are similar. You need to complete a course with a trainer or through a textbook and mail things in. Then you take the test. The Delta test has two parts. The first part is exactly the same as the CGC given by the AKC. So preparing for and taking the CGC will give you a good idea of what to expect on the therapy dog test.

“The CGC tests your dog on basic commands, meeting strangers, being handled by strangers, and meeting another dog. Things like sitting politely for petting, sitting politely for brushing, and heeling with you through an obstacle course. Your dog can’t get overexcited, and definitely can’t show aggression.

“The Delta test is a little more in-depth, but builds on the skills needed for the CGC. For example, your dog has to allow someone to hug him. This is an unnatural thing for a dog, and some dogs won’t like it.

“Delta also tests your dog around medical equipment such as wheelchairs or walkers, around infirm people, around people having an argument, around loud noises. Your dog has to demonstrate confidence around these situations, and be under control. For instance, your dog may be lightly bumped by a walker. Your dog can’t snap or become too upset.

“Above all, these tests want to see that you and your dog work as a team. Enrolling in a class will help you with your weak areas, and help prepare you for the test.

“Contact your local kennel club to find out about what group (TDI or DELTA) is active near you.”

Sun Spots noted that your letter was handwritten and wanted to find you a person to contact for help, but she was frustrated. All of the websites provided lists of dog shows where evaluators will be present, along with a list of evaluators in Maine. Unfortunately, there was only one listed in Lewiston: Linda Morris at [email protected] Sun Spots e-mailed her but received no response.

Hopefully, someone who has a therapy dog in the region will see this letter and offer you assistance in getting your dog certified.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.