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Training Resources


The best therapy dog team starts with a confident and well-trained dog. Add to that the special bond between dog and handler – and they are a true team.

Basic Obedience for Dogs

The Pet Team duo (the dog and the human), must be confident in their obedience and handling skills respectively. How is the communication between both ends of the leash? Does the dog respond appropriately to the handler’s command? Does the handler watch the dog and understand the dog’s needs and personality? Throughout the test we look for your ability to communicate with your dog. If there is something that is new and unusual, your dog should look towards you for gentle guidance.

Advanced Obedience for Dogs

Other aspects of the test relate to the human understanding of what animal assisted activities involve. Depending on the types of facilities visited (hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.) those aspects can vary greatly. We recommend that after some basic obedience and practice, you take some advanced training classes. Classes that concentrate on the Canine Good Citizen test (see below) and Therapy Dog training are good foundations for the actual Pets & People Therapy Dog test.  Look over our Therapy Dog Test and video carefully to determine what areas of training you should focus on.

At Home Training Tips for Dogs

Before you sign up for the test, give yourself a little time to practice the items described on the Therapy Dog Test. Get creative while having fun with your dog! Some ideas include:


  1. Take some furniture and make an obstacle course for you and your dog to walk through.

  2. Now do the same but add some distractions, like a tennis ball, food items, and tissues on the floor. Walk through the obstacle course and see how your dog does while not being distracted by them.

  3. Keep adding more distractions and obstacles to help you and your dog practice.

  4. Have a family member walk in and out of the room holding a stuffed toy.

  5. Can you get your dog to come close to a chair to be easily petted?

  6. Get someone to drop food as you are walking by them.

  7. Rattle cake pans in your kitchen for dog to be used to loud noises.

  8. Bring your dog to a store that allows dogs and get them used to the shopping carts (to simulate wheelchairs), different environments.

  9. Bring your dog on walks with other dogs and have them used to not interacting but be comfortable just being with them.

AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Test

Pets & People highly recommends training for and taking the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. Many animal training classes are built around the behavior elements of the CGC test.

The Canine Good Citizen will show that your dog is comfortable being with other people and other dogs. But that is just the start. Animal Assisted Activities can involve many other situations. Is your dog spooked in strange situations? Is your dog noise sensitive? What happens if there is a sudden noise or a shout? Does your dog remain under control? Does the animal like to be touched and cuddled?

More Training Resources

There are opportunities in communities for various Obedience classes discussed above. Often there will be group classes or even private trainers. Check with your local pet stores or search online for dog trainers in your area. Be sure to let your trainer know you wish to certify as a Pet Therapy team. 


In the end, it is really the quality time you put into training and instilling confidence in your dog that will help the most!


The best therapy cat teams start with a very confident and laid back cat. Add to that the special bond between cat and handler – and they are a true team.

Basic Obedience for Cats

Most people will laugh at the idea of training a cat! True, it is not the same as obedience classes for dogs, but we can expose cats to different experiences to determine if they will make a good therapy cat. Therapy cats must feel calm and react the same in environments outside the home and with strangers.

At Home Training Tips

Before you sign up for the test, give yourself a little time to practice the items described on the Therapy Cat Test and watch the Therapy Cat Test video. Get creative while having fun with your cat! Some ideas include:

  1. Pick up and carry your cat often.  

  2. Repeatedly touch cat on legs, belly, paws, tail, ears, teeth and claws. Try to pet the cat a bit roughly to simulate someone with difficult gross motor control.

  3. When cat loving guests visit, ask if they would pick up your cat and hold it for a bit of time.

  4. Place cat on the guest’s lap and see if they are comfortable staying with them and being petted. Have the guest touch the cat’s legs, belly, paws and tail, ears, teeth and claws.  

  5. Slowly get your cat acclimated to a harness and leash. Your cat does not need to walk with the harness but should be very comfortable wearing one.

  6. Rattle cake pans while your cat is in the kitchen.

  7. How will you safely transport your cat? Be sure the cat is comfortable riding in the car and in a carrier. Take your cat for short rides often.

  8. Your cat should remain calm and not show anxiety or overly shed in any and all situations.

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