Therapy Dog Test Details

General Info:

  • No treats or toys may be used during the test, but are allowed in the prep class.
  • Dogs should wear a flat buckle collar and be on a 4 or 6 foot leash; no flexie leashes, choke chains, or pinch collars.
  • Handlers are encouraged to speak to their dog as they normally would, issue commands the dog is accustomed to following, and maintain a positive and happy attitude throughout the test. Gentle corrections are acceptable, but harsh corrections will be cause for failing the test.

How the combined CGC/Therapy dog test will be administered:

  1. The evaluator will greet the dog/handler team, shaking hands with the handler. The dog should remain sitting or standing beside the handler, may show casual interest in the evaluator but not show aggression, bark, lunge, or jump on evaluator. The handler may give commands to the dog as needed, but should not have to force the dog to remain in place or give strong leash corrections. Gentle reminders to the dog are appropriate, if needed.
  2. The evaluator will ask the handler “May I pet your dog?” The evaluator will pet the dog, examine ears and front feet, and run a comb lightly over the dog. The dog should not show fear or aggression. Licking and a wagging tail earn the dog extra points!
  3. The evaluator will ask the handler to show that the dog will sit and lie down on command. The handler will be asked to show that the dog will stay in place (either from a standing, sitting, or down position) while the handler walks to the end or a 20 foot line and returns to the dog. The handler will be asked to show that the dog will stay in place, and then come when called, from a distance of about 10 feet away.
  4. The evaluator will instruct the handler to walk a defined course with the dog on a loose leash. The course will include several turns. The dog should not tug or pull on the leash. The handler may encourage the dog verbally or by patting their leg if necessary. This is not a competitive obedience exercise, but is meant to show that the dog is under control when on a leash.
  5. The evaluator will instruct the handler to walk the dog on a loose leash around the room. A “crowd” will be assembled, possibly consisting of children, people in wheelchairs or using walkers or crutches, people acting erratically, people running or skipping, people bouncing a ball, and people conversing normally. The crowd will randomly mill around the room. The handler and dog will pass through the crowd several times. During this time, a child may ask to pet the dog or a person behaving erratically may pet and hug the dog. The dog should not tug on the leash, bark, lunge, behave aggressively, or show fear in either situation.
  6. The evaluator will instruct the handler to walk the dog around the perimeter of the room, past a toy and a food item on the floor. The handler may instruct the dog to “Leave it” (or similar command) and the dog should not lunge for the toy or the food. Gentle corrections are allowed. The handler is encouraged to speak firmly to the dog (but no jerking of collars), as this exercise is very difficult for some dogs.
  7. Continuing on around the room, the handler/dog team will encounter a sound distraction, such as a dropped pan or book, or a ringing bell. The dog may startle but should recover quickly, and should not bark, lunge or act aggressively.
  8. Continuing on around the room, the handler and dog will encounter another handler/dog team. (The second dog will be neutral and friendly.) The two handlers will stop, shake hands, and exchange a few words before continuing on. The handler is encouraged to sit or otherwise tell his/her dog to stay or wait before shaking hands, as this discourages the dogs from interacting. The dog(s) may show casual interest in each other, but should not try to sniff each other, bark, behave aggressively or fearfully, and should not cross over in front of or behind the handlers to approach each other. The dog(s) should not jump on either handler.
  9. The handler will be asked to leave his/her dog with a “friendly stranger” for 2 minutes while the handler goes out of sight. The handler may instruct the dog to stay or wait, or may simply leave. The dog can sit, lie down, or remain standing, and may change position during the 2 minutes, but should not whine incessantly, bark, lunge or pull on the leash, pace, or act otherwise stressed. Mild concern is acceptable. The “friendly stranger” may speak to the dog and pet it briefly, but should not continually soothe it by petting or other means.
  10. The handler will be asked to go through a door with the dog waiting (in either a sitting or standing position) to follow through the open doorway upon command.  The dog must not surge through the doorway ahead of the handler as soon as it is opened.

Printable file of the Therapy Dog testing requirements.

Example of tester’s evaluation form for Therapy Dogs.