How to Find, Train, and Certify a Qualified Animal-Assistance Dog

This summary, 2-hour class introduces you to the least cost and most expedient way to choose the right dog for your specific physical and emotional needs and circumstance. The class also covers resources available to train your pet for a particular purpose, such as providing therapy dog services to the public.

Class features:

  • Live, Virtual, 2-Hr. Non-Credit Courses, Using Zoom
  • College Expert Instructors
  • Concise, Comprehensive Presentation
  • Q & A Sessions for Your Specific Needs
  • Post-Class Support
  • Resource Guide Included
  • “Excellent” Class Evaluations
  • Easy Registration
  • Next Class Offered, Saturday, June 12, 2021, 9:00 am to 11:00 am

For course description and registration, please click on any of the colleges below.

With COVID-19 immunity in sight, now is the right time to certify you and your dog to become part of the community healing process. In this live, engaging, two-hour online class, you will learn from practicing therapy dog handlers how they bring joy and happiness to people in various environments and facilities—from hospitals to airports, from courtrooms to community policing. This course shows you how to pass the therapy dog handler’s written and behavioral tests at the least cost and quickest way. The class provides a detailed understanding of the certifying process, therapy dog training tips and resources, evaluation requirements, practice test videos, and post-class support as you work toward your therapy dog certification. We combine live student questions and answers, lectures, demonstrations, videos of therapy dog evaluations, and a comprehensive therapy handler resource guide with over 50 valuable website links. Instructor Richard Katz is a nationally recognized therapy dog trainer, handler, educator, and industry expert.  Registration Coming Soon: Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive course description, instructor background, and registration instructions.

Pet-Related Funding Opportunities

By Steven Feldman, CEO, HABRI

Steven Feldman, CEO, HABRI

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) has now opened applications for the FY 2021 Emergency and Transitional Pet Shelter and Housing Assistance Grant Program. This grant program will support the expansion of shelter and housing assistance for survivors of domestic violence with companion animals. Please share this grant funding with organizations eligible to apply. Last year, the DOJ awarded over $2.2 million to six organizations, which allowed families and their pets across the country to safely leave dangerous situations together. As few as 20 percent of domestic violence shelters offer co-sheltering options with pets, making this an ongoing and urgent need. Many in the pet care community are dedicated to this issue, through advocacy in Congress for Federal support and through direct funding to worthy organizations. Thank you to everyone involved. This is such an important example of how we can tackle tough issues and work together to strengthen the human-animal bond.

Dogs Don’t Like Passive or Unresponsive Human Faces

Dogs need a stream of active facial expressions to keep them focused on a person

By Stanley Coren, PhD, DSc, FRSC

According to some new research, your face may be the key to building a better bond with your dog. When we are trying to communicate with someone, the human face undergoes a number of changes in expression which help to clarify what we are feeling and the emotions that we are undergoing during that interaction. If a person’s face is passive and unresponsive, this violates the rules of normal communication, and the individual observing the passive face may interpret it as a personal rejection and respond with a surge of negative emotion.

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Our Founding Therapy Dog, Rudy

July 2006- October 2019

This text has been revised from the original text.

Rudy’s contribution to the animal-assisted therapy industry will last forever.  Rudy motivated us to establish our nonprofit organization, K9 Ambassadors, with his uncanny ability to consistently put a smile on people’s faces and bring them joyfully into the “here and now.”

Rudy served patients in hospitals, travelers at airports, college students studying for finals, employees taking work breaks, children learning to read, child witnesses during courtroom trials, and those he just met on the street.

If you have time, and kindness and compassion are part of your mantra, I encourage you to explore becoming a therapy dog handler. Hopefully, this website will help you start your journey. Feel free to email me at  [email protected] if you have any questions. -Richard

How Americans Memorialize Their Dogs

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC
Canine Corner, Psychology Today

Some American pet owners have chosen some exotic ways to memorialize their dogs.

It is a sad reality that no matter how much we love our dogs, our pets will not live forever. A new study conducted by Anthony Martin and other researchers at Choice Mutual has shown that just as we treat our dogs like family when they are alive, we also tend to treat them like family when they die. The research team looked at over 20 sources to uncover many of the ways that Americans memorialize their pets once they have passed away.

To begin with, like humans, the most common burial methods for pets are traditional burial in the ground or cremation. These choices may be partially due to tradition, but other factors, such as cost and practicality, play into them. Cremation is the more popular choice (for about 60 percent of pet owners), and that might be partly due to the fact that pet cemeteries are few and far between, and many owners don’t want to have to travel to visit their companion.

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Dog Breeds Usually Banned by Home Insurance Companies

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC

It is an unfortunate fact that it may not be possible for you to have your favorite breed of dog and still be able to insure your home. Home insurance companies tend to try to avoid risks which might lead to costly payouts on behalf of their policyholders.  

When it comes to dogs, the problem is that they often trigger expensive liability claims against the dog owners. Typically homeowners’ insurance provides coverage for dog bites and other dog-related injuries, such as an injury resulting from a fall because a dog jumped up on someone.

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Is It Possible for a Dog to Actually Experience Jealousy?

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC

Dogs are capable of jealousy much like that seen in young children.

Science has established that dogs experience the same basic emotions as does a 2- to 3-year-old child. That means to say that a dog can feel happy, sad, angry, fearful, disgusted, and surprised. The question of whether they feel the more complex social emotions, including guilt, pride, shame, envy, and jealousy is still open to investigation. Jealousy, for example, is an emotion that involves three individuals. It is the unhappy feeling of being replaced in someone else’s affections or the suspicion that the object of your affection has been unfaithful in your relationship.

Some researchers feel that this involves some pretty complex reasoning processes, which perhaps only humans are capable of. However, in a new report, a team of researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand suggests that dogs are capable of this emotion. “Research has supported what many dog owners firmly believe, dogs exhibit jealous behavior when their human companions interact with the potential rival,” said Amelia Bastos, the lead author on this paper.

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Can Remote Therapy Dog Sessions Reduce Stress?

By Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC

Virtual and remote sessions do not deliver stress-relieving benefits.

One of the unexpected effects of the social distancing restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic has been the impact on certain types of therapy dog interventions. The particular programs that have suffered the most involve therapy dogs in group stress reduction sessions where several dog handlers and therapy dogs are gathered together to provide a stress relief event for a large group of individuals.

This particularly impacts university students who suffer from pre-exam anxiety around the time of their midterm or their final exams. Normally a number of universities provide programs where therapy dogs and their handlers visit the college campuses in the hopes that interactions with these dogs will help to reduce exam-related stresses. Because of the current restrictions limiting social interactions to prevent the spread of Covid-19, such programs have been shut down.

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The Tails and Tales of Sam: Another Star is Born!

Sam’s Therapy Dog Training

Many students taking our classes want to know where and how to get their pet dog trained and certified as a therapy dog.

One way to share how to do it, is to tell Sam’s story.

Sam began as a “career changer” when he was given up for adoption by Guide Dogs of the Desert because of his small size. He had no training, no socialization and quite frankly I almost returned him myself. He was nine months old at the time, way beyond the time training should start at three months.

After being adopted and returned by previous owners, I agreed to raise and train him as a therapy dog. Note: I had no academic or dog training education.

As an experienced therapy dog handler at the UCLA Health Center with our founding poodle, Rudy (RIP), I quickly learned the power of the human-animal bond.

Today, Sam’s temperament and charismatic personality guarantee a smile on anyone he meets. For example, essential workers at healthcare facilities needing a lift in spirits, mothers on airplanes wanting to soothe their children, shoppers at retailers having a chance to feel connected, and audiences at concerts and church services receiving a surprise dose of joy and happiness.

I created a photo album of these events. With SAM, all I do is give the command, “say hello,” and he immediately nuzzles up to the person I point to and senses the Oxytocin, the love hormone, emanating from the individual.

Sam’s love for large groups of children and adults makes him an exceptional therapy dog when they all want to pet Sam simultaneously.

Recently, Sam has joined me in teaching a virtual, live Certify Your Pet as a Therapy Dog class sponsored by community colleges throughout the nation. This class’s sole mission is to educate the public about becoming a volunteer therapy dog handler so more people will experience joy and healing.

For more information about these non-credit, 2-hour, live, virtual community college classes, please subscribe to our newsletter.

VOTE for Sam and Make Him “Top Dog”

Our own K9 Ambassadors therapy dog, Sam, is a finalist in the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Awards TV show, to be broadcast on the Hallmark CHANNEL. Vote today by going to Vote for Sam Now, and thank you in advance for your support.

Sam began as a “career changer” when he was given up for adoption by Guide Dogs of the Desert because of his small size. After being adopted and returned by previous owners, I agreed to raise and train him as a therapy dog. As an experienced therapy dog handler at the UCLA Health Center, I quickly learned the power of the human-animal bond. Today, Sam’s temperament and charismatic personality guarantee a smile on anyone he meets. For example, essential workers at healthcare facilities needing a lift in spirits, mothers on airplanes wanting to soothe their children, lonely, older shoppers at retailers having a chance to feel connected, and audiences at concerts and church services receiving a surprise dose of joy and happiness. I created a photo album of these events. With SAM, all I do is give the command, “say hello,” and he immediately nuzzles up to the person I point to and senses the Oxytocin, the love hormone, emanating from the individual. Sam’s love for large groups of children and adults makes him an exceptional therapy dog when they all want to pet Sam simultaneously. Recently, Sam has joined me in teaching a virtual, live How to Certify Your Pet as a Therapy Dog class sponsored by community colleges throughout the nation. This class’s sole mission is to educate the public about becoming a volunteer therapy dog handler so more people will experience joy and healing.