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Therapy Dog Testing & Certification

Can my dog become a therapy dog?

Many dog owners ask what is involved in having their dog become certified as a registered therapy dog.

First of all, it is most important to have a well socialized dog. Proper socialization creates a relaxed, confident, and happy canine, one that is comfortable in a wide variety of environments.  Socialization does not just happen; it takes a serious commitment on the part of the owner to expose the dog regularly to traveling in the car, interacting with people of all ages, other dogs, and to strange sights and sounds.

Therapy dogs destined to work in schools should be comfortable and confident with children. Likewise, therapy dogs who will be working in nursing homes and hospitals should be gentle with the elderly and ill, unafraid of medical equipment and assistive devices.

Some of the environments and situations where therapy dogs work include schools, college campuses, hospitals, nursing homes, with war veterans, hospice, and crisis intervention.  Therapy dogs also visit public libraries, special needs camps, and community groups such as the Girl Scouts.

The Nor’wester Therapy Dogs organization requires our handlers to complete the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification as part of their dog’s preparation for therapy dog testing.

Download a PDF of the Canine Good Citizen test.

If you feel your dog is ready for the CGC test, some local testers are listed below for your convenience. In addition, CGC testing is often available at AKC sanctioned dog shows and through local dog training organizations.

Many dog training organizations offer therapy dog classes prior to testing. However, this is not required. If an owner feels his/her dog is prepared for testing, arrangements can be made with a therapy dog organization or evaluator to have the dog tested.  It is important to understand that the test is as much an evaluation of the handler as it is the dog. On most governing therapy dog organization websites, you can access the therapy dog test used by that respective organization.


Find a list of evaluators in Pennsylvania.

Alliance of Therapy Dogs (Formerly Therapy Dogs Inc.)
Peggy Grookett
CGC and Alliance of Therapy Dogs
Email Peggy

Alliance of Therapy Dogs
Select #3 – Find a volunteer tester/observer.
Search by your zip code and a list of testers will pop up.

CGC and Bright & Beautiful
Susie Danzis
Owner, Training Tails Dog Training
IACP Professional Member since 2000
Email Susie