Before any dog is offered the opportunity to enter the CTDS therapy dog program, it must undergo an assessment. The assessment consists of four main areas:

Temperament

For a dog to fulfill the role of a therapy dog with CTDS it must have a temperament which reflects a relaxed demeanour around both people and other dogs. From the initial introduction to the assessor, right through the assessment, the dog has to display a friendly disposition. This includes the portion of the assessment where the assessor feels the dog in sensitive areas of it’s body, e.g. ears, paws, tail, etc. as well as when the assessor drops a noisy object in the vicinity of the dog. It is important that no negative reactions are displayed.

Obedience

A dog in the program will be asked to behave itself by sitting quietly, not jumping up at people around and keeping quiet during the therapy sessions. For this to happen, the dog needs to have an understanding of basic obedience and obey, without hesitation, when given a command by it’s handler. To assess a dog’s level of obedience, the handler will be asked to have his/ her dog perform such commands as sit, down, stay, come and leave it.

Physical state

Although an assessment is not designed to detect any particular ailment that a dog may be suffering from, the overall appearance of the dog’s coat, stature and gait is reviewed. Note: once a dog passes the assessment, there is an obligatory medical that the dog needs to take which is conducted by a qualified veterinarian. Such a medical will determine whether the dog is medically fit to enter the program.

Demeanour and attitude of the handler

However suitable a dog may be for the program, if the attitude and commitment of the handler does not come across as appropriate, then the dog will not proceed to the next stage of the evaluation process. Handlers need to present themselves as positive-minded people who are confident with their dogs and want to contribute to the program. The Board of CTDS reserves the right to remove people from the program if, at any time, their attitude becomes detrimental to CTDS or the safety policy is not followed.

As referred to above, once the dog assessment is completed satisfactorily, the dog will have a medical examination. As well, the handler will need to have a police check done. Once both medical for the dog and police check have been satisfactorily completed, the dog will be placed into one or more of the CTDS programs.