Assisted Therapy Dog Adoption Program

TLC's Companion Paws Therapy Dog Adoption Program continues to be open, accepting applications and facilitating adoptions during the pandemic. 

Companion Paws is dedicated to supporting Canadians in need while providing a second chance for pets by rescuing, pairing and training them with those who would benefit from a companion therapy animal through TLC’s Companion Paws Assisted Therapy Dog Adoption Program.

Medical studies have shown that companion animals significantly improve mental and physical health, including reducing stress, depression and anxiety symptoms.  Individuals with emotionally based disorders

We work with rescues across Canada.  CPC dogs will NOT be certified as service dogs. Companion Paws dogs will be trained as a companion therapy dog. The level of training needed to complete the program is set by TLC Foundation, while the temperament assessments and final evaluations are performed by very experienced, professional trainers and behaviorists. Upon completion and passing of the therapy dog final evaluation, you will receive a CPC Therapy Dog Vest, Identification Card, Certificate of Registration and Letter of Certification.

Please note CPC dogs are designated therapy dogs and will not be certified as service dogs. For more information on the difference between therapy, service and guide dogs click here

Please thoroughly read through this page about the complete program process before applying.

To view or complete the application, please visit the following link Therapy Dog Adoption Application

Assisted Therapy Dog (first program of its kind in Canada): A Companion Paws Assisted therapy dog is a trained, temperament tested, evaluated and certified dog that brings benefits to their owners clients, patients and students.  Assisted Therapy Dogs join their handler/owner (typically educators, teachers, psychologists, counsellors and doctors) at their workplace to help their students, clients, customers and/or patients. Assisted therapy dogs and handlers are reassessed annually and require annual up to date veterinarian records.

Companion Paws Assisted Therapy Dog Adoption Process

  • Step 1 – Complete and submit the application online with all required supporting documents together.
  • Step 2 – We will contact you within 7 days of submitting your application to schedule an interview call to go through the program, payment options, discussion of the next step in the process.
  • Step 3 - Moving forward, the payment of $2800 is to be made by E-transfer, Credit Card or Cheque and the contract signed.
  • Step 4 - If you are not approved for our Adoption program, you will be refunded your cost 100%.
  • Step 5 – When payment has been received, contract signed, assessment completed and the applicant is approved, the dog search process will begin within 2 weeks.
  • Step 6 - An assessment will be made by our Companion Paws Team Assessors to ascertain a suitable dog match for you.
  • Step 7 - Once the Assessors have acsertained the criteria for your dog, the search process of adoption will start within 2 weeks-time.
  • Step 8 – Once a suitable dog has been found, we will work directly with the Rescues, Fosters and Assessors to confirm suitability, they will have health and vaccinations confirmed. For any dogs under any medical treatment, they will be fully healed and healthy prior to travel, transport and placement.
  • Step 9 - Prior to the adoption, a final assessment will be performed for further confirmation of temperament prior to placement. The dog will be placed in his/her forever home with the applicant on the same day as the adoption or when pickup is scheduled.
  • Step 10 – After a minimum 2 weeks down time for the applicant and their new forever best friend, the handler and their new dog will be required to take the online manners and obedience training classes while Covid restrictions are in place.
  • Step 11 – Once your dog is very well trained and ready, the handler will be registered into the Companion Paws Therapy Dog Skills Training Online Course.
  • Step 12 – Once you have successfully completed TLC’s Companion Paws Skills Training Online Course, the handler will schedule a Temperament Assessment with a local Companion Paws Assessor.
  • Step 13 - When an applicant passes the Temperament Assessment, they move forward to a scheduled date and tome for the Final Evaluation.
  • Step 14 – When the handler and dog pass the Companion Paws Final Evaluation, The LifeLine Canada Foundation will forward documentation by email, to be completed by the handler and returned by email with all required supporting documentation.
  • Step 15 – Once all documentation for registering is received, the handler will be mailed a Companion Paws Therapy Dog vest, Identification Card and Certificate of Registration with The LifeLine Canada Foundation’s Companion Paws program.
  • Step 16 – Continue to maintain and keep up with training at all times.
  • Step 17 – Complete a follow-up call with a Companion Paws team counsellor, post certification within 3 months.
  • Step 18 - Complete online follow-up form every 6 months.
  • Step 19 – Complete all annual requirements for Companion Paws Assisted Therapy Dog Registration, including annual renewal of $95 and annual re-assessment.  The annual renewal cost covers the cost of the annual re-assessment.
  • Step 20 - Keep up on skills training at all times for the life of the dog to keep the amazing connection and bond.

Important Documents

Please include a letter stating the date, your profession, your work location's name and address, and what your dog will be doing during Assisted therapy.

If you rent the home you live in, you must include your landlord’s permission letter with your application (there is a section for uploads during the process). Any applications with missing information will not be reviewed.

Why Do You Need All This Info?

We require the information for administration of our adoption program. Information may be used for adoption evaluation. For further information, please read our privacy policy.


What is Animal Assisted Therapy?
Animal Assisted Therapy is a therapy by which animals are used in treatments of individuals that would benefit, whether for themselves or for others. Our Companion Paws program works with three types of Therapy Dogs; Personal Therapy Dogs, Assisted Therapy Dogs and Visiting Therapy Dogs. Therapy dogs are friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in a variety of situations.

What is a Personal Therapy Dog?
A personal therapy dog is a trained, evaluated and certified dog that brings benefits to their owners/handlers that struggle with mental health conditions.

For Personal Therapy Dog certification, you must have a letter from your current mental health professional on letterhead, with date, signature, your name and why a therapy dog would benefit you. For the Companion Paws adoption program, you are also required to submit a permission letter from your landlord that allows your dog, if you do not own your own home.

What is a Visiting Therapy Dog?
Typically, Visiting Therapy Dogs visit hospitals, schools, hospices, nursing homes and more. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are encouraged to interact with a variety of people while they are on-duty including petting the therapy dog.

Visiting Therapy dogs may also visit schools, daycares, group homes and rehabilitation centers. Their roles vary from dogs who give learning disabled children the confidence to read out loud, to actively participating in physical rehabilitation therapy. In some cases, a therapy dog will work in an establishment exclusively, such as a psychotherapy practice.

What is an Assisted Therapy Dog?
Assisted Therapy Dogs join their handler/owner (typically educators, teachers, psychologists, counsellors and doctors) at their workplace to help their students, clients, customers and/or patients.

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have up to date medical health records from his or her veterinarian and must have no aggression towards people or other dogs (including un-neutered male dogs).

What are the Benefits of a Therapy Dog?
Therapy Dogs are trained and tested in therapy companion obedience. Interaction with a Therapy Pet provides therapeutic, motivational, educational and recreational benefits to enhance quality of life. Therapy dogs provide help to people with a variety of noticeable and not so noticeable mental and emotional disabilities. These can include stress, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, social anxiety disorders, and much more.

What is the Companion Paws Adoption program?
Companion Paws Adoption is a program dedicated to supporting Canadians in need while providing a second chance for pets by rescuing, pairing and training them with those who would benefit from a companion therapy animal (Personal), or those who work with individuals that would benefit from the presence of a therapy animal (Assisted).

How much does the program cost?
The cost of the complete program is $2800 and includes, the search, intake, adoption fee which include medical, assessments for suitability, health records, spayed/neutered, transportation, private sessions and obedience/manners training, temperament assessments, vet checkup, final evaluation, official Companion Paws Therapy Dog vest, identification card, certificate of registration and ongoing support for the life of the adopted dog.

Is this the only program in Canada that works with Personal Therapy Dogs?
Yes.  The LifeLine Canada Foundation’s Companion Paws Personal and Assisted Therapy Dog Adoption and Certification programs are the only and the first of its kind in Canada.

What are the guidelines of a Companion Paws Adoption Assisted Therapy Dog?
Some of our strict guidelines we adhere to include; calm temperament, friendly and loving with all adults, children and animals, healthy, non-aggressive, 15-45 pounds, a minimum of 1.5 years old and spayed or neutered. We develop criteria and guidelines on an individual basis for the needs of the Assisted therapy.

Is TLC’s Companion Paws Adoption program available across Canada?
Yes, the Companion Paws Personal and Assisted Therapy Dog Adoption program is available across Canada in any location. 

How long does it take to get a Companion Paws Adoption Dog?
The process of adoption begins within 2 weeks’ time from time of application. We would not stop searching until an appropriate dog has been found for you. It can take approximately 3 months.

From where do you adopt Companion Paws dogs from?
We adopt through rescues across Canada, U.S. and Mexico.  When we adopt through our Companion Paws Adoption program, we only work with standardised rescues.

Where will training take place for Companion Paws Adoption Dogs?
Training will be scheduled with an experienced trainer in your local area using the online obedience course available. Group sessions will begin again once Covid restrictions have been lifted.

Once I have my Assisted Therapy Dog, will you continue to help me if I need it?
We are always here to support all of our Companion Paws Therapy Dogs and their handlers/owners for as long as they are part of the Companion Paws program.

What makes a good Assisted therapy dog?
Calm Temperament.
Very well trained.
Very friendly.
Great with people of all ages and not aggressive to people or other dogs.
Clean and healthy with up to date vaccinations.
Minimum age of dog is 1.5 years old
Not timid or fearful

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have up to date medical health records from his or her veterinarian and must have no aggression towards people or other dogs (including un-neutered male dogs).

What are Companion Paws Standard Search Guidelines?

  •       Age range of 1.5 to 5 year’s old 
  •       Good with dogs, kids and adults (cats when applicant has a cat(s) 
  •       Calm temperament 
  •       Low/medium energy level 
  •       Gentle, very friendly and loving  
  •       Confident (not timid or fearful or separation anxiety) 
  •       Healthy 
  •       Spayed/Neutered 
  •       15-45 pounds (may be adjusted for specific needs of the applicant) 
  •       No aggression or reactivity or resource guarding 
  •       Not a jumper
  •       No mouthing
  •       No prey drive
  •       Quiet (not a barker) 

Do you provide training?
We facilitate Obedience/Manners dog training as well as Advanced training for clients of our Companion Paws Therapy Dog Adoption program. 

Have there been any adoptions that have not passed certification?
Choosing the right temperament is everything.  Behaviors can be trained.  All our chosen Companion Paws dogs will bond with training and sustained training. This creates and builds a strong bond for life.  We have not had any adoptions that have are not able to pass the final evaluation for certification.  If at any time the dog and handler are not ready for certification, we just continue working on those behaviors until he/she and you are ready to move ahead.  We are here for success and will guide you the whole way.  For success, the handler must sustain training at all times for the life of the dog.

What does the Final Evaluation entail?
The final evaluation includes 17+ tests.  Therapy Dogs must receive 100% on the test.

Final Evaluation Summary:

  • Accepting a Friendly Stranger
  • Sitting Politely for Petting and Aggravating Stranger
  • Out for a Walk (Walking on a close leash)
  • Walking Through a Crowd
  • Sit and Down on Command (Staying in one place)
  • Coming When Called
  • Reaction to Another Dog
  • Reactions to Distractions x 2
  • Reaction to Medical Equipment x 2
  • Leave It x 2
  • No Mark Manners
  • Supervised Separation (time – one minute)
  • Say Hello
  • Grooming and Appearance

What laws protect Therapy Dogs and their handlers?
Therapy pets DO NOT share the public access rights granted to service pets and may be denied admittance to public places. Companion Paws pets do not have special privileges beyond those granted to any other pet in public places, on public transportation or in private buildings such as apartment blocks where the keeping of pets is restricted or prohibited. Some airlines will allow small support dogs to fly in the cabin if they fit in a carrier at the traveler’s feet.

How do Companion Paws standards compare to other organizations?
Companion Paws uses the highest standards of testing available.

Why have I never heard of the Companion Paws program?
Companion Paws is a new program which began in late 2017 and is the first of its kind in Canada for Personal and Assisted therapy.

Are there annual fees for Companion Paws Therapy Dogs?
Yes, the annual registration fee is only $95 for all Companion Paws Therapy Dogs and includes an annual temperament assessment.

Do I have to retake an evaluation during the life of the certified Companion Paws Therapy Dog?
As a certified member of Companion Paws, you will be required to retake an evaluation and or temperament assessment, at the time of renewal or at TLC’s discretion, if potential concerns arise. The renewal fee covers the re-assessment.

Do you have any recommended reading about dog training?
We love the book "How to Speak Dog" by Stanley Coren

How can I contact you if I have any more questions about the Companion Paws program?
For further questions about the Companion Paws program, please don't hesitate to contact us anytime at [email protected]