Frequently Asked Questions about TLC’s Certify Your Own Dog Program


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 letter head, 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.

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.

Is this the only program in Canada that certifies Personal and Assisted Therapy Dogs?
Yes. The LifeLine Canada Foundation’s Companion Paws Personal and Assisted Therapy Dog program is the first of its kind in Canada.

Do I need a letter from my current Mental Health treatment provider for a Personal therapy dog designation?
Yes. The letter must be on letter head from a registered and licensed mental health treatment provider, psychologist, psychotherapist, counsellor or mental health treatment therapist. It must include the contact details, license/registration number and details of a recommendation for a therapy dog with stated conditions.

What makes a good 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. There is no age limit.

Does my dog need special training to be a Therapy Dog?
There is no special therapy dog training required to register your own dog to become a therapy dog. However, to become a Therapy Dog, your dog must be fully trained. The dog can be trained by yourself or an experienced dog trainer in basic skills, obedience and advanced obedience.

Are there any breed/size/sex/age restrictions for therapy dogs?
There are no restrictions or limitations on the breed/size/sex of the dog. Minimum age for registration is 1.5 years old.

Do you provide training?
We only provide complete dog training to clients of our Companion Paws Adoption program. After a 1st Temperament Assessment, if you were ascertained to still require further training, you will gain insight and skills in training for any behaviors your dog needs to work on. For individuals with their own dog who are interested in the Companion Paws program but require training, we can recommend experienced trainers in your area on our Therapy Dog Training Page.

Am I able to schedule a retake of a Temperament Assessment or Evaluation?
Yes, you may retake a Temperament Assessment or Evaluation. Each retake costs $65.

Are Companion Paws Final Evaluations available across Canada?
Yes, Scheduled Evaluations are available in many locations across Canada. Available locations can be found on this page. If your city is not listed above, please send an email to admin@thelifelinecanada.ca and include your city, province and designation interest, or check back often to see new available locations on our website.

What are the costs for the Companion Paws Therapy Dog Program?
Step 1 – $65.00

Step 2,3 and 4 – $290

  • Skills Training Online Course
  • Temperament Assessment
  • Final Evaluation for Certification

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

Evaluation Summary (in no particular order):

  • Appearance and Grooming
  • Obeying commands: Stay / Come / Sit / Down
  • Figure 8 Loose Leash Control
  • Reaction to Distraction (clipboard)
  • Reaction To Crutches
  • Reaction to Wheelchair
  • Accepting a Friendly Stranger
  • Accepting an Annoying Stranger
  • Leave It (popcorn)
  • Leave It (people food)
  • Say Hello
  • No Mark Manners
  • Reactions to Distraction (person)
  • Walking Through a Crowd
  • Out for a Walk (without handler)
  • Reaction to Another Dog
  • Supervised Separation

Is there a specific Timeframe where the Companion Paws certification program must be completed?
Due to the nature of this program, final certification testing must be completed within a 4 to 6 month period after passing the 1st Temperament Assessment. If you have passed a 1st temperament Assessment and have registered for the second part of the program, you will only need to pay for the retesting fees and not for the whole program again, if you have not completed the program within the 4 to 6 month period.

If dates are not scheduled by Companion Paws to complete the program testing process within a 4 to 6 month period, the 4 to 6 month requirement will only be extended by Companion Paws until a date(s) is confirmed.

If retake assessments or retake evaluations are required, the time may be extended with approval from Companion Paws.

How long until I receive my id card, certificate of registration and vest?
Once all paperwork has been received by Companion Paws, within approximately 45 days you will receive your package that includes the id card, certificate of registration and vest will be made. If you would like a Letter of Certification, you must request directly from Companion Paws and one will be emailed to you.

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

Are Companion Paws certified dogs covered by insurance?
Yes, Certified Assisted and Visiting dog teams are covered by our $5,000,000 general liability insurance while the team is working. If you would like a copy of the Certificate of Insurance, you will need to request it directly from Companion Paws and one will be emailed to you, as this is not automatically included in the certification package.

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.

Why have I never heard of the Companion Paws program?
Companion Paws is a program which began in 2016 and is the first of its kind in Canada for Personal an Assisted therapy.

Are there annual fees for Companion Paws Therapy Dogs?
Yes, the annual registration fee is only $110 for all Companion Paws Therapy Dogs and includes an annual re-evaluation.

Do I have to retake an evaluation during the life of the certified Companion Paws Therapy Dog?
Yes, all Certified Teams must re-evaluate annually to keep their certification. We also may request that a certified member of Companion Paws, retake an evaluation and or temperament assessment, at TLC’s discretion, if potential concerns arise.

In which cities in Canada are doing evaluations for Companion Paws Canada?
Click here for a list of cities.

How can I contact you if I have any more questions about the Companion Paws program?
For any further questions about the Companion Paws program, please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime at admin@thelifelinecanada.ca