Personal Therapy Adoption FAQs


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. Often Therapy Dogs are especially beneficial and useful to those that struggle with mental wellness. 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, if you rent, you are required to submit a permission letter from your landlord that allows your dog.

What is a Visiting Therapy Dog?
Typically, Visiting Therapy Dogs visit hospitals, schools, hospices and nursing homes, to name just a few. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are encouraged to interact with a variety of people while they are on-duty. 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 work with their owner, typically: educators, teachers, psychologists, counsellors and doctors. A calm well behaved and loving dog at their workplace can bring great benefit to their students, clients, customers and 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 and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and social anxiety disorders, to name a few.

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, training and pairing them with those who would benefit from a companion therapy animal, or those who work with individuals that would benefit from the presence of a therapy animal. The cost of the complete Pre-Train Adoption program is $4800 and includes:

  • the search
  • intake
  • adoption fee
  • medical checks
  • vaccination
  • spayed/neutered
  • suitability assessments
  • health records
  • transportation
  • private instruction sessions
  • obedience and manners training
  • adopter skills training
  • temperament assessments
  • final evaluation
  • official Companion Paws Therapy Dog Bandana
  • 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 program is the only and the first of its kind in Canada to place and work with Personal and Assisted Therapy Dogs.

What are the guidelines of a Companion Paws Adoption Personal Therapy Dog?
Some of the strict guidelines we adhere to include:

  • calm temperament
  • friendly and loving with all adults, children and animals
  • healthy
  • non-aggressive
  • 20-50 pounds
  • a minimum of 1.5 years old
  • spayed or neutered.

We develop criteria and guidelines on an individual basis based on the needs of the new owner and dog.

Are the dogs trained prior to placement and adoption?
The Pre-Trained dogs are pre-trained in obedience and manners prior to placement. Further training will be scheduled to build the bond and teach the adopter the skills training the dog has been taught.

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

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

How long does it take to get a Companion Paws Adoption Dog?

  • For our Pre-Trained Therapy Dog Adoption Program, the search, training and placement process can take approximately 6 months.

Once I have my Personal Therapy Dog, will Companion Paws continue to help me if I need it?
We are always here to support all of our Companion Paws Therapy Dogs and their owners for as long as they are part of the Companion Paws program. Certification is not required.

What are the qualifications a dog needs to become a Therapy Dog?

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have the following:

  • 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 (Up to date medical health records from their veterinarian)
  • Spayed/Neutered
  • 20-50 pounds (may be adjusted for specific needs of the applicant)
  • No reactivity
  • No resource guarding
  • Not a jumper
  • Quiet (not a barker)
  • No aggression towards people or other dogs including un-neutered male dogs.

Do you provide training?
For the Pre-Trained Adoption Program, the dog is obedience trained prior to placement and further training to teach the skills training and build the bond will be scheduled.

Can there be other dogs living in the home to be accepted into the adoption program?
Yes, you may have another dog living in the home. We require that any dog already living in the home, be a minimum of 12 months old, is spayed or neutered, up to date on all vaccinations and ensure training prior to a dog placement.

What experience do Companion Paws adjudicators and trainers have?
Companion Paws Adjudicators and Trainers have extensive expertise in dog training with between 10 and 30 plus years of professional dog training. All trainers practice positive reinforcement with no evasive training techniques.

Have there been any adoptions that have not passed certification?
Choosing the right temperament is everything. Behaviors can be trained. Some of our adopters don’t want or require certification and don’t proceed to testing. All our chosen Companion Paws dogs will bond with authentic and sustained training. This creates and builds a strong bond for life even if the adopter chooses not to go through certification. There are however, no guarantees. For success, it is up to the handler to be dedicated, committed and sustain training at all times. We are here for success and will guide you the whole way.

What does the Final Evaluation entail?
The final evaluation includes at least the following 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 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 renewal of registration fee is only $110 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, at the time of renewal or at TLC’s discretion, if potential concerns arise. The renewal fee covers the re-evaluation.

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