Congratulations on successfully completing the testing phase of your certification process! We are thrilled about the prospect of collaborating with you in the upcoming stage—the in-facility evaluations.

Throughout this phase, together with your dog, you will accompany one of Therapy Dogs of Vermont’s experienced evaluators on three to five visits to an elder care facility. Your evaluator serves as both a valuable resource and a mentor, guiding you in effectively and safely conducting visits according to the guidelines. Additionally, they will continue to evaluate the suitability of both you and your dog for this remarkable endeavor.

Your evaluator has provided or will provide you with several dates to convene at a local elder care facility, where you, your evaluator, and potentially other candidates undergoing evaluation will meet. It’s important to note that our evaluators, much like you, are volunteers who often work with multiple teams concurrently. Therefore, we kindly request your flexibility in aligning with the schedule they propose. We also encourage you to prioritize attendance and maintain open communication if rescheduling becomes necessary. This collaborative approach significantly streamlines the process for all parties involved, and we genuinely appreciate your commitment to this aspect.

You have a six-month timeframe from the date of your test to complete your three evaluations.

Please continue reading this page to prepare for your first evaluation.

Before proceeding to your first evaluation, we kindly ask all therapy dog teams undergoing assessment to thoroughly review three crucial documents. These materials contain essential guidelines and information crucial for the evaluation process. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with these documents, as you will be expected to apply their principles during the evaluations. Your understanding and application of this information will contribute significantly to the success and effectiveness of the evaluation process. Thank you for your dedication to this important step in becoming a certified therapy dog team.

1. Preparing for Therapy Dog Visits: A summary of the most important safety and visitation guidelines for your evaluations.

2. Guide to Understanding Your Dog’s Experience: Guide to understanding dog’s body language, providing you with the insights needed to comprehend your dog’s emotions, experiences, and needs during visits.

3. Policies for Therapy Dog Teams: TDV’s policies for all members and their visits (starting on page 2). You will also find other useful information about the certification process in this document as well.

Kindly review the following details to ensure your thorough preparation for the upcoming evaluations. This includes essential information regarding items to bring, appropriate attire, and procedures to follow upon arrival. In the event that you lack the necessary equipment or violate any of the rules outlined below, please be aware that your evaluator retains the right to postpone your evaluation for that day.

–Your evaluator may have additional instructions for you—

  • You will meet your evaluator outside the facility. You are not permitted to enter the facility with your dog without your evaluator.
  • If you are late for your appointment and your evaluator has already gone inside with the other candidates, leave your dog in the car if it is not too hot, and go inside to find the evaluator. If this is not possible, you will have to reschedule your evaluation.
  • All dogs at the evaluation will be asked to greet each other briefly outside the facility. These greetings will be SHORT and done on-leash. Only two dogs will greet at a time. Handlers must exhibit awareness of their dog’s behavior and carefully monitor their dogs during these greetings. Dogs may be excused from the evaluation for any behavior the evaluator deems as inappropriate.
  • Once inside the facility, the dogs must be kept apart from each other.
  • 4-foot leash. Your dog must be on a leash that is 4 feet or less. This cannot be a longer leash knotted or otherwise altered to be four feet, nor a flexi lead.
  • Your dog must be CLEAN with nails clipped and not sharp.
  • Your dog’s rabies tags must be on your dog’s collar.
  • Wear closed toed shoes for your visit – no flip flops or sandals are permitted when working or volunteering in the facility.
  • There may be a healthcare screening upon entering the building and they may be taking your temperature. If you are feeling unwell or have been exposed to someone with covid/flu/RSV etc, please reschedule your evaluation. The residents in this building are exceptionally vulnerable and many have weakened immune systems. You may also be required to wear a mask for the entire time that you are in the building so please come prepared with one.
  • Do not allow your dog off leash outside the facility.