Good Dog NYC DOE Preparation & Certification


Program Description

Good Dog Preparation and Certification, developed specifically for the NYC Department of Education Comfort Dog program and open only to NYC DOE employees, teaches the dog and human handler how to be a professional team for providing Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) in educational environments. The program includes six hours of training – consisting of three weekly two-hour class. Also included are post-session trainer notes customized for you and your dog to practice between each training class. Finally, also included is one hour of shadow-visiting / individualized practicum counsel (live in your own school environment) via Skype or FaceTime.

This Preparation & Certification class does not automatically guarantee acceptance into the Comfort Dog Program. School environment and other factors must be considered, and Comfort Dog Teams are determined by the Comfort Dog Administrator, Office of Safety and Youth Development, NYC DOE. But, successful completion of this program, or an equivalent preparation and certification program, is a prerequisite for Comfort Dog work.

Good Dog-DOE Training classes will be held during school hours. Dogs must be fully prepared for the environment, participant group, and work they are doing, with prior training in a similar situation to that in which the dog will be working, per the Office of Safety and Youth Development, New York City Department of Education.

The Good Dog Foundation believes best practice requires dogs and handlers to train together from the start so that the instructor can support and coach you on achieving the best possible working relationship with your dog, including how to best protect the well-being of your dog by monitoring and mitigating stress and other conditions.

The Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification curriculum stresses the importance of maintaining your dog’s focus in complicated and distracting environments. Good Dog trainers focus on more advanced dog obedience skills in these types of environments, and they spend time working on impulse control exercises with the dogs.

Exercises worked on in Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification class include:

  • Managing the dog’s interactions with students and working with students who might be wary of dogs.
  • Desensitizing dogs to school-specific distractions and stressors
  • Testing the dogs to ensure they will be able to comfortably and happily handle the unpredictability of children in a school setting, and working to desensitize and counter-condition them when necessary.

As an added benefit of this program, you and your dog can be designated a Certified Therapy Dog Team of The Good Dog Foundation (at no additional cost) – you and your dog will then have the opportunity for Good Dog’s Visit Coordination Team to schedule therapy dog visits for you to help a wide variety of populations, including patients in hospital and long-term care facilities, at-risk youth, veterans, and kids in reading programs.


Is My Dog a Good Candidate for Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification?

To be candidates for this program, dogs must:

  • Be able to perform basic obedience skills such as Sit, Stay, Down, and Leave It on the first try.
  • Walk politely on a loose leash on a flat collar or harness, and may not jump to greet people.
  • Be at least one year old.
  • Have lived with their current owner for at least 4 months
  • They also must demonstrate to the trainer a love of greeting and engaging with strangers without hesitation or avoidance.

If your dog displays the following behaviors, he/she may not be suitable for therapy work:

  • Aggression toward humans (including resource guarding)
  • Aggression toward dogs or other animals
  • Marked signs of fearfulness or shyness
  • Uncontrollable hyperactivity (excessive barking, jumping, licking, pawing, etc.)
  • Medical concerns (advanced age, fatigue, stiffness, excessive panting, signs of discomfort, etc.)

It is also important to remember the dog is only one half of an AAI team. The handler must not display any of the following behaviors:

  • Rough or abusive handling of their dog
  • Unwillingness to adhere to on-time, fully attentive attendance at Good Dog training               classes or to complete homework or to follow trainer instructions
  • Unwillingness to follow policies and procedures established by the DOE for the Comfort Dog programs

Our volunteers work with vulnerable populations and are required to be kind and tactful. This courtesy should be demonstrated in every interaction with Good Dog staff and trainers as well. Teams that cannot meet both the canine and human requirements will not be certified by The Good Dog Foundation. We reserve the right to withhold or withdraw certification if a team displays abusive or disrespectful behavior of any kind.


How Long is the Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification Class?

  • The class runs for three weeks. Each of the three weekly classes is 2 hours.
  • Missing classes is not permitted.



$0 Pre-screen online Application

$20 Pre-class in-person Evaluation

$475 Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification class and practicum

$125 Annual re-evaluation and re-certification, with correctives, as needed


How To Apply for Good Dog DOE Preparation & Certification Program

For more information on The Good Dog Foundation, please click here or email