FAQ

1. How can I get started volunteering with The Good Dog Foundation?
2. Is there a minimum age for handlers?
3. Can more than one person be certified with a dog?
4. Is there an age limit for dogs?
5. I have two dogs – can I train them both?
6. Where do you hold training classes?
7. What skills do my dog and I need to be ready for Therapy Skills class?
8. How long do classes run?
9. How do I register for classes?
10. Are any of the fees tax-deductible?
11. How long does the certification process take?
12. Once my dog and I are certified can we do therapy visits at my workplace?
13. Where can I download the Veterinary Medical Evaluation Form?
14. If I move away, does my Good Dog certification work in other states?
15. I live in an area Good Dog does not serve. Do you have any partner organizations?
16. What’s the difference between a therapy dog, a service dog, and an emotional support animal?

 

1. How can I get started volunteering with The Good Dog Foundation?

The first step in the process is to submit a pre-screen form, which can be found on our website. Once the form is submitted, you will receive an email from a Good Dog representative. If you and your dog are viable therapy team candidates, a Good Dog trainer will email you to schedule an in-person pre-screen evaluation. During the evaluation, the trainer will observe your dog’s obedience skills, temperament, sociability with humans and other dogs, its relationship with its handler (that’s you – the human owner!) and handler suitability. After the evaluation, the trainer will make a training class recommendation for you and your dog. Classes run throughout the year, and you will receive an email inviting you to register when a class opens in your region.

 

2. Is there a minimum age for handlers?

As of February 2017, Good Dog’s policy is that all handlers must be 18 years of age or older. Most facilities impose age restrictions, making it increasingly difficult to schedule visits for under-age handlers. If you know a teenager or child who is interested in supporting Good Dog, please reach out to the office staff at 888-859-9992 to discuss how they can be involved.

 

3. Can more than one person be certified with a dog?

A second person (“additional handler”) who is a legal owner or lives with the dog is welcome to take therapy classes. There is a $100 fee for each additional handler to take therapy classes along with you.

 

4. Is there an age limit for dogs?

All dogs must be at least one year old to participate.  Please wait until your dog is one year old before submitting a pre-screen form.

 

5. I have two dogs – can I train them both?

Good Dog therapy teams consist of one dog and one handler. All training and visits must be done in this manner. However, we welcome handlers to train more than one of their dogs if they so desire. This can be done by taking each dog individually through separate training courses, or by having another owner of the dog attend the training sessions with the second dog as an additional handler.

 

6. Where do you hold training classes?

The Good Dog Foundation holds training in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as Westchester, Fairfield, & Dutchess counties. You will be referred to the trainer closest to you once you submit the pre-screen form in order to schedule your initial evaluation.

 

7. What skills do my dog and I need to be ready for Therapy Skills class?

To be ready for Therapy Skills class, dogs must have fairly solid basic obedience skills such as Sit, Stay, Down, and Leave It. Dogs must also walk politely on a loose leash on a flat collar or harness​, and may not jump to greet people. Handlers must demonstrate control over their dog at all times.

 

8. How long do classes run?

Classes last for one hour, and are held once a week for 6 weeks.

 

9. How do I register for classes?

After you have submitted a pre-screen form, met with a trainer for your initial evaluation, and have been approved for our Therapy Skills class, you will be eligible to register.  When a class is scheduled in your area, you will receive an email inviting you to register using an online link. You can pay class fees through the online link with a credit card or Paypal account. You may also pay for the class fees by mailing a check to our office.

 

10. Are any of the fees tax-deductible?

Since class fees are paying for services rendered, they are not considered tax-deductible donations by the IRS. Any expenses (excluding class fees) that are directly attributable to your work with The Good Dog Foundation as a volunteer doing therapy dog services may be considered charitable donations that are deductible for income tax purposes. This may include veterinary checkups, inoculations, travel and communication expenses. We recommend that you keep detailed records and discuss with your tax professional whether or not the specific expenses that you incur will be deductible

 

11. How long does the certification process take?

The length of time it takes from meeting with a trainer for an evaluation to graduating from Therapy Skills class can vary greatly from volunteer to volunteer. The Good Dog Foundation aims to maintain a regular schedule of training classes year-round, but depending on the schedule of our classes and a volunteer’s availability, there is sometimes a delay before a class schedule works with a volunteer’s schedule. The Good Dog Foundation values flexibility, patience, and the desire to serve in a supportive and caring capacity in volunteer therapy dog teams; these values will serve teams well in whatever patient population they choose to visit.

 

12. Once my dog and I are certified can we do therapy visits at my workplace?

Good Dog’s insurance policy only covers therapy dogs and their handlers during the one hour time frame each day when they are permitted to visit one of our partner facilities in an unpaid/volunteer capacity. If you are a professional who would like to work with your dog in a paid/therapeutic capacity and would like some guidance, please contact Good Dog’s Director of Training after your pre-screen evaluation.

 

13. Where can I download the Veterinary Medical Evaluation Form?

The Good Dog Foundation Veterinary Medical Evaluation Form is available at this link.

 

14. If I move away, does my Good Dog certification work in other states?

The Good Dog Foundation operates in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. If you move outside of this area, unfortunately your Good Dog credentials will not be valid, but The Good Dog Foundation would be happy to write you a letter of recommendation to be considered for other therapy dog organizations that are local to your new location.

 

15. I live in an area Good Dog does not serve. Do you have any partner organizations?

We do not have partnerships with any other therapy dog organizations, but you might find an organization in your area on the American Kennel Club’s Registry of Therapy Dog Organizations.

 

16. What’s the difference between a therapy dog, a service dog, and an emotional support animal?

A therapy dog is, first and foremost, a pet. Therapy dogs are evaluated to have the proper temperament and desire to interact and engage with new people they encounter as well as solid obedience skills. Therapy dogs are given access to facilities only during the time they are visiting that facility and do not have any protection or special allowances under federal law. Our certified Good Dogs are therapy dogs.

A service dog is a working dog who has been specifically selected and trained to be able to enter all public facilities in a well-behaved manner and provide specially trained tasks to assist their handler/owner in various daily tasks that improve the individual’s daily functioning and ability to operate independently of others. Service dogs are protected under federal law.

An emotional support animal (ESA) is a pet and is protected under FHA law. An ESA requires a written letter from the individual’s mental health provider that the animal’s presence in the owner’s home is necessary for the individual’s mental health and wellbeing. ESAs are not protected under federal law and while obedience training is not a requirement, it is strongly recommended.

For any other questions, please feel free to email info@thegooddogfoundation.org