Companion Paws Frequently Asked Questions

/Companion Paws Frequently Asked Questions
Companion Paws Frequently Asked Questions 2018-04-04T17:51:33+00:00

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have an up to date medical health records letter from his or her veterinarian and must have no aggression towards people or other dogs (including un-neutered male dogs).

4) 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.

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have up to date medical health records from his or her veterinarian and must have no aggression towards people or other dogs (including un-neutered male dogs).

5) Difference between a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog?
We do not train or work with Service Dogs.  Service dogs and Therapy dogs are two forms of highly trained dogs that work to improve the lives of people. Although both types of these dogs have an amazing impact on the lives of their humans their roles are very different.

A service dog is an assistance or guide dog that has been specially trained to help someone who has a disability. Service dogs work only with one owner/handler. They are trained in unusual dog behaviors for the person’s specific needs.

6) 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.

7) 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, pairing and training them with those who would benefit from a companion therapy animal.

8) Is this the only program in Canada that works with Personal Therapy Dogs?
Yes.  The LifeLine Canada Foundation’s Companion Paws Personal Therapy program is the only and the first of its kind in Canada to place and work with personal therapy dogs.

9) What is the process for Companion Paws Adoption?
Step 1 – Complete and submit the application online with required supporting documents

Step 2 – When the applicant is funding the program process, payment is to be made after submitting the completed application.  The cost is $1500.

Step 3 – When The LifeLine Canada Foundation is funding the program process for the applicant, the applicant will go onto our waiting list in the order that it was received.

Step 4 – When payment or funding for the applicant has been received and the applicant approved, the search process of adoption will start within 2 weeks’ time.

Step 5 – Upon applicant’s approval and funds confirmed, the “Companion Paws Adoption Approved Applicant Agreement” will be emailed to you.  You must send back the signed and dated documents for the dog search to begin.

Step 6 – Once a suitable dog has been assessed and adopted, the dog will be placed w ith the applicant to become its handler/owner.

Step 7 – The handler/owner and their new dog will be scheduled for their training with a local expert trainer.

Step 8 – Once your dog is trained and ready, the handler will be registered with their dog for the Companion Paws Therapy Dog pre-assessment workshop.

Step 9 – Once your dog has passed the pre-assessment workshop, the handler will be registered with their dog for the Companion Paws Therapy Dog final evaluation.

Step 10 – When the handler/owner and dog pass the Companion Paws final evaluation, The LifeLine Canada Foundation will forward documentation to be completed.

Step 11 – Once all documentation for registering is received, the handler will be given the Official Companion Paws Therapy Dog Vest, Identification Card and Certificate of Registration with The LifeLine Canada Foundation’s Companion Paws program. A letter of evaluation confirmation is also available for all registered Companion Paws Personal Therapy Dogs.

Step 12 – Continue to maintain and keep up with training at all times.

Step 13 – Complete the bi-weekly update of progress online.

Step 14 – Complete any annual requirements for Companion Paws Personal Therapy Dogs.

10) What are the guidelines of a Companion Paws Adoption Personal Therapy Dog?
Some of our strict guidelines include; calm temperament, friendly and loving with all adults, children and animals, healthy, non-aggressive, 20-45 pounds, a minimum of 2 years old and spayed or neutered.

11) Is the program Companion Paws Adoption program available across Canada?
Yes, the Companion Paws Adoption program is available across Canada in any location. 

12) How do I apply for a Companion Paws Adoption Therapy Dog?
Please visit this link https://thelifelinecanada.ca/therapy-dog-adoption/ for further details and how to apply for a Companion Paws Adoption Dog.  You can submit an Adoption application with required documentation directly on our Adoption page.

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

For individual applicants that are able to cover the cost of the Companion Paws program, the process of adoption begins within 2 weeks’ time from time of application.

For individual applicants that require funding through our foundation for their Companion Paws Adoption dog, the waiting list is approximately 1 year.  We are working to gain funding to reduce the waiting list in the future.

14) Can I pay for the Companion Paws Adoption process myself?
Yes, you are able to fast track the process by paying for the program.  The cost is $1500 and includes, the search, adoption, health records, spayed/neutered, training, pre assessment workshop, final evaluation, official Companion Paws Therapy Dog vest, identification card, certificate of registration and ongoing support for the life of the Companion Paws dog.

15) Can I fundraise for my Companion Paws Adoption Therapy Dog?
You are welcome to have a fundraiser to raise the funds for your Companion Paws Adoption.  Although we do not setup fundraisers, we will help you in any we can.

16) From where do you adopt Companion Paws therapy dogs?
We adopt from rescues and shelters across Canada.  When we adopt through our Companion Paws Adoption program, we search and adopt from rescues within 100 kilometers of where you live to support local rescues across the country.

17) Where will training take place for Companion Paws Adoption Dogs?
Training will be scheduled with an experienced trainer that is local to you.

18) Once I have my Personal Therapy Dog, will you continue to help me if I need it?
We are always here to support all of our Companion Paws Therapy Dogs and their handlers/owners for as long as they are part of the Companion Paws program.

19) How do I certify my own dog as Personal, Visiting or Assisted Therapy Dog?
You can view and register for a scheduled Workshop date at this link https://thelifelinecanada.ca/companion-paws-canada/workshop/

20) What makes a good therapy dog?
Guidelines of a good therapy dog are

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 on dogs for the workshop.

21) 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 and obedience.

Guidelines of a good therapy dog are;

Calm Temperament.
Very well trained.
Very friendly.
Great with people of all ages and not aggressive to people, other dogs or other animals.
Clean and healthy with up to date vaccinations.
Minimum age of dog is 1.5 years old. There is no age limit on dogs for the workshop.

To qualify as a therapy dog, the dog must have up to date medical health records from his or her veterinarian and must have no aggression towards people or other dogs (including un-neutered male dogs).

22) 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 pre-assessment workshop registration is 1.5 years old.

23) Do you provide training?
We do provide complete dog training to clients of our Companion Paws Adoption program.  For individuals with their own dog registering for the workshop, 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 prior to registering for a workshop, we can recommend experienced trainers in your area.

24) What are Companion Paws Workshops and Final Evaluations?
Companion Paws Therapy Dog Certification is a two-part process. The workshop is a mandatory pre-assessment to assess you and your dog’s readiness for the final evaluation.  If your dog is not ready, you will be given tips and techniques to work on the “needs work” behavior with your dog and when you feel he is ready, you will register again for a pre-assessment workshop. When your dog has passed the pre-assessment workshop, you will then complete the final evaluation registration for one of our scheduled evaluation dates.

25) Are the Companion Paws Workshops and Final Evaluations available across Canada?
Scheduled Workshops and Evaluations across Canada for individuals interested in their own dog becoming a personal, visiting or assisted therapy dog can be found https://thelifelinecanada.ca/companion-paws-canada/workshop/

26) What are the costs for the Pre-Assessment Workshop and Final Evaluation?
Pre-assessment Workshop cost is $55
Final Evaluation cost is $195

Upon completion of the final evaluation, you will receive an official Companion Paws Therapy Dog Vest, Identification Card and Registration Certificate.  A letter of evaluation confirmation is also available for all certified Companion Paws Therapy Dogs.

27) Do I need to attend the Pre-Assessment Workshop in order to be certified?
Yes, the pre-assessment workshop is mandatory to move forward to the final evaluation.

28) What does the Final Evaluation entail?
The final evaluation includes 17+ tests.  Therapy Dogs must receive 100% on the test.

Testing Requirements Summary:

  • Accepting a Friendly Stranger
  • Sitting Politely for Petting
  • 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
  • Reaction to Medical Equipment
  • Leave It
  • Acclamations and Infirmities
  • Supervised Separation (time – one minute)
  • Say Hello

29) How do Companion Paws standards compare to other organizations?
Companion Paws uses the highest standards of testing that are set by Therapy Dog International.

30) 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.

31) How can I become a Volunteer for the Companion Paws program?
You can complete the Volunteer Form at https://thelifelinecanada.ca/volunteers/

32) How can I become a Companion Paws Evaluator and/or Trainer?
Complete the Volunteer Form at https://thelifelinecanada.ca/volunteers/  and let us know your desire to become an adjudicator and/or trainer in your local area. Adjudicators and This is not a volunteer position.

33) Why have I never heard of the Companion Paws program?
Companion Paws is a brand new program which began in late 2017 and is the first of its kind in Canada and is dedicated to helping Canadians in need.

34) Are there annual fees for Companion Paws Therapy Dogs?
Yes, the annual fee is only $30 for all Companion Paws Therapy Dogs.

35) Do I have to retake an evaluation during the life of the certified Companion Paws Therapy Dog?
Visiting and Assisted Therapy Dogs are required to take the evaluation every two years.  The cost is $95
Personal Therapy Dogs are required to take the evaluation once per year.  The cost is $95

36) Do you have any recommended reading about dog training?
We love the book “How to Speak Dog” by Stanley Coren

37) 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 [email protected]