Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs of Houston

-People Helping Dogs Helping People


How does my dog get started as a therapy dog?

Before achieving formal certification as a member of the B&BTD organization, you and your dog are required to be certified by one of our qualified evaluators. Although our certification test is similar to that of the American Kennel Club's (AKC) Canine Good Citizen® (CGC), and many of our teams share the CGC designation, our testing process is somewhat different. While the CGC seeks to ensure dogs are well behaved in certain situations, the B&BTD testing/certification process takes it a step further to ensure dogs are also well suited to respond suitably in certain environments where they will be expected to work as therapy dogs. While there are some similarities between the tests, the B&BTD certification/text is somewhat more stringent in that the dogs must show a greater degree of acceptance of items and situations commonly encountered in nursing homes, hospitals, and similar locations. These might include walkers, wheel chairs, being bumped with crutches, strange people with canes talking loudly.

One note of caution before reading on about the certification process. Although therapy dogs come from all different breeds and backgrounds, please be aware that not all dogs possess the proper traits or dispositions to serve as therapy dogs. Some dogs do not react well to other dogs, certain types of people may scare them, they may be too shy, or they may be too active for therapy dog work. In some cases, dogs that simply cannot work as therapy dogs when they are younger may calm down a bit as they grow older and be much more suited for therapy dog work. Unfortunately, some dogs that work diligently for years as therapy dogs become less suited for the job and must retire from therapy dog work due to injuries, health reasons, or changes in temperament for various reasons.

Here are a few things to think about as you make the decision of whether you and your dog should apply to work as a therapy dog team:

  • Does your dog remained focused on you in situations outside the home?
  • Will your dog listen to and obey you even when faced with stressful situations?
  • How will your dog react if his hair or ears are pulled, he is poked, prodded or hugged by a small child or stranger?
  • What will your dog do if its paws or tail is touched or stepped on?
  • How would your dog deal with a situation in which a stranger sitting in a chair or lying in a bed suddenly screams, moans, thrashes about or cries loudly?
  • Will your dog either ignore food lying on tables or on other furniture? Will your dog follow commands to "leave it" if food or medication is found on the floor?
  • Can your dog interact well in large groups of elderly people or very young children and what does your dog do when crowded by multiple people who want to pet them at the same time?
  • Can your dog work side by side with other dogs without agitation or a desire to "play" with the other dogs?

As responsible dog owners, we know our dogs, their likes and dislikes and their abilities and inabilities. As you read through the criteria for certification, please realize that if your dog is not suited for therapy dog work for whatever reason, there is no reason to force your pet into this activity. If your dog is afraid of an object and you can work with it to accept the object without panicking then please do so. However, if you know your dog does not like small children, elderly people, or men, the challenges of engaging in therapy dog work will take a much greater degree of dedication that you must undertake before seeking certification.

It is also important to note that once a team passes the test and pays the initial $50 membership fee, there are annual membership requirements. Each year, members are required to pay a $40 renewal membership fee and provide proof of vaccinations from a licensed veterinarian. Evidence of vet examination, shot records, and negative fecal exam must be submitted each year.

TESTING LOCATION: Our tests are conducted at the Rosemont Assisted Living, 6450 Kings Parkway, Kingwood TX. 77346. This facility is off of FM 1960, east of HI 59 @ Humble. Plan to be there about 2 hours. This is to allow for the actual “testing,” completing all documents, and an overview of general information related to making visits.

POINTS TO CONSIDER: • As a member of B&BTD, you are making a commitment to make 1 visit per month. Visits are usually 1 hour. We have visits during the day, evening visits (Ronald Mc Donald House/Menninger Clinic) and week end visits.

  • At the time of testing we ask that you make a commitment to visit one facility for 6 months. Our website lists the facilities that we visit.
  • FEES: $20 - testing/certification fee $50 initial one year membership fee & $40 annual renewal membership fee.  Members are also asked to purchase a B&BTD shirt ($25-$28) OR an embroidered patch with the B&BTD logo for $10 that you can put on your own shirt.
  • We require members to wear a B & B shirt during visits.
  • At time of testing you will need to make payment and we ask that you make payment by check.
  • When you test, your dog needs to wear the type of collar that will be used for visits. NO Harnesses or Gentle leaders. If there is a medical reason for your dog wearing a harness, at statement to such by your vet is required.
  • Pinch collars and training collars/”choke chains” are allowed but this type of collar has to be covered. Using a bandana to cover a collar is acceptable.

Due to the work that goes into the evaluation process and the necessity to ensure the effectiveness of certification, our evaluators may limit how many teams at a time may be tested depending on how many evaluators are available. In any event, we are dedicated to certifying as many teams as possible to help achieve our organization's goals.