The benefits of pet therapy are well-documented and we only need to feel the joy we experience ourselves from time spent with our own dog. Just imagine that same joy shared with others who are lonely, isolated, and in need of a visit from a four-legged friend!

Here is a short list of considerations and a few resources that might be of use:

Ask yourself:

  • Do I have time each week to volunteer with my dog?
  • Is my dog well-mannered, people-oriented, gentle in personality, used to going to new places, comfortable meeting strangers, and comfortable with new sights and sounds?

Is there a particular facility where you would like to volunteer?

Since the most common pet visitation programs are in long term care facilities, you might contact the care home in your neighbourhood and ask about volunteer pet visit opportunities. If the care home is accepting new volunteer pet visitors they will likely have requisite pet visitor protocols in place in addition to their standard volunteer job description.

If you wish to become a certified therapy dog team, St John’s Ambulance Therapy Dog Program offers dog therapy evaluations around the province from time to time. Check out this YouTube link to learn about the skills needed to successfully complete their evaluation. If it’s dog therapy training you are interested in, an internet search will reveal several organizations in BC that provide a comprehensive education/testing program with the end goal of certification.

For those interested but not quite ready to become volunteer pet visitors, consider preparatory training in basic dog manners and loose leash walking, socialization to new people and places, sights and sounds and more. Here are a few starter resources for training and testing your skills:

Remember, the goal in training is first and foremost to develop a positive relationship with your dog!

For more volunteer opportunities visit our Volunteering page.