Testing & Evaluation

Take the Test: Be a Certified Therapy Dog

Therapy Dogs United, Inc. requires that every dog certified as a canine volunteer pass a very difficult and challenging obedience and temperament test.  Please read the following information prior to scheduling your exam.  Remember: A certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs United is only authorized to visit the general public through an approved program or service endorsed or created by Therapy Dogs United.  We do not certify therapy dogs for an individual's private use or medical needs.

Therapy Dog Obedience

We use the nationally-recognized AKC Canine Good Citizen test (commonly referred to as the CGC) as our obedience testing standard. This test is administered by our Certified AKC-CGC Evaluator.  Every dog is required to pass the CGC before he/she can volunteer and work in our programs.  According to the AKC, your dog is eligible to take the CGC evaluation at any age, however, if your dog receives his/her CGC certificate prior to turning one year old (12 months of age) you MUST retake the CGC exam as part of TDU's therapy dog certification process.  If your dog receives a passing grade from a Certified CGC Evaluator who is not working directly through TDU, we reserve the right to retest your dog as part of our therapy dog certification process.  If it has been longer than 24 months since your dog was certified with the CGC, you will be required to retake and pass the CGC prior to your Therapy Dog evaluation. Therapy Dogs United is not a breed-specific certifying therapy dog organization, meaning - we welcome all dog breeds with the exception of a wolf or wolf-hybrid.

Therapy Dog Temperament

Once your dog successfully passes the Canine Good Citizen test - you and your dog must also pass the TDU Therapy Dog (TD) Evaluation.  This test ensures that your dog is able to remain calm in difficult, distracting and stressful situations, as well as work in a group with other dogs.  You can expect your dog to be exposed to a variety of distractions (often referred to as 'sights and sounds') that a therapy dog volunteer will experience 'out in the field.'  Some of these distractions include a wheelchair, walker, wheelchair alarm, medical equipment, multiple children and other dogs.   During the Therapy Dog Evaluation, the volunteer handler is evaluated independently from the dog.

LEARN MORE:  To find out more about our testing requirements, or to ask a question regarding our evaluations, please Email us:  therapydogsunited@gmail.com

BECOME A TDU EVALUATOR:  To become a certified therapy dog evaluator with Therapy Dogs United (nationwide), please Email us:  therapydogsunited@gmail.com 

SCHEDULE YOUR TEST:   To schedule your dog for the Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) and/or the Therapy Dog (TD) Evaluation, please schedule directly with one of our certified Team TDU Evaluators:


Nikki McGaughey, Scholars In Collars; (814) 299-6701; Email: scholarsincollarsacademy@gmail.com 

Hannah Ernst, Down Home Dog Training; 20140 Cochranton Street, Meadville PA 16335; (814) 547-8091; Email:  downhomedogtraining@live.com

Lake Erie K9 Concepts LLC, 4214 Main Street, Erie PA 16511; (814) 602-8273; Email:  info@lakeeriek9.com

Lyn Trapuzuto, Off Leash K9 Training LLC, Western Pennsylvania; (724) 761-2001; Email:   pittsburgh@offleashk9training.com

Michele Shelper, 430 Shepler Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15235; (412) 371-8021, Email:  mishepler@comcast.net


Lynne Patterson, 938 Township Road, 2206, Perrysville, OH 44864; (419) 368-5260, Email: lynnejp0527@yahoo.com


Christina Taddei, Alpha Dog K9 Training, 4 Main Street Unit E, Medway MA 02053; (508) 989-5859; Email: christina@alphadogk9.com

Charles Nutile, Alpha Dog K9 Training, 4 Main Street Unit E, Medway MA 02053, (508) 989-5859; Email: ranger4125@icloud.com

Georgette Sanita, Unique Souls Canine Training, 88 Tremont Street, Rehoboth, MA 02769; (508) 406-1546; Email: Gigisanita@uniquesoulscaninetraining.com


The Volunteer Handler

Every individual certified as a Volunteer Handler with Therapy Dogs United is required to undergo a Pennsylvania Child Abuse Background check.

Depending on where you visit, you may be required to undergo a Criminal Background Check

To be considered as an active volunteer and member in good standing with Therapy Dogs United, every therapy dog team is required to make no less than six scheduled visits created and endorsed by our organization.  You will be required to complete and return a monthly log documenting every therapy dog visit you participate in.  Therapy Dogs United does not allow membership with multiple therapy dog organizations.   

Our Fees

Every therapy dog candidate will pay nonrefundable fees on your scheduled test date.   If your dog does not pass the Canine Good Citizen test, you will be required to pay for that fee only and we will halt further testing, but gladly reschedule your dog for a CGC retest.   There is no limit to the number of times your dog can test for the Canine Good Citizen test.   If your dog passes the CGC test, but fails the Therapy Dog Evaluation, you will be required to pay that fee ($50) but, again, we will gladly reschedule your dog for a TD Evaluation retest.   You will only pay for your embroidered therapy dog vest or silkscreen neck scarf once your dog successfully passes both required evaluations.   Your vest/scarf and ID badge will be issued once you return your completed paperwork to our office.  Membership dues are to be paid by the 31st of December for every calendar year you and your therapy dog wish to remain active.

FEE VARIES BY EVALUATOR - Canine Good Citizen Test (made payable to your CGC approved evaluator) 

$50 - Therapy Dog Evaluation (made payable to Therapy Dogs United) - Inside Pennsylvania

$60 - Therapy Dog Evaluation (made payable to Therapy Dogs United) - Outside Pennsylvania

$85 - TDU embroidered vest or silkscreen neck scarf and ID badge (made payable to Therapy Dogs United)

$30 - Annual Dues (made payable to Therapy Dogs United)

For more information about our rules, regulations, policies and procedures, please visit our FAQ page, or contact us. 

Hannah at testing
TDU Erie Evaluator Hannah Ernst rewards a therapy dog participating as a distraction dog during an evaluation. To see the list of dates when your dog can be tested, please click on the Event tab.
team tdu v2

Is Volunteering With Therapy Dogs United Right for You?

Therapy Dogs United offers two types of therapy dog outreach programs available through our organization.  

Therapy Dogs United, Inc. is proud to offer both therapeutic and animal-assisted visitation programs that benefit the public at large.  Once your dog is certified with us, our team will help you choose which program is right for you and your dog. 

Therapeutic visitation dogs, commonly referred to as simply "therapy dogs" - is the most widely used method of animal therapy.  These dogs are household pets that make scheduled visits with their owner, referred to as a volunteer handler.  Together, the dog and the handler work as a therapy dog team to reach beyond traditional forms of therapeutic healing and treatment.  This is our most common volunteer program.   To learn more about two of our basic therapy dog programs, please visit Courthouse Comfort Canines or Tutors with a Tail.

Animal-assisted therapy dogs are a household pet handled by a certified handler - but these dogs are used to assist physical and occupational therapists with a patient's recovery.   For example, an animal-assisted therapy dog can be used to help an individual who has suffered a stroke, been physically injured, or suffered a form of physical or mental trauma.   AAT (animal-assisted therapy) dogs, together with their volunteer handler, team up with a trained therapist or medical professional to use non-conventional therapy techniques.  The end result encourages a patient to regain mobility, strength, range of motion, balance and confidence.  To learn more about our Animal-Assisted therapy programs, please visit AnimalAssisted Therapy Dogs.

Reminder:  Therapy Dogs United will not certify a therapy dog for an individual's private use. 

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