"You say you want a dog certified to work with people?" I asked. With an affirmative answer, I asked if she knew she would be evaluated as well as the dog, and she was surprised. She said she knew of people who had certified dogs and only their dogs were tested. I answered that that happened when the idea of dogs used in therapy was just starting, now is different.
The dog is expected to have sufficient training to pass the Canine Good Citizen test as a minimum. For specific therapy, the dog may need to exhibit patience and tolerance as the client reads to him for twenty or more minutes, or have patience and tolerance as a patient re-learns how to hold a brush or comb and exercises the hand and arm muscles by running the tool through the dog's coat.
The handler is graded on his or her friendliness, whether there is eye contact, smiles and ability to make small talk. The handler must be aware of possible animal responses, behavior, and position, and reassures, cues or commands (as needed) to help the animal be successful. He or she must ensure the animal's well being.