*Please note that we DO NOT train dogs for handlers or place dogs in homes, you will work with your own dog in the class.
* Our organization ONLY works with therapy dogs and NOT service dogs or Emotional Support dogs, we cannot make recommendations regarding these types of dogs.
Joining West Michigan Therapy as a dog & handler team is a three-step process:
- Your dog must first be prescreened to ensure it has the temperament and intermediate skills to be successful in our class and as a therapy dog.
- Dogs that pass the prescreening can take our eight-week Introduction to Pet Therapy training course ending with a final evaluation of dog and handler.
- Each dog and handler team that pass their Registration Test at the end of their class will need to complete a minimum of three one (1) hour shadow visits with an experienced WMTD handler within three (3) months of class graduation to demonstrate that they are ready to officially become an active WMTD member. Read our Membership Guidelines to learn the all of the WMTD rules of membership.
** All of our handler/dog teams go through the same 3 step process despite any previous training and certifications.
** Our Liability Insurance Policy is a Volunteer Policy
meaning it only covers those who are volunteering with their dogs at WMTD approved locations and not
those who are taking their dogs to their paid jobs.
** There is no "set" training path for Therapy work. A dog who is well socialized and has basic level obedience often does well in therapy settings. Dogs can be big or small, and any breed (with the exception of wolf-hybrids or those who have been trained for bite work). We cannot recommend a specific trainer for you, you will need to find one that works well with you and your dog.
**Minimum age requirement for WMTD = you must have owned or handled your dog for at least 6 months.
* In compliance with the American Veterinary Medical Association's recommendations, as of 6/1/2008, dogs that are fed a raw diet (including BARF diets & raw kibble) are no longer eligible for WMTD prescreens, Introduction to Pet Therapy Classes, & Full Membership.
At a prescreen evaluation, handlers are evaluated on their interactions with their dog, evaluator and the environment. The dog is evaluated on its obedience, temperament and socialization skills. Please see the Prescreen Test for exactly what our evaulators will be looking for.
There is a $30 charge for prescreens. If your team is successful, the $30 prescreen fee will be deducted from the total cost of your class. Our Office coordinator will sign you up for our next OPEN class. You are NOT testing for the next class on the schedule, there may be a several month wait for a class. Up to two (2) handlers per dog may take the class per session. However, only one (1) handler needs to complete the prescreen. Please see the Prescreen FAQ'sfor all required documentation & equipment needed for the test day. PLEASE NOTE, if you come to the test unprepared (ie without your vaccinations), you will be unable to keep your test time, and will forfeit your prescreen fee.
Please print off the By-Mail Registration Form , and indicate the time slot you prefer, and two alternatives, as we cannot guarantee your first choice time or date will still be available when your check or money order is received. You will not be scheduled for a time slot if we receive a registration form with no payment (we are unable to take credit cards).
The refund policy for prescreens & Classes (including canceling and moving to another testing date):
30+ days prior to test date (excluding any credit card fees) - full refund
29-15 days prior = $15 refund or credit
14 or less days prior = no refund or credit
** You will only be refunded for the event that you have cancelled**
example: 30 + days cancellation of a prescreen test = a full refund of $30.00 or 30 + days cancellation of a class series = a full refund of $45.00
Prescreens (Saturdays) & Introduction to Pet Therapy Classes (Thursday Nights 6:30-8:30 pm) are offered at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center at 750 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids.
Introduction to Pet Therapy Training Course
Our eight-week Introduction to Pet Therapy Course will cover introduction to medical equipment and scents, dog to dog socialization, discussions on current therapy techniques and therapy opportunities available in the local community including medical facilities, assisted living and rehabilitation facilities, schools and libraries. Testing is done at the final session.
Primary Handler= $75.00 (prescreen fee $30.00 + $45.00 actual course fee)
Secondary Handler (same dog/same class series)= $15.00
Junior Handler, aged 10-17 (considered secondary handler same dog/same class)= $10.00
Senior (aged 55 & older) Primary Handler=$55.00 (prescreen fee $30 + $25.00 actual course fee)
Secondary Handler= $10.00
***Dogs will start week three, and teams must attend week three and seven to graduate. Handlers must attend at least seven of the eight weeks to be eligible to test for the WMTD probationary membership.
** Due to the changing nature of dog behavior, you have up to one year from the date of your prescreen to enter a class series. If you exceed that time period, you will need to repeat your prescreen testing.
Questions about the prescreen, class or trial member process?
Contact our Office Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org