Getting Started

Are you interested in volunteering with your dog and joining West Michigan Therapy Dogs? Check out our six-step process below. 

Step 1: Read our Membership Guidelines and FAQs

Before individuals begin the process of joining our organization with their dog, we ask that they first read our Membership Guidelines, FAQs and that you understand what Pet Therapy is and what our organization does. This will help you understand our expectations of our members and their dogs and our rules and regulations. This is to help you make sure that WMTD is a good fit for you and your dog. After you've read the Membership Guidelines and FAQS, please move on to Step 2.

Read our Guidelines

Read Our FAQs

Learn about Pet Therapy

Step 2: Complete and Pass our Prescreen Evaluation 

You and your dog must participate in and pass our prescreen evaluation to ensure your dog has the temperament and intermediate skills to be a potential therapy dog. Once you have passed the prescreen, you will move on to Step 3. 

To sign-up for a Prescreen Evaluation, click here to fill out the registration form and pay our registration fee of $30. Once you've filled out the form, email it to

Step 3: Complete our 8-Week Training Program 

You and your dog must complete our 8-week training program designed to train you and your dog for real-world scenarios that you'll experience when volunteering in the community. This course will help you learn the necessary skills and rules we require to be an active team with our organization. After you've completed our classes, you may move on to Step 4

If you have passed our Prescreen Evaluation and are ready to sign-up for our training program, email

Step 4: Pass our Certification Test

During this test, you and your dog will be evaluated on various skills taught during the therapy training course to see if you are ready to move on to become an official WMTD team. If you pass our certification, you and your dog are officially a Level 1 West Michigan Therapy Dog team and can move up to Level 2 or 3 by re-evaluating after 6 months of frequent volunteering. After passing our test, you'll move on to Step 5. 

Step 5: Complete Three, 1-Hour Shadow Visits

Three, 1-hour shadow visits must be completed alongside an experienced WMTD team and within 3 months of graduating from our training program. During these visits, you and your dog will be evaluated based on the skills and guidelines taught in training to ensure you are ready to be an active WMTD team. Once these shadow visits are completed, you are ready to move to Step 6 and begin volunteering with your dog in the community. 

To sign up for your three shadow visits after graduating from our training program,  email

Step 6: Sign-up to Volunteer with a Program 

After you have finished your shadow visits, you and your dog will then be eligible to begin volunteering at any of our official WMTD programs with openings for new teams. 

To find out programs that are in need of new teams, email

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