Please Note: We are currently unable to accept payment by credit card; check and money order are the only two accepted methods of payment. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Joining West Michigan Therapy requires some planning and preparation, but it is basically 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 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.
"Qualifications" or Training for Therapy Dog Work
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. (Please see the downloadable prescreen test below for behaviors we are looking for). Dogs can be big or small, and any breed (with the exception of wolf-hybrids or those who have been trained for bite work). No, we cannot tell you that one specific dog breed does better than others. It is often dog and handler specific on how well the visits go. Minimum age requirement for WMTD = you must have handled your dog for at least 6 months.
Step 1: Prescreen Evaluations
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. Therapy class course work is based on the ability of the dog to perform intermediate level obedience skills. Review the Prescreen Test to identify if your dog is able to consistently meet the "WMTD" level of scoring on all the test items.
Your first step is to register for a prescreen evaluation. There is a $30 charge for prescreens. If your team is successful, we will credit your class fee the $30 and then sign you up for the next available training course that you are able to attend.
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 will still be available your check or money order is received.
The refund policy for prescreens (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.
Prescreens are offered at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center at 750 Fuller NE and
you must have owned your dog or worked (obedience skills) with the dog you are handling for at least six months prior to prescreening.
Next open prescreen is:
PLEASE FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS BELOW HIGHLIGHTED IN RED TO REGISTER FOR YOUR TEST, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REGISTER ON-LINE. IF YOUR PAYMENT IS NOT RECIEVED WITH YOUR FORM YOU WILL NOT BE REGISTERED FOR A TEST TIME.
Saturday October 8, 2016 EVENT IS FULL
Saturday December 10, 2016 open slots: 12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday Feb 11, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday April 15, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday June 10, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday Aug 12, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday Oct 14, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Saturday December 9, 2017 open slots: 10-11 am/11-12 am/12-1 pm/1-2 pm
Please note at the current time you may only pay by mailing in a check or money order, thank you for your patience with our updating of processes. Please print off the following formBy-Mail Registration Form , and indicate the time slot you prefer, and two alternatives and mail in with your $30.00 payment. We are NOT able to accept payment on our website at this time.
DO NOT attempt to register on-line.
Step 2: 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. See what’s covered on the WMTD Membership Test.
Total Course Fee Primary Hander= $75.00, 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) Total Course Fee Primary Handler=$55.00, Secondary Handler= $10.00
Registration for prescreen= $30.00, will be credited toward your total course fee
A copy of your dog’s current immunization records from your veterinarian is required PRIOR to the prescreening to ensure your dog has a current rabies vaccination, DHLLP, has had a negative fecal float test within the past 12 months, and Bordatella (corona-virus)
A copy of the health records are then required to be emailed or mailed prior to the prescreening to email@example.com or P.O. Box 2533 Grand Rapids, MI 49533-2533.
Grand Rapids classes are Thursdays from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at the Spectrum Health Rehab and Nursing Center, 750 Fuller NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Maximum enrollment: 12 handlers, with maximum 2 handlers per same dog.
Handlers only the first two weeks. 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.
*** You are testing for the next OPEN class, NOT the next class on the schedule. Please note it may be several months before there is an open class after your test date.
**** DO NOT attempt to "schedule yourself" for your class on the event calendar. This must be done by an administrator.
Each handler/dog team is allowed up to three months to complete a minimum of three one hour shadow visits under the supervision of an experienced WMTD member who serves as an evaluator. Course graduates will get instructions on how to contact a shadow evaluator to line up a visit. There is a $50.00 non-refundable Prospective/Probationary Member fee. This fee will, however, be applied toward the full bi-annual membership fee for those teams successfully completing their prospective / probationary membership requirements. Full membership is only $50 who covers two years and includes coverage under the organization’s $1 million general liability insurance policy.
*** Please note 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.
Questions about the prescreen, class or trial member process?
Contact our Office Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org