Love on a Leash Requirements

To certify as a therapy dog with Love on a Leash, the therapy dog team must:

  • Must be at least one year old ­
  • Must be owned by current owner for at least six months, so that owner can get to know the dog’s reactions in various situations
  • Dogs must not show any signs of aggression towards any person or other dog

Evaluation Guidelines:

Is the dog able to do a sit, down, heel with people close by, and come when called while on a leash?

  • The dog must sit and lie down at the handler’s command. The handler may not repeat the command more than twice, and they can not use force to get the dog into the position.
  • The dog must stay in the position for at least three seconds before being released
  • The dog should be able to heel at the owner’s side through a crowd, and must not pull on the leash
  • When called to come, the dog should go directly to the owner and not run past

Is the dog able to do a two minute down/stay or sit/stay with the owner holding the leash?

  • The two-minute stay must be done in either the sit or the down position, it is the handler’s choice
  •  Owner may encourage dog with their voice
  • If the dog is in a sit stay they may not lie down, and if they are in a down stay they may shift to their side but mustn’t crawl, leave their spot, or sit up

While meeting a friendly stranger who has a dog, is the handler able to maintain control without the dog being aggressive or over stimulated?

  • The handler and their dog with approach another (neutral dog) and handler
  •  The handlers will exchange brief pleasantries and move on
  • The testing dog does not have to sit next to the owner, and may show interest in the other dog and/or handler, but cannot cross in front or behind owner
  • If the testing dog shows any form of aggression the evaluation is to stop and the dog is disqualified

Does the dog allow petting including having its head, ears, feet and tail touched?

  • The dog may sit, lie down, or stand for this portion, while the owner holds them
  •  The evaluator will approach the dog in a friendly manner and touch the dog’s head and ears, and will run their hands down the dog’s side as well as touch and very lightly squeeze the dog’s paws and tail
  • The dog should not display signs of fear, aggression, or shyness
  • The dog may not lunge or jump at/on evaluator

Is the dog clean and well groomed?

  • The dog should be clean and trimmed
  •  The dog’s nails should be trimmed/filed
  • The dog should be in good health and his teeth and ears should be clean and free of infection

Is the dog under control with people around, and able to walk on a loose leash without pulling?

  • The dog must be able to:
    • Maintain composure when around other dogs and people
    • Be attentive to his handler and not wanting to charge or jump
    • Show interest in others without insisting on attention
    • Be able to walk on a loose leash without pulling

Is the dog able to maintain composure when a stranger approaches in an erratic manner?

  • A person who is not known to the dog will approach in an erratic manner
    • This person could be wearing a floppy hat or long coat, or could be on crutches, and/or stumbling
  •  The handler may reassure the dog, but the dog may not cower, lunge, and/or attack
  • The dog may give a quick bark, but must recover quickly

Is mouthing, biting, or dodging apparent?

  • The dog may not touch his teeth to skin or clothing, even in a playful manner
  •  The dog may not growl
  • There should not be an excessive amount of shyness displayed by the dog, or they will not pass

Is aggression apparent?

  • If any aggression of any kind is apparent, the dog is to be disqualified

Does the dog show signs of fear, sound sensitivity, or shyness?

  • The test for sound sensitivity will consist of:
    • Dropping a dog’s stainless-steel food dish or a non-breakable item on a hard surface
    • Flapping a trash bag
    • It will be done no more than five feet from the dog
  •  The dog may react/startle, but may not attack the object, bark, or cower away. The dog should recover within a couple of seconds

Do the dog or handler appear to have any training difficulties, physical or emotional limitations, or behavior problems that might interfere with their ability to work as a therapy team?

    • If the answer is yes, the evaluator may suggest way to help the handler better prepare the dog for therapy work