CGC Animal Assisted Therapy

Assisted Therapy

Animal Assisted Therapy

To become a therapy dog and visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc., your dog must first be certified through a therapy dog organization. The main two organizations working in Iowa are Therapy Dogs International and Pet Partners. Both organizations base their certification tests on the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test with some added components to test your dog in certain therapy related situations. You can read more about the individual test items at: and

There is a minimum age limit to be certified as a therapy dog of one year of age. Also, your dog must be current on all vaccinations and have obtained a city or county dog license where applicable. Most cities in metropolitan areas have their own licensing requirements and you can contact your individual city for details.

Once your dog is certified as a therapy dog, we can help you locate facilities that would like to have visits. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to provide a plethora of health benefits for people facing illness, especially for mesothelioma cancer patients. Please visit the Mesothelioma Center at for more information on the benefits of pet therapy.

Canine Good Citizen (CGC) Certification

The purpose of the Canine Good Citizen Test is to ensure that our favorite companion, the dog, can be a respected member of the community. Dogs become respected members of their communities when they are trained to act mannerly in the home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. All dogs, including purebreds and mixed breeds are embraced by and welcomed in the Canine Good Citizen program.

All tests must be performed on leash. For collars, dogs should wear well-fitting buckle or slip collars or regular body harness. Martingale style (sometimes called "limited slip") collars are permitted. Special training collars such as pinch collars, head halters, no-pull harnesses and electronic collars are not permitted in the CGC test.

To help uncover the mystery of what the CGC test was all about, the ARL created a video instructional series that demonstrates what will be asked of you and your dog in the actual test and then how one person trained her dog to pass the test.

Click on the links below to watch each of the CGC lessons:
Lesson 1 - Sit, Stay, Down
Lesson 2 - Meet & Greet
Lesson 3 - Distractions
Lesson 4 - Loose Leash
Lesson 5 - Supervised Separation
Lesson 6 - Walk Through A Crowd
Lesson 7 - Greet A Person
Lesson 8 - Groomer/Friendly Stranger
Lesson 9 - Positive Reinforcement
Lesson 10 - Working with a reactive dog

Need more help? Click here for a list of training classes.

About the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program
The AKC’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is a nationally recognized certification that recognizes dogs who pass the test as the “best of the best” in terms of behavior and temperament. There is a 10 point test that a dog must pass in order to receive the certification. Click here for the full description of all 10 points in the test.