Schedule & Registration

Training Volunteer Therapy Dog Teams

Instructor Elizabeth M. Simpson, B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.


Volunteering to share the enthusiastic, nonjudgmental, love of your dog with those in need, is a special kind of joy. Sometimes dogs and their handlers just require a bit of training to make the dream of volunteering a reality, or for those already volunteering, to take their skills to the next level. This class emphasizes teaching the handler and dog to work together in a confident relationship, developing the knowledge and skills necessary to be a successful therapy dog team.

Classes involve information on the therapy dog approval process in the Vancouver area, practice of a typical therapy dog test item, and instruction on developing skills that will be helpful during therapy dog visitations. Positive reinforcement training techniques including food rewards, praise, cue words, and hand signals will be used to guide the human-dog teams in learning to communicate with each other. All this, in a stress-free environment designed to be fun for you and your dog.

COVID protections – classes are kept small allowing social distancing, each team has a designated working area, all handlers and trainers will wear masks, the room will be cleaned before and after each class.

Typical length: 6 Weeks | 60 Minutes Per Week


Dogs must be at least 1-year old because the therapy dog approval process includes potentially fearful items. This class does not require a DOGSmart Beginner Class but it is recommended. Once you sign up for the class, you will be contacted by the instructor to book an assessment. Assessments determine if the class is a good fit for you and your dog. A successful assessment and then payment will complete your full enrolled in the class. Please equip your dog with a flat buckle collar, or for dogs less than 10 lbs a harness may be used, and an approximately 6-foot leash. Collars, including pinch, choke, martingale, and shock, as well as retractable-leashes are not permitted.

Please Note: Female dogs in heat season (estrus) are not permitted to attend classes during the period that the female is in heat.

Important Note: One-week notice prior to the date of the first class is required for cancellations or refunds. We are unable to provide refunds once classes have started. Due to the nature of Therapy Dog Team classes we are unable to offer make-up classes for any that you miss. Dates and times of classes are subject to change. Visit our web site for more information and to check space availability in classes.

Upcoming Classes

Training Volunteer Therapy Dog Teams

Fridays at 6:15 PM or 7:30 PM

DOGSmart Room P

Elizabeth M. Simpson, Ph.D.