Is volunteering as a therapy team with Human-Animal Bond in Colorado right for you?
At HABIC, our volunteers receive training, peer support, and opportunities for continuing education. We empower our teams to advocate for their animal at all times.
HABIC requires each potential volunteer team to undergo a thorough screening and training process, to ensure those working with vulnerable persons are well-prepared to act in an informed yet independent manner.
We strongly recommend dogs and handlers have participated in at least one group training class prior to refining their skills at HABIC training. Once teams are trained and placed in a facility, a commitment of at least one year is expected.
Steps to becoming a therapy team volunteer
Assess your animal's suitability for therapy work
There are many things to consider when assessing an animal’s suitability for the demands of therapy work. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Can I meet a consistent schedule of visits with clients?
- Do I enjoy engaging with people to make connections?
- Am I able to advocate for my animal’s needs?
- Does my animal LOVE people?
- Is my animal dependable and trustworthy?
- Does my animal feel comfortable in new situations?
You can also learn if therapy work is right for your dog by taking our Therapy Dog Quiz.
Attend a group obedience class in the community
It is a prerequisite to attend a group obedience class in your local community. We recommend classes using positive reinforcement training methods. This ensures your dog has basic obedience skills and that you have a healthy working relationship with your dog, even when there are distractions.
Watch two HABIC information sessions online and complete a volunteer application
All prospective HABIC volunteers must watch two HABIC information session videos, and complete an application. The videos will allow you to learn more about HABIC, understand what our teams do, find out where our teams volunteer, and get your questions answered! Get started watching the Volunteer Information Sessions.
Complete HABIC's behavioral pre-screeening
This behavioral evaluation session will help to determine how well you and your animal work together, and if your animal’s disposition is well-suited to being a therapy dog. This brief, informal evaluation will be conducted by the HABIC trainer, who will determine if you should proceed and which level of training you will attend.
Make a medical examination appointment with your vet
Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for the medical screening and have your veterinarian complete HABIC’s dog medical form or cat medical form, which must be submitted prior to the end of training. This form will serve as documentation that all vaccinations are up-to-date and your animal is healthy and in good condition to work as a therapy animal.
Attend 12-week HABIC training program
HABIC training classes are one hour per week for 12 weeks. There is a fee for the training. New classes start in Spring, Summer, and Fall, in alignment with the CSU calendar semesters. Please contact HABIC at least 3-4 weeks prior to the start of a new training class to allow time to complete the steps above.
Pass the final evaluation for new HABIC teams
All HABIC volunteer teams must successfully complete a final evaluation at the end of their training classes. Everything that you practiced during classes will be evaluated in this final exam.
Frequently asked questions
How old does my dog have to be to join HABIC?
Dogs must be at least 18 months old before they can become a HABIC team.
Can my cat be in HABIC?
Yes! HABIC has certified therapy cats. Our feline team members bring a unique and calming presence to HABIC sessions.
Does my dog have to be a certain breed?
Definitely not. We welcome breeds of all shapes and sizes. The most important thing your dog needs is to love the work and be safe to use in volunteer settings.
Is there a cost associated with being a HABIC team?
For new HABIC dog teams, there is a fee for the therapy animal training course. There is no cost to join as a cat team or human-only volunteer.
How long does it take to become a HABIC volunteer?
It’s generally about six months for dogs to go from orientation, to training, to placement, to begin working as a certified HABIC dog volunteer team. Please contact us for more information.
Where will I volunteer?
You and your animal will be matched in a placement upon completion of your certification. You will meet the contact person, tour the facility, and find out how HABIC teams interact with that facility’s population. You will also have the opportunity to observe an experienced HABIC team during a scheduled visit in your designated placement.