Guide To Becoming A Therapy Team Expectations & Qualifications

Officially interested in becoming a Therapy Team?

Please take a peek at some of the expectations and qualifications we have for our Therapy Teams so you can get a better understanding of what we are looking for.


Qualities we look for in HIP Therapy Animals


  • Seeks & enjoys human interaction and meeting variety of new people
  • Accepts vigorous petting all over by crowds of people
  • If animal is a dog, it should demonstrate good basic obedience skills: controlled leash walking, “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “come”, “leave-it”, neutral around other dogs, no jumping, pawing or mouthing
  • Must be comfortable with moving equipment (like wheelchairs, walkers, or other unusual objects) and unexpected loud noises in a variety of environments
  • You and your animal must have a strong, positive connection
  • Should not be aggressive or show fear towards other animals or people
  • Must have a certificate of group obedience training and rabies certificate
  • Must be at least 18 months old and you have owned your pet for six months
  • Must be spayed or neutered


What does a Hand in Paw Therapy Team look like?


In this instructional video we go over the initial screening process, so you have a better understanding of the qualities we look for in our Animal Assisted Therapy Teams.

Expectations Of A HIP Handler


  • Understand, believe and uphold the mission of Hand in Paw
  • Provide a positive, warm experience for those we visit
  • Uphold all Hand in Paw policies, including confidentiality
  • Maintain up to date training, registration and paperwork
  • Volunteer on a minimum of two one-hour visits per month
  • Bathe or groom animal within 24 hours prior to visit
  • A strong desire to serve others in our community with your animal
  • The ability and desire to meet new people and make them feel comfortable
  • The capacity to work in partnership with other HIP teams and sites
  • Successfully pass a background check
  • Keen awareness of the needs and behaviors of your animal when around other animals and people
  • Maintain timely communication with Hand in Paw staff
  • Must provide proof of COVID vaccination



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For questions about the volunteer process, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Stephanie Stoltzner.