How do I recognize a Therapy Dog on campus?

All of our official Carleton Therapy Dogs will be outfitted with a red vest and Carleton logo on each side. The dog handler will typically also wear a black “Carleton Therapy Dogs” polo and carry a Carleton photo identification card for themselves and their dog as a team.

Does the animal belong to Carleton?

No – these dogs are well-loved family dogs belonging to their owners, who happen to be University staff and faculty members. The handlers have signed up to participate in this program with their dogs to provide an integrated mental health support for students.

What does the animal do as a Therapy Dog?

Therapy Dogs provide love and support by hosting visits with students in an office setting or at special events by request. Students can pet, hug, and play with dogs as a way to relieve stress.

What is the purpose of the program?

Students often request to have more animals available to them as a way to reduce anxiety and stress. There are studies showing it can also be impactful to have therapy dogs available for students on a consistent basis throughout the term. It is also helpful having a knowledgeable Carleton employee behind the dog to assist the student, which may be in the form of listening, encouraging, assisting in navigating resources, or a referral to support.

What if my dog already has the CKC Canine Good Neighbour and is a registered therapy dog?

If you are interested in being a part of the Carleton Therapy Dogs program, you will still need to follow an application process through the Program Coordinator, and obtain approval from your Departmental Supervisor. Our dogs must all be evaluated and pass the Ottawa Therapy Dogs temperament evaluation. Please contact Shannon Noonan at for more information.

What testing is required for the animals and is it covered by the cost of the training?

All of our dogs and handlers participate in a 6-week course of specialty training, as well as some base level mental health training. The teams are evaluated by the CKC Canine Good Neighbour Program as well as by Ottawa Therapy Dogs to provide a cross-referenced temperament evaluation. For employees participating in the program, the cost of all training and evaluations are covered by Carleton.

What happens if my department doesn’t want to participate?

Unfortunately, an applicant cannot proceed without supervisory approval. There may be circumstances where flexible time arrangements can allow someone to participate, but this is on a case by case basis. Please contact the program coordinator for more information.

How often do I bring my animal to work?

Each team’s arrangement is individual and schedules are worked out by the program coordinator and team member. Typically, once per week is a common arrangement although some teams may visit less, and some teams may provide additional visits for special events.

What if someone in my office is afraid of dogs? Or what if someone is allergic to dogs?

All of our dog teams have had departmental approval and open communication with their immediate surrounding departments before proceeding with this program. We work with Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety at Carleton to ensure all factors are taken into account and all activities are approved. We ensure that there are no “surprise” visits and each dog’s visits to campus are well advertised with signage, and posted on so that those with allergies or fears can plan accordingly.

Can I leave work to take my animal to other departments to visit?

All visits must be scheduled in advance, and approved by the Program Coordinator.

Can I visit other places besides Carleton with my pet?

Carleton Therapy Dogs are only covered under liability insurance to provide visits on our Carleton University campus. Visits representing Carleton Therapy Dogs off-site at any other locations are strictly prohibited.

Once I am accepted into the program, am I always part of the Carleton Therapy Dog Team?

Dogs and Handlers are evaluated together as a team, so no other person can handle your dog and passing an evaluation does not mean that you can bring any other dog under the same circumstances. Carleton Therapy Dog program also reserves the right and discretion to require that any dog team at any point undergo re-evaluation to ensure they remain a safe dog/handler team.

What happens if I am accepted into the program but have to leave the university?

You must return your Carleton Therapy Dogs uniform/identifiers and as stated above, posing as team members conducting visits at any other location is strictly prohibited. You must be a member of the Carleton community to continue providing Therapy Dog visits.

If I leave the university or decide to no longer participate in Carleton Therapy Dogs, what happens to my CKC Canine Good Neighbour Certification?

Your dog will have the CKC CGN title for life, but will no longer be recognized as a Therapy Dog. If you would like to continue doing Therapy Dog work, you must pursue evaluation from a recognized local therapy dog organization and follow proper placement protocol.

What are the benefits to being in the program?

Participants receive all training and evaluation free of charge, as well as the added benefit of bringing joy to students and community members through interacting with your dog on campus. Participants also have permission to have their dog on campus with them for the duration of the day when they are conducting an official Carleton Therapy Dogs visit.

What is the difference between a “regular” pet and a Therapy Dog?

Therapy Dogs have been tried and tested for solid, reliable temperaments. They must also enjoy interacting with people and display calm behaviours in a variety of environments and situations.

What is the difference between a Therapy Dog and a Service Dog?

A Therapy Dog is available and able to provide love and support to other people, and they are not necessary to assist their owner in any way. A service dog is required for a person with a disability, has been trained, and is necessary to assist their owner with specific tasks. Service dogs are not to be interacted with by the public – do not pet or disturb a service dog.

Can I bring my pet to work?

As a reminder, only dogs specifically recognized by the Carleton Therapy Dog program and dogs identified as service animals as defined by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 are allowed in campus buildings. Animals which have been approved under these circumstances are subject to the conduct rules outlined in Carleton’s Domestic Animals on Campus policy. Other than in the case of these limited exceptions, pets and companion animals are not to be in campus buildings and must remain on-leash at all times.

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