How to Volunteer

Please note that Caring Canines Visiting Therapy Dogs, Inc. is located in Massachusetts and serves the greater Boston area. We have no chapters or affiliations in any part of the country or in the parts of the world.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Caring Canines volunteer.  Below are the basic qualifications needed for both dogs and handlers.  

All applicant dogs must be:
  • at least two years old and no older than 10 years old
  • healthy, parasite-free and up-to-date on all shots (see FAQ)
  • spayed or neutered
  • able to perform basic obedience skills (sit*, down, stay & come)
To be accepted into the Caring Canines program, your dog must:
  • welcome, not just tolerate, interactions with new people
  • be comfortable in new environments and around medical equipment (walkers, crutches etc.) and noises
  • be calm and well-behaved when meeting strangers of all ages, races and genders. This includes everyone from young children to older adults in wheelchairs.
  • enjoy being petted and hugged without getting over-excited
  • Have a calm, sustained interest in visiting with people
  • consistently follow cues and obedience commands from you even when there are distractions
  • move nicely on a leash or harness through groups of people and past other dogs
*Greyhounds are not required to sit.  

All volunteers must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have private transportation
  • be able to commit to a minimum of ten visits per calendar year

To be a Caring Canines handler, you must:

  • be able to read your dog’s body language to know when they are stressed out or anxious
  • stay aware of the comfort and safety of your dog even when there are distractions such as conversation
  • stay relaxed so that you and your dog can both enjoy the visit
  • be friendly and comfortable talking with strangers

Dogs will not pass a Caring Canines evaluation if any of the following are true:

  • Your dog barks when meeting / seeing other dogs or people
  • Your dog jumps up on people
  • Your dog has ever demonstrated fear or aggression towards another dog or person
  • Your dog requires a choke, prong or slip collar to stay under your control* 
  • Cannot settle down quietly next to someone for petting
  • Is easily distracted by other dogs or people
*Martingale collars are acceptable for sight hounds

If you feel that you and your dog fulfill the requirements above, we welcome you to start the Application Process.

Please note that we are not accepting new applications at the moment due to reductions in visits while COVID-19 is still a concern.