How To Volunteer
Who are our volunteers?
We have over 80 active volunteer handler- and -dog teams. Every volunteer has undergone standards-based training and evaluation, and is required to take continuing education workshops. Training is rigorous and covers all aspects of visiting, including the importance of infection control and patient privacy. Our animal partners also undergo thorough training and evaluation, and are groomed and cleaned before every visit. The handler must obtain a health status report signed by the veterinarian. NCTD’s general liability insurance is in effect when teams are visiting NCTD-approved facilities.
How to become involved:
NCTD is always looking for new volunteer teams. If you have a healthy obedient dog, who loves people and gets along well with other dogs, and if you are interested in helping our clients, you and your dog may be good candidates. We can also accept cats and certain other pets. NCTD provides training classes for handlers and their animal partners and will evaluate the team. When the team passes the evaluation, NCTD will assist in finding a suitable facility for them to visit. As an NCTD volunteer you will be eligible to visit any NCTD-approved facility that requires additional teams, where you will be mentored by an experienced volunteer. You will also be able to take advantage of ongoing training opportunities and will be invited to NCTD social activities.
Here are the steps you take to get involved with NCTD:
Step 1 - Your dog must pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test before you start NCTD classes.
Step 2 - You take a 5-hour class, for handlers only, to review important information you need before you visit with your dog.
Step 3 - You and your dog take a 6-week training class that covers appropriate visiting behaviors and techniques.
Step 4 - You schedule an NCTD evaluation for you and your dog, usually within a few weeks after your last class.
Steps 5-8 -After you pass the NCTD evaluation, the Director of Volunteers will help you find a facility to visit. You will also be assigned a mentor, who will accompany and assist you until you are comfortable visiting on your own.
(You can read detailed descriptions of each of these steps by clicking the appropriate green boxes below.)
Click on the NCTD Calendar and on each event listed for times and locations for each class.
Click on Online Forms for the application and information about fees.
Why Volunteer With National Capital Therapy Dogs?
Nationally-Recognized Training/Evaluation Process
- NCTD believes training both ends of the leash is important.
- NCTD provides a special 6 week therapy dog training course. This class allows both handler and animal to practice visiting in a safe learning environment.
- NCTD's mentor program provides an opportunity for new volunteers to learn from experienced volunteers. A mentor is assigned to all new volunteers to help them through the registration process and their first visits.
- NCTD provides ongoing training opportunities to its volunteers through open floor training sessions.
Part of a Winning Team
- Both NCTD handlers and animals wear NCTD uniforms on visits. This allows facility staff and clients to quickly identify us as therapy teams.
- NCTD provides opportunities to socialize with other volunteers by sponsoring picnics and volunteer appreciation events.
- NCTD keeps volunteers informed through the NCTD web site, as well as via phone and E-mail. Volunteers feel like part of a team.
- By visiting as a group at NCTD facilities, volunteers learn from each other and can share their visiting experiences.
Variety of Premier Facilities
- NCTD's facilities include hospitals, assisted-living facilities, rehabilitation centers, and even schools!
- At many NCTD facilities, there are opportunities to not only visit with clients, but to actually help clients through rehabilitation using
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)
R.E.A.D.® program helps children improve their reading skills by reading to animals.
- NCTD volunteers, in addition to visiting NCTD facilities, are welcome to visit other facilities. Many facilities welcome NCTD teams because of our excellent reputation!
- NCTD's visits are scheduled on different days at different times throughout the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area. This allows volunteers to select visits that best fit their needs and schedules.
- All NCTD teams carry $1 million supplemental liability insurance.
- NCTD provides volunteers opportunities to assist with other aspects of the organization, including helping with public education programs, new volunteer training and evaluation, and mentoring.