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Tails of Joy Animal Assisted Therapy
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Providing Therapeutic Benefit to People
Through the Use of Animals

Tails of Joy members volunteer throughout Hartford, Tolland and Windham counties and neighboring towns in Connecticut.

HomeTherapy Dog Class

Therapy Dog Training Class

Tails of Joy sponsors Therapy Dog Classes that help you and your dog prepare for animal assisted activity (AAA) commonly known as pet therapy. These classes will acquaint you with different aspects of pet therapy and help you develop the team skills required to pass the aptitude and skills portions of the Intermountain Therapy Animal or Pet Partners® evaluation, part of the registration process.

While the Intermountain Therapy Animals and Pet Partners®  programs are similar, you should review the prerequisites of each program, including Pet Partners' raw feeding policy, to determine which program best meets your needs. 
Tails of Joy Therapy Dog Classes are for those who want to learn more about pet therapy or who want assistance learning the skills required to make a great therapy team. Precise obedience skills are not required, however the handler must have control of their dog while visiting, including a reliable sit, down and stay. All classes are taught with positive training methods. 

For more information on therapy dog classes or to register for a class contact Susan Gagnon ( via email.
Therapy Dog Class Prerequisites 
  • Handler must present proof of dog's up-to-date rabies vaccination at start of class
  • Dogs must have basic obedience skills such as sit, down, stay, come
  • Handler/dog team must train using positive reinforcement
  • Dog must be at least ten months old before the start of Therapy Dog Class

Therapy Dog Class Level I introduces skills that you and your dog need as a “therapy team” for successful Animal Assisted Activity visits. Many of these skills build on the foundation of basic obedience that your dog already knows while others may be brand new to you and your dog.

Instruction includes:

  • Obedience skills with distractions.
  • Dog’s response in potentially stressful situations including petting from a stranger, clumsy petting, and group petting.
  • Safety skills in an unfamiliar environment, including “wait” and “leave it”.
  • Loose leash walking with increasing distractions.
  • Class includes time for practicing and homework is assigned based on each individual team’s progress with the new skills.


Therapy Dog Class Level II builds on the skills learned in the first level class with higher levels of distraction. Real-life scenarios are practiced.

Instruction includes:
  • Obedience skills with increased level of distraction and duration
  • New obedience skills useful in visiting situations
  • Field trip to crowded area (subject to instructor’s consent)
  • Class includes time for practicing and homework ideas are assigned based on individual team’s progress with the new skills.
Class fee refunds
Due to limited class size there are no refunds after class begins.

We encourage you to attend Tails of Joy meetings, which are an opportunity to talk with registered therapy team handlers and other TOJ volunteers and to ask questions before enrolling in class.
Class Locations / Start Dates

Classes are regularly offered at Tails-U-Win and at other locations based on student interest.

Tails-U-Win, Manchester:
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Level I at 9AM
Eight Week Class

Saturday, January 25, 2020
Level II at 10:15AM
Four Week Class

Instructor: Susan Gagnon

Touchpoints, Farmington:
March 21, 2020, 9:30 AM
Instructor: Beth Hajek

March 21, 2020, 11:45 AM
Instructor: Beth Hajek

For more information on therapy dog classes or to register for a class contact Susan Gagnon via email:

Mentoring for New Pet Therapy Teams

At the conclusion of training and registration mentoring is available to Tails of Joy members. Newly registered teams are matched with an established member to accompany him/her on visits. This allows the new member and his/her companion animal to become comfortable with situations that they may encounter while visiting with the guidance of an experienced member.

Team Evaluations

The evaluation required for team registration is not included in Therapy Dog Classes. Tails of Joy does sponsor Pet Partners® and Intermountain Therapy Animals team evaluations, which are a part of the therapy team registration process.

Visit our therapy team evaluation page for more information.