How To Become a ATD Tester/Observer

Would you like to help others experience the satisfaction you feel when you take your dog on a pet therapy visit? If you do, you have an opportunity to take the concept of “Sharing Smiles and Joy” to new heights by becoming a ATD Tester/Observer.

T/O’s are official representatives and role models for ATD Therefore, they must know and follow all ATD rules and regulations and be able to convey them to new and prospective members as well as be capable of communicating effectively and tactfully with people.

If you have practical experience working with dogs, are skilled at reading their body language, and good at dealing with people, please consider becoming a Tester/Observer (T/O). Here are some of the attributes we look for in a T/O candidate:

  • Ability to be courteous and professional in all situations when dealing with the public 
  • Patience in dealing with people, especially when they can be very frustrating
  • Be comfortable in handling failing, reporting or disciplining a team
  • Reading a variety of books by animal trainers and behaviorists and/or attending seminars on training and behaviors
  • Experience in one or more of the following areas
    1. Teaching or assisting in dog training classes
    2. Training dogs for performance venues such as obedience, agility or herding
    3. Fostering and re-homing dogs
    4. Interaction on various levels with a wide variety of breeds, including both large and small dogs
    5. Assisting T/O’s and learning to determine under what circumstances teams successfully complete the testing process

    There are additional abilities which may qualify you as well, so please contact the office for your application packet. Join us in our mission to provide registration and support for prospective members in volunteer assisted activities.


  • A ATD Tester/Observer (T/O) is a privilege, not a right, granted by the ATD Board of Directors through the various committees appointed to represent and protect the interests and safety of the organization. ATD reserves the right to revoke or not to renew the status of any T/O not complying with the ATD Rules and Regulations and/or these Tester/Observer Guidelines.
  • A T/O must be a member of Therapy Dogs Incorporated (ATD) in good standing for a minimum of 6 months. A T/O must be a minimum of 18 years of age.
  • ATD does not support any breed-specific legislation, and T/O's are expected to test and observe all breeds and mixed breeds without prejudice.
  • To maintain active T/O status, each T/O must complete the annual T/O Review. All questions must be answered correctly.
  • T/O's are not allowed to charge fees for testing or observing prospective members for ATD The T/O will conduct the ATD Test for every dog/handler team who is eligible for ATD membership as described in the ATD Rules and Regulations. Obedience classes, therapy courses, or the passing of additional tests, including but not limited to the Canine Good Citizen or other recognized independent temperament tests, may not be required of the team prior to the ATD registration process.
  • A T/O may not conduct the ATD Test exclusively for a local group or facility.
  • A T/O is required to take and return calls and/or emails from prospective members to arrange for testing.
  • A T/O shall not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, gender, creed, sexual orientation or national origin by refusing to test any person.
  • A T/O must offer to test prospective teams within 3 months.
  • There is not a way to estimate the extra time you may spend being a ATD T/O. It will vary according to your location, the number of T/O’s in that location, and the amount of interested people in your area.