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.  We operate September through mid-June.  If you apply during this time, we will add you to our waiting list and will contact you with more details in mid to late August.

Your dog must:

  • be at least 18 months old and no older than 10 years old
  • be healthy, parasite-free and up-to-date on all shots
  • have basic obedience skills (sit*, down/stay, come)
  • be friendly, gentle and have good visiting manners
  • be able to retain his/her steadiness and good manners around wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and the noises and smells of a hospital or nursing facility environment
  • be willing and able to tolerate clumsy, exuberant petting
  • be able to work well around other dogs
  • be spayed or neutered
*Greyhounds are not required to sit.  Obedience skills are not required for small dogs that will be held for visiting.


  • must be 18 years or older;
  • must have private transportation;
  • are requested to commit to a minimum of ten visits per year
We recommend reading the article “Dog Assisted Therapy: Is Your Dog a Good Fit?” to help determine whether your dog is likely to enjoy being a therapy dog.
Our process is unique to Caring Canines.  We do not require your dog to be certified by a third-party organization since we evaluate all dog and handler teams using our own system, which has been developed based on almost two decades of experience.  More info is below in the application process section.

The Application Process:

When your application is accepted, you will be invited to come and observe one of our group visits without your dog. This observation visit serves as an orientation to our program and offers a preview of what a typical visit might be like for you and your dog.  You will get a good sense of whether your dog has the temperament and skills needed for work as a Caring Canines therapy dog.  Additionally, we often have an evaluation for another applicant dog/handler team scheduled at the end of the visit, and we encourage you to stay to watch it.

If you feel our program is a good match for you and your dog, we will schedule you to come for an evaluation as a dog/handler team. After a successful evaluation, you will participate in our mentoring program.  You will select three supervised training visits where you will have a Caring Canines mentor to assist you.  Upon successful completion of the three mentored visits, you will be able to select your visits from the weekly schedule that is sent each Monday by e-mail. The schedule will list the visits to the various facilities for the next several weeks, and you may request to be scheduled based on your selection(s) from this list.  After ten visits, you will be able to select from additional visiting opportunities such as room-to-room visits in local hospitals, schools, and facilities for adults and children with special needs.  More details about our visits can be found on our FAQ page.

If you feel that Caring Canines is a good match for you and your dog, please submit an online application using this

Application link

You will receive an immediate acknowledgement of your application via email.  Please be on the lookout for it. As an all-volunteer program with over 100 volunteers, we rely on email as our primary method of communication.  If it doesn’t appear that you’ve heard from us, remember to check your spam folder.  Please add the domain to your list of “not junk” in your address book.  If you submit your application during our summer break (mid-June to Aug), we will place you on our waiting list and contact you in mid to late August.