Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Paws & Think located?
Paws & Think is a volunteer-led organization and we do not have an official location. We serve Marion and the surrounding counties in central Indiana and partner with many different venues and organizations in our service areas.
Do I have to have a dog to volunteer?
No. We have many volunteer opportunities and ways you can get involved and support Paws & Think even if you don’t have a dog. You can volunteer with one of our youth-canine programs, as a Reading Buddy for one of our school reading programs, or be a part of one of our committees, just to name a few ways!
What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?
Service dogs are trained to support one person who is physically or mentally disabled by assisting with specific tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability. Service dogs are protected by ADA law to accompany their handlers into public establishments and may live with their handlers even in housing with a “no pets” policy in place. Therapy dogs are trained to provide support and comfort to many people, typically in a group setting like a healthcare facility, school, or library. Therapy dogs work for shorter periods of time (maximum of 2 hours at a time) and are not dedicated to one individual. Learn more about types of support dogs.
Does Paws & Think train facility dogs?
No, Paws & Think does not train facility dogs. A facility dog is a specially trained therapy dog who works extensively at a specific venue to provide ongoing support to residents, patients, or visitors.
Does Paws & Think train service dogs or emotional support dogs?
No, Paws & Think does not provide training for service dogs or emotional support dogs. We provide therapy dog training for dogs and their handlers to learn the skills to become a therapy team that can volunteer with Paws & Think. Learn more about types of support dogs.
I found a stray dog, can I drop it off with Paws & Think?
Paws & Think is not a shelter, so unfortunately we cannot take in stray dogs. Any stray or lost dogs can be taken to Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) at 2600 S. Harding Street. Please visit the IACS website for their contact information and hours of operation.
I want to report a neglected or abused animal, can Paws & Think help?
Animal neglect or abuse can be reported to Indianapolis Animal Care Services (IACS) by calling 317-327-4622.
Therapy Dog Questions
Is there an age requirement for a dog to become a therapy dog?
Dogs must be at least one year old to become a Paws & Think pet therapy dog. If you adopted your dog from a rescue or shelter, your dog must live with you for at least 6 months before taking our pet therapy class or evaluation.
Can I volunteer with other therapy organizations while being an active Paws & Think volunteer?
Yes. Paws & Think believes there are unlimited opportunities in the area for people to make a difference and does not wish to restrict our volunteers’ ability to serve their community.
What do I do if I want to take my registered therapy dog to a venue that is not on Paws & Think’s venue partner list?
Paws & Think therapy teams are in such high demand that we have a new venue approval process and waiting list. Please forward the prospective venue information to our Volunteer Coordinator or Executive Director for review and consideration.
What skills should I teach my puppy now to be a therapy dog later?
In order to prepare your puppy to become a therapy dog later on, you should socialize it with outdoor noises, indoor sounds, people, children, household appliances, animals, leaves, cars, trucks, strangers and anything that moves. You have a window of opportunity until he is 4 months old to jam everything in. You can also begin teaching your dog basic skills such as “Sit,” Down,” and “Stay” using positive training techniques. We recommend enrolling your dog in a group obedience training class that utilizes positive training techniques.
Does Paws & Think work with animals other than dogs?
Paws & Think is focused on improving lives through the human-dog bond. At this time we only provide pet therapy training for dogs and their handlers.
How often do I have to re-evaluate my dog for the pet therapy program?
All Paws & Think registered therapy teams must pass the evaluation every two years to remain active.
When and where are the therapy skills evaluations?
Paws & Think’s pet therapy evaluations last 30 minutes and are held at the same locations as the training classes. Contact our Training Coordinator for upcoming evaluation dates.
When and where are the pet therapy skills classes?
Paws & Think’s therapy skills classes are 4 weeks long and are offered on Saturdays from 12:30p – 2:00p at Lucky Dog Retreat Training Center (5990 E. 71st Street) and on Wednesdays from 7:00p – 8:30p at Uptown Pup (2112 E. 54th Street). View our calendar for upcoming dates.
May I use treats to reward my dog during the therapy skills evaluation?
No, treats cannot be used during the evaluation.
What types of leashes and collars are allowed for training, evaluations, and when visiting venues?
Dogs may only wear flat collars, Gentle Leaders, Halti head collars, cloth martingales, Easy Walk Harnesses, or similar harnesses with a D-ring clip in the front. We do not allow prong collars, choke chains, flexi leads, metal leashes, or any type of slip collar. Leashes must be 4 feet in length and made of leather or nylon.
What types of skills are tested in the pet therapy team evaluation?
The Paws & Think pet therapy evaluation will test you and your dog on the following skills:
- Dog demonstrates safe/controlled greetings with people and other dogs
- Dog is comfortable with stranger’s touch
- Dog walks next to handler on a loose leash (without straining) in highly trafficked areas and areas with distractions (dog must stay beside or slightly behind the handler in all situations)
- Dog demonstrates basic obedience skills (Sit and Down for a minimum of 30 seconds) with distractions
- Dog ignores food on the floor and other objects as directed by the handler
- Dog does not take food offered by a stranger
- Dog demonstrates the Touch skill
- Dog demonstrates restraint while entering and leaving buildings or thresholds
- Handler demonstrates a strong bond with the dog, working together as a team in all of the exercises and handler demonstrates the ability to advocate for the dog
Where can I volunteer with my dog after we pass the pet therapy evaluation?
Paws & Think partners with a variety of venues in Marion and the surrounding counties including healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, and more. We recommend that you shadow at one or more venues without your dog prior to signing up to volunteer as a therapy team so that you know what to expect and can make the best decision about what venues will be a good fit for your dog.
How much does the pet therapy class and evaluation cost?
The pet therapy skills classes are $105.00 per handler. The class fee includes four 1.5 hour sessions with you and your dog, the Handlers Training Class, a Paws & Think bandana for your dog, and a dog tag. The pet therapy skills evaluation costs $25.00 per handler.
Does my dog have to take the pet therapy class before taking the evaluation?
No. If you are confident that your dog is competent at all of the skills tested on the evaluation, you may take the evaluation without taking the pet therapy class. A good way to get an idea of what to expect is to volunteer to assist with an evaluation or class prior to enrolling with your dog.
What basic obedience skills does my dog need to know before enrolling in a therapy skills class or evaluation?
Your dog must complete a basic obedience class with you prior to taking our pet therapy class or evaluation. Your dog must be able to demonstrate basic obedience skills such as Sit, Down, Leave It, Touch, walking beside the handler on a loose leash, greeting strangers politely, etc.
What if my dog likes most people but is afraid of certain types of people?
Your dog must be friendly toward people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities in order to become a Paws & Think therapy dog. As a therapy dog, your dog will encounter many strangers in individual and group settings and must be comfortable with all different types of people.
Can dogs with disabilities become therapy dogs with Paws & Think?
Yes. If your dog has a disability that requires an accommodation for the evaluation, please notify Paws & Think’s Training Coordinator or Executive Director prior to the evaluation so that we can work with you to determine what, if any, reasonable accommodations can be made.
Are there breed restrictions for therapy dogs?
No. Paws & Think accepts all breeds, including Pit Bulls, for our pet therapy program, as long as your dog meets the other requirements.
Can more than one member of our family be a handler with our therapy dog?
Yes. Each family member is required to be an active volunteer with Paws & Think and pass the therapy skills evaluation. We encourage you to schedule the evaluations on different days to avoid undue stress on your dog.
May I have more than one registered therapy dog with Paws & Think?
Yes, however you may only bring one registered therapy dog at a time to visit our partner venues.
Is there an age requirement for a volunteer to become a therapy dog handler?
Yes. Junior Handlers must be at least 12 years of age. Handlers younger than 16 years must be accompanied by a participating Paws & Think volunteer parent or guardian. Those between 16 and 18 years must have written permission to participate from a parent or guardian. Written permission must be provided at the time of the therapy team evaluation and must be submitted with the written therapy evaluation test.
How do I request a visit from a Therapy Dog?
Our therapy dogs love getting out into the community to make new friends! If you are interested in setting up a therapy dog program at your venue or inviting Paws & Think to your event, please visit the Request a Visit page and fill out the appropriate request form to submit your inquiry for review.