Certification Assessment – Therapy, School & Visiting Dogs

Certification Assessment and Re-Certification

The Certification Assessment days are for those who have successfully completed Level 2 (day one and day two) and are wishing to sit the level 2 visiting dog assessment. They are also for those who have previously certified at Level 2 or Level 4 and are wishing to re-certify their dog/s. 

The full Certification Assessment includes small group scenarios on Friday (half day) followed by community visits on Saturday morning.  Attendance entitles handlers to 12 months access to current course and training manuals (at the relevant Certification level).

Certification for most adult dogs remains current for 1 year (subject to conditions, restrictions or trainer discretion). All dogs attending a Certification Assessment must be up to date with vaccinations, and have a current Brief Veterinary Health Screen (due every 6 months). All dogs must meet the Visiting Dog Suitability requirements.  Online re-certification is subject to additional requirements and conditions.


* Subject to Certification Update (see important information below)

Therapy Dog, School Dog, and other Visiting Dog Suitability Checklist

Please ensure your dog meets all of the suitability criteria. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

  • My dog is part of my life and my household, e.g., comes into the house, participates in activities. They have lived with me for 3 months or longer, and I know them well. I can confidently answer the checklist questions (Note: dogs must be at least 6 months of age for Learner Certification (Level 1) and 12 months of age for full Visiting Dog Certification (Level 2) or above)
  • My dog enjoys meeting strangers (e.g., in the park or on the street), and shows this by approaching or seeking attention when appropriate
  • My dog is happy when we have visitors come to the home, and seeks attention from them
  • My dog likes children
  • My dog likes elderly and disabled people
  • My dog is not fearful of cars, bikes, trolleys, skate-boards or other moving objects
  • My dog is not fearful of stairs, shiny floors, elevators, lights, fans or other typical environments
  • My dog enjoys being patted, touched by and cuddling with strangers (people they don’t know)
  • My dog can be left alone at times without becoming distressed or destructive
  • I can leave my dog tied up or tethered in a safe location for brief periods without them becoming distressed or destructive
  • My dog will happily go off with a friend or family member without me, without becoming distressed
  • My dog is reliably toilet trained, and does not ‘mark’ (urinate on) inappropriate objects/furniture indoors or outdoors
  • My dog enjoys outings and novel activities, for example visiting a new person or place
  • My dog is generally willing to comply with requests, even if unsure or nervous (e.g., tolerates grooming, being taken off/sharing their bed, having a toy or treat taken away, visiting the vet, being checked over or having a wound looked at) without growling or becoming fearful
  • My dog will cope being in a training centre with other dogs and training in close proximity to other dogs without growling, barking, lunging or becoming fearful
  • My dog is fit and healthy enough to travel to a workplace and engage physically with strangers (including absence of car-sickness)
  • My dog is fully vaccinated and treated for parasites (e.g., fleas, worms) by a licensed Veterinarian
  • My dog has NO untreated or unstable medical conditions
  • My dog is NOT afraid of strangers and does not bark, growl at, or avoid strangers, e.g., men in hats, toddlers running, people carrying equipment or making odd noises etc.
  • My dog does not ‘mouth’ (place mouth or teeth on people) even in play
  • My dog is NOT aggressive towards other animals such as small animals, cats, native animals (e.g., birds, possums), chooks, ponies or farm animals e.g., enjoys their company, is inquisitive, or is indifferent. They do not bark chase or hunt.
  • My dog does NOT have any obvious fears or phobias (e.g., thunderstorms, electrical equipment, vacuums, cleaning or chemical smells)
  • I do NOT have any concerns about the way my dog interacts, and I feel s/he would genuinely enjoy physical contact with strangers, including being picked up (if small) and cuddling
  • My dog does NOT engage in activities that promote aggression to people (e.g., guard or protection training) or to animals (e.g., hunting, herding or fighting)
  • My dog does NOT perform a life-saving alerting function for me or another person (e.g., medical alert dog, PTSD, Autism assistance dog) which would represent a potential conflict for the dog during client work
  • My dog has NEVER bitten or attempted to bite a person (excludes puppy mouthing)

Certification Assessment course information

 In Person

The assessment includes a half day of realistic scenarios in small groups (Friday morning OR afternoon) followed by community visits on Saturday morning (1).  Handlers are allocated to either the morning or afternoon Friday session based on their workplace and profession. This ensures scenarios will be most applicable and relevant to the team’s work.

Teams graduate as Visiting (Level 2) or Advanced (Level 4) depending on the handler’s prior training, and dog’s current level of competence. Teams who fail to pass the Level 2 Assessment may be granted Learner Certification if appropriate.

(1) Except January 2024. Thursday morning scenarios, Thursday afternoon community visits, no Saturday attendance.

Online Option

Teams are eligible to re-certify once every SECOND assessment remotely online (usually every second year). The alternate assessment must be completed in person. Online participants attend a modified assessment protocol (obedience and manners, not scenarios). Teams must supply additional video evidence, an enhanced veterinary handling exam, and a statutory declaration as to their dog’s ongoing competence. LAPSED dogs (those whose re-certification is overdue) NEW dogs (a Certified Handler’s second or subsequent dog), or competence UPGRADES can NOT be completed online. Any existing restrictions or conditions that can’t be assessed online will be maintained until the next in person assessment.

Advanced Multi-Dog Group

Advanced Certified handlers working with an Advanced Certified (off-lead) dog can apply for Multi-dog Group Certification by completing a Certification Assessment with both their Advanced dog and a second dog. Substantial discounts apply to the second dog. Please contact us for further information and enrolment at admin@leadthewayinstitute.com.au.

Terms and Conditions

Requirements for handlers and dogs

  • Handlers must be at least 18 years of age and are required to have a dog who has been living with them for a minimum of 3 months, or with whom they have had a strong and ongoing bond for a period of greater than 3 months (required for learner dog and visiting dog certification).
  • Dogs must be a minimum of 12 weeks old to begin the learner dog course.
  • Handlers must not work more than one dog per training course, except where they are Certifying as Advanced Multidog Handlers
  • Applicants from overseas (who do not have a dog with them) should speak with us in advance about alternative options.
  • Current WWCC, or equivalent teacher registration (or international equivalent) is required to attend community visits (Day Four-Learner dog, Certification/Recertification Days, Level Four day two).
  • Provisional Handler Certification can be obtained if a handler shows competence, even if their dog is not deemed suitable to work as a learner/visiting dog.
  • Visiting Dog and Handler Team Certification or above can only be granted to those participants who successfully complete the practicum course, and who’s dog successfully passes the assessments.
  • Handlers must have sufficient English language skills (written and oral) to complete the online theory, practical workshops, and communicate with trainers, fellow students, and clients. All training materials are supplied in English.
  • Handlers must have the capacity for intensive study and the physical capacity to handle and work dogs in indoor and outdoor environments. Handling and training of dogs can be physically demanding, and there may be some requirement to navigate outdoor terrain, such as stairs, footpaths, hills or uneven surfaces.
  • For online study, a computer or device with access to the internet and a camera is required.
  • Practitioners are Certified in accordance with their existing qualifications, for example Certified Practitioner in Animal-Assisted Therapy – Psychologist; Certified Practitioner in Animal Assisted Education – Secondary Teaching.

Additional/Secondary handlers

  • Secondary handlers must be pre-approved by the course co-ordinator.
  • A maximum of two Secondary Handlers may be certified per dog, in addition to the primary handler.
  • Primary handlers maintain oversight and responsibility for the dog.
  • All certification assessments are strictly one handler per dog (Level 1 day four, Level 2 day 2,  Certification Assessment and Re-certification). This ensures each individual handler is assessed for competence to work the dog.

Course pre-requisites

  • Each course day will have pre-requisite learning which must be completed prior to the practical day. The pre-requisite learning can be accessed through the Thinkific learning platform once you are enrolled in the relevant day.
  • All dogs must continue to meet the suitability criteria.

Assessments & competence

  • E-Courses and online (theoretical) content are assessed via online (open book) questionnaires. Participants are required to obtain 100% correct in order to pass the assessments. If participants need assistance with understanding the content to complete the quiz successfully, they must contact the course instructor for further support.
  • Dog handling and dog temperament are assessed face to face as part of a range of practical skills demonstrations. Detailed requirements about competence standards are provided to all course participants at the commencement of their course.
  • Dogs or handlers deemed not yet competent are required to re-sit the relevant course or assessment day (costs apply).
  • Assessment tasks may be photographed or videoed by the instructors and kept as evidence of competence.

Application process and payment terms

  • To apply, purchase the relevant course workshop day via the Thinkific Learning Platform.
  • Payment is required online at the time of purchase. Any arrangement for payment outside of these terms (e.g., Schools Mental Health Menu) must be discussed with and approved by the Course Coordinator.
  • You will then receive an email containing the online application form through our secure client system (PowerDiary).
  • Your application will be processed, and you will receive a confirmation email within 3 – 5 business days of the application being received by the Course Coordinator. If you have not received an email from us within 7 business days, please check your junk mail folder, then contact the Course Coordinator directly at tglasson@leadtheway.com.au or 0421 059 943.

Waiting List

  • If a course is indicated as ‘Waiting List Only’ your application will be placed on the waiting list. Occasionally places become available due to cancellations. Places are offered in order of application and you will be notified by email & SMS (mobile phone message) of an available place. Offers must be accepted or declined within 2 business days or the place will be offered to the next applicant on the list.

Attendance/completion requirements

  • The attendance/completion requirements for courses is 100%. The content taught is both sequential and cumulative, meaning that if you miss any content, you may not understand critical foundational concepts moving forward. You must attend all scheduled sessions. If you have exceptional circumstances, you must discuss this with our trainers, however please be aware that if you do miss important concepts, we may not be able to grant competence.

Cancellation and refund policy

  • All cancellations, refunds, and transfers are granted at the discretion and with the approval of the course co-ordinator.
  • Refunds will be granted prior to accessing course content, and provided a minimum of 30 days notice is given prior to the booked practical day. Once the course is purchased and online theory content accessed there is no opportunity for a refund (even if the practical day has not been attended).
  • If you need to reschedule your attendance to a booked practical day please notify the course co-ordinator at the earliest opportunity, to allow someone on the waitlist your place in the practical day.
    • Should you need to reschedule your booked practical day within 2 weeks (and more than 3 days) of the scheduled date there will be a $100 rescheduling fee applied.
    • If 3 days or less notice is given, 50% of the course price will be charged.
    • Failure to notify the course co-ordinator of non-attendance will result in a forfeit of the full course fee.
  • All courses must be completed within 12 months of purchase. Participants who wish to enrol or access course content (online or practical days) after this time must be granted specific approval by the course coordinator, and additional fees will apply.
  • Should a course be cancelled by Lead The Way, for any reason, all monies paid will be refunded in full, or transferred to a future course, by mutual agreement.
    • Courses are subject to minimum numbers, and cancellations outside of Lead The Way’s control may impact on the running of some courses. Participants will be given a minimum of 2 weeks notice if a course is subject to cancellation.

Intellectual Property & Copyright

  • All courses and all content delivered, including but not limited to; written documents and manuals, the course outline structure or content, activities, assessments or assessment protocols, policies, procedures guidelines or documents, learning goals or outcomes, videos pictures or graphics, remain the intellectual property of Lead The Way Pty Ltd and relevant Associates.
  • No part of any course may be replicated or delivered by you or your agents.
  • The intellectual property delivered throughout the course must be used for the sole purpose for which it was intended – that is to certify you, the handler, to work with your own dog.
  • You must not use any content for professional training programmes for profit or in any other manner without the express written permission of the owners.
  • All written materials provided to you are subject to copyright. You must not reproduce or distribute any materials or communications except for your own personal or professional use, without the express written permission of the owners. All citations of the work must be adequately referenced.

Health and Safety

  • Dogs and handlers must be well. Do not attend the training centre if unwell.
  • Health, safety or hygiene requirements may be in effect and must be adhered to (e.g., relevant covid restrictions).
  • Dogs must be up to date with vacccinations and parasite control.
  • Abusive behaviour is not tolerated. Any person acting in an aggressive or abusive manner will be asked to leave the training centre.
  • Aggression Policy for Dogs
    • Dog’s showing aggression at any assessment will be given a grade of either ‘not yet competent’ or ‘not suitable’ depending on the severity of the aggressive display.
    • Depending on the severity of the aggression (see below), participants may also be asked to discontinue the practicum day for the safety and welfare of the other participant teams.
    • Handler and dog teams will be unable to continue on the practicum day if the dog shows:
      • Three incidences of level 1 aggression
      • Two incidences of level 2-4 aggression
      • One incidence of level 5+ aggression


  1. Stare at person, animal, object. Inappropriate marking (urination) on person, animal or object
  2. Stiff or rigid body (inc. resisting cues or leash guidance), forward posture, pointing, raised hackles (hair), snatching/stealing a resource
  3. Lip lift (no sound)
  4. Vocalise (bark, growl)
  5. Lunge, charge, rush
  6. Snap, attempt to bite
  7. Bite
    • If given a grade of ‘not yet competent’ dogs may re-sit the full assessment at a later date, subject to trainer approval. However, it is expected that the handler and dog team have had additional training and support from a professional dog trainer to address the “cause” of the aggression and the dog is no longer displaying these behaviours prior to re-sitting the certification assessment.
  • Welfare Assessment for Dogs
    • If a trainer or assessor deems that a dog is stressed during a course or assessment, they will modify the task to maintain the dog’s welfare. This may result in a dog being graded as ‘not yet competent’ for that task.

Graduates Code of conduct

All graduates must adhere to the code of conduct. Graduates are required to sign a disclaimer attesting to the safe, ethical, and professional handling of their dog, agreeing:

  • To operate within their certification level and not to misrepresent their training or certification standards or operate outside of the Institute guidelines including:
    • Team statements of competence (including limitations and recommendations)
    • Practice guidelines (Handler, Infection Control & Allergy Management, Grooming), and the Veterinary Screening procedures, and all other relevant LTW guidelines, policies, procedures & recommendations
  • To maintain a high ethical standard, ensuring the safety and welfare of humans and animals during all interactions
  • To work exclusively within the Handler’s own professional training and expertise, and to operate within said professional and ethical guidelines
  • Not to misrepresent the Handlers level of training or expertise or to provide ‘therapy’ without appropriate qualifications & registration
  • Not to misrepresent any visiting therapy dog as an assistance or service dog
  • Not to claim a dog is Certified if it is not, nor allow any other dog to wear the Learner/Visiting /Therapy/School Dog Identification Coat
  • To maintain the standards of all dog’s training and behaviour as per the team assessments, and to seek assistance, guidance or support from LTW trainers (for rehabilitation and/or re-certification) or cease working with the dog if required
  • Not to allow another person to work the dog without supervision or guidance, or to claim to be the Certified Handler for the purposes of providing animal-assisted interactions
  • To acknowledge the copyright of all educational materials, appropriately attributing authorship via referencing
  • To acknowledge ‘fair use’ of the training by acknowledging the ownership of all intellectual property, by attributing ownership of ideas and concepts learned, and to refrain from using the intellectual property to run training for profit

Practicum Dates 2024

Each assessment runs over two days (1), Friday and Saturday morning (9am – 12.30pm). Attendance at both is required (except for online/remote assessments which are subject to additional requirements).

(1) Except January 2024, Thursday morning scenarios, Thursday afternoon community visits, no Saturday attendance.

F2F participants are allocated to the Friday morning (9am – 12.30pm) or afternoon (1.30pm-5pm) session and notified at least 30 days prior to the date. Practicums are run at our training centre in Ferntree Gully, east of Melbourne, Vic. 3156 with community visits in the local area.

*Marked practicum days are currently full. Any further applications will be placed on a waiting list in accordance with our terms and conditions.

Jan 25 F2F* (Thursday only, AM and PM) Feb 6 online CLOSED March 1-2 F2F May 17-18 F2F July 26-27 F2F Sept 20-21 F2F Oct 28 online/ remote assessment Nov 1-2 F2F

*IMPORTANT* Please see below important information for previous graduates (2023 or earlier). Past graduates must UPDATE their knowledge prior to attending RE-CERTIFICATION.

Access and Pricing

(Re)Certification Assessment 

Upon purchase you will be provided access to the course enrollment process. An enrollment form will be emailed allowing you to apply for your preferred practicum dates.

$410 AUD (inc. GST)

This price includes 12 months access to current course manuals, policies and procedures

Available for purchase on the day: 

  • Learner/Visiting/Therapy Dog Identification Coats or Bandanas
  • Training equipment (leads, collars, harnesses, halters)
  • Treat pouches & treats
  • Enrichment items

Important information for previous graduates

To keep you updated, we have developed the FREE CERTIFICATION UPDATE, comprising 4 hours of online theory, followed by a practicum day (9am-5pm). You will need to complete this prior to attending your re-certification assessment.

Lead The Way strives to remain at the forefront of science and education in Canine Assisted Interactions (CAI). As a result of this, our courses and standards are always being refined, enhanced and updated.

Our standards are updated in line with international best practice standards and guidelines including the IAHAIO (International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organizations), the ISAAT (International Society for Animal Assisted Therapy), ATL () and CCPDT (Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers)

Previous graduates (2023 or earlier)
  • To keep you aware of updated theory, every re-certification assessment now comes with 12 months of access to our latest course and training manuals.
  • To ensure dogs are given the best chance at success, all dogs must now begin Certification at Level 1 Learner Dog, spending at least 3 months socialising to their workplace prior to attending a Certification Assessment.
  • Some of the updates to our training include important information about welfare and safety, canine learning, and dog training methodology. To keep you up to date with current best practice, we feel it is essential to provide you with the most important new information via additional training that updates your Certification. Please read below for more information on how to keep your Certification current.
Dogs with existing Certification

This information is relevant for Handlers who are currently working with an LTW certified visiting therapy dog

  • It is expected that the dog is working well in obedience and manners, and is up to date with the training standards.
  • Prior to bringing their dog to a Re-Certification Assessment, all previously certified handlers will need to complete a Certification Update
Certification Update

This course contains a summary of the essential new science and practice being taught at LTW. We are keeping the number of hours required and costs to an absolute minimum. The Certification Update comprises both online theory, and practicum.

  • Online theory (approximately 4 hours) – Includes current theories of canine welfare and wellbeing and new tools to assess safety and welfare. We teach new science of canine cognition and learning theory, with updated training techniques that focus on creating a more positive learning environment for handlers, dogs and clients.
  • In person practicum (one day) – Practicum days are scheduled approximately 2 weeks prior to each Certification Assessment, giving teams time to practice the new handling and training techniques prior to assessment.
New Dogs (Previously Certified Handler)

This information is relevant for Handlers who have previously trained with LTW with a different dog, but who now have a new (second or subsequent) dog they’d like to train and certify with.

  • The vast majority of the changes to our training system have been implemented for young dogs/puppies, and those new to their learning journey. Dog’s early learning in based exclusively in positive precedents and socialisation/conditioning. This is quite different from the pattern learning training method previously taught to graduates, and used more extensively with our ‘trained’ dogs. For this reason, ALL NEW dogs, even those previously Certified Handlers, will need to certify using the new training course. This means beginning at Level 1 workshop day 1, progressing through Learner Dog and on to Certified Visiting Dog from there. There will be some overlap with the CAI theory taught on previous courses that may allow previous graduates to skip more quickly through these theory lectures and associated quizzes.
  • Once handlers have completed the updated curriculum, they will be eligible for RPL for subsequent dogs.
Practicum Dates 2024

Practicums run 9am to 5pm each allocated day

The relevant allocated online theory must be completed for each day prior to attending the practicum day.

Handlers are required to complete the update prior to attending Certification Assessment

F2F (face to face) practicums are run at our training centre in Ferntree Gully, east of Melbourne, Vic. 3156

*Marked practicum days are currently full. Any further applications will be placed on a waiting list in accordance with our terms and conditions.

Fri Jan 19 F2F* Mon Feb 12 F2F Mon 6 May F2F Wed 17 July F2F Fri 6 Sept F2F Fri Oct 18 F2F

Access and Pricing – Certification Update

Certification Update Theory and Practicum 

PURCHASE TOGETHER WITH THE RE-CERTIFICATION ASSESSMENT. Upon purchase you will be provided access to the course enrolment process. An enrollment form will be emailed allowing you to apply for your preferred practicum dates.


This course is free for those who have enrolled in and paid for a Re-Certification Assessment or another Certification course in 2024. (otherwise cost $410)

Benefits of Re-Certification

Re-certification is beneficial for those who wish to:

  • Upgrade competence (e.g. for eligibility to proceed to Advanced Certification)
  • Refresh skills and knowledge
  • Network with other graduates and providers
  • Re-Certify to provide reassurance to insurers or employers of ongoing competence