There is a $50 evaluation fee per pet that is payable by email transfer in order to reserve your time slot. This fee is subject to change without notice. CAAWLS must be notified of cancellations and rescheduling within 48 hours of your appointment in order to reschedule your appointment or to issue a full refund.  




CAAWLS typically holds an evaluation and orientation day once per month and it always takes place on a Sunday from 9am - 3pm. The evaluation and orientation takes place at Dogspaw, 12215 William Short Rd NW, Edmonton. For more information on Dogspaw please visit

The first part of the evaluation happens between 9am and 12pm. Individual evaluations are scheduled to last approximately 20 to 30 minutes. Evaluations occasionally take a bit longer than that for various reasons, and we appreciate your patience if we are running a bit behind. Once you complete that part of your evaluation, you and your animal must return later the same day for the second part of the evaluation, which takes place in a group format. You and your animal will then be observed and evaluated during a 60 to 90 minute volunteer orientation beginning at 1pm.

Time slots are generally filled on a first-come first-served basis. The spots fill up quickly, so please be aware that there may be a wait for a time slot. We do have a cancellation list that you can sign up for while you wait.  



CAAWLS does not have a minimum age for animals to volunteer but dogs must have a firm grasp of basic obedience and both dogs and cats must be able to greet humans and other animals in a controlled manner. Your dog cannot be on a raw diet due to health reasons. We prefer that animals be spayed or neutered. They must be in good health.   

Any animal that demonstrates any of the following behaviours will be considered unsuitable for animal assisted activities and will be asked to leave the evaluation:

  • hissing, scratching, growling, barking, snapping, biting, or lunging at a person
  • showing teeth or touching anyone with teeth
  • jumping up or putting paws on people without invitation 
  • eliminating, submissive or excitement urination, or marking during the evaluation



A flat buckle collar is the only collar permitted during evaluation. Your animal may wear its martingale, harness, chest harness, or any other type of humane handling collar to the evaluation, but MUST be evaluated wearing a flat collar. Retractable leashes are not permitted during testing or at CAAWLS placements. CAAWLS trainers will not evaluate any dog who wears a head halter, choke or slip collar, or a prong collar.



At any time during either individual or group evaluation, you may be notified if your animal is deemed unsuitable for animal assisted activities. At the end of the volunteer orientation, you will be notified of the outcome of the evaluation. 

Animal/handler teams who successfully pass then get their photo taken for an identification badge. They are then considered probationary volunteers for a three month time period. During your probationary period, probationary volunteers are expected to attend events with a lead volunteer who provides mentorship and feedback about their performance.    




Two trainers will be evaluating your animal at the same time during each part of the evaluation. The following is expected of your animal during our standard obedience test: 

  • Accepting a friendly stranger – dog or cat allows a stranger to approach and speak to the handler
  • Accepting petting – evaluator pets the dog or cat
  • Accept examination – evaluator will look in eyes, ears, at the teeth and pick up each front foot
  • Out for a walk – dogs perform a short heeling pattern, cats walk as they would on a visit (cats must be on a leash during the test)
  • A dog sits demonstrates that it can sit and lay down on command
  • A dog sits (15 sec) and lays down (30 sec) and stays in place
  • A dog comes when it is called from a distance
  • Praise and interaction – handler plays with the dog, then settles the dog
  • Reaction to distraction – the animal is confident when faced with noise and visual distractions
  • Ability to quickly settle and become calm
  • Relationship – the evaluator looks for a strong bond between the animal and handler




The temperament test is a series of tests exposing your pet to situations they may come across during a wellness session to see how your animal reacts. Your animal is exposed to the following during the temperament test: 

  • Handling by a stranger (both adults and children)
  • Exuberant or clumsy petting (includes tail and ears)
  • Exposure to fast movement (scooter, running child)
  • Restraining hug
  • Staggering/gesturing individual
  • Yelling/screaming
  • Mild pain (pinch)
  • Direct stare
  • Exposure to loud, unexpected noises
  • Blow in the face
  • Unexpected approach
  • Bump from behind
  • Crowding and petting by several people at once
  • Sitting with a stranger
  • Taking a treat (gently)
  • Engagement in free, excited play



  1. Complete temperament and obedience testing.

  2. Attend volunteer orientation, during which time your dog is also being evaluated within the multiple group dynamic.

  3. If you pass those, are declared a probationary volunteer for 3 months during which time you will attend events and your dog will be monitored by lead volunteers.

  4. Before beginning to volunteer, you must complete a vet health check .

  5. Before beginning to volunteer, you must submit a recent criminal record check(with vulnerable sector) done within the previous 6 months.

  6. Before beginning to volunteer, you must submit a child intervention record check done within previous 6 months.

  7. Once all documents are received, you get a CAAWLS bandanat-shirt, and photo ID (picture is taken on day of orientation; you must wear photo ID and have animal’s bandana on at all times when volunteering; it is also recommended that you wear your CAAWLS shirt when volunteering).

  8. Start volunteering and get mentored and monitored for 3 months.

  9. If you experience no issues, you progress to being a full CAAWLS volunteer.

  10. If your dog experiences issues while being monitored, CAAWLS staff and trainers will be in touch to help you problem-solve any issues.

  11. Reap the rewards and benefits of being an amazing person with an amazing wellness animal.


To schedule an appointment for an evaluation, and begin the therapy/wellness animal certification process, please contact us through our contact form