Becoming Certified


There is a $75 evaluation fee per pet that is required (payable by email transfer) in order to reserve a time slot. This fee helps us cover the cost of our trainers and rental of the facility, and is non-refundable. A minimum of 7 days of notice is required for us to attempt to fill your time slot in the event that you are unavailable. If we are able to fill you time slot, we will transfer your fee towards the next certification date.



CAAWLS typically holds an evaluation one Sunday per month from 9am - 4:30pm. The evaluation takes place at Dogspaw, 12215 William Short Rd NW, Edmonton. For information on Dogspaw please visit

The first part of the evaluation is an individual evaluation which happens between 9am and 2:30pm. Individual evaluations are scheduled to last approximately 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. Upon completion of your individual evaluation, you and your animal are required to return at 3:30pm the same day for a group evaluation with other prospective teams.

Time slots are generally filled on a first-come first-served basis. Evaluation dates fill quickly, so please be aware there may be a wait for a time slot. We recommend that you sign up for our cancellation wait list.

The day following the evaluation, you will be contacted and given some feedback, as well as notified if you have passed the evaluation. If you and your animal have passed, you will be required to attend an orientation session in which you are given more information on the requirements before you volunteer, and what your volunteer experience will be like.



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 animal cannot be on a raw diet due to health and safety 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. 

The following equipment is NOT permitted at any time during evaluation or volunteering:

  • Retractable leashes
  • Head halters
  • Choke, slip, or prong collars



At any time during either individual or group evaluation, you may be notified if your animal is deemed unsuitable for animal assisted activities.

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 other experienced volunteers who are able to help and answer any questions. 


Obedience Test:

Two trainers will be observing and evaluating your animal 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 demonstrates that it can sit and lay down on command
  • A dog sits and lays down and stays in place
  • A dog comes when it is called from a distance
  • 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


Temperament Test:

The temperament test is comprised of scenarios you and your pet may experience during a wellness session so that the trainers can observe how your animal will react. The test includes the following:

  • 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)