Selection of Dogs

Selection of Dogs


Product Description

Course Description

Selecting a dog as a family companion as well as for therapy work is a complex process, and perhaps more complicated than many realize. Your decision will affect your family for years. If there are plans for the dog to be involved in therapy work, and especially psychotherapy or play therapy, then it is important that the dog is suitable for those purposes as well. Not all dogs are appropriate for all families or all types of work. Most people want a friendly, calm, stable dog who will fit in well with their lifestyle. Therapists need dogs who will be able to perform and enjoy the work that is asked of them.

This self-paced online course has been developed to provide practical and up-to-date information that will help you acquire a dog who is more likely to fit well with your family and work, helping you make a more informed choice. It is designed to help you determine the attributes that you want or need in the dog, and to help you look more fully for those characteristics in the puppies or dogs being considered. Information is provided about acquiring puppies from responsible breeders as well as how to adopt dogs from rescues or shelters.  The following sections are included:

  • Introduction
  • Lifestyle Considerations
  • Dog Breeds
  • Puppy Mills, Backyard Breeders, & Reputable Breeders
  • Rescue Dogs
  • When Should I Acquire a Dog?
  • Individual Characteristics of Dogs
  • Observations & “Tests” – How to Evaluate the Dog
    1. Observations
    2. Available Assessment Tools
    3. Creating Your Own “Tests”
    4. Selection for Animal Assisted Play Therapy & Other Therapy Work  
  • Selection Help from Canine Professionals
  • Socialization & Training Considerations
  • Keeping in Touch: Well-being & Changes
  • Other Resources

This course consists of a PowerPoint presentation in PDF format. It has detailed information, photographs to illustrate, and links to articles, videos, and other resources that might be useful in selecting a new puppy or dog. This course is not designed as a continuing education offering, but the other courses listed below do offer continuing education for mental health and canine professionals.

This online course is offered as a stand-alone program. Registration fee includes all course materials.


Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC

Licensed Psychologist; Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor; Certified Dog Behavior Consultant

Further Course Information

This course consists of a self-paced PowerPoint presentation supplemented by videos and documents. It is not a continuing education course when taken alone. Our other programs do provide continuing education, however.

After you register for this course, you will be sent a password to enter the course. This password is changed each quarter (~January 1, April 1, July 1, October 1). Should you need to renew access to the course beyond the quarter in which you first register, simply contact Dr. Rise VanFleet to obtain the new password. One renewal is permitted per registration without additional charge.

You are permitted to make one personal copy of the course materials. This is for your own personal use only. Any further copies or use of any of the course materials must be approved in advance and in writing in accordance with U.S. and international copyright laws. The password may not be shared with anyone outside your immediate family.

If you have any questions about this course, please contact Dr. Risë VanFleet at

Delivery will be made as quickly as possible, but please allow 1-2 weeks, depending on Dr. VanFleet's travel schedule.