Warm Hearts Network

Warm Hearts Network

Is your dog friendly, gentle, well-mannered and extremely socially motivated? If so, you and your dog may work together to touch the lives of those in need by being a Warm Hearts team!

The Warm Hearts Network is a group of trained volunteers and their dogs who provide Animal Assisted Activities and volunteer visiting teams in our community. Our human-animal teams are screened, evaluated and then registered to visit healthcare facilities, schools, senior living and activity centers, hospice and other locations. Your dog must:

  • Be one year or older
  • Have been a part of your family for 6 months or more
  • Display exceptional behavior and social personality traits
  • Be extraordinarily tolerant & well behaved in new environments

Frequently, the Warm Hearts Network identifies adoptable shelter dogs as potential Warm Hearts team candidates. These dogs have been evaluated through an assessment testing and would be wonderful additions to the program as well as great family dogs. 

In addition to volunteer visiting teams, Warm Hearts also help prepare professional teams consisting of licensed professionals (in health care, education and human services) who use dogs in their professions.

For more information on the Warm Hearts Network, or to inquire about becoming a Warm Hearts Team, contact [email protected]. View our calendar of events below.

The Process

Volunteer Visiting Teams and Phase I for Professional Teams

  1. Screening (must be completed 30 days prior to scheduled classes) No Fee
  2. WHN Coaching Class (by referral, for teams that need additional tips) No Fee
  3. WHN Entry Level Handler Coursework (offered 2-3 times per year) $15 per one human-one dog team, or $25 for a couple with one dog.
  4. Veterinary Screening
  5. Team Testing- $15 per team (one dog/one human team); $25 (two humans one dog)
  6. Registration for Volunteer Visiting Teams: $30 for 2 years per team; couple $50.
    Registration for Professional Teams is $30 for the initial test.
  7. Renewal for Volunteer Visiting Teams is every two years ($15 test fee, $30 registration). 
    Renewal for Professional Teams is each year ($15 test, $20 registration per team per year).

Phase II for Professional Teams:
All of the above, followed by:

  1. Contact your state professional licensing board and obtain a copy of your professions standards and scope of practice/governing statutes, and continuing education requirements.https://www.rld.state.nm.us/boards/Boards_and_Commissions.aspx
  2. Participate in professional level continuing education/coursework for animal assisted therapy/animal assisted education www.dogwoodtherapyservices.com is one local organization that provides continuing education for licensed professionals.
Screening (No Fee)

Sharing your dog with others can be a fun experience. In order to be successful, you and your dog should both enjoy going new places and meeting new people. A good human-dog team has excellent verbal and non-verbal communication. WHN teams have basic obedience training and interact with each other and community members in a calm and friendly manner. WHN teams use humane training and handling techniques, and do not rely on physical force such as pushing the dog’s hips into a sit position, using choke chains, nor jerking the leash for compliance.

To qualify for a screening:

  • Dog is at least 1 year old
  • Dog has been part of your family for at least 6 months
  • Dog displays exceptional behavior and personality traits
  • Dog enjoys interactions with other people
  • Dog is not easily overwhelmed by novel noises, sights, touch, or smells
  • Dog can perform basic obedience skills including sit, come, down, stay, walk on a loose leash, walk by food on the ground without taking it, work in the presence of other dogs, and easily engage with a stranger
  • Dog does not require choke chain, muzzle, or physical corrections
  • Dog responds quickly and accurately to cues in novel environments and with distractions
  • Person is attentive to their dog and knows their preferences for populations
  • Person can engage dog using calm voice
  • Person can predict or respond to dogs needs

If your team CAN demonstrate the above skills in familiar and unfamiliar environments with distractions present, select a screening date, contact the screening consultant for that date to make reservations. There is no charge for the screening. If the team does not pass screening, they may be referred for ongoing training, and must be rescreened prior to testing (see schedule for the year).

If you or your dog are NOT quite ready to complete the screening, and you would like some classes (fee for service) we recommend the following:

Animal Humane offers a variety of classes to suit your needs.

For the Warm Hearts Network, we recommend Pup in the Park, Civilized Canine, Beyond the Back Yard, and Perfect Pub Pet. (Please note that this class teaches dogs to behave in public, but your pet only has access into establishments that allow pets, this is not a public access class for service dogs.) You may visit Animal Humane’s online training calendar register for a class.

Click with Your Dog – This is a 6 week basic training class in a group setting. Learn all the basics for Warm Hearts Network or general skills with your new family member. Location: Animal Humane New Mexico (615 Virginia St. SE). Contact Jennifer Allen directly to schedule [email protected].

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected]

About Our Courses

WHN Coaching Course  (No Fee)

This course is offered by referral only. It is meant for teams who participated in the screening process with our consultants, but could use training tips for specific test items.

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected].

WHN Entry Level Handlers Course – Cost: $15.00

Once you have passed screening, the WHN staff will email a form to both the registrant and to our WHN class instructor. It is your responsibility to contact the class instructor to register for the class at [email protected].

This is an entry-level course for humans; dogs do not attend this class. However, please bring a photo of your pet to share with the class. Also, bring a sack lunch. The class is typically a full day depending upon the number of participants. Attendees will be oriented to Animal Humane New Mexico programs and then to the Warm Hearts Network Program Specifics including visits, dog handling responsibilities and skills, patient/client interactions, policies and procedures, and the actual evaluation and re-evaluation process.

This class is only offered 2-3 times per year. Your screening must be completed 30 days prior to the class, and the WHN class is a prerequisite for the team evaluation.

The WHN class costs $15.00 per human. Checks are made out to Warm Hearts Network, and brought to the class. Location: Animal Humane New Mexico (615 Virginia St. SE).

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected]


WHN Evaluation
Fee: Visiting Team $10.00
Professional Teams $15.00

The team will be guided through a series of activities in which they demonstrate practical application of skills and knowledge that are frequently encountered in a volunteer visiting environment. All activities must receive a passing score for the team to become a REGISTERED member of the WHN. All new teams receive clearance to visit in a predictable, low activity environment.

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected].

  • Registration for Volunteer Visiting Teams: $30 for 2 years per team; couple $50
  • Registration for Professional Teams is $30 for the initial test.
  • Renewal for Volunteer Visiting Teams is every 2 years ($15 test fee, $30 registration).
  • Renewal for Professional Teams is each year ($15 test, $20 registration per team per year)

Upon successful passing evaluation scores, a team registers as a member of WHN. The team is asked to ensure their team is identified as a member by wearing identification:

  • Photo ID (required)
  • Bandana or Vest (required)
  • T-Shirts for Humans (optional)

The team will then complete mentorship sessions and then select an approved location for regular visiting or professional work. The visiting teams must re-test each year or if there is a change in visiting environment, population, or health of the dog. Professional teams re-test each year and if there is a change in the environment, population, or health of the dog.

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected].


After a team has successfully completed testing, they will be assigned a mentor to shadow. The human partner will shadow a seasoned team for a visit to see the process, the policies and procedures in action. If need be, the human can request numerous visits with a mentor and may ask to bring their dog to shadowing (after the first visit).

For any additional questions, please contact [email protected].

Warm Hearts Network Calendar

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