What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)
Animal-assisted therapy is a goal oriented, planned, structured and documented therapeutic intervention directed by health and human service providers as part of their profession. A wide variety of disciplines may incorporate AAT. Possible practitioners could include physicians, occupational therapists, physical therapists, certified therapeutic recreation specialists, nurses, social workers, speech therapists, or mental health professionals.


What are Animal Assisted Activities?


Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA)
Animal-assisted activities provide opportunities for motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits to enhance quality of life. While more informal in nature, these activities are delivered by a specially trained professional, paraprofessional and/or volunteer, in partnership with an animal that meets specific criteria for suitability.

Is your animal a therapy animal? 


Is your animal curious, confident, doesn't shy away from strangers?


Is your animal well-behaved in new situations, around unusual equipment, and when meeting strangers of different ages, races and genders?


Does it welcome, not just tolerates, interactions with new people? 


Is it comfortable around crowds, activity, and noise?


Is able to be greeted, petted (sometimes clumsily), and hugged without jumping, cowering, barking or biting?


Would tolerate being bathed, brushed, and having its nails clipped in preparation for visits?


Consistently follows cues for sit, down, and stay (or species appropriate obedience skills for animals other than dogs) even when there are distractions?


Is able to avoid sniffing or picking up interesting items when asked to "leave it?"


Are there age, size or breed restrictions for therapy dogs/animals?


All animals must be at least 1 year old and be able to do the work required as attested to in a comprehensive health screen by a licensed veterinarian and by a licensed evaluator in the required skills & aptitude test but there are no other age, size or breed restrictions imposed by Pet Partners. Dogs of nearly all sizes and breeds can and have been wonderful Pet Partners assuming, of course, that all other requirements are met!

How to become a Pet Partners Animal Assisted Therapy Team




Step 2: Pet Partners Team Evaluation


You must attend a Pet Partners Training course or an online class before team evaluations. These evaluations show you and your pet's skill and aptitude to work as a Pet Partners team. An appropriate team demonstrates reliability, controllability, and predictability, works well together and inspires confidence in the people with whom they visit. Unlike agility and conformation, this is not about walking in front of a judge or winning the most points. It is about teamwork and how well you work together in difficult environments. It requires continuous interaction between the animal and handler, as well as with the people you are visiting. How you handle your dog and interact with your dog and the evaluators is the basis of the evaluation.​

Step 1: Pet Partners Team Training


The course is taught by a Pet Partners Licensed Instructor and provides highly interactive hands-on training to teach you the skills required to do AAA/T, how to work with special needs populations, basic skills needed to work in different facilities, monitoring your animal's behavior, preparation for the Pet Partners Team evaluation, and the Pet Partners policies and procedures. You will learn training tips for the evaluation as well as to prepare you for the rewarding work in the Pet Partners Animal Therapy program.

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