Training Dog

Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) General FAQ’s

What is Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)?
Animal-Assisted Therapy, at its most basic, means including animals in therapeutic work with humans. There are many ways that animals can be included when working with humans, such as in counselling, teaching/education, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, disaster relief, as humorous relief, as comfort and to assist in learning life skills, social skills or other key behaviours, to name a few. When a professional incorporates an animal into their therapeutic practice, they find ways of allowing the animal to extend and facilitate their goals, based on their training and theoretical orientation. A counsellor, for example may incorporate the use of a dog to explore and draw out issues of anger or attachment. Physical therapists may use handling of a small animal or grooming a horse in a motor-skills programme, or dog walking in a fitness or strength-training programme. In Animal-Assisted Therapy, the therapist will identify the therapeutic or clinical goals, and use the animal to help them achieve these goals – the Delta Society (USA) defines AAT as goal directed interactions with clearly defined and measurable outcomes. This distinguishes AAT from the less structured Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA). In both cases therapy animals interact with people to produce positive outcomes, however in Animal-Assisted Activities the role of the animal is less defined and so is the outcome. Whilst AAT will have prescribed therapeutic outcomes, AAA may simply aim to achieve a positive environment or help an individual to feel good. This means that Animal-Assisted Activities or AAA do not necessarily need to be overseen by a professional. Visiting a nursing home as a volunteer for example, may be defined as Animal-Assisted Activities or AAA’s, whereas running a social skills programme for at-risk youth may be considered Animal-Assisted Therapy or AAT. There is also an increasing body of evidence in the use of animals in educational settings. Animal-Assisted Education or AAE is the term used to describe the use of animals to achieve educational goals. Collectively, these animal-assisted modalities are known as Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI).
What is the difference between therapy animals and assistance animals?
Therapy animals need to be distinguished from assistance animals. Assistance animals are registered to provide a particular service to an individual with an illness or disability. The most well known example would be seeing-eye or guide dogs for the blind. There is however, an increasing role for assistance animals, especially dogs. Dogs are now trained to perform a range of physical tasks for people, such as picking up objects, opening doors and alerting to sounds. Dogs have even been trained to detect early signs of seizures or blood sugar changes and are able to alert their owners. Some of these dogs may actually be called therapy dogs (for example under the Pets As Therapy or PAT programme). Assistance dogs can be registered in most Australian states under Guide-Dog or Anti-Discrimination legislation. Because of their important functional and often life-saving roles, assistance animals may be granted ‘public access’, legally allowing them access into public buildings, transport and even restaurants and hospitals, indeed anywhere their humans go. This legal right does not extend to pets or other animals used in AAI programmes. Whilst therapy dogs/pets are able to receive training, registration or certification for insurance or legal purposes, they do not perform life-saving functions and are hence not allowed ‘public access’. Such registration is used to ensure a basic standard of training and reliability for animals and their handlers. For example, a dog certified as a Victorian Canine Association Therapy Dog is assessed as suitable to work with children and elderly individuals, he is not registered as a therapeutic assistance dog that performs a life-saving or health-saving function for his owner. For this reason, he does not have the right to ‘public access’.
What are the types of animals and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) programmes?
Many different animals are used for therapy, from farm animals and horses to domesticated animals such as cats and dogs or small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs. The different programmes offer different benefits and difficulties. Farm-based programmes are ideally suited to nature-based interventions which explore the notion of life-cycles, care-giving and animal husbandry. These types of programmes are bound to a geographic location, however, and require specialised staffing to manage, e.g. farm hands. As a result they are best suited to residential type programmes. Equine Assisted Therapy (using horses) is a growing specialist field within AAT. Horses are used extensively for ‘riding for the disabled’ and are increasingly being used to assist with confidence building. Like farm-based programmes, transport is comparatively difficult and as a result clients usually go to the animals. Small-animal and baby-animal programmes have increasingly been used with young people experiencing behaviour problems, or with histories of abuse. Learning to handle small animals requires a calm and gentle hand and a great deal of nurturance. These programmes may rely on clients visiting the animals, or if the animals have been domesticated, it is possible for the animals to go to the clients. Drawbacks include the vulnerability of small animals and potential need to provide increased supervision or support to clients who may intentionally or unintentionally harm them. Domesticated animals are likely to be the most transportable of all types of animals used in AAT programmes. This enables them to visit clients in a myriad of situations, for example hospitals, schools and other settings. Whilst other types of programmes may provide many animals to handle, visiting domesticated animals often work in isolation. This potentially exposes them to burn out from over-work. In addition, if working with a group of clients they must be able to ‘share’ the one animal. This may however, offer a learning opportunity for clients in itself. Other: Viewing of animals may also be incorporated into certain settings, such as fish-tanks or aviaries. There has also been some work done examining interaction with dolphins (hippotherapy).
What is the history related to the benefits of AAT?
Historically, the benefits of human-animal interactions were thought to be largely ‘feel-good’ in nature. As early as the 1700’s and 1800’s animals were incorporated into the therapeutic milieu of ‘mental hospitals’ in Europe and England. It was thought that caring for animals would give the patients both a useful function and a chance to learn care-giving and self control – animals were seen to have a calming influence. The 1900’s saw a resurgence of interest in human-animal interactions when an Air Force Convalescent Hospital in the USA saw benefits in farm animals and nature. Here began the study of what has been variously known as pet-therapy, animal-facilitated therapy, animal-facilitated psychotherapy, and pet-facilitated psychotherapy among others – what we now call Animal-Assisted Therapy or AAT. Most of the research of the 1960’s and 1970’s was based on anecdotal cases and relied heavily on simple observations and case studies. In the 1960’s, pioneering psychiatrist Boris Levinson actively incorporated his pet dog in therapy sessions with “disturbed children”. He was perhaps the first person to attempt formal investigation into what he referred to as pet-therapy. He found that animals could be catalytic agents in therapy and could aid in the orientation and connection to reality, particularly for those suffering schizophrenia or autism. Levinson also stated that pet animals in homes could restore healthy communication in the families of disturbed children. He contends that companion (and residential) animals teach responsible, independent behaviours and non-gendered care-giving.
What are the Physical and Physiological benefits of AAT?
By the 1990’s, the notion that animals make many of us feel good was being supported by physiological data. Studies examining heart rate and stress chemicals for example, showed that even relatively brief interactions with a pet (usually dogs) produced measurable beneficial effects. Longer-term interactions, such as pet ownership or companionship have been found to result in positive cardiac outcomes, such as living longer and recovering faster after a heart attack than non-owners. Elderly animal owners were also found to make fewer visits to their doctors, even during times of stress. Interactions with visiting-animals has also been shown to have an impact, as has the mere presence of animals in certain situations. The presence of a friendly dog may assist coping with stressful situations, for example helping adults or children to feel more at ease during doctors’ visits or medical procedures. People have also been found to perform better on mental challenges such as maths problems when a friendly dog is present. Even watching animals may produce beneficial effects, for example a drop in blood pressure (BP) and heart rate when observing birds (aviary) or fish (tropical fish tank). The presence of adult dogs or puppies in nursing homes has had positive impacts on residents suffering Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Studies indicate less overall noise and aggression, decreased heart rates and increases in meaningful verbalisations and social interactions from residents. Some researchers feel these positive physiological impacts can be explained by the fact that animals can fulfil humans’ innate need for attention, affection and affiliation with others. It has been suggested that human-animal interaction results in a positive feedback loop that affects humans’ autonomic and sympathetic nervous systems, thereby reducing stress and anxiety chemicals. Researchers contend that between 5 and 25 minutes of positive interaction with a friendly dog can have positive impacts on BP, plasma triglycerides, skin conductance and various stress chemicals. They even contend that similar benefits may be produced in the dogs. It is likely however, that many of these results rely on a goodness-of-fit between the human and the animal. That is, if pet ownership produces undue stress or responsibilities beyond the capacity of the individual, any positive effects are likely to be ameliorated. Similarly one is unlikely to feel relaxed or at ease when patting an animal they are afraid of, or averse to – for example no measurable drop in blood pressure is found when subjects look at pictures of wild animals, versus positive responses when looking at ‘cute’ animals. The perception of ‘safety’ has also been found to impact positively on BP and stress physiology. The personal history and culture of the individual is also likely to influence this effect. Animals considered dirty, evil, or fierce are unwise matches. To some degree then, benefits are likely to mediated by the degree of attachment between owner and animal. There may also be some impacts associated with physical exertion, although the data to date is inconclusive. Whilst calm interaction has been found to moderate stress, results of active physical interaction are inconclusive.
What are the psychological and emotional benefits of AAT?
Data is also emerging to support the mental health, cognitive, social and emotional benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy. Research supports AAT as a useful method of stress and anxiety reduction, increased social interactions & motivation, improved mood, reduced aggression and continues to lend support to earlier notions of enhancing rapport and engagement. Studies conducted in adult psychiatric hospitals show a range of benefits to patients. AAT programmes have been found to increase pro-social behaviours and functioning for up to 12 months post the intervention. Other benefits found have been reductions in anxiety, depression and anhedonia and increased functioning and self-esteem. AAT programmes also attract the highest attendance rates and have above-average retention rates. Studies examining patient’s stress prior to medical procedures found that 15 minutes of simple interaction with a dog produces a positive “feel good” response and by 30 minutes shows a reduction in ‘state anxiety’. Studies conducted across a variety of settings support the above findings for adults and children. Dog training AAT programmes run in adult prisons have shown great improvements in self-efficacy via achievement, having a social role or function and thereby improving self-worth and self-esteem. With younger prison populations similar programmes have shown social skill development and cognitive development via learning tasks and impulse control. Research indicates that dog training and animal care programmes (e.g. farm based programmes) facilitate behavioural control for disinhibited or impulsive young people and result in a drop in oppositional and aggressive behaviours. They help develop emotional regulation, self-awareness and skill development further resulting in improved social skills (pro-social behaviours and verbalisations) and empathy (especially in humane education). Farm-based programmes may have additional benefits in that they can explore life-cycle issues including parenting, grief and loss and social/pack behaviours. There is less research focusing on one-to-one counselling based interventions. Anecdotal and case study reports do indicate many benefits such as those listed above. One research project comparing psychotherapy to AAT based counselling with adolescents actually contends that AAT is better than psychotherapy alone in the treatment of depression. Animal-Assisted Therapy programmes can be tailored and applied to various populations and needs. There is a wealth of ideas and research available to those who wish to explore the field.

Thinking of a career in Animal-Assisted Therapy

How do I get started?
There are many ways to get involved in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT). The most important point to remember is that the animal will assist you to do the work; the animal himself does not do all of the work. Therefore, ask yourself, “What do I have to offer?”
Are there requirements for the handler?
Yes, Our courses focus equally on the skills of the dog AND the handler, including both theory and practice of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI). This makes our training courses ideal for human-services professionals and others who wish to undertake AAI to a professional standard. Whilst there are no educational pre-requisites to attend the course, it is preferred that participants have a basic understanding of professional practice issues such as privacy legislation, professional conduct and appropriate client interactions. Participants must be a minimum of 18 years, and will be required to attend a number of lectures and practical classes. All participants should therefore have adequate written and spoken English, the ability to maintain intensive learning over 6 consecutive days, and the physical capacity to handle and train dogs during this period.
Are there requirements for the dog?
Yes, An Animal-Assisted Therapy Dog must be sociable, and love people. They need to be at least 5 months of age and healthy enough to cope with the intensive 6 day course. The dog must be your own dog and reside with you, as the bond you develop over the course and in the months following, will be the foundation for your working life together – you will be certified as a team. Dogs should be keen to approach strangers, and must not have any fear or aggression with people, dogs or other animals. Don’t be concerned if your dog seems overly excitable or exuberant, or a little reserved – no prior obedience is required and we will teach the ‘good manners’ and behaviours required to pass the assessment. The vast majority of happy family pets will pass this course, however some dogs may have a history of trauma or concerning behaviours which may make them unsuitable for therapy work. Therefore, if your dog has any particular fears, issues, or concerning behaviour (such as aggression) you will need to speak with us about behavioural rehabilitation PRIOR to enrolling in the course.
Do you Recognise Prior Learning (RPL)
In some cases, Handlers and dogs who have extensive experience in the Canine Leadership System (as taught by Alpha and its affiliates) including Canine Cognitive Tonal Conditioning and Canine Good Behaviour Shaping may be eligible for RPL for some components of the course. RPL will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and will not result in a reduction of course fees. Handlers or dogs with experience in other forms of dog-training/obedience or past experience with Therapy-Dog visiting alone are not eligible for RPL.
Is a Therapy Dog the same as an Assistance/Service Dog?
No, Please note that we do NOT currently train or certify Service or Assistance Dogs. An Assistance Dog is specifically trained to assist one person with a “disability”, such as low vision, epilepsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Assistance Dogs must perform a number of trained and identifiable behaviours that assist their handler to “participate more fully” in life, or “mitigate the disability”. Assistance Dogs are the only dogs currently granted the right to Public Access (the right to enter shops, schools, hospitals, restaurants etc).
Does Lead the Way train service/assistance dogs?
Please note that Lead the Way does NOT currently train or certify Service or Assistance Dogs. If you need a dog to assist you with a disability, please try an internet search for ‘Service Dog’ or ‘Psychiatric Service Dog’ Service Dog Training – www.servicedogtraining.com.au Mind Dog – www.minddog.org.au AWARE Dogs – www.awaredogs.org.au Righteous Pups – www.righteouspups.org.au
How do I get involved as a visiting volunteer?
Many people begin their work with Therapy Dogs as visiting volunteers. Volunteers will often visit nursing homes and sometimes hospitals or schools. They involve their dogs in simple visiting activities which have a feel good, social focus. Most visiting volunteer teams have limited or no formal training and many will visit under the umbrella of large volunteer organisations such as Dogs Victoria or Delta Society. The dogs undergo a simple assessment, and the volunteer organisation co-ordinates visits and manages insurance. Some volunteer organisations require their teams to fund-raise to help cover costs.
Does Lead the Way co-ordinate volunteer visiting?
Please note that Lead the Way offers training in Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI) and Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) and assessment of Therapy-Dogs, however we do not co-ordinate volunteer visiting services. Dogs Victoria Therapy Dogs – www.dogsvictoria.org.au Lort Smith Animal Hospital Pets As Therapy – www.lortsmith.com Animal Companions – www.aciwa.org.au Story Dogs – www.storydogs.org.au Delta Society Therapy Dogs – www.deltasociety.com.au
How do I develop a professional service?
Some Therapy Dog and handler teams will take their visiting to the next level, offering a professional service. These teams will have undergone specific training in AAT, and have knowledge and skills in conducting Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI’s). To be considered ‘Therapy’, an intervention must be ‘goal focused’ i.e. the intervention must be designed to achieve a specific treatment goal or outcome. Therapy Dog handler’s who work in this way often team up with doctors, nurses, teachers, rehabilitation specialists etc to develop interventions that meet these goals. The Therapy Dog and handler team will use their skills and knowledge to assist the professionals to achieve the outcomes they’re looking for. They will have a good idea of their dog’s strengths and weaknesses, and will be skilled in developing interventions for the people with whom they work. The teams may assist the professionals directly (in the same room at the same time) or separately (working just with the client and reporting back to the professional later). These teams are usually self funded and will charge for their services. This assists them to cover costs such as insurance and ongoing training.
How do I become an Animal-Assisted Therapist?
The Animal-Assisted Therapist is a person who works directly with a therapy animal or animals. For these people, treating, teaching or otherwise improving the lives of humans (with the help of animals) is their day job. Animal-Assisted Therapists have many different backgrounds. Most commonly they are health professionals or education professionals. For example a rehabilitation professional may use a Therapy Dog to help motivate their patients to get moving after a trauma or accident. A school teacher may bring a Therapy Dog into the classroom to assist students to focus, to give them a reward, or engage them in activities. A counsellor or psychologist may have a Therapy Dog in the counselling room, helping clients to feel more comfortable, open up, and learn new life-skills. To be considered an Animal-Assisted Therapist, a professional should have considerable knowledge about the animal(s) they work with and about AAT theory and interventions. Training will include species specific knowledge – such as understanding the way dogs learn, show stress, interact and communicate. Training will also focus on the theory behind AAT, why it works, how it works, when to use it, and when not to use it.
Which AAT training courses do you offer?
Lead the Way offers a one-week intensive training course for handlers and their dogs who wish to begin working in the field of AAT. The course covers canine behaviour and learning, and AAT theory and practice. The course is a mix of theoretical and practical training. This is a great place to begin your training and understanding of the field of AAT, and forms a foundation for ongoing learning. It is suitable for those wanting to conduct volunteer visits and those wanting to work as Animal-Assisted Therapists. For self motivated professionals wanting more advanced, postgraduate training, Australian universities are increasingly supporting independent research in the field of Human Animal Interactions (HAI’s). Masters and PHD level theses can explore particular elements of AAT. Lead the Way can also offer consultation and supervision to individuals or organisations wanting to improve their skills and knowledge in the field. As yet, there are no formal TAFE or University accredited courses in AAT anywhere in Australia. In countries such as Europe and the USA professionals can study AAT at University, at an entry level or at a post-graduate level. There are also some very simple, introductory type online courses available to those who are interested. They do not offer any practical skills, but can provide some background information about Animal-Assisted Interventions.
What are the employment opportunities?
Employment opportunities for those working in Animal-Assisted Therapy will vary. For some teams, they will only ever offer visiting services as volunteers, or for a low (cost recovery) fee. For those wanting to work independently in business, e.g. as a professional visiting service, or as an Animal-Assisted Therapist, employment and earning potential will rely heavily on your ability to market and promote your services, and deliver quality interventions. Another alternative is to incorporate your Therapy Dog into your existing workplace. If you already work with people, in any kind of supportive or helping role, then you may be able to successfully include your animal into this existing work. It is always important to remember that the animal will facilitate or assist the interventions that you provide. Lead the Way offers a range of supervision and consultation services to assist individuals to get started in AAT.
What work is available to Certified Therapy-Dog & Handler teams?
After graduating from our course, teams go on to work in a variety of settings, including volunteer visiting and professional services. The options are only limited by your imagination. Here are some examples of what our graduates are up to; Create your own independent career path, ie: Reading-Dog or Literacy Support dogs in schools Visiting Dog – for example organise your own visits to hospitals, or nursing homes Ambassador Dogs (for example with Animal-Aid) Volunteer Join a volunteer visiting service (e.g. Lort Smith Animal Hospital Therapy Dog program, or Dogs Victoria Therapy Dogs program) who can co-ordinate visits for you (provided you pass their volunteering and dog screening assessments). Combine your new Therapy-Dog handling skills with your existing professional education, ie: Classroom Dog (with a teacher or aid) Emotional Support Dog (e.g. accompanying kids to court or into therapy sessions) Animal-Assisted Therapy Dog accompanying a professional Therapist as part of their daily work Develop your own Therapy Dog business – for example in education, counselling, rehabilitation or disability services What support is available after graduating? All graduates are able to join our peer support networks. This is where you can network, get to know, and learn from other graduates. We also have specialised networks for those in the Education and Psychotherapy fields. There is one-on-one supervision available for specific support, and dog training related questions can be answered by contacting the Alpha Help Line. What ever support you need, we should be able to help you out! Graduate teams with current certification are also eligible to be listed on our Directory of graduates page. This is a great way to expand your networking and increase your advertising reach!
How do I know if my dog is suitable to be a Therapy Dog?
Dogs of all ages and breeds can make good Therapy Dogs. View our Therapy Dog Suitability checklist to see if your dog is right for the job.

Do you train outside Victoria?

Can I train online?
Lead the Way offers its intensive training course in a purpose built facility in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges, approximately an hour east of Melbourne. Our unique programme has been developed here, in conjunction with Alpha Canine Professional’s Research and Development unit, and is designed to be a hands-on system. In order for graduates to gain as much as possible from our training programmes, we utilise a single, full-time training facility, and do not have locations in other states. This allows us to access facilities from Dog-Boarding, to classrooms and tailored ‘training rooms’, indoor and outdoor spaces, all onsite. To assist interstate students, the curriculum is offered in a single block, and there are many B&B’s in this lovely tourist area. Given the unique nature of our training system, we are not affiliated with any other organisations interstate. During the course, participants will have their dogs with them during lectures, and practical exercises. We feel that it is vital to have extensive hands-on experience, whilst under the guidance of our highly experienced teachers. By keeping a mix of theory and practice, handlers and their dogs gain confidence and proficiency in the skills they’re developing. All of our assessments are conducted as practical scenarios during the week. We do not feel that these skills can be developed by working online alone.
What if I cannot get to Victoria?
We understand that for some people, getting to Victoria is impossible. Although we can’t certify any handler and dog team that we have not worked directly with, we can offer support. Lead the Way offers an online consultancy service which gives professionals direction and support to incorporate their dog into a therapeutic workplace. We offer support to develop group programmes, visiting programmes, one-to-one services and general theoretical/academic support. For those individuals who want to get into volunteer visiting with their dogs, we recommend you contact one of the large volunteer organisations in your state. You can try checking our Links page (Australian bodies who may register and insure pets for therapy work) or contact your local council, shelter, or Delta office to see who is coordinating services in your area.
Does anyone else in Australia provide this type of training?
At this time we are unaware of any other organisations or individuals who provide a similar training course for those wanting to work with Therapy Dogs. There are some individual dog trainers who advertise that they can train assistance or therapy dogs, and we recommend that you explore your options, including asking many questions, and visiting the trainers in person. Ask to see some trained dogs, and some classes in action. Ask how the training will help you achieve your specific goals. Explore the standards the trainers expect from the dogs, to see if this will meet your expectations. There are also some online academic courses now appearing in the USA and some other locations in association with Universities and Colleges. These courses provide background theoretical knowledge into Animal-Assisted Therapies. I have heard that the Phil Arkow course provides a good basic introduction to the work in this field (www.animaltherapy.net) although I do not have any personal experience with this course. Other Australian training organisations for AAI EPI Australia (Equine) – www.equinepsychotherapy.net.au EAGALA (Equine) – www.eagala.org

Organisations and AAT

How can my organisation get started in pet therapy or AAT?
There are many ways for your organisation to get involved in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT). From simple, unstructured visiting programmes to tailored clinical interventions, from specially trained staff to visiting volunteers, there are various options available.
How do I set up a visiting volunteer programme?
One of the simplest options available to Organisations is to arrange for volunteers to visit with their dogs. Volunteers will often visit nursing homes and sometimes hospitals or schools. They involve their dogs in simple visiting activities which have a feel good, social focus. Most visiting volunteer teams have limited or no formal training and many will visit under the umbrella of large volunteer organisations such as Dogs Victoria or Delta Society. The dogs undergo a simple assessment, and the volunteer organisation co-ordinates visits and manages insurance. Some volunteer organisations require their teams to fund-raise to help cover costs.
How do I develop a clinical programme?
Some Therapy Dog and handler teams will take their visiting to the next level, offering a professional service. These teams will have undergone specific training in AAT, and have knowledge and skills in conducting Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI’s). To be considered ‘Therapy’, an intervention must be ‘goal focused’ i.e. the intervention must be designed to achieve a specific treatment goal or outcome. Therapy Dog handler’s who work in this way often team up with doctors, nurses, teachers, rehabilitation specialists etc to develop interventions that meet these goals. The Therapy Dog and handler team will use their skills and knowledge to assist the professionals to achieve the outcomes they’re looking for. They will have a good idea of their dog’s strengths and weaknesses, and will be skilled in developing interventions for the people with whom they work. The teams may assist the professionals directly (in the same room at the same time) or separately (working just with the client and reporting back to the professional later). These teams are usually self funded and will charge for their services. This assists them to cover costs such as insurance and ongoing training.
What’s involved in training or employing Animal-Assisted therapists?
The Animal-Assisted Therapist is a person who works directly with a therapy animal or animals. For these people, treating, teaching or otherwise improving the lives of humans (with the help of animals) is their day job. Animal-Assisted Therapists have many different backgrounds. Most commonly they are health professionals or education professionals. For example a rehabilitation professional may use a Therapy Dog to help motivate their patients to get moving after a trauma or accident. A school teacher may bring a Therapy Dog into the classroom to assist students to focus, to give them a reward, or engage them in activities. A counsellor or psychologist may have a Therapy Dog in the counselling room, helping clients to feel more comfortable, open up, and learn new life-skills. To be considered an Animal-Assisted Therapist, a professional should have considerable knowledge about the animal(s) they work with and about AAT theory and interventions. Training will include species specific knowledge – such as understanding the way dogs learn, show stress, interact and communicate. Training will also focus on the theory behind AAT, why it works, how it works, when to use it, and when not to use it.
Can you recommend an insurance company?
Non health professionals – www.mga.com For health professionals, IH Group – www.insurancehouse.com.au

How Lead the Way can help your organisation

Secondary Consultation for Organisations
For some organisations, having a few ideas about where and how to get started is helpful. Lead the Way can provide a foundation in understanding consent issues, training standards, and basic programme suggestions.
Professional Development Seminars for staff
For Organisations that wish to set up Pet Therapy or Animal-Assisted Therapy services, it can be important to understand how and why interacting with an animal is beneficial. It may also be a priority to develop more advanced clinical programmes, where therapeutic client outcomes are a focus. Lead the Way can offer a range of PD’s to suit the goals of the individual organisation. Seminars available include; An introduction to AAT. Benefits of interacting with animals, including safety and procedural considerations Achieving Clinical Outcomes – Tailored PD for professionals working with volunteer teams Advanced AAT Applications – Training for professionals with a background in AAT
Intensive training for Therapy-Dog and Handler Teams
Lead the Way offers a one-week intensive training course for handlers and their dogs who wish to begin working in the field of AAT. The course covers canine behaviour and learning, and AAT theory and practice. The course is a mix of theoretical and practical training. This is a great place to begin training and understanding of the field of AAT, and forms a foundation for ongoing learning. It is suitable for those wanting to conduct volunteer visits and professionals wanting to work as Animal-Assisted Therapists.
Clinical Supervision
Lead the Way offers clinical supervision to professionals and/or dog-handler teams to assist them to provide appropriate, safe and helpful interventions.