Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Training and Certification

Advanced Therapy Dog & Handler Training and Certification. Extend your AAI knowledge and application skills

For Certified teams wishing to expand their knowledge and skills, Advanced Certification is a great option. This Certification is focussed on developing creative interventions, and training therapy dogs for advanced, off-lead reliability.

Advanced Certification can be completed as a stand alone certification, or as step three and four of our Practitioner Certification and Certificate in AAI Canine.  Training is broken into two parts: Step three, Advanced course preparation and theory, is delivered live online whilst step four, Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification, is delivered in-person in Melbourne, Victoria Australia.

Advanced course preparation and theory

(STEP THREE in Certification)

Mode: Instructor led, 100% online

NOTE: This course runs once annually as a face to face practicum in Melbourne (November 2021)

Pre-requisites: Current Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification (Foundation) competent in all domains

Duration: 2.5 days

Access: You must enrol in set dates via the online application form below

Would you like to deepen and strengthen your working partnership with your visiting therapy dog? Are you looking for a tool kit of activities to try with your clients? Do you want a stronger theoretical foundation to understand the interactions between your clients and your visiting therapy dog? This online course provides you with the theoretical foundations you’re looking for and teaches the skills to prepare your dog for advanced training and assessment.

Bundle and save! This course may be purchased as part of the Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification Package or Practitioner Certification Package. Find out more.

Course description

This intensive short course runs live online over 2.5 days. It is designed for graduate teams (handler & dog) who wish to extend their theoretical knowledge and practical application skills. Students participate in live online workshops with our dedicated instructors interspersed with online lectures and quizzes. Participants learn about the Neurobiological Model of Animal-Assisted Interactions (NB-AAI) developed by our founder Melanie G Jones, and how the model may be applied in multidisciplinary settings for a variety of clients. There is a focus on creating a strong working partnership with the visiting therapy dog and a deeper understanding of their unique contributions to the work. Zoom workshops explore the fundamentals of trick training and small agility, linking these to creative interventions.

There are no time limits between completing step three (Advanced course theory and preparation) and step four (Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification), they can be completed within the one week. This online course runs Monday to Wednesday, finishing early on the Wednesday afternoon to allow participants time to travel to our Melbourne venue should they wish to proceed straight to the Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification on the Thursday.

Modules
  • Course introduction
  • Dog training refresh and extend workshop
  • Advanced canine training and behaviour lecture and workshops
  • Advanced socialisation and drives lecture and workshop
  • The fundamentals of trick training lecture and workshops
  • Small agility safety briefing and workshop
  • Underlying mechanisms for efficacy: Oxytocin and AAI lecture
  • The Neurobiological Model of Animal Assisted Interactions (NB-AAI) lecture and workshop
  • Course conclusion and future directions
Learning objectives
  • Develop skills in advanced ‘off lead’ dog handling within the home environment and an understanding of the process to off lead reliability under distraction
  • Identify and understand advanced canine socialisation concepts including the management of drives (in particular play drives)
  • Describe how the oxytocin effect can be used to assist different clients in various AAI settings
  • Describe how the Neurobiological Model can be used to develop appropriate canine assisted interactions and interventions for clients at different phases of learning or treatment
  • Use the Neurobiological Model to describe the different roles of clients, dogs and handlers/practitioners in CAI
  • Identify and describe various trick training methods and begin teaching tricks to the therapy dog
  • Safely introduce the therapy dog to small indoor agility equipment and obstacles, whilst building trust and confidence
Attendance requirements

Each day is divided into a combination of practice and theory. Lectures are designed to enhance participant’s understanding of the skills gained each day, and the knowledge will build over the course. Participants must attend all components of the course, as learning is both sequential and cumulative.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL):

There is no RPL available for this course, given the unique nature of the course content.

Suitable for
  •  Dog and handler teams who have current (up to date) Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification at the Foundation level and would like to expand their skills and knowledge in CAI
  • Teams must be competent in all domains1, and should feel confident that they have consolidated their on lead training. As there are limited opportunities to re-visit your dog’s skills it is recommended that teams actively practice, ensuring they are up to date with those sills covered at the foundational levels.  For more information, see When is my Dog Ready for Advanced?
  • Experience in working or visiting together as a team is an advantage
  • People and dogs should not suffer from any health or medical conditions which would negatively impact their ability to participate in intensive training
  • There is no time limit between completing step three (course preparation) and step four (Advanced Team Certification). These can be completed in the same week
  • If you would like to proceed with your dog onto full Advanced Team Certification, please ensure your dog meets the suitability criteria for that course as it differs from the requirements for course preparation
  • Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of enrolment on the application form
  • 1Please note that mild separation anxiety is not exclusionary for this course, provided this can be shown not to impact the dog’s capacity to work; e.g. the dog can be left alone in familiar places, or can be left with a trusted Secondary Handler/support person if necessary during a work day without distress.

Please note: All of our courses are delivered in English, requiring a high level of written and spoken English language skills, including discipline specific terminology. Recommended proficiency level is C1 – Advanced (proficient)

*Please note that dogs are not assessed or certified on this course. Please see Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification for this*

This course is a pre-requisite for Advanced and Practitioner Certification courses

Dates & Times:

3 consecutive days, Monday & Tuesday 9am – 5pm and Wednesday 9am – 1pm (Melbourne Time). All upcoming course dates can be found on the Application Form

This course runs once annually live face to face in Melbourne, in November 2021

Cost: $1476

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Advanced Visiting Therapy Dog & Handler Team Certification

(STEP FOUR in Certification)

Mode: Live face to face, in person training in Melbourne, Victoria Australia

Pre-requisites: Current Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification (Foundation) competent in all domains

Advanced course preparation and theory

Handlers must have a current working with children’s check or equivalent

Dogs must be safe to work with other dogs in off lead environments

Duration: 2 days + one evening

Access: You must enrol in set dates via the online application form below

Are you and your dog working well together as a team? Are you able to work off lead in low distraction environments, and on lead in challenging settings? Are you ready to sit your assessments? This course is STEP FOUR in our Certification programme providing graduates with the Advanced Team Certification. From here you can choose to move on to our Advanced MultiDog Certification and professional level training.

Bundle and save! This course may be purchased as part of the Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification Package or Practitioner Certification Package. Find out more.

Course description

The Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification runs live face to face in Melbourne over two days. This practical course consolidates the skills and knowledge learned during the online preparation course.  There is a focus on developing ‘off lead’ communication and reliability in increasingly challenging scenarios, such as when the dog is in play drive, or interacting with other dogs. Handlers are encouraged to workshop creative intervention ideas taught during online preparation, incorporating tricks and small agility into interactions. Teams will have the opportunity to participate in creative interactions during the Advanced community visits, where dogs work off lead engaging in activities with children (and their carers where necessary). At the end of this course, teams will have a greater understanding of how to work together with their dogs to deliver CAI, develop effective interventions for their clients, and have a tool-kit of tricks and ideas to try.

There are no time limits between completing step three (Advanced course theory and preparation) and step four (Advanced Team Certification) and they can be completed within the one week subject to approval by the course coordinator. This online course runs Monday to Wednesday, finishing early on the Wednesday afternoon to allow participants time to travel to our Melbourne venue should they wish to proceed straight to the Advanced Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification on the Thursday.

Modules
  • Course introduction
  • Dog training refresh and extend workshop
  • Advanced canine training and behaviour lecture and workshops
  • Advanced socialisation and drives lecture and workshop
  • The fundamentals of trick training lecture and workshops
  • Small agility safety briefing and workshop
  • Underlying mechanisms for efficacy: Oxytocin and AAI lecture
  • The Neurobiological Model of Animal Assisted Interactions (NB-AAI) lecture and workshop
  • Community Visits
  • Course conclusion and future directions
Learning objectives
  • Develop ‘off-lead’ communication & reliability with the therapy dog during training and interactions
  • Demonstrate competence in trick training and an understanding of how tricks may be used during canine assisted interactions
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of small agility equipment and an understanding of how this may be used in CAI
  • Use advanced socialisation concepts to effectively manage the therapy dog in drive, including play drive and interdog socialisation
  • Use the Neurobiological Model to develop and deliver CAI in simulations and scenarios with other course participants
  • Deliver an off lead role play with the assistance of other course participants, using NB-AAI demonstrating:
    • Active engagement between the therapy dog and a ‘client’ during a creative interaction, whilst off lead
    • Be able to name the NB-AAI ‘Degree of Directivity’ and ‘Interaction Domain’ being used
    • Demonstrate appropriate off lead handling, communication and supervision of the dog to ensure the safety and welfare of all parties, whilst simultaneously engaging a client
Attendance requirements

Each day is divided into a combination of practice and theory. Lectures are designed to enhance participant’s understanding of the skills gained each day, and the knowledge will build over the course. Participants must attend all components of the course, as learning is both sequential and cumulative.

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

RPL is not available for competency assessments, and as such this course is not subject to RPL.

Assessment and Certification

Assessments for Advanced Team Certification are based on skills and competency demonstrated over the duration of the course, including scenarios, simulations and role-plays. All teams passing the assessment on the final day of the course will be supplied with a certificate.

Aggressive or otherwise dangerous reactions from a dog will result in a grade of ‘not suitable’ for therapy work. Out of control or fearful/avoidant behaviour will result in a grade of ‘not yet competent’ and recommendations for ongoing training or rehabilitation will be provided. Teams who have been working but are then deemed not suitable or not yet competent must cease working with clients immediately. Advanced Dogs are expected to work safely in the presence of other dogs, whilst off lead, must be responsive in complex and challenging environments (e.g. when playing or with other dogs/animals), and must be able to conduct all human-animal interactions whilst off lead. Dogs who are unable to achieve this standard may be granted Visiting Team Certification at the Foundation level.

Teams who are ‘not yet competent’ on the final day of the course will not be permitted to attend community visits on the Friday night. Teams graded at the Foundation level may be allowed to attend community visits on lead/with restrictions, at the discretion of the trainers. Teams needing to re-sit the assessment may re-enrol in the assessment course again at a later date, or may enrol in the (Re)Certifcation Day (subject to availability and staff recommendation). Fees apply.

Advanced Team Certification remains current for 1 year for adult and adolescent dogs (aged 1 year and over), and 6 months for puppies (aged 8-12 months). Certification may be removed at any stage if your dog fails to meet the Suitability Requirements. (Re)Certification days are held four times a year. Teams with current certification will be listed on the Lead The Way Institute Directory page.

Please note certification standards are regularly updated in accordance with best practice guidelines, and recommendations from the International Society of Animal Assisted Therapy (ISAAT) and the International Association of Human Animal Interaction Organisations (IAHAIO) Guidelines.

Suitable for
  •  Dog and handler teams who have current (up to date) Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Team Certification at the Foundation level and would like to expand their skills and knowledge in CAI
  • Teams must be competent in all domains1, and should feel confident that they have consolidated their on lead training. As there are limited opportunities to re-visit your dog’s skills it is recommended that teams actively practice, ensuring they are up to date with those sills covered at the foundational levels.  For more information, see When is my Dog Ready for Advanced?
  • Experience in working or visiting together as a team is an advantage
  • There is no time limit between completing step three (course preparation) and step four (Advanced Team Certification). These can be completed in the same week
  • People and dogs should not suffer from any health or medical conditions which would negatively impact their ability to participate in intensive training
    • Dog’s must have an up to date Visiting Therapy Dog Brief Veterinary Health Screen (will be emailed) (within the past 6 months).
  • Dogs must continue to meet the suitability criteria listed in the Visiting Therapy Dog Suitability Checklist (see below)
  • Dogs must be safe to work in close proximity to other dogs in complex off lead environments (e.g. around food, toys, play, animals)
  • Please ensure you read the terms and conditions of enrolment on the application form
  • 1Please note that mild separation anxiety is not exclusionary for this course, provided this can be shown not to impact the dog’s capacity to work; e.g. the dog can be left alone in familiar places, or can be left with a trusted Secondary Handler/support person if necessary during a work day without distress.

Please note: All of our courses are delivered in English, requiring a high level of written and spoken English language skills, including discipline specific terminology. Recommended proficiency level is C1 – Advanced (proficient)

Visiting Therapy Dog Suitability Checklist

Dogs must be at least 8 months of age, healthy and mature enough to cope with intensive training. They must be your dog, who has lived with you for 3 months or longer, and whom you know well. Your relationship should be strong and mutually respectful as you will be Certified to work together as a team. Your dog should be keen to approach strangers and must not have any fear or aggression with people, dogs or other animals. It is important that visiting therapy dogs genuinely love all people, including strangers, and genuinely want to interact physically with them. A dog who loves only his/her family and not strangers will become stressed and unhappy if compelled to work as a visiting therapy dog. Younger dogs, excitable dogs, or those dogs without much prior training, we recommend that you give yourself at least one month to consolidate your training before proceeding from Provisional Handler Certification to the Visiting Team Certification.

 

Dogs must be safe and controllable when working in a wide variety of settings, and under a wide range of distractions. Over excitability is not exclusionary (e.g., the dog jumps up for pats or gets super excited when visitors arrive), however 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. If unsure, please refer to the Visiting Therapy Dog Suitability Checklist.

 

All dogs must provide proof of a current C5 vaccination and parasite control (fleas/worms). If your dog works as your assistance or service dog, you must contact us prior to enrolling. Visiting therapy dogs must not engage in activities that promote aggression to people (e.g., protection or guard dog work or training), or to animals (e.g., hunting, herding or fighting).

Visiting Therapy-Dog Suitability Checklist

Use the following checklist as a handy reference guide:

  1. My dog is part of my life and my household, e.g. comes into the house, participates in activities. They have lived with me for 3 months or longer, and I know them well. I can confidently answer the checklist questions
  2. My dog is comfortable meeting strangers (e.g. in the park or the street), and shows this by approaching or seeking attention if allowed
  3. My dog is happy when we have visitors come to the home, and seeks attention from them
  4. My dog likes children
  5. My dog likes elderly or disabled people
  6. My dog is not fearful of cars, bikes, trolleys, skate-boards or other moving objects
  7. My dog is not fearful of stairs, shiny floors, elevators, lights, fans or other typical environments
  8. My dog enjoys being patted, touched and cuddled by strangers
  9. My dog can be left alone at times without becoming distressed or destructive
  10. I can leave my dog tied up or tethered in a safe location for brief periods without them becoming distressed or destructive
  11. My dog will happily go off with a friend or family member without me, without becoming distressed
  12. My dog is reliably toilet trained, and does not ‘mark’ inappropriate objects/furniture indoors or outdoors
  13. My dog enjoys outings and novel activities, for example visiting a new person or place
  14. My dog is generally willing to comply with requests, even if unsure or nervous (e.g. tolerates grooming, being taken off/sharing their bed, having a toy or treat taken away, visiting the vet, being checked over or having a wound looked at) without growling or becoming fearful
  15. down (even if only informally at home) without resistance or aversion. (Note: dogs should have received basic training prior to attending a Certification course)
  16. My dog will cope with being in a room with other dogs (on-lead) and learning obedience in close proximity to other dogs without growling, lunging or becoming fearful
  17. My dog is fit and healthy enough to travel to a workplace and engage physically with strangers
  18. My dog is fully vaccinated and treated for parasites (e.g. fleas, worms) by a licensed Veterinarian
  19. My dog has NO untreated or unstable medical conditions
  20. My dog is NOT afraid of strangers, and does not growl at or avoid strangers, e.g. men in hats, toddlers running, people carrying equipment or making odd noises etc.
  21. My dog does not ‘mouth’ (place mouth or teeth on people) even in play (including puppies)
  22. My dog is NOT aggressive towards other animals such as small animals, cats, native animals (e.g. possums/birds) chooks, ponies or farm animals e.g. enjoys their company, is inquisitive (even excitable), or is indifferent (does not chase/hunt)
  23. My dog does NOT have any obvious fears or phobias (e.g. thunderstorms, electrical equipment, vacuums, cleaning chemical smells)
  24. I do NOT have any concerns about the way my dog interacts, and I feel s/he would genuinely enjoy physical contact with strangers, including being hugged and picked up
  25. My dog does NOT engage in activities that promote aggression to people (e.g. guard or protection training) or to animals (e.g. hunting, herding, or fighting)
  26. My dog does NOT perform a life-saving alerting function for me or another person (e.g. medical alert dog, PTSD service dog, Autism service dog) which would represent a potential conflict for the dog during client work
  27. My dog has NEVER bitten or attempted to bite a person

Please note that we have trained many hundreds of visiting therapy dogs, and the above criteria are a good indication of your dog’s suitability for this work. However, there is no guarantee that your dog will pass all of the assessments, even if they do meet all of the suitability criteria. If you can’t confidently answer the questions because your dog has never been in that situation, it may mean that your dog is not yet adequately socialised to a diverse range of people and environments. You may like to consider exposing your dog to a few more situations to see how they respond. You may also find our short courses helpful, e.g. Preparing Your Dog To Be a Therapy Dog. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to us prior to enrolling.

 

Dogs who do not meet all of the suitability criteria may not be suitable to work as visiting therapy dogs and may not pass the assessments. Alternatively, these dogs may have restrictions placed on their certification. If you have not been able to tick all boxes above, you must speak to the course coordinator PRIOR to confirming your enrolment and paying your deposit.

This course is a pre-requisite for the professional level Practitioner Certification and is step four of five towards completing the Certificate in Animal Assisted Interventions – Canine.

Venue:

Lead The Way Institute Training Centre, Unit 5/91 Dorset Road, Ferntree Gully, Victoria 3156 Australia

Dates & Times:

2 consecutive days, including Friday evening: Thursday 9am – 5pm and Friday 9am – 8pm. All upcoming course dates can be found on the Application Form

Cost: $820

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Advanced MultiDog Handler Certification

(Optional)

An Advanced Certified handler may choose to have two or more Advanced Therapy Dogs work together in a group. The group is assessed at a (Re)Certification day.

More information.

Onsite Melbourne Course FAQ’s

What should I wear?

Please wear sensible clothing, including sturdy, closed-toe shoes and bring a coat, sunscreen and a hat. Thongs, slip-ons and sandals are not safe footwear for the course. Adequate undercover and indoor air-conditioned training spaces are available, however we may venture outside on occasion. Please bring a raincoat if the weather is inclement.

Is the course catered?

Light refreshments will be supplied every day. Boiling water, fridge and microwave are also supplied for your convenience. Please bring your lunch.

What should I bring?

Participants are expected to bring their dogs to the training centre each day of the course. Your dog must be wearing a well-fitting collar and must be on-lead at all times when at the centre (unless under the direct instruction of our staff). Please also bring the training collar (or head halter) supplied during the Provisional Handler Certification course. During break times, dogs will be learning to settle alongside their owners, or may be tethered under staff direction. As the centre has a concrete slab floor, you may wish to bring a mat or bed for your dog to lie on.  Please also note that some dogs do not enjoy sharing a water bowl with others. Please bring your dog’s own bowl if this is the case.

You will be notified if there’s any specific equipment or supplies you’re required to bring.

I am travelling to Melbourne, where can I stay?

Our Ferntree Gully venue is less than an hour east of Melbourne, and located within 20m drive to the tourist area of the Dandenong Ranges. A google search will assist you to locate appropriate accommodation close to the venue.