At Canine Assisted Therapy, Inc., we believe in the power and value of force-free, positive dog training and we encourage our volunteers to study and learn more about the proven benefits of using positive reinforcement rather than dominance and punishment when training their dogs or choosing a trainer. For therapy dogs this is especially important given the nature of their “jobs,” as canine companions. According to Victoria Stilwell – a passionate advocate for positive reinforcement dog training methods and Editor-in-Chief of Positively.com – “punitive, dominance-based training techniques … often result in ‘quick fixes’ but ultimately cause more long-term harm than good while damaging the owner-dog relationship.”
C.A.T.’s vision is to be recognized as the premier pet therapy organization by developing and utilizing the highest standards possible, educating the public about the benefits of animal assisted therapy and animal assisted activities, and providing continued support to its volunteers and facilities. We have volunteer therapy teams working in a variety of venues, supporting all age groups, and we have custom-developed programs to meet the needs of various audiences. It’s important to understand the types of pet therapy offered by pet therapy organizations.
Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal-oriented treatment utilizing specially trained pet/handler teams to achieve specific physical, social, cognitive, or emotional goals with patients. AAT facilitates healing and improves self-esteem, lifts morale, and reduces stress of patients and staff.
Animal assisted activities (AAA), on the other hand, are defined as pet-centered visitation programs to enhance life quality or support educational programs in a variety of environments such as hospitals, special needs day cares, retirement homes, or reading intervention programs.
At C.A.T. we offer both AAT and AAA depending on the audience, environment, and goals of the client facility. Typically our therapy teams will have passed the Advanced Certification in order to perform animal assisted therapy, but not all dogs or therapy teams will have the temperament or skills necessary to do this advanced work.