Animal Assisted Therapy
AaTs has been providing the finest in equine and canine therapeutic interventions in Connecticut since 2009 and is beyond proud to begin offering canine programs in Massachusetts in 2018. Our handlers are very passionate and dedicated to training, research, and education in the field of animal assisted interventions and are enthusiastically devoted and committed to promoting the many physical, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits of our innate and natural human-animal bond. Additionally, the AaTs Credentialed Therapy Dog Team training process includes adaptations of advanced obedience tests by the American Kennel Club and also the Public Access Test which is required for all service dogs. When you choose AaTs, you can rest assured that you will receive a professional and compassionate experience.
By choosing AaTs, you can expect the following exclusive benefits:
By choosing AaTs, you can expect the following exclusive benefits:
- Comprehensive Insurance: Our thorough policy allows clients to enjoy both off- and on-leash experiences indoors and outdoors. Outdoor sessions may include visiting a local hiking trail or park. We believe that these freedoms are necessary to provide an all-inclusive therapeutic experience.
- Experience: All AaTs Therapy Dog Teams must pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test and the Public Access Test. Our training program also includes exposing dogs to various scenarios and distractions that they may encounter in educational or medical settings.
- Professionalism: AaTs Therapy Dog Handlers participate in ongoing dog training opportunities and are educated in current animal assisted therapy practices. You session will always include ease of communication, reliability, and a compassionate attention to detail.
Below are examples of our most requested programs, however we pride ourselves on creating customized, individual sessions to suit your personal needs. Please do not hesitate to Contact Us, we'd love to work with you!
AaTs Credentialed Therapy Dog Teams are used to provide a multitude of benefits such as facilitating socialization and communication, promoting cognitive and memory stimulation, engaging patients in physical or occupational therapeutic activities, creating a calming and positive atmosphere, and to simply bring joy and smiles to assisted living facilities, rehab centers, and skilled nursing homes. We have found that the seniors readily initiate conversation with the dog, the handler, or other seniors; therefore the presence of the dog creates a bridge for socialization. Seniors become excited remembering fond memories of their past dogs and love to tell stories to the handler and to other seniors and will ask questions about the dog. This also gives the handler and staff the opportunity to engage the senior in constructive cognitive thinking by asking them what color their dog was, what breed, etc. Walking the dog down the hallway, using their arms, hands, and fingers to pet the dog, or retrieving a bowl of water for the dog are examples of way that the dog can be used to motivate seniors to engage in physical movement. Wonderfully, science has proven that the innate, natural human-animal bond creates a calming effect on humans including lowering heart rate and blood pressure and releasing endorphins; we have used the dogs to bring upset seniors into a calm state of mind. Additionally, the dogs bring joy and smiles much more readily and energetically than any game of Bingo!
Children of all ages can experience a host of benefits by working with an AaTs Credentialed Therapy Dog Team. We offer Reading Programs, Educational Programs, and Life Skills/Special Needs Programs. The Educational Team (teachers, counselors, specialized staff, administration, etc) and the AaTs Credentialed Therapy Dog Team will discuss and create documentation to monitor students' improvements over the school year for their program(s) of choice.
- Reading Programs have proven to be especially beneficial to students that may feel uncomfortable reading in front of classmates or students that are disinterested in learning. The presence of a trained dog creates a calm, relaxed setting that is completely free of judgment which allows students to feel comfortable and improve literacy at their own pace.
- Educational Programs can teach students of all ages about the different types working dogs, how to safely approach a strange dog, and dog behavior and maintenance. Students are able to use what they've learned about dogs to make parallels with other aspects of life such as eating a healthy diet, respecting others, obeying parents, etc.
- Life Skills/Special Needs Programs have innumerable benefits! The natural and innate human-animal bond instantly creates a calming and relaxing response from many students. Some students, however, are overjoyed to see the dog and this gives professional staff the opportunity to motivate students to engage in therapeutic activities such as moving their arm to pet the dog, using a communication application to give the dog a command, or walking the dog down the hallway. Life Skills tasks may include getting the dog a bowl of water, brushing the dog, or simply waiting patiently for their turn to interact with the dog. The AaTs Credentialed Therapy Dog Handler will have several activities to suggest to enhance your experience!
Specialized Events, College Programs
Specialized events may include wellness events for businesses, college visits during midterms and finals, or an educational presentation about animal assisted interventions. These 1-day or multi-day events typically serve a large group of people for up to three hours. Part of our AaTs Credentialed Therapy Team training process includes exposing the dogs to loud noises, crowds, restrictive hugs, and petting from children so that our dogs are already ready to remain calm, cool, and collected in a chaotic environment! Educational presentations give a look at the history of animal assisted interventions, the difference between animal assisted therapy and animal assisted activities, the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits of animal assisted interventions, research studies of animal assisted interventions and their findings, common canine behavior and body language, and so much more! Educational presentations can also be directed towards children and young adults by exploring breeds of dogs and their origins, dog training techniques, dog maintenance and care, dog nutrition and types of dog food, how to safely approach a strange dog, and so forth. The class is encouraged to identify parallels between dogs and humans, such as being good listeners, obeying their parents, choosing healthy food, understanding responsibilities and caring for others, etc.