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Animal Assisted Therapy Examples

Examples of Animal Assisted Therapy in both group and individual settings include:


  • A volunteer brings her dog to a rehabilitation center to work with an occupational therapist and a child who has difficulty controlling fine motor skills. To improve the client’s fine motor skills, the therapist has the child manipulate buckles, clasps on leashes, collars and animal carriers. The child also opens containers of treats for the dog and feeds small pieces of food to the dog.
  • In an Animal Assisted Therapy session designed to improve a client’s ability to sequence events, a therapist teaches a client the steps of brushing a dog. Motivated by the opportunity to brush the dog himself, the client remembers the steps, and the therapist has the client recite the order of events aloud as he goes through the actual sequence.
  • A woman recovering from a stroke has limited standing and walking tolerance. A physical therapist uses the presence of a dog to motivate the client by placing the dog on a raised table and asking the client to stand while stroking or brushing the animal’s back and head.
  • To increase a client’s ambulation skills, the therapist has the client walk the dog for short distances around the facility grounds. (The handler uses a double lead and walks alongside the dog and client.)
  • A group of volunteers takes their dogs to a rehabilitation facility once a month to "visit." The visit occurs as an individual or small-group activity with some direction and assistance provided by facility staff.
  • An individual brings her dog to a children's long-term care facility to "play" with residents. Although the staff is involved in the visits, the staff has not set treatment goals for the interactions. Aside from signing in and out, no records are kept.