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Therapy Dogs and Visiting Pets

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Introduction to Visiting Dogs
What is a visiting dog? What is a therapy dog? Is there a difference?
Getting Involved
What kinds of things do you need to think about before exploring more?
Evaluate Your Dog's Personality
Is this the right activity for your pet? Will your dog enjoy it? Will your dog behave in a way that makes others feel good?
Help Your Dog Get Ready
How can you help your dog become a great visiting pet?
Testing and Registering Your Pet for Therapy and Visits
What is involved in testing and registering your dog to be a visiting pet or therapy dog? Is the person also evaluated?
Prepare for a Visit
OK, your dog has passed the tests, what do you have to do before you arrive at the door of the facility?
Visiting Pet and Animal Assisted Therapy FAQs
This page covers the most frequently asked questions - everything from "Can I do this as a career?" to "How does the visit affect the dog or other pet?"


Find a Group to Join
Here is where you can find an organization that will test and register you and your dog for independent or group visits. Look at the National organizations if you want to go out on your own, or if you want to find local chapters of that organization. Look at the local organizations if you don't care about independent visits, but welcome the support and mentoring of joining a local group. Test
Find an AAA, AAT or Visiting Pet Program
If you just want to know how to find a group to visit your facility, or find a group near you that welcomes volunteers then this page is a good start. If you don't find a group near you be sure to contact the national organizations and check the Find a Group to Join page .
Networking Links
Find a discussion group, bulletin board or email list on therapy dogs, animal facilitated therapy, visiting pets and similar subjects. Joining a discussion group is a great way to share ideas, get support, find additional information. There are groups that specialize in the professional counselor as well as those better designed for the "meet and greet" volunteer.


Find information on starting your own program
This page lists links to web site that have detailed articles, books, pamphlets and other guides that are useful in starting your own visiting pet or therapy dog group. You will have to do some digging because there are a lot of links here. Some sites provide resources only for "meet and greet" volunteers. Others provide resources intended for the counseling or health care professional. A few links are good resources to locate academic level studies.
Books and Publications
There a good books and videos to meet every need. Look for the style that suits you. If you are a professional looking at this activity as an important part of your therapeutic program you will find books important to you. If you are a meet and greet volunteer just looking to expand your horizons, you too can find a great book. Unlike the training books I haven't run into any truly bad books in this topic area.
Coursework and Education Links
Organizations providing formal training, academic credit, seminars and similar advanced training for the human half of the team.
Programs in prisons, rehabilitation programs and similar
Technically these aren't "therapy dogs" or even "visiting dogs," they are dogs being used in rehabilitation programs. The dogs are generally shelter dogs otherwise slated for death. The dogs get a new chance at life, and so do the people who care for and train them.
Social dogs, emotional support dogs, and similar service dogs
Information on service and assistance dogs. Therapy dogs are not service dogs. The links here deal with service dogs, not therapy dogs.
  The Canine Good Citizenship Test
An overview of the AKC Canine Good Citizenship Test which is a good preliminary check on your dog's readiness to be evaluated for visiting. Passing the CGC doesn't mean your dog is ready, but not passing is a sure sign your dog needs more experience and training.


Find anecdotal information on benefits
These are the kind of sites you read to answer the questions (1) what is it like? (2) what can happen? (3) why do it?
Oso's Kind of Fun
This is the story of how it started for us. This story has been published in an English language text book in Japan.
Visiting Pets Articles
A collection of stories and resources about experiences with actual visits.


How to get your web site or group listed here
If you want your web site or your group listed on this site just fill in the form. Please help me out by making sure you choose the appropriate page for your listing. Email is not listed on this site because SPAM is too much of a problem.
Help finding information
If going through the pages above didn't get you the information you were looking for here are additional resources and some strategies for finding information.


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Service and Therapy Dog Books and Videos from

Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog To Reach Others Animal Assisted Play Therapy Starting A Visiting Animal Group Therapy Dogs Today - Their Gifts, Our Obligation - Second Edition
Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog To Reach Others Animal Assisted Play Therapy Starting A Visiting Animal Group Therapy Dogs Today - Their Gifts, Our Obligation - Second Edition
Teaming With Your Therapy Dog   Professional Applications Of Animal Assisted Interventions: Dogwood Doga (SECOND Edition)  
Teaming With Your Therapy Dog   Professional Applications Of Animal Assisted Interventions: Dogwood Doga (SECOND Edition)  

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Note: The opinions and descriptions expressed above are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by any other organization.

Copyright © 2003, Diane Blackman
Created: July 31, 2003
Updated April 4, 2018

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