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Canines in a Therapy Practice

Considering Incorporating Canines into Your Therapy Practice?

Emerging research has proven to validate the ways that humans can benefits from spending time engaging with canines.   With this new level of understanding and acceptance there has been an increasing number of therapists that are interested in the benefit of incorporating dogs into their practice.

Dogs have been an amazing resource for creating therapeutic breakthroughs. 

Petting a pup can release those feel-good relaxing hormones and has the potential to lower blood pressure and improve one’s physical health.


Research suggests that spending time with a dog may:

  • Lower anxiety

  • Decrease blood pressure

  • Improve pain management

  • Assist in recalling memories

  • Slow breathing

  • Some children as well as adults feel more comfortable with dogs than with people and thus may feel more comfortable talking about their emotions and experiences in the presence of a dog. 

The number 1 benefit to incorporating a canine into your practice is that  dog’s create a bridge between the therapist and the patient. 


Bonds and trust is much more easily attained and when things get rough a break or diversion can enable individuals to feel supported through tough processes.  Many children and adults have been eased through anxiety and negative feelings with the assistance of dogs. 


Dogs can also present a number of liabilities and risks that you need to be aware of.  

We offer:

Choosing the right dog

Training, testing, and ongoing assistance.

Dogs may bark when alerted. Jump when they are excited.  Paw for attention.

Recognizing body language and how your dog is feeling.

The goal of therapy, as well as how much you want to involve your canine in your practice.

Is your dog hyper?  Does he jump on furniture or refuse to stop interacting when asked to? We help you teach your dog to be well-behaved and easy to control.  

Does your dog bark, whine, excessively pant, or make other loud distracting noises?  We help you teach your dog to simmer, relax and be quiet when needed.

Taking your pup into sessions requires impeccable husbandry.  We help you keep up with your dog’s grooming needs.  Dogs in practice must always smell good with clean ears, fresh smelling breathe, clipped toenails and freshly brushed.   

Your pup must be capable of being friendly to everyone and must have never shown even mild signs of aggression.  

Your pup must be capable of accepting individuals who may become erratic, excited, yelling or otherwise behaving strangley.

Just as every human is capable of behaving inappropriately, dogs cannot express themselves in words. We teach proactive skills to protect your pup from individuals that may taunt your pup as well as if your dog is not enjoying engagements with specific individuals.

Some of the populations with proven results include:

Autistic individuals

People with dementia and memory impairments

People with chronic pain

People with chronic or terminal illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease

People with developmental delays


The Laws:

The provisions of your lease.

Local laws governing animal health care.

Animal safety and cruelty laws.

Local licensing and certification rules

As with any expansion of your practice, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to plan for every contingency. GoodTherapy helps therapists better manage their practice. https://www.goodtherapy.org/



About the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. (n. d.). Retrieved from https://www.therapydogs.com/alliance-therapy-dogs

Allen, K. & Colbert, L. (n. d.). Ethical and safety considerations for use of animals in a therapeutic setting. Retrieved from https://societyforpsychotherapy.org/ethical-safety-considerations-use-animals-therapeutic-setting

UCLA Health. https://www.uclahealth.org/pac/animal-assisted-therapy

Canine Good Citizen. (n. d.). American Kennel Club. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/products-services/training-programs/canine-good-citizen

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