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WHATProvides animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted therapy programs in health care setting such as rehab hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospitals, mental health programs, nursing and retirement homes and day programs.
WHYTo provide seniors with companionship and friendship during therapy dog visits.
WHEREOttawa Therapy Dogs.
Ottawa, Canada.

Program Description

"The Ottawa Therapy Dogs Program promotes an understanding of the values and benefits (enhanced physical, emotional and communication abilities) of the animal-human bond by offering a mutually beneficial and safe interaction with companion animals."

By playing with and petting therapy dogs in nursing homes, Geriatric staff and seniors can reminisce about dogs and the feelings that come with them. The simple act of being around dogs may stimulate the senses and memories of those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) are pet visits to facilities so that senior residents can benefit from the therapeutic effects of human-animal interactions. The presence of dogs in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease depression, increase self-esteem, and decrease agitation and anxiety.

The presence of the therapy dog is shown to provide additional motivation to complete therapy.

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is lead by a health-care professional with a client for a specific goal such as an Occupational Therapist working with a senior resident to improve mobility
in an arm or hand by placing the dog for ease of petting or grooming or retrieving exercises to strengthen arm mobility. Therapy Dogs can help with Speech Language therapy – those who need to improve communication can do so by giving commands and responses to the dog, and learn how to play games to demonstrate cognitive skills. Therapy dogs can also improve social skills, and senior self by engaging in activities such as walking the dog and caring for the dog.

Animal Assisted Therapy can be used by physiotherapists, psychologists, speech language pathologists, recreation therapists, and RNs to help senior residents learn how to:

-Increase mobility and dexterity
-Modify aggressive behavior
-Communicate better
-Socialize, decrease depression, anxiety, or aggression

The “Ottawa Therapy Dogs” Program website has a wealth of dog therapy training and tips including:

-Wheelchair Etiquette
-MRSA: What Therapy Dog Handlers Should Know about the Superbug
-Communicating with Someone with Dementia
-Communicating with a Person Who Uses Augmentative and Alternative Communication Equipment -Working with Stroke Survivors
-Communicating with a Person with a Hearing Loss
-Confidentiality, Privacy and Ethical Issues
-Working in an End-of-Life Care Environment
-Ten Steps to Selecting a Therapy Dog
-Getting Ready for Your First Therapy Dog Visit
-Tricks and Tools for Your Therapy Dog
-Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) - Getting Started
-Tips and Tools for Speech Therapy - AAT Activities
-When to Retire Your Therapy Dog

The goal of the “Ottawa Therapy Dogs” Program is to support, train and provide continuing education to therapy dog volunteers and provide educational presentations and seminars to the public.


Therapy Dogs International Nursing Home Program - Across the USA and areas in Canada. Provides free visits of dogs to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, hospices and other facilities to provide regular animal assisted therapy, an interactive nursing home activity and to give companionship to elderly.

Pet Partners Therapy Animal Program - Program widely available across the United States, Canada, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, and several other countries.
Trains pet owners and pets on how to visit nursing homes, hospice, hospitals, physical therapy centers, long-term care facilities and other facilities to provide animal assisted activities.

Therapy Dogs Inc. Program - Program available across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories. Provides registration, support, and insurance for those involved in volunteer animal assisted activities.

Terminally Ill & Their Pets
Pets and Seniors Companionship
Service Dogs for Elderly

Find out more about the "Ottawa Therapy Dogs" Program

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