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WHATTherapy Dogs International provides free visits of dogs to hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospices and other facilities to give companionship to elderly.
WHYDogs in nursing homes have shown to decrease elderly depression, loneliness, and stress.
WHERETherapy Dogs International (TDI)
Founder - Elaine Smith. Headquarters in New Jersey, USA.
Program available across the United States and areas in Canada.

Program Description

"Nursing homes were one of the first settings to graciously open their doors to the concept of Pet Therapy, which was developed by Therapy Dogs International over 30 years ago. Today, it continues to be a heartwarming experience to visit nursing homes and share our Therapy Dogs with the elderly, their families, and all other residents who live there."


"Animals have long been recognized as a positive addition to the healing process. In facilities, visits from Therapy Dogs have shown an increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being. Studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure and stress levels during Therapy Dog visits. Therapy Dogs provide a break from the daily routine of illness and loneliness for residents, visitors, and staff."

Dogs in nursing homes can provide an interactive, stimulating activity and an alternative to routine nursing home activities. Therapy Dogs in nursing homes have shown to get a response from some senior residents who are withdrawn from other people and have limited abilities.  

Therapy Dogs provide an opportunity for nursing home seniors to give and receive physical touch, display affection, and raise their spirits. Petting, stroking and “playing” with a pet can provide physical activity to non-active senior residents as well as a distraction to reduce the frustration and agitation that comes with limiting abilities as one ages. Animal assisted therapy
can transform senior residents into calm state and reduce them from escalating into agressive interaction with staff and others.

In many cases senior residents look forward to a weekly dogs visit to the nursing home. Many senior may be reminded of the time they had a dog allowing them to reminisce a positive experience.

 Therapy Dogs must have a temperament that allows them to be outgoing and friendly to all people, tolerant of other dogs and non-aggressive toward other pets.

Volunteers who would like to help the elderly by providing pet therapy with their dog, can have their dog evaluated by Therapy Dogs International. Therapy Dogs International regulates, tests, evaluates and registers all Therapy Dogs.

Insurance is provided to member facilities and to Therapy Dog handlers while visiting nursing homes and other facilities.

The “Therapy Dogs International Hospice” Program provides many of the same benefits as above and in addition the presence of therapy dogs and their handlers can comfort family members at a time when death is near.

In addition to dogs visiting nursing homes, assisted living, and hospice, “Therapy Dogs International also administers the following programs: Children Reading to Dogs -Tail Waggin' Tutors, Disaster Stress Relief, Home Visits, Children’s Hospitals, Libraries, Schools and Shelters.

The aim of  the program is to bring joy and comfort to those in need and to expand the reach of the organization to help more people through the use of Therapy Dogs.





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.

Pets As Therapy Program - United Kingdom. Volunteers and therapy pets provide therapeutic visits to elderly and others in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, care homes, and other facilities providing animal assisted activities.

Pets on Wheels Program
- Fairfax, Virginia, USA. Providing regular animal assisted therapy through pet and dog visits to nursing homes and assisted living by trained volunteers and approved pets.

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.

People Animals Love Program - Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. USA.
Certified pet handler volunteers take their pets to visit elderly in nursing homes providing animal assisted therapy.

FriendshipWorks PetPals Program - Boston Massachusetts, USA. Arranges for pets (cats and dogs) and their owners to make friendly visits providing animal assisted therapy to elderly in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

ASPCA - Animal Assisted Therapy Program - New York, USA. Pet owners can register their dogs and cats for animal assisted therapy and visit elderly in nursing homes, hospitals, classrooms, libraries and other facilities.

New Orleans Visiting Pet Program - New Orleans, USA. Animal assisted activity program where volunteer pet handlers and their pets visit nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation facilities and other facilities.

Intermountain Therapy Animals Program - Utah, USA. Animal Assisted Activity/Therapy teams visit seniors in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living Centers, Alzheimer's Care Units, Hospitals, Veterans Hospitals, Hospices, Rehabilitation Centers and many other facilities.

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

Find out more about the “Therapy Dogs International Nursing Home” Program

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