Standards of practice in Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) are important to us.
As a leader in AAI in the UK, Dogs for Good supports the adoption of professional standards of practice for all organisations and people working with dogs. To ensure the very best outcomes, it is essential that the practice of AAI is undertaken responsibly and well, with the wellbeing of both people and dogs at the forefront of all activity.
Why standards of practice in Animal Assisted Intervention are important
- AAI is a relatively under-developed practice in the UK, so adopting global standards of best practice helps us to benefit from experience and learning from around the world.
- They help to ensure that time spent working with the dog brings the best possible outcomes – for both the client and the dog.
- They help to ensure that the activity with the dog is properly planned and will be safe.
- They help to ensure that people working with dogs and the public have the right skills, experience and relationship with their dog to work safely and effectively with people.
- They help to ensure that the dog has had the right socialisation and training to undertake the role he is being asked to do.
- They ensure that the wellbeing needs of the dog are understood, supported and never compromised.
- They help new practitioners to understand what’s involved and what training they and their dog may need.
- They will contribute to a better understanding of AAI practice and its benefits.
- They provide a reference point for clients in what they should expect and some support and protection if something goes wrong.
Five key standards that should underpin AAI practice
We believe that
- Dogs should be properly trained and socialised, and assessed for their suitability to work with the client group.
- The handler/person working with the dog should have a trusted relationship with the dog and a good balance of dog and people skills to enable them to deliver the best outcomes for both.
- The welfare and wellbeing needs of the dog should be met at all times through careful planning of the dog’s working activities and ongoing monitoring of their wellbeing.
- Appropriate safeguards should be in place to support the activity undertaken with the dog eg insurance.
- For more specialist programmes, the intervention should be planned and conducted in partnership with a human services professional, with clear goals for each client.
Dogs for Good’s approach:
We want to play an active role in the development and promotion of standards and best practice in our sector. We work to recognised global standards of AAII practice, as defined by Animal Assisted Intervention International (AAII), an international practitioners’ organisation of which we are founder members. AAII promotes sound and consistent minimum standards globally and also provides detailed guidelines for a range of specific interventions undertaken with a dog. From this we have developed our own operating standards for Community Dog interventions, which form the basis of our contribution to the sharing of best practice with sector colleagues, in the UK and internationally.
Schools: We led a working group of organisations involved in the Kennel Club’s Bark and Read programme to develop standards of practice for dogs in schools
Healthcare settings: We supported the development of the Royal College of Nursing’s protocol for working with dogs in healthcare settings.
Other professional standards and memberships
Assistance Dogs International (ADI): Dogs for Good is a fully accredited member of ADI (Assistance Dogs International) and we meet the ADI standards in our assistance dog work. Our CEO, Peter Gorbing, is a board member of ADI and a past President and chairs the Standards Committee of ADI.
Assistance Dogs UK: Dogs for Good is a member of Assistance Dogs UK, a coalition of assistance dog charities, all fully accredited by Assistance Dogs International. Peter is also a board member of Assistance Dogs UK.
Society of Companion Animal Studies (SCAS): We are members of SCAS, which is a UK body, and contribute to their work and participate in events.
Dogs for Good is also a Kennel Club Assured Breeder.
We are also members of a number of other sector working groups, through which we seek to influence policy-making and standards and also facilitate research in the field of human animal interaction.