Our Community Dog programme is based on Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) techniques. This is the term given to interventions where a specially-trained dog and professional handler work together, in conjunction with a human services professional (eg therapist, social care practitioner, teacher or healthcare provider), to promote improvements in the physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning of a person.
These interventions are designed to meet particular goals to support that individual’s needs. Goals can be very varied and may include helping a client with:
- Building self esteem
- Overcoming anxiety and building confidence
- Accessing the community
- Social interaction with others
- Physical mobility, eg fine and gross motor skills
- Changing patterns of behaviour
Our specialist handler works alongside the local professional to design an engaging programme of activity with the dog, aimed at meeting the client’s goals. Sessions typically take place on a weekly basis with progress reviewed on a regular basis. The aim is that the client achieves goals and is able to maintain them without reliance on the dog.
How does the Community Dog intervention process work?
This graphic summarises the intervention process.
At Dogs for Good, we work with both adults and children across a wide range of client groups, including autism, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, rehabilitation needs, mental health conditions, social isolation and dementia.
We have worked in a number of environments such as schools, colleges, hospitals, in the home and in the wider community. Our work is undertaken with a range of collaborative partners including local authorities, specialist charities, education providers and health providers.
Watch AAI in action at Round Oak School
AAI is a well-established practice in many parts of the world, but is less advanced in the UK. At Dogs for Good we are at the forefront of its development in the UK, building on the knowledge and experience we have gained through our Assistance Dog and Family Dog services, and our collaboration with international partners.
We are a founder member of Animal Assisted Intervention International, a new international practitioners’ organisation, which has created global standards of best practice
As we continue to develop our Community Dog programme, we can bring our services and knowledge to a greater number of people who can be helped in small one to one sessions or feel the benefits of working in small groups.
Using Animal Assisted Intervention we can help people facing real challenges experience the benefits of dogs in a therapeutic, focused and individual way.