Part 3, Notes on book "Animal Assisted Play Therapy"

As part of our staff's continuing education training to continuously improve, we take yearly seminars to improve our skills. 

Encourage people to let the dog come to them.

3-second rule

  • Works especially well for cats
  • Pet for 3 seconds. Stoop. Watch for stress signals.

Relationship builder: Point out treats that you "find" on the ground,


  • Work for 90 minutes.
  • Break for 60.
  • Work for 90.


Introducing a dog:

  • Use a stuffed dog
  • "Do you want to know a secret about dogs?" Never hug a dog.
  • Pet chest, choulders, under chin
  • Give cues to child so they do them (then ask you to do them!)
  • Use a flat palm to feed a dog

Activities to do with a dog:

  • Feed them
  • Teach them something (like targeting)
  • Play fetch
  • Building a mock agility course (obstacle course)
  • Hide food for dog to find
  • Feelings ball (place in baskets that say Never, Sometimes, Often), and talk to dog while doing it
  • Hide and seek (child hides)
  • Ask "What do you think Fido is feeling right now?"
  • Grooming
  • Play "Leave It" with treats and the dog (teaches patience)
  • Tug of War (or "Rope Tug")
    • Kid's job: have fun, but make sure dog is not too excited
    • Let the dog win sometimes

Look Into My Eyes." Helpful for children with ASD (they can teach the dog to do this, which teaches them lessons, too)

  • Hold treat to side
  • Dog looks at it
  • Finally, dog looks at you in confusion
  • Click, treat.

Game: If you teach a dog to spin a spinner, the child can go to corresponding stations.

Game: Child buries items in sandbox, dog digs them up.

Game: Doggie Hotline

  • Tell child about dog's problems and ask child for advice on how to help the dog.
  • You can pretend the child is aat a call-in TV show, and child is a guest expert.
  • The problems can be similar to the child's problems

Debriefing afterwards

  • Chance to ask "How did you feel when..."

Death of a therapy animal

  • Put up a picture
  • Have a box (with slot) where clients can leave a message to or about the animal
  • Leave out cards and markers for the clients
  • A letter by the box from the animal can sometimes be appropriate