Maplegate House


What Are the Steps of Pet Therapy?

The first step in pet therapy is the selection of a suitable animal. Many animal groups train and connect volunteer owners and pets with health care providers. Before an animal and its handler can participate in pet therapy, the team usually has to fulfill certain requirements. This process typically includes:

  • a physical examination of the animal to confirm that it is immunized and free of diseases
  • an obedience training course to ensure proper animal control
  • an instructional course to teach the trainer about patient interaction
  • an evaluation of the animal’s temperament and behavior with the handler
  • a certification from the sponsoring organization

Once an animal-and-handler team is approved, animals are assigned for therapy based on patients’ needs. The animal’s type, breed, size, age, and natural behavior determine where it will be most helpful.

Goals of a pet therapy program

  • improve fine motor skills
  • improve assisted or independent movement
  • increase self-esteem
  • decrease anxiety or loneliness
  • increase verbal communication
  • develop social skills
  • increase willingness to join in activities
  • improve interactions with others
  • motivate willingness to exercise