Various therapy dog team workplaces
Choosing the ideal workplace is essential to the success of the therapy dog team.
The therapy dog team, comprised of owner and dog, forges a personal relationship with visitees. The team offers companionship, warmth, and affection. A visit usually lasts between one half to one hour. Examples of therapy dog workplaces are:
- Psychiatric clinics
- Rehabilitation clinics
- Retirement homes, Assisted living residences
- Special needs schools
- Homes for those with multiple handicaps
- Protected working environments
- Homes for those with AIDS
- Palliative care institutions
Cooperation with professionals
Our teams may also work directly with occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, physicians and/or psychiatrists. In the United States there is long term experience with therapy dogs working with patients with closed head injuries, spinal injuries, amputees, strokes, neuromuscular disease, and orthopedic injuries. This knowledge is also being applied in Switzerland.
Potential health risks are addressed, liability insurance required
Every dog must pass a thorough health exam before beginning therapy dog visits, and this health exam must be repeated yearly. In addition, each team agrees to uphold the VTHS worming protocol, and maintain careful grooming of their dogs to ensure all working dogs are free of endo- and ectoparasites. Furthermore, each team must present proof of full liability insurance prior to beginning therapy dog visits, and must maintain this coverage.
Visits are carefully planned
Prior to each visit relevant administrators, physicians, nursing personnel, social service providers etc. are contacted to determine which residents or patients may be visited. In addition the following questions are clarified:
- Are there individuals on the premises who are allergic to dogs, or who are afraid of dogs?
- Which type of visit is desired - a private visit with a bedridden individual, a group visit in a multipurpose room, or an outdoor walk?
- Is a set visit rhythm desired, or may the team freely structure visits within a certain timeframe?
Animal welfare also protects people
We address the needs of both people and animals. Our dogs are family dogs. The visits last for a specified, limited amount of time. The dogs must not be overtaxed. All dogs undergo a full veterinary physical before the first visit, as well as each year thereafter.