Each pet therapy session would see volunteers and their dogs greeting the patients, and using the dogs to help break the ice in starting a conversation. Simple Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) would include putting small dogs onto the laps of patients to be stroked and getting larger dogs to “feet up” onto patients to be patted. It may also include getting the dogs to perform tricks to entertain the patients, or getting patients to give the dogs little treats.
Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) activities may be tailored to help specific patients achieve desired benefits, including walking the dogs, throwing dumbbells of different weights and sizes, and brushing the dogs’ fur.
It is very helpful for volunteers to take the initiative to strike up conversations with the patients, encourage them to talk about themselves, and build bonds of friendship over time.