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What is Dog-Assisted Therapy?

Dog-Assisted Therapy is exactly that! Therapy that uses the assistance of a trained dog to achieve specific therapy goals. Our Dog-Assisted Therapy service uses highly trained Labradors to deliver creative ways for children to achieve their therapy goals.

Image of two children reading a book with therapy dog Bazza

Who can benefit from Dog-Assisted Therapy?

Children of all ages with a range of disabilities such as:

  • autism
  • global developmental delay
  • intellectual or learning disability
  • sensory impairment
  • physical disability.

Goals and activities of Dog-Assisted Therapy

  • Motivation for children to engage in practice of skills (moving towards the dog or interaction with the dog is used as a reward for completing a task or skill).
  • Physical tasks (turning the pages of a book, walking side by side).
  • Emotional regulation – providing a calming effect.
  • Social skills development (eye contact, turn-taking, listening, waiting).
  • Self-care and care of others – dressing, feeding.
  • Play and language skills – communicating wants and needs through words or other means.
  • Pretend play – engaging the dog in imaginative play, role play, etc.

How does it work?

Our therapist will work with you to identify suitable goals for Dog-Assisted Therapy. A session usually lasts one hour and involves the child, therapist, dog and parents/caregivers.

  1. The service is based around specific goals – generally lasting 6 sessions in duration.
  2. In the initial session you and your child will be orientated to the service. Our Occupational Therapist will work with you to set suitable goals for Dog-Assisted Therapy, and your child will be introduced to our trained therapy dog for the first time.
  3. At the end of the program, goals are reviewed and you are provided with a summary report that can be shared with your child’s therapy team.

Dogs are not just pets during our sessions. My child, who has complex disabilities, made a unique connection with Bazza that he may not have made with a human. Even if only brief, it was inspiring to see this interaction between him and Bazza was possible.
– Lindsey and Oscar

Image of Bazza the therapy dog

Meet Bazza

Hi, my name’s Bazza. I’ve trained hard to become a therapy dog, and had lots of fun along the way. The best thing about my job is spending time with children. I love to see them smiling and having fun during their therapy sessions.

I enjoy playing games and especially like it when children give me cuddles or groom me – I’ve even fallen asleep a few times during a grooming session, but don’t tell anyone! When I’m not hard at work I love to spend time playing with my toys and snoozing. On a hot summer day, you’ll find me relaxing in my paddling pool.

Image of OT Paige with a young toddler clientMeet the OTs

The best therapist might have fur and four legs! Dog-Assisted Therapy provides the children we work with a new medium of therapy; a new and meaningful opportunity to interact in their own special way whether this be verbally, through sight or simply touch and being close to our special dogs. – Paige

I’ve worked as an Occupational Therapist for 15 years, with people of all ages and across a variety of areas. I feel extremely privileged to have joined the Dog-Assisted Therapy team. They say you should never work with animals or children, yet here I am working with both, and I love it! – Kate

How can I access Dog-Assisted Therapy?

VisAbility offers this service to clients through limited state-funded government therapy places. You can also access this service through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or pay a fee for the service. We are proud to offer this innovative service to children through our centre in Victoria Park.

To apply, complete our online application form or contact us today.