Animal-Assisted Therapy, Education and Activities Class (AAI)


Animal-Assisted Therapy, Education and Activities Class (aka – AAI – Animal Assisted Interventions)

The Three Dogs Training AATEA class is for anyone wishing to be involved with their dog in any kind of Animal Assisted Intervention program.

This is a 6 week long class and meets for an hour-and-a-quarter each week. For upcoming class dates please see our class schedule.
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Dante with me in the beginning 2000

I have been teaching Animal Assisted Therapy, Education, and Activity classes since 2000 and am a Pet Partner (formerly Delta) certified Instructor, Certified Evaluator, and have been a Registered Pet Partner with three of my dogs (see A Dog Named Boo for more on that) and I have worked with two different residential special needs schools to establish best practices and training for their campus therapy dogs.

The Essence of the Human-Animal Bond:

“It is a rare thing in humans to be able to look at the face of a person whose life has so obviously been harsh, or has taken a turn in that direction, without visible pity and anguish. And it is a rare thing for the person being looked upon to not see the discomfort in the face of the onlooker. However, it is the dog, the cat, and the rest of our companion animals who do not see what has been, but who look only at the possibility of and need for joy that exists in all of us. For the animals, it’s not about pity, anguish, or guilt, it is about their rare and majestic gift of being able to tease out the joy in all things even where there seems to be none left. And it is in this that allows them to often go where no person can go to do therapeutic work.”
– LJ Edwards

Here are a couple student comments collected anonymously:

“Mrs. Edwards is very professional and has always delivered the material on a level the entire class could understand. Mrs. Edwards incorporates humor as well as stories and metaphors to further drive home her point or lessons. She is an outstanding instructor.”

DL
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Porthos fills in for Boo at Maryknoll

“What a fabulous instructor and class! We are eager to continue!! Thank you – even the hour long commute on my only day off was worth every minute!”

AP
Here are some not-so-anonymous testimonials from some of our students:
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The handling skills that I learned with my dog, Sophie, in Lisa Edwards’ AAT class gave us a wonderful foundation for the visiting… In the area where we live, there are classes for obedience, rally, agility and tracking, but none that teach the skills specific to therapy work, so we commuted from upstate NY to Mahopac for Lisa’s class. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would do it again without hesitation.

Jean and Sophie, Ithaca, NY

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Everyone participates – with the same goal – to help the other humans and pets understand and enjoy each other a little better.
After just two classes with both of my dogs in the same class, the change was obvious to me and to all who visited our home. The dogs’ demeanors changed drastically for the better – toward guests and toward each other. And the best part – no more pulling on leashes and no more need for the Gentle Leader.

Lisa’s knowledge and intuitiveness of dog behavior was readily apparent from the first class and from the respect she gets from the outset from the owners of and from the dogs. More importantly, Lisa makes the class fun for all, and heaven knows, we humans sometimes have to chill.

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Thanks to Lisa, Cobber and I passed the Delta evaluation (although I’m still peeved that Cobber received a higher score than I did).

Cobber, Donald, and Dodger, too
Garrison, NY

Orville and I had been to other trainers without success. No other trainer was able to figure out how to get Orville to understand the requirements for being a therapy dog were different from his former experience as a show dog.

Had it not been for your knowledge, patience and creativity we would not have passed the Delta evaluation. After failing twice I was beginning to think that this might not be for us.

Michael and Orville

Orville and I have been doing a lot of therapy work and as you predicted he is perfect for the job.

There is a boy in the local Children’s Hospital, who is waiting for a heart to be transplanted and he loves Orville…Yesterday while on a visit, two Pediatric Cardiologists came in to examine the little boy. I had previously told him that I would be back on Tuesday. The doctors informed him that he was going to have a procedure done either Tuesday or Wednesday. The little boy replied, “Tuesday won’t work because Orville will be here.”

Michael Galuskin
West Nyack, NY
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Boo visiting some of his favorite kids

Since 2000, Animal Assisted Intervention has been a huge part of my life. I have set up hundreds of visits through HART Programs, done thousands of visits with three of my own therapy dogs, taught hundreds of teams (maybe more) to go out into the world and bring joy, learning, and therapy with their dogs. I have consulted on campus therapy dog programs for two residential special needs schools. And my best-selling book A Dog Named Boo, about Boo unlikely rise to champion therapy dog did so well with its first printing in 2012, it was re-released in 2021.

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Porthos having a good scratch

As a result, I am keenly aware of what a team will encounter on any given visit. I structure this class as a support for any visiting pet program by teaching the handling skills necessary to prepare teams for the variety of experiences their dogs will need to tolerate while I prepare the humans to support and facilitate the animal connection made with their clients. This course will cover the advanced skills necessary for interacting and working around various medical equipment, strange objects and toys, out-of-the-ordinary spaces, and new environments; we will explore best practices for handling dogs in various distracting situations, how best to handle the stress your dog will face while doing this work, and how to best interact with the various interpersonal situations visiting will bring including, but not limited to, what to do when your dog won’t visit with someone, or what to do if there is an incident.

For more information see class schedule.