When it comes to therapy dogs you may have noticed that there is a lot of terminology. Here is a bit of a key as to how to demystify all of those acronyms that are used to describe dogs with various functions.

ATT stands for “Animal Assisted Therapy”. And AFT stands for “Animal Facilitated Therapy”. They are essentially the same thing.

However the Delta Society defines ATT as referring only to dogs that are assigned to a particular therapeutic protocol under the supervision of a professional. Unfortunately this has blurred the meaning of ATTT.

For example, in physical therapy (for a stroke) a treatment protocol would be written up with specific goals along the way such as the patient picking up a brush and stroking the dog five times. Eventually this leads up to the patient being able to attach the leash to the collar, pet the dog and walk the dog.

If the patient has social or mental problems it might be that the patient might simply be required focus on the dog for a certain number of time seconds – which increases over times eventually evolving into interaction. During all this records are kept as to the progress of the therapeutic treatment. That is “Animal Assisted Therapy” or AAT or AFT.

AAA stands for “animal assisted activities and it refers to animals that make generalized visits. Dogs making generalized visits to convalescent homes, hospitals, youth facilities etc. are called “animal assisted activities dogs.” People visited often receive a therapeutic effect but there is no treatment prescribed for how this can be achieved.

AAA dogs are people’s pets. The volunteers receive little or no training in therapeutic technique but the owner may have gotten into this as philanthropy after noticing that his or her pet gets along with others or that the pet has a calming presence.

In order to do well at AAA both you and your dog must be polite, social and well behaved but other than that no special training is required. Their role is to simply make life a little more pleasant for those in various treatment or residential facilities. People visited often receive a therapeutic effect but there is no treatment protocol for an individual patient.

In many cases the benefits offered by visiting pets are the same as those offered by Animal Assisted Therapy, the difference being that the there is no prescribed course of treatment and no recording of the effects on the individual. However these programs exist because they really do have benefits for all kinds of people including the infirm, the elderly and the mentally ill. Pets