ISAZ 2018

Symposium 8

Therapy canines:  screening and assessment safeguarding well-being and innovative programming

Date: Wednesday 4th July
Time: 2:15 am - 3:30 pm
Room: Platypus Room (Seminar Rooms 1.2/1.4)

Chair: John-Tyler Binfet

University of British Columbia, Kelowna, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada

This session provides an overview of three dimensions of working with therapy canines and includes sessions on therapy handler and canine screening and assessment criteria, the importance of safeguarding canine well-being during sessions, and an illustration of innovative canine therapy programming. Chaired by Dr. Binfet, this symposium will begin with an introduction to the field of canine assisted therapy and the variety of programs in which therapy canines are found. This will be followed by three presentations (+ a 5-minute question and answer period) moderated by Dr. Binfet. The session will end with concluding remarks synthesizing the three presentations.

This 1 hour symposium will include several speakers, and time for general discussions. Details of the individual presentations are provided below.

List of speakers include:

Elizabeth Kjellstrand Hartwig

Haley Silas

Carson McKay

Brittany Calibaba

What’s important in screening therapy canines?: A review of 320 North American Canine Assisted Therapy programs

In response to the surge in popularity of Canine-Assisted Therapy (CAT) programs, there is a need to better understand how both handlers and canines are deemed suitable for CAT work. This session will share the key findings of criteria identified across 320 North American programs. 

Safeguarding therapy canine well-being: Educating the public to recognize stress indicators in working canines

With over 50 working therapy canines and over 4,000 visitors to UBC's B.A.R.K. programs each year, it is important that the well-being of our dogs is safeguarded. This session showcases an educational campaign we undertook to educate volunteer canine handlers and the public participating in our programs around indicators of canine stress. This session will showcase educational materials (e.g., animated video, posters) we used to ensure the well-being of our working therapy canines.

Building confidence through K9’s: A pilot program to build children’s leadership through interactions with therapy canines

Extending the programming we provide to reduce stress in university students, the Building Academic Retention through K9s program at the University of British Columbia launched a pilot program for children in the community titled “Building Confidence through K9s.” This session will provide an overview of the curriculum developed, provide information on structuring a canine therapy program for children, and share illustrations of the work done by children during group sessions designed to build leadership and confidence.