Pets As Therapy | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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Pets As Therapy

What is PAT?

Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a free community service which has been offered by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for over 30 years. The PAT Program aims to assist members of the public whom may benefit from a therapy dog but don’t have the time, capacity or resources to raise and train an appropriate dog themselves. Labradors used in the PAT Program are carefully selected and matched with their client to increase the likelihood of a successful partnership.


Who can apply for a PAT dog?

PAT dogs may provide comfort, companionship and emotional support to individuals and those attending or residing in facilities whom experience behavioural, emotional and mental health conditions, physical disabilities, or isolation caused by age or illness.PAT applicants are required to provide a secure and loving home with adequate fencing and shelter and allow the dog to spend time in and sleep inside the home. PAT dogs have been raised to be with people and as such should not be left alone for more than 4 hours a day most days of the week.     

What are the benefits of a PAT dog?

PAT dogs can improve quality of life by reducing anxiety, increasing physical activity, a sense of community and well- being, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course providing non-judgemental and unwavering friendship. Interaction with therapy dogs has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate, increase speech and memory function and heighten mental clarity.

PAT dogs are trained in basic obedience, have great home manners, are reliable on lead and are exposed to mobility equipment and other stimulus where necessary. And they are just plain gorgeous!  

What can we offer? 

Two programs are currently offered within PAT; PAT dogs for individuals and PAT dogs for residential. 


The primary role of a PAT (individual) is to provide companionship and emotional support to those whom might benefit. Current and past applicants have included children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, San Filippo Syndrome, Global Development Delay, epilepsy, anxiety, depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, early onset dementia, vision impairment, hearing impairment, stroke, cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and acquired brain injury to name a few.


The primary role of a PAT dog (residential) is to provide companionship and emotional support on a broader scale to appropriate facilities such as schools, nursing homes, psychologists, counsellors and rehabilitation clinics. PAT dogs placed in residential programs have also been assessed as suitable to be in and around busy environments and are matched with their specific role in mind.  PAT dogs placed in facilities require a Primary Carer who will take the dog home with them after their day ‘at work’. We do not place dogs in facilities on a permanent basis.

How can I apply?  

To apply please click on the link for the program which best suits your needs: Individual or Residential. Alternatively you can contact the Guide Dog Centre on (02) 4579 7555 or email admin [at]

Important Information

PAT dogs are placed with clients in the capacity of a companion animal and therefore do NOT have public access rights. Although PAT dogs are matched to clients based on a carefully considered criteria, PAT dogs are not trained in behaviours to specifically assist with alleviating or mitigating a client’s health concerns and therefore are not considered an Assistance Animal (please see for more information regarding assistance dog standards and types).

Should you wish to take your PAT dog into public places such as medical appointments, school grounds, café’s, etc. you will need to seek permission from each individual establishment which may or may not grant access. PAT dogs are permitted in housing under the Fair Housing Act (FHA).

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT complies with the Federal Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Companion Animals Act 1988 NSW Legislation in relation to welfare, training, allocation and public access of PAT dogs.