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Pets As Therapy

What is Pets As Therapy (PAT)?

A child interacts with Tess

Pets As Therapy (PAT) is a free community service which has been offered by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for over 30 years. Through PAT, we provide companion dogs to children and adults who may disadvantaged due to age, illness, disability or isolation. The unconditional devotion of a companion dogs can encourage social activity in people, and can also play an important role in the emotional and physical development of children. They provide children a source of love and companionship, and opportunity to learn about responsibility first-hand.

All our PAT dogs are trained at the Guide Dogs Centre. As well as basic obedience, the dogs learn to walk quietly on the lead and, if required, next to a mobility aid such as a wheelchair, walking stick or frame. A PAT dog must be friendly, stable in temperament, and well behaved.

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What is a Pets As Therapy Dog?

The primary role of a PAT dog is to provide companionship and emotional support. PAT dogs are trained in basic obedience including sit, drop, stay, upstand, wait (for meals), ‘on your bed’, and ‘quick quicks’ (for toileting). They are trained to walk on the left side of the handler and be manageable and responsive on lead. PAT dogs have great home manners, reliable toileting habits, and are dog and people social. Where necessary PAT dogs are exposed to mobility equipment to ensure confidence and comfort around their handler. PAT dogs may support those with mental, emotional and behavioural conditions, illness, and physical disabilities by reducing anxiety, increasing a sense of community, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course, by providing unwavering friendship.

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 www.assistancedogsinternational.org 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). 

PAT dogs are permitted in National Parks PROVIDED they are on lead at all times, are with the client, are cleaned up after, and have appropriate ID (tag and letter provided by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT). 

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.  

Please note that a PAT dog will not suit everyone as individual needs vary. If your application is deemed unsuccessful other aides or recommendations may be made.
 

Pets As Therapy Programs

Two programs are currently offered within Pets As Therapy (PAT): PAT dogs for individuals and PAT dogs for residential.  

PAT dog for individuals

The primary role of a PAT dog (individual) is to provide companionship and emotional support to individuals. PAT dogs are trained in basic obedience, have great home manners, are reliable on lead, and are exposed to mobility equipment where necessary. PAT dogs may assist those with behavioural and mental health conditions, physical disabilities, and illness by reducing anxiety, increasing a sense of community, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course, providing unwavering friendship.  

Please note: PAT dogs are placed with clients in the capacity of a companion animal and therefore DO NOT have public access rights. Many clients find that having a loving, well-trained dog to spend time with in the home environment and surrounds adequately satisfies their needs. If you wish to take the dog to appointments, treatments, etc. or into public places, access will be at the care providers' or facility's discretion.    

PAT dog for residential 

The primary role of a PAT dog  for residential is to provide companionship and emotional support on a broader scale to appropriate facilities such as schools, nursing homes and rehabilitation clinics. PAT dogs are trained in basic obedience, have great home manners, are reliable on lead, and are exposed to mobility equipment where necessary. PAT dogs have also been assessed as suitable to be in and around busy environments and are matched with their specific role in mind.

Please note: PAT dogs for residential are placed in the capacity of a companion animal and therefore DO NOT have public access rights. It is the applicant’s responsibility to gain support and permission from the facility before applying. Risk assessments and both positive and negative impacts of having a dog in the facility should be thoughtfully considered before applying. If you wish to take the dog on outings to public places or have the dog present during residents’ appointments, treatments, etc., access will be at the care providers' or facility's discretion.    

Can I apply for a PAT dog?

Liam and his Guide Dog Yoda

Ownership of a PAT dog is a very rewarding experience, but it is also an ongoing responsibility. Dogs require exercise, grooming and constant care, and their health care requires a financial commitment from the user. PAT dog users will also need to maintain the animal's level of obedience.

Unfortunately, applications for our PAT dogs are currently closed but please watch this space. For more information on how you can support this wonderful program, visit these pages: