Pet Therapy

Learn about how animals and pets can be used to improve people’s mental and physical health in pet therapy and animal therapy

Course CodeBPS221
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Learn about pet therapy to help improve psychological wellbeing of your clients

Pet therapy and animal therapy is well becoming a popular method for improving the psychological wellbeing of people. 

The theory behind pet therapy and animal therapy is based on an old concept, that animals are comforting and caring companions and have a level of understanding and non-verbal communication.  Many children and adults will develop emotional connections with pets and other animals. Pets are non-judgemental and provide affection on demand. They can help to reduce stress and stimulate social interaction. They can be fun, amusing and ask for little in return.

Pet therapy and animal therapy is a useful and sometimes critical approach to management of human well being in a wide variety of situations, including:

  • Guide dogs to help visually or hearing impaired people
  • Riding (horses) for the disabled
  • Pets in hospitals
  • Companion animals for the aged
  • Dealing with psychological issues

This course will help you learn about the benefits of pet therapy and animal therapy and how to start out using pet therapy in a therapeutic context and for improving the psychological wellbeing of your client.

You will be guided through this course with the help and with feedback from your tutor so you will understand the fundamentals of pet therapy. This is a great addition for anyone who currently works in pet therapy or considering adding it to their professional development learning.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Pet Therapy
    • Introduction to Pet Therapy
    • Animal and Human Relationships
    • Animal Assisted Therapy
    • Animal Assisted Activities
    • Animals Used in Pet Therapy
    • Scientific Research Supporting Pet Therapy
    • Tension and Stress
    • Depression and Anxiety
    • Touch, Affection and Compansionship
    • Immune System Reponse and Pain Control
    • Cancer Patients, Palliative Care and Heart Disease
    • Healthier Lifestyles, Structure and Routine
    • Benefits for Older People
    • Pet Therapy and Children
    • Negative Effects of Pet Therapy on People
    • Negative Impacts on Pets and Animals
    • Cultural Differences
  2. Mental Health and Physical Assistance
    • Pet Therapy Research and Mental Health Conditions Introduction
    • Agitation and Cognitive Impairments
    • Depression
    • Schizophrenia
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • Stress
    • Human-Animal Interactions
    • Bonding
    • Warning and Protection
    • Transport and Carriage
    • Working Animals
  3. Working with animals
    • Introduction to working animals.
    • Factors for Consideration
    • Human Safety
    • Client Possessive Behaviour and Bonding
    • Animal Health and Welfare
    • Animal Behaviour
    • Resources and Legalities
    • Animal Species
    • Large, Medium and Small Animals
    • Suitability to the Client
    • Therapy Settings
    • Preparing Clients and Animals for a Session
  4. Applications for people with mental health conditions
    • Mental Health Conditions
    • Mood Disoders
    • Anxiety
    • Social Phobias
    • Depression
    • Developmental Disorders
    • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • Austism Spectrum Disorder
    • Austism Assistance Dogs
    • The Stress Response
    • Panic Attacks
    • Other Animal Contributions to Mental Wellbeing (Pleasure, Motivation and Exercise)
  5. Applications for people with disabilities
    • Benefits of a Pet Therapy Program for People with Disabilities
    • Service Assistance Animals
    • Guide Dogs
    • Hearing Dogs
    • Seizure Alert Dogs
    • Diabetic Alert Dogs
    • Allergy Detection Dogs
    • Mobility Assistance Dogs
    • Physiotherapy Assistance Dogs
    • Pet Therapy Dogs Summary
  6. Applications for Children
    • Pet Therapy and Children Introduction
    • Difficulties of Pet Therapy with Children
    • Developing Empathy
    • The Benefits of Pet Therapy for Children
    • Children with ADHD
    • Children with Autism
  7. Applications for Older People
    • Introduction
    • Specific Applications of Therapy for Elderly
    • Grief and Loss
    • Physical Activity
    • Stress, Blood Pressure and Anxiety
    • Cardiovascular Disease
    • When The Owner Can No Longer Care for the Animal
  8. Establishing a Pet Therapy Service
    • Pet Therapy as a Business
    • Planning Your Pet Therapy Service
    • Which Animal is Most Suitable
    • Client Group
    • Timeline
    • Marketing Your Services
    • Data Protection and Privacy
    • Veterinarians
    • Other Services
    • Free or Paid For Services
    • Insurance
    • Business Plan
    • Buying an Existing Business
    • Animal Welfare Considerations
    • Remaining Competitive

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Explain the nature of pet therapy and determine where it may be used as a therapeutic tool.
  • Explain how pets can contribute to a person’s wellbeing as a companion or working animal.
  • Determine how to work with animals effectively and appropriately in a therapeutic situation.
  • Discuss ways in which pet therapy can be used for people with psychological conditions.
  • Discuss ways in which pet therapy can be used for people with physical disabilities
  • Discuss ways in which pet therapy can be used for children of different ages and circumstances.
  • Discuss ways in which pet therapy can be used for older people in different circumstances.
  • Plan the establishment and operation of a pet therapy service.

What You Will Do

  • Explore the positive and negative effects pet ownership has on health.
  • Find out about local animal assistance therapies or groups available in your local area.
  • Gather information on the range of animal therapies which are used specifically in mental health care support.
  • Observe a therapy session taking place.
  • Research different ways that animals can benefit our health.
  • Watch a dog being trained for therapy work.
  • Using personal experiences, or those of someone you know, consider how animals can improve mental health.
  • Investigate how a specific mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety or PTSD can benefit from pet therapy
  • Talk to someone who has made use of pet therapy for physical disabilities and research how pet therapy is carried out, including how it benefits the person.
  • Carry out research into pet therapy with older people. Talk to an older person or several older people who have experienced pet therapy and ask them to share their experiences.
  • Prepare a plan for establishing a pet therapy service.
  • Find out about the use of therapy assistance pets and animals in schools and education settings.

The Science Supporting Pet Therapy

For a long time, the benefits of having a pet have been considered anecdotally.  Pet therapy and animal therapy is a relatively new form of therapy and further research is being carried out to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. Having a pet and pet therapy has been shown to have substantial impacts upon a person’s health.  Research has found that pet owners over 65 years of age who have a pet, have 30% less visits to a doctor than those without a pet.

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