AIR Dogs: Paws For Minds Therapy Dogs Program
This is a comprehensive program highlighting how dogs are good for our mental health. Dogs and handlers are trained and certified to work with students in several ways.
All AIR Dog handlers are asked to be Youth Mental Health First Aid certified.
The AIR Dogs program evaluators tests and certify dogs with a specific focus on mental wellness, specifically for youth.
- AIR Programs- Therapy Dogs accompany AIR volunteers during all AIR mental health programming, from elementary through college-age. Discussing mental health and suicide prevention can be difficult topics. After the presentation students are encouraged to meet with the dogs to help them de-stress after what could have been a difficult, possibly triggering, program.
At one school a young woman was triggered by the suicide prevention discussion. She was in tears but refused to talk to a counselor. With less than 5 minutes of interacting with a dog, this young woman stopped crying and left the auditorium with the counselor.
- AIR Facility Therapy Dogs - AIR Dog certified trainers and evaluators work with school personnel to prepared teams to work as facility therapy dogs. Training is for the human, as well as the canine, to ensure that all training provides a safe, beneficial environment for students, staff and dogs. Personnel can include school counselors who use Animal Assisted Therapy and build the dog into the treatment plan for the student.
- AIR ESA Dogs – AIR Dogs can assist those looking to train and certify an Emotional Support Animal under the Fair Housing Act (HUD).
- AIR Crisis Support Dogs- In the wake of a tragedy AIR Dog volunteers travel to schools to share their dogs with grieving students and faculty. When the dogs enter the facility, there is a change in atmosphere. Students sit on the floor with the dogs, and the counselors sit on the floor with students and the healing can begin.
- AIR Awareness Therapy Dogs-Certified Therapy Dogs attend community events, helping to break down communication barriers and start many conversations about good mental health and suicide prevention. This includes school mental wellness events.
Speaker Tricia Baker, CPDT-KA, Therapy Dog Evaluator, Canine Good Citizen Evaluator & Certified Mental Health First Aider presents Paws for Wellness. To find out information on this one-hour presentation covering the benefits of support animals please reach out to Tricia@AIR.ngo.