The Windwalker Humane Coalition

Frequently Asked Questions


Q) What kind of pet makes a good therapy pet?
A) Most any family pet that has a good temperament, is healthy and willingly likes to interact with people/strangers has the potential for being the therapy pet.

Q) What breed of dog can become a therapy dog?
A) Any breed or mixed breed of dog that is a well balanced, a beloved family pet, has a wonderful temperament and is healthy enough for this work, can have the potential for becoming a Therapy Dog. We do not discriminate breeds.

Q) At what age can my dog enter the DJ Professional Pet Assisted Therapy (DJPPAT) program?
A) This depends upon the individual dog however our rule of thumb is one year old.

Q) What other qualifications or skills does my dog need to have prior to entering the program?
A) What we recommend is that you and your dog together have Basic Obedience skills under your belt prior to coming into the DJ program. We can certainly help if you are in need of sharpening certain skills such as; not jumping, safely negotiating stairs etc. However, it is to your benefit to have the basic come, sit, down, stay and loose leash walking prior to coming into the program.

Q) What health documents are required?
A) We request that you have certificates/documentation showing proof of current Rabies vaccination along with up to date distemper/ as well as DHP, negative fecal and a basic statement from your veterinarian that your pet is healthy enough for PAT.

Q) What other types of pets have you credentialed?
A) We have had several cats, a few bunnies, a duck, and even a mini horse.

Q) If enrolled in the DJPPAT program with a pet other than a dog do I need to go through all three courses for credentialing?
A) Yes, all three would be required, however, course two, which is very specific to teams with the dogs, would be slightly different for you. You would be required for to attend the lecture & video portions of the class as well as what we call "walk-throughs" with your pet and of course the final competency.

Q) Is here a temperament test conducted for each pet?
A) Yes, each pet needs to pass a basic temperament test evaluation performed by the instructors prior to course 2.

Q) What is the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs?
A) The quick answer is a Service Dog is a highly trained dog that ministers to the needs of one person.

A Therapy Dog has a terrific temperament that loves interacting and working with many people in various environments.

A longer answer would be that a Service Dog is very specifically trained for the needs of one person with one or multiple disabilities.  The dog is usually trained by an organization that specializes in service dog training and placement. (See NEADS.org) These incredible dogs are often bred and raised specifically for this work but not always. After very intensive training the dogs live with the person they are going to provide service to and do become beloved family members. The dog's natural tendency for giving unconditional love and affection can also make them an unofficial therapy dog for that one person and within the family. When out in the community "one the job" they often do not interact with others.

Therapy Dogs do not go through this highly intensive training. They are well-balanced, good temperamented family pets which after successfully completing a program such as ours with their human guardian, which includes a positive temperament test, can then go on to serve many people in society in many different walks of life.

In closing, a Service Dog can certainly by his/her sweet nature act as and become a Therapy Dog under certain conditions. Some Service Dogs have dual certification. However, a credentialed Therapy Dog cannot necessarily become a Service Dog.

Q) How do my dog/pet and I become a Windwalker Pet Assisted Therapy Team (PPAT)?
A) You would enroll in the DJ Professional Pet Assisted Therapy Program. Once successfully graduated you and your pet become eligible for credentialing through our professional organization, Windwalker. You first have to join Windwalker as only active members are eligible to be credentialed by Windwalker. [See
Join Us and PPAT Credentialing]

Q) Once credentialed as a PPAT team where can my dog/pet and I work?
A) Therapy Pets and especially Therapy Dogs can be found in almost every arena where there is a need today. From hospitals, nursing homes and hospice, to Social Services and emotional/mental health. You can find them working with adults and children with various disabilities, in rehabilitation, Physical and Occupational Therapy. Additionally, in library, reading and educational programs and church programs, youth camps or making home visits. They are present in special situations offering relief from stress or grief. In our society today there is no end to where one might see a Therapy Pet. The need is great.

Q) How do I find places to do PPAT?
A) Once credentialed by Windwalker you are considered an Independent Contractor (not an employee of Windwalker). You are able to market your own services and find settings in which to do PPAT. Windwalker can help you with ideas or referral,s but does not assume responsibility for your work.  You are responsible for liability protection through your own insurance plan. In situations where Windwalker has a contractual agreement with a site, Windwalker may solicit a Credentialed Team to provide PPAT. In these situation,s Windwalker's insurance will provide liability protection.

Q) What are the benefits of Pet Assisted Therapy to society?
A) Our Therapy Pets benefit society in endless ways… our pets bring joy and healthy distraction to those who are institutionalized. Our pets are able to reduce the effects of loneliness and depression. Our pets help with socialization and dealing with loss and grief. Our pets even educate.

Our pets help motivate patients in OT and PT settings and help in the healing process.

Our pets connect with children often when adults cannot, to bridge those gaps and realize social benefits and facilitate learning. Our pets offer a safe, nonjudgmental environment where all are excepted equally and offer their unconditional love and healing touch.  Further they bring encouragement, motivation, physical and emotional healing, education, relaxation, joy and companionship and an endless list of benefits that can be realized for the human client.

Our pets benefit too and this is key to the success of any PPAT program! A good PPAT program should be enjoyable and beneficial for pet, client and you!

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Mailing Address: 190 Mill Cove Road | Warwick RI 02889

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