Delta Therapy Dogs Program

Delta Therapy Dogs is a national leader in the delivery of Animal Assisted Services, with over 1,200 volunteers delivering Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) and Collaborative Animal Assisted Therapy (C-AAT) in hospitals, aged care facilities, youth services, mental health services, correctional facilities, and other health and community services right across Australia.

The benefits of therapy animals are scientifically proven.  Therapy Dogs have a positive impact on social, emotional, physical and physiological health, improving quality of life and well-being. There is now a large body of empirical research which supports positive outcomes for various population groups across health and community settings. 

We work with our facility partners to determine the right type of program delivery, and assist in establishing robust program design in their facility which will see the program beneficiaries establish strong animal-human bonds with our Therapy Dogs and human-human bonds with our volunteers.

Delta’s Therapy Dog Teams are an amazing group of volunteers and their beloved pet dogs, who willingly give their time and commitment to support our program delivery. Volunteers are recruited against a set of selection criteria and their dogs against strict temperament and skills assessment. They are trained and supported to deliver our programs in conjunction with our facility partners.

​Our national team of staff and volunteers love what we do, and the impact that we have on the lives of over 20,000 people each and every week.

Become a Facility Partner

Want to introduce Animal Assisted Activities or Animal Assisted Therapy to your facility? We would love to be a part of your journey and partner with you to establish and provide the ongoing support required to implement our program successfully in your facility.

We offer our Delta Therapy Dogs program to aged care facilities, hospitals and other public health facilities, correctional facilities, and government or for-purpose organisations delivering mental health, youth, disability or other community services. At this stage we do not deliver services to individuals unless they are receiving service from an organisation with whom we can partner, and nor are we an approved NDIS Provider.

Qualifying organisations can receive a fortnightly session, for up to 90mins, for a contribution of $1,030 per annum per Therapy Dog Team. As a charitable organisation we fundraise to cover the difference between this contribution and the actual program costs. 

After thoroughly reading the Frequently Asked Questions below we would invite you to click on the link below to read more and to send through your Expression of Interest. One of our State Program Coordinators will then be in touch to discuss the next steps.

Not a health or community service facility?

 

We do deliver Collaborative Animal Assisted Education (C-AAE) to educational institutions through our Classroom Canines program . We work with our partners to provide literacy programs and therapeutic interventions to support social interaction, pro-social skills, self-efficacy, language and communication, positive emotions and reduce stress. Head to our Classroom Canines program page to read more.

If you do not fall in to one of the categories above it doesn’t mean you need to miss out on receiving a visit from a Therapy Dog however – jump over to our Paws the Pressure program page to read more.

Not located in one of our delivery regions?

 

Delta Therapy Dogs in-person program delivery has a national reach, however there are some regional and remote areas we are unfortunately unable to service face to face due to the geographic limits of the on-going assessment and training that our Therapy Dog Teams undertake.

 

In this situation, we can offer facilities specially trained Therapy Dog Teams who can deliver Animal Assisted Activities via video call as part of the Delta Therapy Digi-Dogs Program - meaning there are no bounds to the joy that we can help animals bring to people both nationally and internationally.

Delta Therapy Digi-Dog sessions can be purchased in a bundle of 10 for $200 or a bundle of 25 for $450 and, subject to Therapy Dog Team availability, can be utilised in a format that suits the facility and the program beneficiaries.

Volunteer for Us

  • Are you motivated by a desire to bring joy to the lives of our Program Beneficiaries by sharing your pet dog?

  • Are you adaptable and resilient?

  • Do you have excellent verbal and interpersonal skills and a good level of energy when engaging with others?

  • Do you have a positive relationship with your dog and embrace positive reinforcement training?

  • Does your dog thrive off affection from people?

  • Does your dog have a good level of obedience and a calm demeanour?

  • Is your dog aged between 18months and 9 years of age?

  • Do you have at least 1.5hrs to spare on a fortnightly basis?

If so we would love to hear from you – we are always looking for more volunteers to join the Delta family! If you think you and your special four legged friend are a good fit we'd love to receive your application for the role of Therapy Dog Team.

After thoroughly reading the Frequently Asked Questions below we would invite you to click on the link to read more and to send through your Expression of Interest for the role. One of our State Program Coordinators will then be in touch to discuss the next steps.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What's so special about our Therapy Dog Teams?


Each team consists of a volunteer and their beloved pet dog. Unlike other providers, Delta Therapy Dogs has robust recruitment and selection processes for both human and dog, and sucessful applicats are provided with on-going support and training to ensure our program beneficiaries get the best outcomes possible. Each volunteer has been recruited to the role based on our selection criteria - including application, interview, reference check, national police check and sucessful completion of our Volunteer Induction Training program. Dogs have undergone health screening checks and temperament testing to determine their suitability also. Each dog undergoes regular health checks and re-assessment to ensure ongoing suitability to the work. Our Therapy Dog Teams love the work that they do, and thrive on bringing joy to our program beneficiaries.




Where in Australia does the program operate?


We currently operate the Delta Therapy Dogs in-person programs in Townsville, Cairns and South-East Queensland (inc. Toowomba); Hunter/Newcastle, Central Coast and Sydney in New South Wales; Canberra and surrounds; Albury/Wodonga, Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria; Hobart and Devonport in Tasmania; Adelaide, South Australia; and Perth, Western Australia.

Our Delta Therapy Digi-Dogs program is available nationally or internationally.

If you operate / reside outside these regions please get in touch with us via info@deltatherapydogs.org.au to discuss further.

It should be noted that at this time our waitlist for both volunteer applicants and facility partners is significant in some areas, and so please be patient with us at this time. We run 2-4 volunteer intakes per year per region, and endeavour to work our way through our waitlists as quickly as we can.




What is the frequency of the service delivery?


A dedicated Therapy Dog Team will provide the Delta Therapy Dogs program on a fortnightly basis for up to 90minutes per session. We ask our partner facilities and volunteers to commit to at least 12 months, though if need arises we can work to find replacements. If you would like to receive program delivery on a more frequent basis we would be happy to look to place multiple Therapy Dog Teams in your facility. Our Delta Therapy Digi-Dogs program is more flexible, and when you choose a bundle of 10 or 25 sessions, subject to Therapy Dog Team availability, you can use these in a way which best suits your facility and program beneficiaries.




Is there a cost for facilities?


We ask our Delta Therapy Dog program partner facilities to contribute $1,030 per annum per Therapy Dog Team. The Delta Therapy Digi-Dogs program is $200 for 10 sessions or $450 for 25 sessions. These contributions goes towards recruitment, assessment, training, program coordination and governance and on-going support for volunteers and facility partners. As a non-profit organisation Delta Therapy Dogs fundraises to cover the difference between the facility contribution and actual running costs of the program.




What are the benefits of the Therapy Dogs Program?


The human-animal bond can impact people and animals in so many positive ways. Research shows therapy dogs can reduce a person’s stress physiologically (cortisol levels) and increase attachment responses that trigger oxytocin – otherwise known as the Love Hormone.

Evidence has shown that there is improved physical, social, cognitive, emotional and environmental outcomes for a person who interacts with a dog on a regular basis.

Dogs too have been proven to have the same physiological reaction when they have participated in Animal Assisted Interventions.

Click here to read more about the benefits of Animal Assisted Interventions.




Aren't dogs dirty and don't they carry germs?


In an word, no! We ask our volunteers to ensure their dogs are washed before making their visits, so they will carry in no more "dirt" than what might be carried in by a human's shoes. It is also a requirement that Delta dogs are vaccinated to the highest level, and are treated regularly for worms and fleas. There are also very few "germs" that dogs carry that can affect humans (a sick human visitor is a much higher risk than a healthy dog visitor).




Can I get my dog trained to become a Delta Therapy Dog?


Generally speaking Therapy Dogs are born and not made, and a large part of our Assessment looks at their temperament and the bond that they have with their handler. However there is some basic obedience requirements, including being able to walk on a loose lead, sit when asked, and to be able to walk past other dogs without reacting. If you feel your dog needs further training before attempting to become a Therapy Dog, please contact one of our Delta dog trainers who will be able to assist you. There's a search function on the Delta Institute website where you can find a trainer near you - www.deltainstitute.edu.au




What are Animal Assisted Services?


Our Therapy Dog Teams work with our partner facilities to deliver an intervention which is designed to promote improvement in physical, social, emotional and/or cognitive functioning of the person(s) involved. The term Animal Assisted Serivices (AAS) covers the work undertaken by Therapy Dogs and Assistance Dogs. The umbrella term for the work of Therapy Dogs is Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI), and includs Animal Assisted Education (AAE / C-AAE). Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT / C-AAT) and Animal Assisted Activities (AAA). Delta Therapy Dogs delivers Collaborative Animal Assisted Therapy (C-AAT) in both psychotherapy and physical therapy. C-AAT is goal orientated and documented, and our Therapy Dog Teams work alongside a practitioner with specialised expertise to deliver the program to 1-3 program beneficiaries per session. This robust models means that the Delta Therapy Dog volunteer can focus on the dog while the practitioner can focus on the program beneficiary, and in partnership can work to achieve the human-animal bond designed to achieve the goals of the intervention. AAA on the other hand is generally less goal-directed and has more focus on general wellbeing and quality of life. The benefit of AAA is that our Therapy Dog Teams have the capacity to spend each session with approximately 20-25 program beneficiaries.




Does Delta Therapy Dogs provide Therapy Dog Accreditation, Training or Public Access Tests?


No, we do not provide accreditation services for Therapy Dogs. Delta Therapy Dogs assess dogs to take on the role of Therapy Dog Team with Delta Therapy Dogs. While we advise volunteer applicants what the outcome of this assessment is, we do not provide any documentation for use outside our organisation.

While we provide training to our Therapy Dog Teams as part of their induction and on-going support in their role within our organisation, we do not provide specific Therapy Dog Training for use outside our organisation.

To be recognised as an Assistance Dog within Australian legislation, all dogs must pass a Public Access Test (PAT) before they can be certified to access public places and public passenger vehicles. Delta Therapy Dogs does not provide PAT assessments.




What is the difference between a Therapy Dog, an Assistance Dog and an Emotional Support Dog?


Assistance Dogs is the general term for guide, hearing or psychiatric dogs. Assistance dogs are specifically trained to perform identifiable tasks to increase independence and/or quality of life. For more information provision and/or training of Assistance Dogs you can contact one of the following organisations:

www.assistancedogs.org.au

www.minddog.org.au

https://guidedogsaustralia.com

Emotional Support Dogs are not recognised under Australian law and has no public access rights. There are no requirements or behaviour standards for emotional support dogs, but their presence may support a person through depression, anxiety or another medical condition.

Generally speaking an Assistance Dog cannot also work as a Therapy Dog, as the dog is trained to focus on their handler at all times and it could compromise the effectiveness of their primary work if they are also being asked to focus on other people as part of their Therapy Dog work. However Delta is happy to assess this on a case-by-case basis as it will likely depend on the tasks the Assistance Dog is required to perform.