Training and further education in animal-assisted therapy

Both humans and animals require adequate training in order to be able to use animal-assisted therapy properly and professionally. This is why the European Society for Animal-Assisted Therapy (ESAAT) has worked out standards for a theoretical and practical basis in the field of animal-assisted therapy.
The aim is to harmonise training throughout Europe, define minimum qualifications for lecturers and trainers, and establish quality assurance methods.
Training and further education can be divided into the following categories:

  • professional training / university education
  • basic training


Basic training

Basic training consists of at least 15 hours of theoretical lessons and at least 20 hours of practical training of the human-dog team. At least 3 assistance visits as well as written and practical examinations must also be completed.

The aim is to enable those completing the course and their animal to communicate as a team, to recognise the wide-ranging possibilities and the limitations of animal-assisted work with clients, and to implement such work in a manner appropriate to the species of the particular animal.

The team, consisting of a therapy assistant and animal, provides social, pedagogic or therapeutic services. The animal accompanying the therapy is trained in tandem with its keeper and carries out its tasks according to the handler’s instructions.