Tasmanian disability provider launches State’s first dog-assisted therapy program

Tags Therapies

Posted 3 months ago

Dog-assisted therapy uses highly trained labradors, like Grady, to help children achieve their therapy goals. [Source: Kites Children's Therapy]
Dog-assisted therapy uses highly trained labradors, like Grady, to help children achieve their therapy goals. [Source: Kites Children's Therapy]

Tasmanian disability provider Kites Children’s Therapy has launched the State’s first dog-assisted therapy program to help local children and young people living with a range of disabilities.

To celebrate the launch of the program, the Kites Children’s Therapy held an open house for clients and families where they also introduced their newest recruit, three-year-old black labrador, Grady. 

Dog-assisted therapy uses highly trained labradors, like Grady, to deliver creative ways for children to achieve their therapy goals.

Program Manager of Kites Children’s Therapy Tasmania, Tennille Burns, says children of all ages with a range of disabilities can benefit from dog-assisted therapy.

“Dog-assisted therapy can be helpful to children who have difficulty engaging with traditional therapy approaches," explains Ms Burns.

Grady will team up with Kites’ Occupational Therapist, Hannah last name?, to deliver therapy in a fun and engaging way to meet clients therapy goals.

“This can include motivating children to engage in the practice of skills, physical tasks such as completing an obstacle course, developing social skills, self-care skills, and play and language skills,” Ms Burns adds. 

Grady has undergone intensive training with Kim Ryan, Program Manager for Guide Dog Services Tasmania, to learn how to become a therapy dog.

Ms Ryan says Grady is a perfect fit for the role.

“His affectionate nature and love of children keeps him engaged in sessions. Watching him learn the skills in training, then introducing children to the sessions, has been a delight to see,” she says. 

“Grady encourages children to take turns, to maintain eye contact, and follow instructions.”

Ms Ryan says it’s rewarding to see the positive effect that he has on children. 

“I’ve seen a child go from being unmotivated to their face lighting up when they see him. They start chatting away to Grady and want to participate. Grady will have an amazing impact on so many lives. I’m so proud of this new program.”

The open house coincided with the official launch of Kites Children’s Therapy’s fresh new branding as it joins VisAbility, a blind and low-vision support organisation which also encompasses services from Guide Dogs Tasmania and Guide Dogs WA.

To learn more about dog-assisted therapy at Kite Children’s Therapy, visit their website.