Sign In

Virtual Therapy Dog Visits

June 1, 2020

Schools are closed statewide due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Tricia Baker, co-founder of Attitudes in Reverse, has still been visiting six schools across New Jersey on a weekly basis—just virtually.

During lessons, students learn what therapy dogs are and why dogs make people smile.

“Different therapy dogs will be joining us each week, so the students are exposed to many different dogs of all breeds,” she said. “While petting dogs provides maximum destressing to humans, the simple act of looking at a dog releases oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical. That is our main focus for these virtual visits: hoping to help students smile.”

Students also learn the safety rules to follow when meeting therapy dogs and the type of schooling and testing dogs need to complete to become certified.

“The students enjoy discovering that dogs have to go to school just like the students,” Baker said.

The virtual platform for AIR therapy dog visits was inspired by the inability to meet with students in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The dogs have a natural talent for breaking down barriers to communication,” Baker said. “At every presentation, between 6 and 17 percent of students speak up about their mental health struggles or concern about friends. The dogs also attract many visitors to our exhibit table at conferences and other events.”

“Thanks so much! We’re excited to build off of this!” said Justin Dolcimascolo, a teacher at Grover Middle School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District, following a virtual visits.

“All of us at AIR look forward to presenting at schools again,” Baker said. “In the meantime, we are glad to have the technology to reach out to students, as well as adults, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has created or compounded mental health issues for many people, which could lead to increased risk of suicide.”

Register your Dog Schedule a Visit

  • Recent News

    Pet Therapy Program

    Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines. At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern […]

    Read more

    AMR Therapy Dog

    Rampart, a therapy dog with American Medical Response San Bernardino County, recently passed his Certified Therapy Dog exam. AMR acquired Rampart, a 1½-year-old goldendoodle, when he was 10 weeks old. Rampart started basic obedience classes when he was 4 months old and continued through advanced obedience classes, according to a news release. When he was […]

    Read more

    Workers Get Canine Interactions

    It was a long, boring spring and summer for the four-footed members of the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, who couldn’t visit nursing homes and hospitals giving tail wags and doggy smiles. The coronavirus paused the professional canine therapeutic interactions with patients and hospital workers. “You could actually see him falling into a depression at home,” said Wendy Kadish of […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Program

    An initiative by Cyndy Caravelis, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Western Carolina University, will include a pilot program to use a therapy dog to aid domestic violence victims and their families in Jackson County. Caravelis’ German shepherd Atlas will escort victims and family members into court procedures and stay with children while […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogs Working With Staff

    After a pause due to COVID-19, the St. John Ambulance Abbotsford therapy dog team recently returned to visit staff at several different correctional facilities in the Fraser Valley. The PAWS inside program originally began at the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women five years ago and started off by providing services to inmates. Last year, the […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Bringing Comfort

    The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has a special K-9 who plays an important role. While most K-9s help in crime scenes and investigations, Comfort Caj is crime therapy dog and brings smiles to the community and the sheriff’s office. “He really brings a light and energy to this whole building, that you can’t fathom, you […]

    Read more

    Montgomery County's Therapy Dog

    Montgomery County has a new tool to help give crime victims some support. That tool’s name is Zurg. Zurg is the new therapy dog for the Montgomery County district attorney’s office. Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey introduced Zurg as the newest member of the team Monday. Coming from Canine Companions for Independence, Zurg will […]

    Read more