Mental health and education professionals are thoroughly trained to work with human clients, and volunteers sometimes receive a brief orientation to the client population they’ll work with. To practice ethically and humanely, however, both professionals who integrate dogs into their practice also need equivalent information about their canine partners and experience working with dogs. The canine-assisted intervention specialist (CAIS) certificate provides the knowledge and experience you need to ensure a therapy dog’s welfare and well-being in professional settings.

You’ll examine your own preferences and biases about dogs as the program delves deeply into topics such as canine behavior, selection, training and health and wellness. You'll also have the opportunity to practice hands-on learning with canines, either your own or someone else's, and receive instructor feedback. At the end of the program, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the needs of your canine partners, you will have practiced training dogs for specific skills helpful in human-animal interactions, and you’ll have increased knowledge of the ethics and standards involved in working effectively and humanely with dogs in your practice.

Students with therapy dog

An Emphasis on Ethics, Knowledge and Skill

The canine-assisted intervention specialist certificate program provides comprehensive education, training, and practical experience with canines so you can ethically incorporate dogs into your professional treatment strategies. We emphasize three areas of competence in working with canines:

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    Ethical practice of human-animal interactions requires careful consideration of all choices made regarding our canine partners. We focus on options and best practice related to canine welfare, including sourcing and selection, duration of work, training methods, retirement considerations, advocacy and more.

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    This program emphasizes knowledge related to dogs, including the theoretical foundation of canine learning, meanings of canine behavior, understanding various training methods, training plan development, and canine health and wellness needs.

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    Delivering human-animal interactions in an ethical and sustainable way requires skill working with dogs. We focus on skills that include training plan implementation, ability to match training methods with dogs, demonstration of two of the four quadrants of training in practice, and accurate interpretation of dog behavior.


The certificate earns 17 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.


In five years, there have been ten countries on four continents represented in this certificate.


Enrollment is capped at 20 students per cohort for a high quality learning environment.

Therapy dog with woman

A Program for Working Professionals

Designed for professionals—educators, program directors, volunteer coordinators, and more — who are already integrating canines in their careers, the CAIS certificate provides the canine-specific education, knowledge and skill needed to conduct humane and ethical practice. The program also is beneficial for volunteers with experience in human-animal interactions. Although CAIS applies canine information to human-animal interactions, it does not include education on intervention planning, the history of the human-animal bond, or other administrative aspects of a well-rounded, human-animal intervention practice.

The Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist certificate emphasizes practitioner competence and reflects the American Counseling Association’s Animal-Assisted Therapy in Counseling Competencies.

Program Format

More than 20 canine and animal intervention professionals from throughout the U.S. contributed to the curriculum. This fully virtual, competency-based certificate includes two online courses and an online, two-day workshop. You’ll progress through the courses in sequence with a peer cohort—just 15 students. You may complete coursework at your pace within specified due dates. The fieldwork with canines component will require you to work in the community, away from the computer. As you move through the program, your instructors will offer guidance, individualized weekly feedback and participate in online discussion forums. To obtain this competency-based certificate, you must demonstrate the competencies needed to ensure a therapy dog’s welfare and well-being.

  • Workshop

    The program begins with a two-day, virtual workshop. The focus is to begin or refine observation skills with canines and humans. Your preferences and biases (both positive and negative) about canines will be challenged and explored for their application to client/student work. This workshop provides supervised hands-on skill-building and immediate supportive and instructive feedback.

  • Online Courses

    Two courses are delivered online through Canvas. Coursework is rigorous and includes video documentation of live work with dogs, community-based observations, interviews, readings, lectures, quizzes and online discussions.

  • Fieldwork

    Fieldwork includes observation, training, interviews, taking video of oneself working with dogs, and written documentation of work, which will provide you with practical and realistic experience with dogs of varying ages, types and abilities.

“The best part about my experience was getting to learn from some of the most well-respected and accomplished minds in this field.”

Lauren Kruger, Alumni, Graduate, Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate Read More
IHAC CAIS Alumna Kruger

Upcoming Program Dates


2024 Cohort

Orientation Workshop (virtual)

August 22 & 23, 2024

Canines 1 Course (online)

August 26 - October 13, 2024

Canines 2 Course (online)

October 28 – December 15, 2024



Cost and Requirements



Tuition includes courses, workshop, and instructor consultation. Tuition does not include course literature. An additional non-refundable $25 fee is due with your application.

Tuition can be paid all at once, or in installments. Payments are made online by credit/debit card (special arrangements can be made for third-party payers).

Payments Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist
Deposit (secures your space in the cohort) $1,750 (due before Canines 1 course begins)
Installment 1 $1,225 (due before Canines 2 course begins)

Application Information

Cohorts are filled on a first come, first serve basis. Due to high interest, it is recommended to submit your application early.

Certificate Faculty and Staff

Philip Tedeschi

Philip Tedeschi

Clinical Professor

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Jen Pearson

Jen Pearson

Adjunct Faculty, Institute for Human-Animal Connection

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Maggie Lantzy

Maggie Lantzy

Assistant Director, Institute for Human-Animal Connection; Adjunct

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Screenshot of CAIS virtual workshop.
Closer Look at the Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate

The Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) Certificate at the Institute for Human-Animal Connection (IHAC) is one of the newest offerings in the IHACPro professional development suite of programs, and it has quickly become very popular! It was created in 2018 but went through numerous revisions in 2020 to accommodate the COVID-19 pandemic and public health best practices. Led by Clinical Professor and IHAC Director Emeritus Philip Tedeschi and Adjunct Professor Jen Pearson, this 7-month online program educates professionals who include canine interactions in their work.

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Darlene Brace, Behavioral Health Director in an integrated medical and dental clinic, is a graduate of both the Animals and Human Health (AHH) and Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) certificates. In both of these programs, Brace learned valuable skills and knowledge that she has been able to take into her personal practice.

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