Human service professionals are thoroughly trained to work with human clients. When choosing to integrate dogs into their practice, professionals also need equivalent training and 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 dog’s welfare and well-being in professional settings.

Throughout the program, you will examine your own preferences and biases about dogs as the courses delve deeply into topics such as canine behavior, selection, training, and health and wellness. You will also have the opportunity to practice hands-on learning with canines and receive instructor feedback. At the end of the program, you will 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 will 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.

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A Program for Working Professionals

Designed for human service 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 certificate earns 17 continuing education units documented on a University of Denver transcript.


Since 2018, over 80 participants from 5 continents have completed this certificate.


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

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 will progress through the courses in sequence with a peer cohort—just 20 students. You may complete coursework at your pace within specified due dates. The fieldwork with canines component will require you to work with a dog, 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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

"Overall, the program at IHAC played a pivotal role in shaping my career trajectory and has significantly contributed to my success in achieving my professional goals.”

Emi Parente, Alumni, Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate Read More

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


Main Requirement: previous education or experience with human-animal interventions since this program will not cover foundational concepts of human-animal interactions. 

Program Fee

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

Program fee 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

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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CAIS Related Stories

Darlene Brace with her dog
From Learning to Include Animals to Specializing in Canine Interventions

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.

Read More

Molly headshot
IHAC Instructor Elevates Therapeutic Practice with CAIS Certificate

Molly DePrekel graduated from IHAC’s Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) certificate program in 2022. She has been an IHAC adjunct faculty member since 2017 and has taught many courses within IHACPro’s Animals and Human Health certificate program.

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Emi Parente
CAIS Graduate Thrives at HAI Program in Brazil

Emi Parente graduated from the Institute for Human-Animal Connection’s Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist (CAIS) certificate program in early 2024. Emi is the founder and current CEO of Programa Alice Terapia Assistida Educacional in Brazil, where she often utilizes her knowledge gained from CAIS. Her organization focuses on expanding education and the understanding of health and wellness as it relates to the human-animal bond.

Read More