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A Closer Look at the Canine-Assisted Intervention Specialist Certificate

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IHAC Comm. Team

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IHAC’s Unique Online Offering Focuses on Dogs

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Screenshot of CAIS virtual workshop via Zoom. Sixteen people are pictured from their webcams, many with a dog in their lap.

CAIS students begin the program with a two-day virtual workshop.

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.

Professor Tedeschi spoke with us about why this program is so beneficial. “It seems to me that the biggest benefit offered to students who participate fully in the CAIS program is the ability to both understand and more accurately communicate with dogs,” stated Tedeschi. He added students gain many skills with their own canine partner and how to effectively advocate for any dog they may encounter in their work. This is key for many leaders and supervisors in the field since they will need to determine the suitability and on-going evaluation for multiple human-animal interaction teams.

In addition to increasing knowledge of canines, the CAIS program addresses the variety of contexts canine partners are now working. From mental health therapy to school support to nursing and other health care professions, interventions including canines are becoming more well-known and desirable. “Dogs are involved these days in increasingly complicated and wide range of complex settings. The geographical diversity and professional interdisciplinary nature of our students offers a vibrant learning environment,” shared Tedeschi.

The CAIS comprehensive curriculum lays the foundation for in depth examination of one’s understanding of species-specific behavior and wellbeing. The asynchronous online course design encourages participants to share with one another while applying new ideas and concepts to their own work with dogs.

If you want to know Professor Tedeschi’s favorite aspect of the CAIS program, it’s the people! “What I have loved is the diversity of the student body and the incredibly rich, brave, and honest contributions of each participant. I also love that students routinely share how impactful the course has been in their relationships with their dogs.”

In 2022 the CAIS program will be offered twice, starting in February and August. For more information about the CAIS professional development program please visit the website