Dogs in Practice 2020

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

May 22nd, 23rd, 24th & 25th, 2020                The Art & Science of Animal Assisted Interventions (Fri, Sat, Sun, & Mon)

  • Space limited to ten people      *****This is Memorial Day Weekend****

May 26th - 29th 2020             Week 1: Hands on Learning Lab 

  • Space limited to three people

June 1st - 5th, 2020                                   Week 2: Hand on Learning Lab 

  • Space limited to three people

Melissa Winkle, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPDT-KA is an occupational therapist in private practice at Dogwood Therapy Services, in sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is President of Animal-Assisted Intervention International, has 18 years’ experience as an occupational therapist, an assistance dog trainer/instructor, and serves on several boards and committees that focus on different components of the human-animal bond, including the Human-Animal Bond Advisory Board for Pet Partners. Melissa is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. She is recognized around the world for her work in animal-assisted interventions, program development, and has published five books to date. Melissa is adjunct faculty, clinical instructor, and a collaborator of research, with a variety of universities, internationally. 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday (May 22nd - 25th, 2020) – The Art Science of Animal Assisted Interventions

Day 1:

This entry-level one-day workshop includes the basic building blocks of animal-assisted interventions. Participants will explore the human-animal bond in different roles and settings. Standards of practice will be explored for professionals, handlers, clients, and dogs. Related research will be explored. Participants will learn a variety of entry-level functional, measurable intervention activities in a variety of settings.  


  • Describe the human-animal bond as it relates to companions, volunteer visitors, and in professional settings with healthcare and human service provider sessions
  • Detail Standards of Practice for healthcare/human service AAI providers
  • Describe interaction techniques and potential outcomes with dogs who have jobs
  • Introduction to Animal Assisted Interventions – Ideas for therapeutic activities based on client goal areas
  • Discuss AAT teamwork relationship (dog & handler, dog and patients/clients/students) & engagement styles
  • “What’s in it for the Dog?”- taking perspective of our canine colleagues. Work and play!
  • Describe positive reinforcement basics and how it relates to our outcomes with patients/clients/students
  • Demonstrate the basics of Clicker Training

Day 2:

This intermediate-level workshop provides a brief refresher for those who have attended previous workshops by the speaker, or who are already experienced with animal-assisted interventions and/or dog training. Emphasis is on relationship development (dog and patients/clients/students) and direct engagement in activities and techniques for therapy and education. Participants will learn goal areas, task analysis, modifications, precautions, the dogs’ perspective and training requirements.


  • Integrate components of evidence based practice regarding AAI as an intervention strategy
  • Jumping the Hurdles - Discuss AAI in professional practice, risk management, & liability issues
  • Regarding clients: Screen clients for appropriateness of animal-assisted therapy, identify activities suited to meet existing client goals, perform activity/biomechanical analysis, client precautions/selection, and basic modifications
  • Regarding dogs: Identify skills that is required of a dog for AAI activities, special populations, use of novel equipment, self-management and welfare
  • Regarding handlers/trainers: Perform a self-screening to determine what skills are required for different settings, activities, and in accordance with skill level of canine colleague

Days 3 & 4:

This day focuses on bringing intervention activities and techniques together with dog handling and training. Sunday is based on intervention plans found in books by the author: Professional Applications of Animal Assisted Therapy. (Books will be available for optional purchase- not required, or pre-purchase from


  • AAI Program Development
  • Interdisciplinary AAI Mock Sessions
  • Evaluation of dogs and people as a team
  • Intervention Planning and Demonstration of Skills
  • Introduction to Dogwood Doga
  • Special Topics /Group Discussions – Including professional membership opportunities to Animal Assisted Intervention International.
Tuesday - Friday (May 26th- 29th, 2020) – Week 1: Hands on Learning Lab

Workshop participants will join us in the week 1 of our annual Animal Care and Animal Assisted Therapy Program serving ages 8-adult. Practice what you have learned! Program participants are integrated (some with disabilities, some without).  Programs run from 8:30-4:30 (ish).  Debriefing will follow Program. We will have our clinical dogs available to teach you the ropes, and a limited number of pups/dogs in training from a variety of sources.

Monday - Friday (June 1st – 5th, 2020) – Week 2: Hands on Learning Lab

This is the second week of Summer Program! See description above. New group of kids, teens and adults with DD for summer Program! New activities. (Possibility of some overlap…)

If you are interested in bringing your puppy or dog, it is required that:

  1. The dog is at least 6 months old, no older than 6 years old.
  2. The dog has been trained by a professional assistance dog training organization OR
  3. Your dog has already completed basic and intermediate training, been evaluated with adults, children, unfamiliar dogs in a public setting, with equipment used by people with disabilities (wheelchairs, walkers, etc.) by an experienced dog trainer- video is preferred! Must be bathed within a week of coming to Dogwood.
  4. Dog must have all current vaccinations including Bordatella and must have a negative fecal test the week prior to the course (send veterinary test results prior to the workshop), demonstrate intermediate obedience, be able to work with other dogs and people with no signs of aggression, have experience being in a crate and away from you for rest without disruption (barking, whining, etc.). Dogs who cannot demonstrate this will be asked to leave as it disrupts kids in therapy and Program.
  5. Your dog will again be evaluated PRIOR to the weekend workshop (the evening before) by Melissa- cost $30.00.
  6. If you are staying for the hands-on learning lab, and you would like your dog to participate, you must have either (send documentation prior to the workshop)
  7. Professional liability and or home-owner’s insurance that covers your dog away from home or
  8. Membership and liability insurance through Pet Partners, TDI, or similar organizations for volunteer visiting (which is what you are considered when here).
  9. All dogs wishing to come to summer Program must have been evaluated by Melissa and participated in all three days of the workshop, without incident.
  10. Dogs demonstrating disruptive behavior, significant signs of stress or withdrawal may be asked to leave if calming techniques do not work. (Resting crates are provided). We are not able to offer refunds in this situation as we cannot fill your space or your dog’s space on such short notice.

******* Annual May Workshop Registration Deadline, May 15, 2020  *******

Online Registration Form 

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