We are a non-profit organization supporting Animal Assisted Interventions (AAIs)

Standards and Competencies

The Standards of Practice have been produced under the direction of AAII members, working groups and Board of Directors to assist and encourage members to reflect upon and implement quality assurance measures for AAI programs of any category (Animal Assisted Activity, Education, Therapy, Special Programs or Dog-Handler Placement Programs) of AAI. Each member category is covered by a separate booklet. The Standards of Practice and Competencies are considered to be living documents that will undergo revisions as needed to keep up with the scope of AAI in the knowledge and literature from around the world.

The standards are a minimum of what is required for members to conduct any AAI program. All programs are encouraged to work at levels above the minimum standards and should also meet any standards or regulations that are required by governing bodies for their region and their home organization.

AAT standards and program implementation reflects the participation of equally valued parties working together in a collaborative model:

  • The participant – therapy beneficiary.
  • The dog handler – an individual who has training and experience in dog handling, training, and behavior.
  • Healthcare/therapy provider – in some cases, the healthcare/human service/therapy provider and the dog handler may be the same person; or they may be two separate people.
  • The dog- an individual who demonstrates signs of enjoyment and has been prepared and evaluated for this work.

Each member booklet reflects standards, competencies and the accreditation process for that member category. All member categories (AAA, AAE, AAT, AASP and AAPP) share similar content for sections 1-4, and section 5 is specific to the member category that each booklet has been designed for.

  1. Standards of Practice for the Administration of Programs
  2. Standards of Practice for the Ethical Treatment and Welfare of Participants
  3. Standards of Practice for Dog Handlers and the Support of Dogs
  4. Standards of Practice for the Health, Welfare, Wellbeing and Training of Dogs
  5. Standards of Practice for the specific member category.


In collaboration with Dr. Leslie A. Stewart, PhD., LCPC, AAII Board of Directors and working groups adopted and significantly adapted competency models her teams had worked on. See booklets for specific literature citations.

AAII members come from a variety of backgrounds and the scope of each member’s work is different. AAII recognizes that there may be people with different expectations and skill sets from volunteers through expert instructors of any given member category (AAA, AAE, AAT, AASP, or AAPP). AAII has outlined 4 tiers of competencies for each member category including: Entry Level, Intermediate Level, Advanced Level, and Expert Levels. While the competencies are not meant to be a check list, they do offer guidance for AAI skills, knowledge and attitudes for people with different roles in any given AAI model. The competencies may be viewed as a road map for individuals and programs to improve skills over time as required by membership standards.


AAII accreditation is the recognition of a program or institution that maintains peer reviewed standards of professional practice for our member categories (AAA, AAE, AAT, AASP, and AAPP). The AAII accreditation process includes both qualitative (descriptive) and quantitative (measurable) information. Accreditation is an opportunity to develop and implement systems that ensure the maintenance of standards set forth by AAII. Organizations that wish to apply for accreditation will provide, complete, or develop specific documents in a portfolio and processes for peer review (mentor and an accreditation review committee). An organization may apply for accreditation of more than one member category, as long as they are active in that category and have been a member in good standing for at least one year.