Assessing dogs for animal-assisted interventions – current trends

Selecting dogs that are suited for work in animal-assisted interventions has always been important. As the demand for services has grown and people-dog teams are working with more diverse populations, how we choose and assess dogs and teams for this work has come into sharp focus. Alongside this, we are learning more about dog’s personalities as well as assessment tools and how they link with positive training techniques, the people-dog team approach and animal well-being.

With our panel of experts, this webinar will examine current approaches to dog assessment for animal-assisted interventions, considering their merits and limitations, looking at the science and the practical applications.
Questions such as:

  • Why assess?
  • Who should assess?
  • What are we actually assessing for?
  • When and how often should assessment take place?

will be explored.


About our presenters:

Michael Kaufman, Green Chimneys

Michael Kaufmann is the Farm and Wildlife Director at Green Chimneys and the director of the new Sam and Myra Ross Institute, dedicated to research on the human connection to animals and the natural world . He served the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Association (AHA) as a key program director in animal-assisted activities/therapy, humane education & animal welfare. He has contributed to defining publications in the field and has served on numerous national boards & committees. He has lectured internationally on humane education, animal assisted activities ad how the link between child abuse and animal cruelty offers opportunity for collaboration between various helping professions.


Tess Erngren

Tess Erngren is a certified dog instructor, dog psychologist, dog philosopher and TAGteacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology and is owner and founder of GoodDog, Norway.



Lisa Marie Glenk

Dr Lisa Maria Glenk received her diploma (MSc equivalent) in behavioural endocrinology from the University of Vienna and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, in 2012 on the topic “dog welfare in animal-assisted interventions”. After completion of her degree, she was appointed as a science communicator at the St. Anna Children’s Cancer Research Institute while pursuing her own research interests as a guest scientist at the department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Vienna and at the Charles University in Prague. She joined the Messerli Research Institute (Comparative Medicine) in 2013 as a postdoctoral junior researcher at the interface of animal welfare, stress physiology and emotions. In addition, she is strongly involved in science communication for non-academics (e.g. hands-on science, school lectures). Her work has been honoured with several grants and awards. Currently, she is lecturing at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna in the “Interdisciplinary Master in Human-Animal Interactions” curriculum, at the Austrian University College for Agricultural and Environmental Pedagogy in the Master curriculum “Green Care” and at the Austrian Academy for Psychology “ÖAP”. Moreover, she works in the field of applied psychophysiology as a certified biofeedback practitioner.
Dr Glenk is a board member of the Austrian Society for Biofeedback and Psychophysiology, member of the Staniek Profiling Taskforce, scientific advisory board member of the Qualitätsnetzwerk Schulbegleithunde (Germany) and founding member of the Hundesicherheitstraining für Kinder und Jugendliche (Austria). In addition, she has been employed as an official examiner for the certification of therapy dogs in Austria and regularly acts as a reviewer for the International Society of Animal-Assisted Therapy (ISAAT).

Jane Kopelman

Jane Kopelman is a dog trainer and owner of Animals for Adoption. Jane was on the behavior staff at the ASPCA in New York City for five years working on the behavior helpline as well as running volunteer training workshops and classes for the general public. Appointed by the City of New York she has served on the board of ACC (Animal Care and Control) in New York City. She also served on the Board of Directors of Angel on a Leash. She has an extensive background in evaluating and training dogs.

For more than twenty years, Jane has been the owner of All About Dogs, a dog training business in New York She does private training and behavior counseling.

She is a certified therapy dog team evaluator for Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and teaches therapy dog classes in New York City as well as in upstate New York. She is also an AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator. She serves as a consultant for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s therapy dog program.

For the last six years, Jane has been working with Green Chimneys on a program that brings shelter dogs and special needs children together.

Christine Olsen

Dr Christine Olsen received her Master of Science in animal behaviour from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in 2006, and completed her doctoral studies at the same university in 2016. The focus for her studies was animal assisted interventions (AAI). In 2004, she funded the Norwegian Center of Anthrozoology, which in 2019 expanded to the International Center of Anthrozoology (ICofA). The Norwegian Center of Anthrozoology has created two ECT-courses together with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, one that gives 15 credits in AAI with dogs and one that gives 15 credits in AAI with farm animals. The centre also certifies dog-assisted visiting teams and cat assisted visiting teams.
Dr Olsen is a dog behaviorist, a certified dog instructor, and has trained dogs for various dog sports. Recently, she has worked on predicting adult behaviour in police dogs.
She was the initiator of the Personality Assessment of Dogs for AAI (PADA), a suitability screening test for dogs who potentially will work in AAI. PADA is a pre-assessment tool to be conducted BEFORE a practical test which the human-dog team needs to pass to be a certified human-dog team for AAI. She also screens other species including cats, horses and farm animals for their suitability to work in AAI.
Dr Olsen is a board member of several municipal organizations, and her own organization has been nominated for ‘Social entrepreneur of the year’ twice.

Risë VanFleet

Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC, CAEBI, is a licensed psychologist, registered play therapist-supervisor, certified dog behavior consultant, and certified animal ethology and behavior instructor. She is the Founder/President of the International Institute for Animal Assisted Play Therapy® in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania USA. She is active internationally providing workshops and seminars and has been awarded 18 major awards for her writing and teaching. She is the author of dozens of books, manuals, and articles on play therapy and family therapy as well as on animal-assisted interventions, and co-author with Tracie Faa-Thompson of the Maxwell Award-winning book, Animal Assisted Play Therapy.

In addition to her many years of experience in child/family therapy and AAI, she is particularly interested in animal agency and choices, and the ways that humans can develop more animal-centered relationships. She has adapted the goodness-of-fit concept from child development to animals involved in AAIs, in which animals’ personalities and preferences are measured and considered fully when determining appropriateness for certain “jobs” or types of interventions. She can be reached at