29th March 2018

Paws for thought

In the past, Friends for Leisure youth groups have had the opportunity to take part in animal workshops held by Creative Action Team. As this month brought us Crufts 2018, we asked Sheli from Creative Action Team a bit more about their service and how they can help children and young people with a disability.


  1. What is Creative Action Team and what do you do?

Creative Action Team is a company that offers therapeutic interventions for children, young people and families, using animal assisted therapies.  We have a team of therapy dogs that work alongside our therapists and we also work with our ponies.

  1. What are the benefits of therapy/working with animals?

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is just one of the many forms of Animal Assisted Interactions (AAI) that is being applied in a variety of health and social care settings to access, amongst others, the physical, psychological and emotional benefits than have been evidenced.

  • AAI can also be very effective for children with ASD and ADHD as it can increase the attention span, have a positive calming effect and help with social interaction.  
  • AAI can be extremely effective in interventions for Autism as animals offer a powerful multi-sensory stimulus that counteracts the low sensory and affective arousal levels.
  • Animals provide spontaneous behavioural responses which are simple and easy for children to interpret.
  • AAT/AAI releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect for children and young people that struggle with emotional dysregulation.
  1. What ways can you help young people with a disability or special educational needs?

We can help the children and young people we work with to restructure their emotional response, thus access whole brain learning. This is done through physical and emotional experiences with the dogs and ponies, engaging the sensitive limbic region of the brains mammalian centre and the automatic nervous system. 

Such work requires a ‘trusting relationship’ which is helped by our dogs and ponies working as co-therapists and co-regulators of emotions. AAT/AAI helps children to focus better, provides a non-stressful and non-judgmental environment and increases self-confidence.



  1. Do the dogs that you work with need specific training?

All our dogs belong to and live with the individual therapist. They all have basic training and then go on to be trained by the therapist in individual ways to help with children and young people.

  1. What sort of things do you do in your sessions?

The sessions are fun and play based, to help the child and young person to feel at ease. We play lots of games and do a lot of creative activities.


  1. What has been your funniest moment working with dogs?

As you can imagine, working with animals means things rarely go to plan! Our funniest moment was one of our photo shoots, whereby the human and animal team were being photographed.  Our dogs and ponies all started to mess about, the ponies trying to steal things out of the camera man’s bag…the dogs never keeping still long enough and the sheep that was living in the paddock with the ponies wanted to butt everyone on the bum! Let’s just say it took quite a while to take the photos that day!

  1. Where can I find out more information about your service?

You can find us at 

Find us on Facebook: creative action team

And even follow the antics of Tuco (one of our dogs) on Instagram: tuco_the_sprocker.