While researching an answer for a dog handler interested in training her dog to work with handicapped people, I was challenged with a number of abbreviations which I had to look up before continuing my studies.
The first group of letters was AAA and the second group was AAT. AAA means animal-assisted activities and AAT stands for animal-assisted therapy. The book I am reading makes these distinctions: an animal that is introduced to an individual or a group for the purpose of petting and talking to it or for entertaining the people by doing tricks or obeying commands such as fetching a ball or jumping over a barrier is performing animal-assisted activities.
The animal-assisted therapy dog is more carefully screened and trained and knows as many as 30 or more commands in order to help physical therapists, occupational therapists or social workers to communicate and work with physically or mentally challenged adults and children. Some of the activities are simple such as standing and staying while someone, possibly a stroke patient or a car wreck victim, practices holding a comb or a brush and swiping it over the dog's body. This helps work the fingers, wrist and entire arm increasing the ability to grasp and increasing the range of motion of the arm. (Offering a treat for being so patient is another pleasant way to practice movements with the fingers.)