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Barry aid


Canine-assisted social work

Switzerland’s national dog has a heart of gold. The Saint Bernard loves and needs contact with people and has assisted us for centuries, previously as a rescue dog, today in dog-assisted social work. The Barry Foundation has successfully provided animal-assisted interventions in the social field since 2007. These include the following:

Animal-assisted activities
Visits to homes and schools

Animal-assisted education
Camps and long-term programmes

Animal-assisted therapy
Programmes tailored to specific needs

These interventions are based on the assumption that dogs mobilise our physical, mental, psychological and social resources.

« Scientific studies impressively document the benefits of companion animals to people‘s well-being, personal growth and quality of life ».

(Source: Geneva Declaration of the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations,

All interventions take place with particular attention to the Saint Bernards’ own needs, species-specific welfare considerations and expert care.

We have some of our ‘Barry Aid’ projects verified in terms of their effectiveness, among other things, which allows us to build our interventions on the latest scientific findings. We also supervise student projects and theses in the area of animal-assisted interventions and offer observation opportunities that provide insights into everyday practice.



IAHAIOInternational Association of IAHAIO
ISAATInternational Society for Animal Assisted Therapy
GTTAGesellschaft für Tiergestützte Therapie und Aktivitäten (Society for Animal Assisted Therapy and Activities)
Pet PartnersPet Partners’ mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond
IEMTInstitut für Interdisziplinäre Erforschung der Mensch-Tier-Beziehung (Institute for Interdisciplinary Research into the Human-Animal Relationship)

Animal-Assisted Activities


Visits to homes

Our visiting dogs love contact with people and are trained, along with their handlers, to form a so-called “social dog team”. We visit people of all ages. The dog’s mere presence and the physical contact of stroking the dogs enriches the daily lives of people living in homes, for example retirement homes or homes for the disabled. The Saint Bernards provide topics of conversation and facilitate social interactions. The health benefits of dogs were scientifically proven a long time ago. The mere presence of our Saint Bernards can lower blood pressure and heart rate and alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.


Visits to retirement and care homes

We offer a specialised social stimulation programme, for example for people living with dementia. In group situations, our dogs promote interaction, social togetherness, memory stimulation and fine motor skills. We also have Saint Bernards that are specially trained to lie down on the beds of people who are bedridden. Yet another intervention option involves using our Barrys to promote ambulant mobility.


Activities for children

According to our calendar of events, we offer children the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the nature of the St. Bernard in a playful yet informative way. The young participants learn to understand the language of the dogs, to recognise their needs and to assess a variety of situations. The aim is for children to know how to conduct themselves around dogs they know and those they don’t.

The activities are aimed at children from the age of seven, or four if accompanied by an adult and they take place at Barryland in Martigny. See flyer for further information. TICKES & RESERVATIONS

On request, we also offer this activity for groups of six children and upwards.

Animal-Assisted Education


Camps and long-term programmes

Working together with teachers of various schools and other institutions, we design camps lasting several days and longer-term programmes in the area of animal-assisted education. These cover all levels of intervention, namely motor, language and communication, cognition, perception, social, emotional and affective, and motivation, and can include the following activities:

Strengthening personal resources such as self-confidence
Reducing emotional stress and restoring a zest for life
Increasing motivation and dedication
Supporting relationship building with other participants or leaders
The Saint Bernard as a bridge between children and adults, facilitating communication
Social integration (Saint Bernards accept us for who we are, without prejudice)
Getting to know oneself better
Improving social skills (general life skills, better impulse control and fewer aggressive outbursts)

The content of our programme also helps prevent dog bites and increase knowledge about dogs and generally provides new experiences.

Animal-Assisted Therapy


Specific activities in special education

We offer specific activities in which our Saint Bernards help participants acquire skills and achieve wellbeing, for example in cases of autism spectrum disorders or other special needs.


Therapy dogs

Our Saint Bernards are employed in hospitals in rehabilitation, working together with various types of therapist, for example occupational therapists, physiotherapists or medical doctors, and in the fields of psychosomatic and psychosocial rehabilitation.

In Switzerland, the term “social dog” is now used for dogs deployed in social rather than strictly therapeutic contexts. This distinction is not made in English.


Individual therapy for treating fear of dogs

Fear of dogs is not uncommon and can be debilitating and reduce the quality of life of those affected. We offer people with a fear of dogs the opportunity to meet one of our dogs. The programme is discussed in advance with clients in order to develop a concept tailored to their needs.

Centre of excellence for animal-assisted interventions


As a centre of excellence for animal-assisted therapy, education, coaching and activities (which can be summarised as “animal-assisted interventions”), we offer advice on all aspects of the training and deployment of social dog teams in a wide variety of settings. We are leaders in the training of social dogs in Switzerland.

We feel a special responsibility for, and are respectful of, the quality of life and well-being of the dogs we deploy. We have the greatest regard for the individual needs of the persons they visit. Our goals include our clients’ advancement, empowerment and liberation to improve their well-being.

As a member of the IAHAIO (International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations) and the IEMT (Institute of Interdisciplinary Research on Human-Animal Relations) and as a board member of the GTTA (Swiss Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activities Society), we keep our finger on the pulse, pursue continuous professional development, follow set quality standards and focus on the provision of high-quality social interventions.

We offer training, advice, observation opportunities and presentations on the aforementioned spheres of activity.

Contact social



Current list of institutions visited:

Alterszentrum Doldertal
Alters- und Pflegeheim Kerzers
Alters- und Pflegeheim Maggenberg

Alters- und Pflegeheim Murten

Alterszentrum Sunnepark

Association "AtheMae-Cabot'ins"
Association Différences Solidaires
Association valaisanne d'aide aux personnes handicapées mentales
Association Alzheimer Jura
Betagtenzentrum Dösselen
Burgerspittel am Bahnhof, Bern
Burgerspittel im Viererfeld
Casa di cura per anziani Belsoggiorno
Centre La Meunière
Centre de jour Sur la Doux
Centre d'Appui à l'Intégration des Voirets
Cerebral Valais
Crèche & UAPE La Ruche
Chemin de la branche 32
Domicil Kompetenzzentrum Demenz Bethlehemacker
Domicil Kompetenz-Zentrum Demenz
Kompetenzzentrum Demenz Oberried
Domicil Egelmoos
Domicil Schönegg
ECPS Roulbeau
EMS Le Foyer St. UrsanneFondation Cité Printemps
EMS La Promenade
EMS Al Parco
EMS Al Lido
EMS les Palmiers
EMS Maison de Vessy
EMS Nelty de Beausobre
Etablissement médico-social Les Rosiers
Fondation âge d'or
Fondation Ateliers Résidences Adultes
Fondation Castel Notre Dame
Fondation Domus

Fondation Eben-Hézer, Groupe Oxygène
Fondation Foyers Valais de cœur
Fondation de Nant
Fondation Perceval
Fondation Make a Wish
Fondation Butini
Fondation Clair-Logis
Fondation Saint-Jacques / EMS du district de St-Maurice
Fondation Saint-Jacques / Foyer Ottanel à Vernayaz

Foyer la Chaloupe
Foyer de jour Chantonnent
Foyer les Epinettes
Hochgebirgsklinik Davos
Home les Tourelles
Home les Marronniers
Home de la Providence
Home la Providence
HUG Urgences ophtalmologiques
Humanitas Stiftung
Insieme Oberwallis
Insieme Vaud
Institut Don Bosco & Sainte-Agnès
JVA Lenzburg
Justizvollzugsanstalt Hindelbank
Kinderdorf St. Antonius
Kinderheim Lutisbach
Krebsliga Schweiz
Landorf Köniz
La Jardinerie
La Résidence les Roches
La Castalie
La Fondation de Vernand
Le Foyer
Nova Vita Montreux
Psychiatriezentrum Münsingen
Residenz Küsnacht I
Résidence Les Pergolas
Résidence du Bourg
Residenza al Parco
Résidence Prendre Soin et Accompagner
Santé Sarine
Schulheim Effingen
Senevita Wangenmatt
Seniorenvilla Grüneck
Spital Wallis, Standort Brig
Stiftung Aarhus
Stiftung Lebensart
Stiftung St. Wolfgang
Stiftung Tilia

Stiftung Rossfeld
Terre des hommes
Tertianum Residenz Brunnehof
Verein Autismus-Wallis
Wohnheim Fux Campagna

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