When dogs are adopted from a shelter, rescue, or other caretaking situation, they have an enormous amount to learn as they adapt to their new environment. We sometimes take that for granted and develop unrealistic expectations of them as a result. As we give them space and time to adjust, we can observe the situation from their viewpoint and alter our own expectations and actions to better help them feel comfortable in their new homes.
Adding a new dog to the family requires considerable thought and planning. It’s a big decision requiring a lifelong commitment. When the dog arrives, the first steps including helping the new family member feel comfortable in the environment, assisting other animals in the family to adjust, and getting to know the new dog as well as possible. This process must precede decisions about any work in which the dog might become involved. This brief article highlights the early process to navigate the early days and weeks.
As Animal Assisted Interventions become more prevalent among professionals, the topic of competencies gains importance. Competences should be viewed as a roadmap to developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes needed to involve animals effectively and ethically in mental health, allied health, and educational work.
Animals need more space than we sometimes realize. They sometimes might wish to leave sessions, too. Providing an “exit route” at all times can allow for animal choices, greater safety, and demonstrate respect for the animals’ needs. This can be helpful to animals as well as clients.
As we reopen our businesses, dog trainers, behaviorists, and human therapists are likely to be wearing masks and engaging in social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19. How do animals respond to mask-wearing humans? How can we make our use of masks comfortable for them? This post focuses on ways to ensure that masks do not become impediments to the work we do that involves animals.
Puppies at work! How fun! …Or is it? Nowadays there are many articles and news programs about therapy puppies, often referring to school programs, puppies working full-time, and even rent-a-puppy programs in colleges and for birthday parties. In many cases, the puppies are just 8 or so weeks old, and some of them are being expected to work full-time! Not only are these practices a very bad idea, but dogs can be ruined for any future therapy work if negative things happen during the key periods of emotional development in the puppies’ brains.