Peter Goldenthal, Ph.D., ABPP: Child, Adult, & Family Psychology

Selected Works by Dr. Goldenthal

Nonfiction
A parenting book providing answers to questions about sibling conflicts
Professional Book
This book presents the theory, concepts, and techniques of Contextual Therapy, a unique and powerful thereapeutic approach especially suited to helping children and adolescents.

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Therapy and the Human-Dog Bond

Finding Your Special Canine Companion

September 1, 2015

Tags: therapy, human-dog bond, attachment

Much of what happens between person and dog seems magical. Someone loses a dog, visits a shelter, and as if by chance, comes home with the perfect canine companion. Many people say, as if channeling the wand maker in Harry Potter, “the person doesn’t choose the dog, the dog chooses the person.”

This has certainly been true in my life with dogs. Gita, the PBGV of blessed memory, attached herself to me as I walked along the shoulder of a road in Southern California. Sasha, whose image is featured prominently here and on her instagram pages, fixed her eyes on me from her cage at the local animal shelter. With both of these adopted dogs, it was love at first sight and almost instant bonding.

Lennon and McCartney once asked : “Do you believe in love at first sight,?” Their response was, “Yes, I’m certain that it happens all the time.”

It does happen between dogs and people too, and there are many stories like mine in which the meeting of dog and person seem to have been intended. But that kind of serendipity is far more likely when the person has spent a great many years around dogs.

For those who have somewhat less experience with dogs, or who are perhaps looking for their first canine companion, expert advice and guidance can make a big difference. I strongly recommend looking for an experienced and highly expert dog trainer with whom you are comfortable and who understands what you are looking for in a dog. Not just any trainer: one who thinks about people and dogs in a way that feels right to you.

Having identified that expert, meet with him or her at your home to talk about how a dog would fit into your life. Talk about breeds and about the options for finding a dog; purchasing a puppy from a breeder, working with a breed specific rescue organization, finding a puppy or adult dog in a shelter or in foster care. Visit the places you have chosen with your trainer. And, perhaps most important, set up training sessions for you and your new puppy or dog. As in most things, well begun is half done.