Therapy and the Human-Dog Bond
December 21, 2015
As I was leaving my monthly dog trainers’ meeting, I had the sudden realization that training dogs to behave better is far too limited a goal. Your dog can do better than that. You and your dog can do better than that. You may be (more…)
September 18, 2015
Each of us has his or her way of forming attachments to other people. This “attachment pattern” develops during infancy and early childhood and persists throughout life. Although you can’t do very much to change your attachment pattern, sometimes called an “attachment style,” you (more…)
September 17, 2015
Jake told me how his dogs Lucy and Alice, both Chihuahua mix rescue dogs, have changed his life. “I didn’t even realize that I had as much of an anxiety problem before I had dogs. Lucy softened me up so much and I didn’ (more…)
September 1, 2015
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.”
August 31, 2015
My posts over the past weeks have focused on some of the many ways that the bond between person and dog can be mutually therapeutic. Today, I’m going to switch gears to address a semantic question: what is the difference between a dog being (more…)
August 20, 2015
Those who are familiar with my writings about contextual therapy, whether in books or blog posts, may be wondering how my more recent writing about the human-dog bond and about pet therapy–and animal assisted therapy– are connected to contextual therapy.
August 20, 2015
Working with your dog, whether it's practicing sitting and staying or learning a new trick, is a great way to strengthen the bond between you. Choose an activity that lets your dog stretch his or her mind, that is within their capabilities, and includes lots (more…)
August 17, 2015
The more experience one has as a psychotherapist, the more one comes to rely on one’s personal attributes and one’s relationships with patients.
August 16, 2015
Today I’m going to relate the story of how a very special dog helped his person learn to be more socially engaged. Hank, a coon hound, had been found by the side of the road in Arkansas, starving and with a huge infection in his leg–the result of having been used for (more…)
August 9, 2015
How often do you say or hear something like this,” I can’t believe it. He (or she) is my little buddy. He follows me around and he cares where I am.” ?
August 7, 2015
A group of psychologists in Japan have found that dogs choose not to make contact with people who exhibit behaviors that are unhelpful to their owners.
July 29, 2015
That experience with Gita and the Beaver Pond has been alive in my mind for a long time. I’ve re-imagined it, and I’ve wondered what made it click. I incorporated it into a story for children and have tried to make it happen again by going into (more…)
July 29, 2015
Many years ago, I experienced a magical moment watching a beaver build a dam in a small pond in the woods (more…)
July 22, 2015
July 21, 2015
Your dog may not be suited to being an official therapy dog, one of those dogs who visits patients in hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities. However, he or she can be, and probably is therapeutic for you, perhaps in ways you don’t always notice.
July 20, 2015
Empathy, the ability to see and feel the world from another person’s perspective, is a crucial ingredient in all intimate relationships. Over 20,000 years, dogs have developed this capacity, some to a truly remarkable degree.
July 19, 2015
July 10, 2015
The capacity to form a close and secure attachment is important to having a fulfilling life. And yet, many people of all ages have huge problems with attachment. Some very young children–and I’m speaking here of children 18 months and younger–lack the experience of having an adult who is always there, always (more…)
July 9, 2015
In my practice, animal-assisted therapy has a specific meaning: applying knowledge of the unique bond that can between people and dogs, as well as the great interpersonal skills of Sasha, my canine partner and an unusually sensitive daschund-mix.
June 23, 2015
June 21, 2015
Games are a great way to strengthen the bond between you and your dog. When your dog is playing with you, he or she is bonding and strengthening your existing bond. Play is a way of affirming that there is no aggression between you and (contrary to popular opinion) no dominance either. For your (more…)
June 15, 2015
June 14, 2015
Dogs have lived around people for longer than has any other domesticated animal: 20,000 years is regarded as a reasonable estimate. That’s long before the invention of agriculture, long before there was any written language. It’s the time of hunter-gatherers; a time before there is any historical record. Current scientific thinking is that (more…)
June 8, 2015
The obvious answer to the question posed in the title of this post is: “A therapeutic relationship is the relationship between therapist and a client or patient.” We hope that all patient-therapist and client-therapist relationships are therapeutic, but that answer is, if not circular, close to it: it begs the question. What makes a (more…)
June 8, 2015
Not so very long ago, even the title of this post would have raised eyebrows in professional circles. Times have changed in very positive ways, however, and for the better. My article on animal assisted therapy will soon be published in “Currents” the publication of the Philadelphia Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology, (more…)
June 7, 2015
In this post, I’ll continue my discussion of animal learning as it applies to making choices that will make you and your dog happy together. In my previous post about learning, I wrote about positive reinforcers. There are also negative reinforcers. Just as positive reinforcers do, so too do negative reinforcers increase the (more…)
June 5, 2015
People who live with a dog and want to have a great relationship with that dog want the dog to be well behaved, but they don’t want to hurt their relationship to get there. Rather, they would like the learning process to be on that is enjoyable for both human and dog and (more…)
June 2, 2015
Many people are interested in learning to be in the moment, to experience their inner life and their surroundings without the intrusion of the constant stream of thought that accompanies each of us everywhere. One path to this kind of immediate awareness is through the increasingly popular practice of meditation. A complementary path involves (more…)
June 1, 2015
Several months ago, I visited a local dog park with Sasha, the 16-month-old Daschund mix who has become my constant companion and a valued co-therapist in my psychology practice.
We had been enjoying the sunny and mild fall day for an hour or so when I saw an American Bulldog wagging its tail at the other end of the park. (more…)
June 1, 2015
When I think about how Sasha comforts my patients, and how they speak of their pets with such affection, I am reminded of the often repeated assertion that dogs and wolves are extremely closely related, behaviorally and genetically. And yet, the qualities that make Sasha and other companion dogs so companionable don’t seem (more…)