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By Peter Goldenthal, Ph.D., ABPP

Every child needs a dog. That's quite a dramatic statement. Does absolutely every child need a dog? Maybe not. But every parent should consider the possibility that their child needs a dog. 

There are lots of reasons why I feel so strongly about this. I illustrate two here, with more to follow:


  • Dogs are unconditionally loving and accepting

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A Disabled Dog with a Special Ability

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  Read More 
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What is Animal Assisted Therapy for Children?

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.

My youngest patients connect instantly with Sasha, who eagerly greets them with a wagging tail and,  Read More 

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People and Dogs: Companions for 20,000 Years

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  Read More 
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What is a Therapeutic Relationship?

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  Read More 
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Dogs and Therapy #4: Mindfulness

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  Read More 
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Dogs and Therapy #2: Dogs and Wolves

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  Read More 
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Dogs and Therapy #1

I decided to start this series of posts because of what I has observed going on in therapy and counseling between my patients and my dogs: first a small white dog who I still insist was a petit basset griffon Vendeen (PBGV) who had wandered away from home until she found  Read More 
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