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Therapy and the Human-Dog Bond

A Father’s Day Game for You and Your Dog

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  Read More 
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I and Thou applies to you and your dog too.

Sasha and her doctor
No, I’m not talking about a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou; that’s Omar Kyam. This I and Thou comes from the writings of Martin Buber, a writer and philosopher who lived from 1878 to 1965. Buber made a huge distinction between I and it encounters (that’s the way we  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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Creating a Mutually Therapeutic Relationship with Your Dog

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,  Read More 
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Dogs and Therapy#6: What is negative reinforcement?

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  Read More 
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Dogs and Therapy #5: Learning Can be Fun for You and Your Dog

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  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 #3: Dog Parks

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.  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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