Fostering Resilience in Therapy Dog Teams

by | June 15, 2023 | Blog

Learn how to bounce back from stressful therapy environments

Ever thought about how some people, and even dogs, just seem to bounce back from challenges like a rubber ball? That’s resilience. It’s all about staying strong when things get tough. This is especially important for teams like us – therapy dog handlers and our dogs. But what makes resilience so important, and how do we get better at it?

Why We Need Resilience in Therapy Dog Teams

Think of resilience as a shield. It helps us deal with surprises, stress, and come out of tricky situations even stronger. For us handlers, being resilient means we can give our best every time we visit someone who needs our dogs’ support. It also stops us from getting too tired and helps us grow.

For our dogs, resilience helps them stay calm and focused even when things around them change. This is super important for their job as Therapy Dogs.

Want to know how to build up your resilience and help your dog do the same?

How to Boost Your Own Resilience

Here are three steps to help you build your resilience:

  1. Take a few moments each day to reflect on your interactions with your dog and others.
  2. Identify a situation where you’ve faced a setback or a challenge.
  3. Instead of focusing on the obstacle, think about how you can grow and learn from the experience.
  4. Write down three things you’ve learned from the situation and how you can apply these lessons moving forward.

Remember when we talked to Hallie Worthington on episode 29 of Therapy Dog Talk? She shared how raising puppies for Southeastern Guide Dogs helped her learn a lot about patience and resilience.

How to Help Your Dog Become More Resilient

Helping your dog become more resilient takes time, training, and lots of good experiences. I like to train this skill in my own dogs by playing games.

Novelty Surprise Party, developed by Absolute Dogs, is a training game designed to help your dog grow confidence, flexibility, optimism and grit by introducing your dog to new and unknown objects while encouraging them to explore and interact. Here’s how you can play:

  1. Collect safe, dog-friendly items your dog has never seen before.
  2. Spread the objects in a spacious area, so your dog can move freely.
  3. Let your dog explore and interact with the objects, praising and rewarding them for being curious.
  4. Keep adding new items in future play sessions to help your dog become more resilient in new situations.

Be patient with your dog as they learn and grow.


Resilience is Part of the Puzzle

Being resilient is really important for Therapy Dog teams. But it’s just one part of a bigger picture. We also need to be calm, confident, and balanced.

Are you ready to learn more about these skills and make your therapy dog team even better? That’s what my course, “Life Skills for Therapy Dog Teams,” is all about. It will help you and your dog become more resilient and better at your jobs.

Don’t miss this chance to make your Therapy Dog team even better. Sign up now at sherrierohde.com/course! You have until July 6th to sign up, so don’t wait too long!

Course title on laptop screen

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