Aakash Lonkar is growing Therapy Dog programs in Mumbai through the Animal Angels Foundation and shares what it takes.
In this 61st episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I chat with Aakash Lonkar, a Director at Animal Angels Foundation. He manages operations and training for therapy dog programs in Mumbai. We talk about what it takes to be successful in this area.
Aakash tells us how he started working with therapy dogs and how important it is to choose dogs based on their friendly nature and ability to give emotional support. He explains how they test and train these dogs to help people with problems like feeling worried or sad.
We talk about how more people in India want their dogs to become therapy dogs. Aakash shares a touching story of a school principal who adopted a dog to be trained as a therapy dog for kids with learning disabilities.
We also discuss how therapy dogs can be partnered with in schools, hospitals, and offices to make people feel better and more at ease around pets. Aakash gives helpful tips for anyone who wants to start a therapy dog team, like understanding why you want to do it and making sure the dog is taken care of.
We cover popular therapy dog breeds, training family members, and getting interns, psychology grads, and volunteers involved in handling and training therapy dogs. This conversation gives a complete look into the world of therapy dog programs.
By listening to this episode, you’ll learn more about the details of growing therapy dog programs, why the right personality is important, and the commitment needed to create a successful therapy dog team.
In this episode, we discuss …
- What led Aakash to working with Therapy Dogs,
- How he works with multiple Therapy Dogs
- What it takes to implement a new pet therapy program.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [06:16] How therapy dogs are picked based on their friendly nature and love for the job, and then tested and trained.
- [08:06] How therapy dogs help people with mental health problems like worry and sadness by giving emotional support and lowering stress.
- [10:26] Talking about finding therapy dogs and how families want their dogs to be trained for this role.
- [11:31] A story about a school principal who got a dog to be trained as a therapy dog for kids with learning disabilities.
- [12:08] Using therapy dogs in different places, like schools, hospitals, and offices, to make people feel better and more at ease around pets.
- [12:48] Tips for someone who wants to be part of a therapy dog team, thinking about why they want to do it and making sure the dog is cared for.
- [13:30] Common therapy dog breeds, like retrievers and labs, but saying that personality is more important than breed.
- [14:29] Teaching family members to work with therapy dogs and including them in therapy sessions, like owners and young handlers such as teenagers.
- [15:12] Getting interns, psychology grads, and volunteers involved in handling and training therapy dogs, giving chances to learn and grow.
- [16:14] Connecting with Animal Angels Foundation on Instagram, Facebook, and their website to learn more about therapy dogs and what they do.
I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I do. Give it a watch or a listen and then let me know in the community which part you found the most helpful!
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