Certified Animal-Assisted Counseling team Maggie and Dorothy are spreading joy at work and through volunteering.
In this third episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I’m joined by Dr. Maggie Dou and her Australian Labradoodle, Dorothy, about their experiences as a Certified Animal-Assisted Counseling team in San Antonio, Texas. We talk about their training, volunteer work, and the happiness they bring to others.
Dr. Maggie tells me how she learned about therapy dogs from her daughter’s involvement in a local Read to a Dog Program and a colleague who used a dog in her counseling practice. Once they found out that her daughter could be around Australian Labradoodles without allergies, they welcomed Dorothy into their family.
During our conversation, Dr. Maggie shares the importance of starting training early with a professional who uses positive reinforcement methods and has experience with therapy dogs. She also talks about how they dealt with the pandemic and the certification process through Alliance of Therapy Dogs and Texas State University’s Animal-Assisted Counseling program.
Dr. Maggie and Dorothy spend their time volunteering to make people’s lives brighter, creating a mutual benefit for everyone involved. Dr. Maggie offers helpful advice and book recommendations for anyone interested in becoming a therapy dog team.
Towards the end of the episode, we discuss the importance of understanding your dog’s unique preferences and respecting their boundaries. Dr. Maggie highlights the need for educating clients and volunteers about these aspects to ensure a positive experience for all.
After listening to this episode, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the joys and challenges of working as an Animal-Assisted Counseling team, as well as insights on how to prepare and train your furry friend for this fulfilling work.
In this episode, we discuss …
- How Dr. Maggie learned about incorporating dogs into her counseling practice from a colleague.
- What she looked for when selecting Dorothy for their family pet and her animal partner.
- Why she decided to pursue certification through two different organizations.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
- [01:11] Dr. Maggie Dou, a mental health provider from San Antonio, introduces herself and talks about her therapy dog Dorothy’s journey.
- [02:20] Dr. Maggie shares how her friend Dr. Elizabeth Hartwig started the animal-assisted counseling program at Texas State for mental health professionals.
- [03:32] Dr. Maggie tells the story of how she learned about Australian Labradoodles and how Dorothy joined her family.
- [06:14] Dr. Maggie talks about training Dorothy with a professional who uses positive reinforcement methods.
- [06:56] In March 2020, Dorothy and Dr. Maggie became certified with Alliance of Therapy Dogs, but the pandemic changed their plans.
- [07:41] Dr. Maggie explains how the Texas State Animal-Assisted Counseling program prepared Dorothy for work in mental health settings.
- [08:34] Dr. Maggie shares the joy she gets from being a therapy dog team with Dorothy and the comfort they bring to others.
- [09:17] Dr. Maggie advises people interested in therapy dog work to start training early with an experienced trainer using positive reinforcement.
- [10:23] Dr. Maggie suggests some books about canine behavior and dog language, stressing the need to understand and support your dog.
- [11:25] Dr. Maggie discusses the importance of setting boundaries, respecting each dog’s preferences, and teaching clients and volunteers about these topics.
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!
Mentioned in this episode:
- Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD)
- Animal-Assisted Counseling Academy at Texas State University
- Calming Storms Counseling
- Doggie Language: A Dog Lover’s Guide to Understanding Your Best Friend by Lili Chin
- Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS
- The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs by Patricia B. McConnell, PhD.
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