Ready to hear how a reactive dog let his person know that he didn’t want to be a Therapy Dog?

If so, then this is definitely the episode for you.

In this 23rd episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I had the privilege of speaking with Jess about her experience in training her reactive dog Dio for Animal Assisted Therapy and how that led to the formation of Handlers and Humans.

Jess is a mental health professional in Pennsylvania who, through her own experience in working with Dio, became a coach for dog owners and trainers who own or train reactive dogs. She helps them cope with the human side of the emotions that we go through handling our dogs.

If you’re ready to get to hear about Jess and Dio’s journey to Animal Assisted Therapy and hear her get real about how Dio let her know that they need to pivot, let’s dive in:

In this episode, we discuss …

  • How tunnel vision can impact seeing what our dogs need and enjoy.
  • Why we need to be able to cope with our own emotions in order to be there for our dogs.
  • How being a reactive dog owner and a therapist led to group coaching for the human side of dog training.

Key moments you won’t want to miss:

  • [02:31] Jess’ history in working with Animal Assisted Therapy and her original plans to incorporate Dio into her work.
  • [03:34] How common it is to jump into the Therapy Dog journey without knowing where to start.
  • [05:06] Jess gets really honest about how she didn’t know to look to Dio to see if he would enjoy therapy work.
  • [06:21] How Therapy Dog training was helpful for Dio’s adjustment as a reactive dog.
  • [07:02] Jess shares how she realized that Therapy Dog work was too stressful for Dio.
  • [09:11] The reality of pouring everything you have into training only to realize that it isn’t the right path.
  • [10:19] How their reactive dog journey goes hand in hand with their Therapy Dog journey.
  • [10:47] Jess gets real about her emotional struggles while training Dio.
  • [12:30] The importance in finding support from a knowledgable trainer to learn about dog behavior.
  • [14:56] How training built a foundation of communication for their bond.
  • [15:48] The power in feeling connected to your dog and seeing them check in with you.
  • [17:03] What Jess is considering when contemplating a future Animal Assisted Therapy partner.
  • [18:00] Dio’s love of play and his friendship with the cat.
  • [19:00] The importance of the intersection of the mental health and the dog world.
  • [19:36] A reminder that training can be hard and that your dog’s struggle is not all your fault.
  • [20:04] Why we need to understand what self-care looks like for ourselves and our dogs.

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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Therapy Dog Talk is a podcast where I interview a different team each week via Instagram Live. If you enjoyed this episode please find us over at Apple, Google, or Spotify and give us a follow after you leave a review.

Do you know someone who would make a great guest? Be sure to reach out and let me know.

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