Kennedy pursued Therapy Dog training with her rescue and now she’s applying what she’s learned with her new prospect, Finn.
In this 85th episode of Therapy Dog Talk, I sit down with Kennedy Connor, a licensed child and adolescent therapist in Indianapolis. Kennedy shares about her therapy dog training journey with her four-year-old pup, Remy, a natural Therapy Dog “unicorn,” who has joined her in Animal-Assisted Therapy as well as the steps she’s taking to prepare her four month old field spaniel, Finn, for a future in therapy work.
Kennedy shared Remy’s journey from bringing her home as a rescue dog to joining her at school, and now private practice, as a Therapy Dog. She spent two years engaging Remy in Therapy Dog training, molding Remy’s character and teaching her the skills she needed to be successful in therapy sessions. Kennedy’s goal was to create a comforting and safe environment for Remy, enabling her to be her best self. Remy’s transformation from a shy rescue pup into a confident Therapy Dog emphasizes that with love and the right training, even a dog who first presents as hesitant or shy can become a significant part of a therapy team.
We also took some time to reflect on the impact Remy has in their therapy sessions, especially when working with children. Kennedy shares how Remy’s trained skills have helped kids feel at ease, making therapy sessions more engaging and effective—a true testament to how effective Therapy Dog training can be and the difference it can make in the lives of people they interact with.
Kennedy also introduces us to Finn, her four-month old Field Spaniel puppy. Finn was carefully selected with Therapy Dog training in mind to provide a break when Remy needs it while still providing Animal Assisted Therapy to her clients. Although Finn’s journey is different from Remy’s—coming from a breeder rather than a rescue—Kennedy reminds us of the immense potential that rescue dogs can have in therapy work with the right training and care.
By the end of this episode, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how Therapy Dog training can shape dogs to enrich therapy sessions, whether you’re in a professional role like Kennedy or volunteering in your community.
In this episode, we discuss …
- How Kennedy helped Remy to become a confident Therapy Dog.
- What she looked for in selecting Finn as a therapy prospect.
- How Therapy Dog training isn’t linear and is an ongoing effort.
Key moments you won’t want to miss:
Note that the timecodes match the video, not the podcast.
- [00:01:03] Kennedy tells us about her therapy dog, Remy, and how she helps in Kennedy’s work as a child and adolescent therapist.
- [00:01:33] Kennedy shares the story of how she discovered therapy dogs during her time in grad school, and how Remy made a big difference to people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- [00:02:25] We learn about Remy’s journey from a nervous rescue dog to a confident therapy dog who loves to help out in Kennedy’s middle school.
- [00:03:44] Kennedy explains the steps she took to introduce Remy to her workplace and how she made sure everyone, like school admins, teachers, students, and parents, were okay with it
- [00:05:35] Kennedy talks about the therapy dog training she did with Remy. She explains how it helped her understand how to meet clients’ needs and make sure Remy felt safe and happy.
- [00:08:25] It turns out that it took about two years of training before Remy was ready to work at the middle school. Kennedy stressed how important it was to build up Remy’s confidence and keep checking on her well-being.
- [00:10:57] Kennedy chats about how Remy manages to balance her work duties with just being a regular, fun-loving dog.
- [00:12:19] We get to hear about the careful process Kennedy went through to find a dog like Finn, who had a good chance of being great for therapy work.
- [00:15:05] Kennedy shares touching stories about the special connections that Remy forms with younger clients, helping them express their feelings and grow.
- [00:18:33] If you’re thinking about getting into therapy dog work, Kennedy gives some advice: it’s really important that the dog actually likes being around people, and training is key.
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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