Selection/Testing

Ethical Considerations in Animal Assisted Therapy

Potential Potholes and the Road Ahead

Guest author:  Kirby L. Wycoff, Psy.D., NCSP

From Reading Education Assistance Dogs, to Autism Support Dogs, and everything in between, we are seeing more and more animals serving humans in need. More recently, we have seen the likes of “Canine Support Dogs” or “Crisis Comfort Dogs” showing up in the aftermath of the school shootings, natural disasters and terrorist events.  But even with such great need and human suffering, when animals are used in service of humans, the animal’s suitability and preparation for the work, as well as the handler’s ability to advocate for their AAI (Animal Assisted Intervention) partner, deserves our serious consideration."

If Only That Hadn't Happened, This Dog Would Be Fine

Why are some dogs shy? fearful? nervous? aggressive? irritable? unfriendly? difficult to train? clingy? unable to be left alone? 

People have many explanations for why dogs act as they do. Sometimes the dog's history becomes baggage that the human carts along for the dog's entire life. Recently, I asked someone about their dog's pulling on leash and she began her answer with, "He was found near a dumpster when he was six weeks old." The dog was 3 years old now. How does being found near a dumpster have much to do with pulling, which is an interaction between a dog and handler?