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Articles

Electronic versions of these papers and chapters are provided as a professional courtesy to ensure timely dissemination of professional work for individual and noncommercial purposes. Copyright and all rights therein reside with the respective copyright holders, as stated with each chapter or article. These files may not be reposted without permission.

  • What It Means to Be Humane in Animal-Assisted Interventions
    VanFleet, R. (2014). What It Means to Be Humane in Animal-Assisted Interventions. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Fall, 18-20.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Overcoming Extreme Fear in Unsocialized Dogs: A Participant-Observation Study of the Impact of Safety and Play in a Home Setting
    VanFleet, R. (2014). Poster presentation at the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) Conference in Vienna, Austria, July 20, 2014.
  • Face Value
    VanFleet, R. (2014). Face Value. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Spring, 20-22.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • I Want a Puppy!
    VanFleet, R. (2013). I want a puppy! Psychological News You Can Use, Winter, Pennsylvania Psychological Association.
  • The Empathic Dog Trainer
    VanFleet, R. (2013). The Empathic Dog Trainer. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, Fall, 60-63.
    Winner of the 2013 Dog Writers Association of America Friends of Rescue Special Award.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Falling in Love... with a Dog: How it Changes Our Lives
    VanFleet, R. (2012). Falling in Love... with a Dog: How it Changes Our Lives. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog. This 3-part series was published in Nov/Dec 2010, July/Aug 2012, and Sept/Oct 2012. The series is included in its entirety here.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • The Power of Play, Multiplied
    VanFleet, Risë and Faa-Thompson, Tracie (2012). The Power of Play, Multiplied. Play Therapy, Magazine of the British Association of Play Therapists. Summer 2012. Vol. 70, 7-10. Cover Article.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the British Association of Play Therapists. All rights are reserved.
  • That Lazy Owner! That Reactive Dog! The Pitfalls of Labeling Our Clients
    VanFleet, R. (2012). That Lazy Owner! That Reactive Dog! The Pitfalls of Labeling Our Clients. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, January/February, 22-24.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Control, Compassion, and Choices, Part 1 of 2
    VanFleet, R. (2011). Control, Compassion, and Choices, Part 1 of 2. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, July/August, 50-53.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Control, Compassion, and Choices, Part 2 of 2
    VanFleet, R. (2011). Control, Compassion, and Choices, Part 2 of 2. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, September/October, 28-33.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • "If You Can't Say Anything Nice..." A Tale of Three Adages
    VanFleet, R. (2011). "If You Can't Say Anything Nice..." A Tale of Three Adages. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, May/June, 27-28, 33.
    Winner of the 2011 Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America for Best Training/Behavior Article in Any Magazine!
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • The Emotional Dog
    VanFleet, R. (2011). The Emotional Dog. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, January/February, 45-47.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • A Case for Using Animal-Assisted Play Therapy
    VanFleet, R., & Faa-Thompson, T. (2010). A Case for Using Animal-Assisted Play Therapy. British Journal of Play Therapy, 10, 4-18.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the British Journal of Play Therapy. All rights are reserved.
  • Walks with Dogs... for the Sake of Kids
    VanFleet, R. (2010). Walks with Dogs... for the Sake of Kids. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, September/October, 42-44.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Farewell to Fido: Helping Children when Their Companion Dog Dies
    VanFleet, R. (2010). Farewell to Fido: Helping Children when Their Companion Dog Dies. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, July/August, 51-52.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Lessons Learned from a Semi-Feral Dog
    VanFleet, R. (2010). Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Lessons Learned from a Semi-Feral Dog. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, March/April, 26-29.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Girl Scouts to the Rescue
    VanFleet (2010). Girl Scouts to the Rescue! The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, January/February 2010. 41.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Captivating Kids During Dog Training
    VanFleet (2010). Captivating Kids During Dog Training. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, January/February 2010. 38-40.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Canine-assisted Play Therapy Enhances Emotional Growth
    VanFleet, R. (2009). Canine-assisted play therapy enhances emotional growth. National Psychologist, September-October, 11.
    This article is used with the generous permission of the National Psychologist.
  • A Psychologist's View of Crossover Training: Personal & Professional Reflections
    VanFleet, R. (2009). A Psychologist's View of Crossover Training: Personal & Professional Reflections. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, September/October, 53-55.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • What'sThis Dog Doing In My Playroom?
    VanFleet, R. (2008). What's this dog doing in my playroom? Play Therapy, 3 (1), 18-21.
    This article was a finalist in the Dog Writers Association of America 2008 competition for best feature in a special interest magazine.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • The Winning Combination of Kids, Canines, and Play
    VanFleet, R. (2008). The Winning Combination of Kids, Canines, and Play. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, July/August, 36-38.
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Engaging Owners Fully in Dog Training: Attitudes and Skills That Work: Part 1
    VanFleet, R. (2008). Engaging Owners Fully in Dog Training: Attitudes and Skills That Work: Part 1. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, November/December, pp. 14-16.
    Winner of the 2009 Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America for best magazine series!
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • Engaging Owners Fully in Dog Training: Attitudes and Skills That Work: Part 2
    VanFleet, R. (2009). Engaging Owners Fully in Dog Training: Attitudes and Skills That Work: Part 2. The APDT Chronicle of the Dog, January/February 2009 issue, pp. 32-34
    Winner of the 2009 Maxwell Award from the Dog Writers Association of America for best magazine series!
    The article is posted and made available here by the generous permission of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. All rights are reserved.
  • A Common Bond: Maltreated Children & Animals in the Home (Guidelines for Practice & Policy)
    Published by American Humane, this is an important booklet showing the research-based links between child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse. It also describes actions that people and professionals can take to deal with these problems and to prevent them in the future. It has been made available here with the full permission and generosity of American Humane.

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Finding the Right Dog Trainer

Use the link below to access an article written by Dr. VanFleet about how to find the right dog trainer for your dog. This applies to companion dogs as well as dogs who will be involved in Canine-Assisted Play Therapy. She includes links to several lists of dog trainers as well as important questions to ask them before engaging their services.
Finding the Right Dog Trainer

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Research

Dr. VanFleet has conducted a qualitative/survey study of play therapists who use animals in their work. Full results from 83 participants in this 2006-2008 study are now available. Simply click the link below:
Pets in Play Therapy Preliminary Study Results

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Tips for Training a Play Therapy Dog
Risë VanFleet, Ph.D.
© 2010, Playful Pooch Program. All rights reserved for articles and photographs.

More information on this topic is available in the Play Therapy with Kids and Canines book that can be purchased in our on-line store. It is important that all dogs receive good training and socialization experiences, but this is especially true of therapy dogs. Socialization should start very early in the puppy’s life and continue throughout its life.

I strongly urge therapists/handlers to train their dogs using non-aversive, primarily positive dog training methods. Not only is this the most humane way to train a dog, but it also helps establish a strong, positive relationship between canine and owner. Nonaversive methods are based on behavioral science, with which most therapists are quite familiar, and they have the strongest research evidence for their effectiveness.

Furthermore, positive dog training methods provide the best model for children who are learning to relate to dogs. Therapists are always providing a model in how to relate to dogs during sessions, and the best way to ensure a positive model is to learn positive training methods. Children also might view the therapist/handler’s approach to the dog as an example of what they can expect in their own therapeutic relationship, so once again, a strong case is made for using aversive-free, behaviorally-oriented approaches.

A wonderful resource on this subject is the Association of Professional Dog Trainers. This international organization provides information on how to choose a trainer as well as a dog trainer search. I would suggest trying to find someone who is a “CPDT” (Certified Professional Dog Trainer), if possible.

In the U.S., the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is an excellent first step toward therapy dog credentialing. Visit the AKC website: www.akc.org, then search “CGC.” This program is open to all owners and dogs, including mixed breeds.

Association of Professional Dog Trainers - Dog Training Professionals


International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Dr. Risë VanFleet is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant with IAABC.


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Kirrie's Doggie Dictionary

One of the challenges of play therapy work with canines is to ensure that children use the cues, both verbal and nonverbal, with which the dog has been trained. Kathy Sdao, an associate Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (and wonderful speaker and trainer on dog training issues), recently suggested during a presentation at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Conference that owners and trainers actually create a log of all the cues they use with their animals. She also offered ways to test those cues to see what the animal is actually “reading” – the words, tone of voice, body language, and so on.

The following link leads to Kirrie’s Doggie Dictionary, a small booklet used with children in the Playful Pooch Program. It is very specific to this play therapy dog and is copyrighted as well, but it might provide a useful sample of a fun way to help reinforce the cues that children learn while working with a therapy dog. Children learn best by doing, and they learn cues from therapist modeling and then interacting with the dog, but the booklet provides a reminder and a “souvenir” of their work with the dog.

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Dominance and Dog Training
Click here
to download the position paper of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers on dominance approaches to dog training. This is a very important issue, and the Playful Pooch Program wholeheartedly endorses this position paper. It is provided here with the permission of APDT, www.apdt.com.

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Help for Fearful Dogs
If your dog is fearful, anxious, or has fear-based aggressive behaviors, there is hope and help! Risë's article entitled Zoom-Zoom-Zoom: Lessons Learned from a Semi-Feral Dog highlights the journey of a terrified dog and the approach used to help her gradually become a much better adjusted family pet.

There's also an excellent website with a great deal of information on ways to help dogs with varying degrees of fear and anxiety, including seriously damaged dogs. Find useful articles, tips, links, and book suggestions at www.fearfuldogs.com.

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Books and DVDs

Animal Assisted Play Therapy *NEW*

This book is the culmination of the authors’ combined 75 years of experience working with animals as a part of their therapeutic practice.  Professional practitioners, as well as the paraprofessionals who work in tandem with them, will find this book of enormous value.  While the focus is on mental health professionals, the approach and methods covered can easily be adapted for use by allied health professionals, such as physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapists as well as those in the educational field such as teachers and school counselors.  Animal Assisted Play Therapy™ (AAPT) adds the elements of playfulness, humor, and lightness to the therapeutic process, and can be helpful for clients of all ages.  It focuses heavily on relationships: how the relationship between therapist and animal must be developed in positive, mutually respectful ways in which the animals have a voice and choice whenever possible.  This in turn provides a model for clients to help them strengthen their own relationships, not only with therapy animals and their own companion animals, but within the human relationships in their families and communities.  The authors demonstrate how the techniques can be readily applied for dogs, horses, cats, and other animals.  Many illustrative case examples are included.

Click here to buy now using our on-line store.

 

Play Therapy for Kids & Canines:
Benefits for Children's Developmental and Psychosocial Health

WINNER of the Planet Dog Foundation's Sit. Speak. Act. Canine Service Award as judged in the Dog Writers Association of America 2008 competition for all media about therapy and service dog programs!

Dr. VanFleet's latest book has just been released by Professional Resource Press. This new volume describes the integration of animal assisted therapy and play therapy, and details the involvement of canines in play therapy to address a wide range of child and family difficulties.
Click here to buy now using our on-line store.

Reviews of this book:
"...Play Therapy with Kids & Canines serves as an informative and motivational launching point for professionals to begin their training in the integration of play and the use of canine cotherapists. ... With the emphasis that training must continually be a two-sided activity, this author introduces practical guidelines and considerations... A resounding strength of this book is found in the sections that describe specific AAPT interventions to target a number of presenting clinical problems. ...Play Therapy with Kids & Canines is a highly readable book that sheds light on the work of both human and canine pioneers in an approach to therapy that shows great promise in the treatment of children."
-American Psychological Association, PsycCRITIQUES (1554-0138, 2/4/09, Vol. 54, Release 5, Article 5)

"...as I read VanFleet's book, I found myself wishing that this book had been available years ago. Risë VanFleet's (book) is a well-researched, comprehensive, yet concise text for all of us who are interested in both animal-assisted therapy and play therapy. This monograph covers both the theoretical and practical elements of animal-assisted play therapy (AAPT) in a clear, coherent, and organized manner. ...VanFleet's clear dedication to ethical practice, respect for dogs, and respect for children is a true strength of this book. She diligently and clearly challenges the reader to consider how using a dog in play therapy will best serve the needs of the child. Most importantly, she stresses that good therapy dogs are not born instantly but rather these dogs need proper socialization, training, human interaction, and structure. Above all, VanFleet communicates the deep sense of commitment to animals and children that one must assume in order to do this work. ...This book is a valuable resource for both students and experienced play therapists. VanFleet's writing is highly accessible, interesting, and thought provoking."
-American Journal of Play, 2009, Vol. 2 (2), pp. 220-221.

"Play Therapy With Kids & Canines: Benefits for Children's Developmental and Psychosocial Health is a fantastic look at the effect that dogs can have in children's therapy. Risë VanFleet provides constant examples on the way that dogs are integrated specifically into play therapy. Dr. VanFleet goes through the entire process of obtaining a dog for therapeutic uses, and all the ways in which that dog can be beneficial to the child. Her section on canine cotherapists in nondirective and directive play therapy is especially helpful for other play therapists seeking to incorporate dogs in their sessions. The numerous case studies and quotations throughout the book lend an exciting aspect that makes the book interesting to read and constantly makes you want to go further to read the next excerpt. This book is a necessity for play therapists."
-Heidi G. Kaduson, PhD, RPT-S, Director, The Play Therapy Training Institute, Inc.

"Kids and dogs share a special bond. Risë VanFleet teaches therapists precisely how they can use this magical relationship to help children deal with stress and recover from trauma. Furry friends can soothe the soul."
-Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, author of Living with Kids and Dogs. . . Without Losing Your Mind

"Risë VanFleet offers a valuable addition to the literature on both animal assisted therapy and play therapy. VanFleet's approach to integrating these two therapeutic modalities is a monumental step forward in the clinical treatment of children. This work provides comprehensive coverage of foundations and applications of animal assisted play therapy that is interlaced with extraordinary case examples which invoke awe and wonderment in the reader."
-Cynthia K. Chandler, EdD, author of Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling

Table of Contents:
Dedication · Acknowledgments · Series Preface · Preface · The Story of a Play Therapy Dog · Animal Emotions and the Human-Animal Bond · Animal-Assisted Therapy · Play and Play Therapy · Integration of Animal-Assisted Therapy and Play Therapy · "The Original Play Therapists": A Case for Canines · Considerations for Quality, Ethical Canine Play Therapy Programs · Selecting and Training a Play Therapy Dog · Practical Management · The First Meeting: Preparations and Introductions · Canine Cotherapists in Nondirective and Directive Play Therapy · Anxiety Reduction · Grief and Loss · Building Competence and Confidence · Weight Reduction and Fitness · Attachment and Relationship Building: Canine Applications for Maltreated and Traumatized Children · Attentional and Behavioral Difficulties · Communication and Social Anxieties · Families and the Future · Final Suggestions · Appendices · References


The Faces of Play: A Photographic Exploration of the Importance and Joys of Playfulness
This full-color book displays 100 of Dr. VanFleet’s photographic images that explore the world of play. Text descriptions and quotations about the nature and importance of play are illustrated by images of animals (wild and domestic) and humans (children and adults) in a wide range of play activities. This spiral-bound volume printed on matte photographic paper is a useful and enjoyable tool for educating professionals, parents, and the public about the value of play. Great for the waiting room! Children love it, too! Book sections include: Introduction; Solitary, Sensory, & Object Play; Social Play; Dress-up and Imaginary Play; and Cross-Species Play.

Book Sections:
Introduction • Solitary, Sensory, and Object Play • Social Play •
Dress-up and Imaginary Play • Cross-Species Play

Related Book/DVD Reviews and Suggestions
Most of the titles below are available from www.dogwise.com. If you have trouble obtaining any of these books, please email Dr. VanFleet.

Suzanne Clothier, 2005. Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening Our Relationships with Dogs. Warner Books.

This is one of my favorite books about dogs. It shows that relationships are of utmost importance and discusses ways in which to develop and strengthen them with our canine companions. Perhaps what I like about it the most is that the author emphasizes the importance of empathy and reciprocity, characteristics and skills that are vital for any relationship we might have. Clothier offers a unique formula for interacting with dogs that truly works. This is not a training book per se, but I consider it one of the most important books that can only enhance the training one does with a dog. If you want to learn how to be more attuned to your dog's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, this book is for you. If you involve dogs in your therapy work, I consider this book an absolute "must" as our relationships are particularly critical in that work. This book is an easy ready with lots of humor and lessons drawn from many different fields. Of greatest value is Clothier's emphasis that only through a good relationship are the best things possible.
Kids and Dogs: A Professional's Guide to Helping Families
by Colleen Pelar, CPDT

This marvelous book by renowned dog trainer Colleen Pelar is must-reading for all child professionals, educators, and dog trainers/behaviorists who work with families with both children and dogs. Illustrated with photographs, the book clearly shows how to help families negotiate the complex interactions between children and dogs. Far too many children suffer facial bites from dogs whose communications of discomfort went unrecognized and unheeded. Too many dogs are rehomed or euthanized when the preventive measures outlined in this book could have remedied the situation. This book provides extremely important information about how professionals can increase their own and parents' awareness of child-dog relationships, how to supervise children and dogs, and how to build safe and satisfying relationships between children and dogs. The Playful Pooch Program considers this the very best book on the topic! (2009, 122 pages).
BUY NOW in our online store!

Living with Kids and Dogs ...Without Losing Your Mind
by Collen Pelar, CPDT

This wonderful, readable book provides busy parents with simple, effective advice for homes with kids and dogs. The author is a well-known dog trainer who focuses on helping children develop healthy and safe relationships with dogs. This book was the winner of the Humane Society of the United States Compassionate Care Award and the Parent to Parent Adding Wisdom Award. It is invaluable for the creation of harmonious family life and for bite prevention. The Playful Pooch Program highly recommends this book for all families with kids and dogs! (2007, 164 pages)


Meg Daley Olmert, 2009. Made for Each Other. Da Capo Press, 312pages

Read Dr. VanFleet's review published in the May/June 2010 issue of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog.

 

The Language of Dogs: Understanding Canine Body Language and Other Communication Signals

featuring Sarah Kalnajs, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Pet Dog Trainer
(c) 2007, Blue Dog Training & Behavior, LLC
2 hours, 12 minutes

Description:
What is your dog saying to you and to other dogs? How can you tell when play turns to aggression? How do dogs show friendliness, fear, or stress? This educational DVD set features a lively presentation and extensive footage of a variety of breeds showing hundreds of examples of canine behavior and body language.

Behaviorist Sarah Kalnajs teaches how to read these signals so that you can develop a better understanding of what's really going on in the canine world. This DVD set is perfect for dog owners and therapists who involve their dogs in therapy work.

Recommendation from Dr. Risë VanFleet:
All people who live with dogs, and especially therapists who involve dogs in their work, need to understand canine body language. This strengthens our ability to understand our dogs, react more sensitively and appropriately to their needs, and build our relationships with them in a healthy direction. Understanding their communication signals also increases safety--for the dogs and the children and adults who interact with them. This DVD is very important for therapists, parents, and others who live and work with dogs. I consider it a "must" for play therapists involved in Canine-Assisted Play Therapy!

Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling

If you are unfamiliar with Animal Assisted Therapy, you will find this information about Dr. Chandler's book useful. This is an excellent volume on the field!
Download a flyer about the book.

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Playful Pooch Newsletter

Download copies of our newsletters below. Would you like to receive them by email? Join our e-newsletter list!

October, 2011

April, 2011

December, 2010

January, 2010

January, 2009

October, 2008

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Videos and Media

From Service Dog to SURFice Dog.
This video about a service dog-in-training and her work with disabled children is very moving and well worth seeing! Please watch it on YouTube using the link below.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGODurRfVv4

Dogs Filmed at 1000 frames per second
Most of us never see our dogs in slow motion. This link is for a dog food ad, but the video is really quite remarkable.

Listen to a Podcast of Dr. VanFleet on the Animal Communication Show with Kerry Davis talking about the animal work.
Click here to stream the MP3.

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Links

www.play-therapy.com
(Dr. VanFleet's play therapy website)

International Institute for AAPT Studies

Association of Pet Dog Trainers

AKC Canine Good Citizen Program

The Delta Society

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

Therapy Dogs International

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