Thursday, March 15, 2012

Follow Up on Pet Therapy with Kids

by John and Diane

I just wanted to provide a few more resources for those of you who might want to pursue more formal training for your pets (and the handlers) for pet-therapy in your foster home. Although, as I said, I think just having pets in your home is therapeutic for foster kids with numerous developmental and emotional problems, there are some things to be considered and monitored depending on the behavior of the kids, and the temperment of the pets in the home.

Pet therapy training can help remind you of some of the things you want to consider and can help your pets get used to being handled, sometimes clumsily, by strangers and new children. Many ASPCA locations train volunteers to come into homes to do pet therapy, and may be able to provide a volunteer to come to your foster home to visit your kids once or twice a week, if you are unsure of having a full time pet.

The "elephant in the room" in this discussion, is, of course, animal abuse, so children need to be monitored while interacting with pets and the pet's health and well being should be protected from new children who's behavior may be unpredictable. Children with attachment disorders will have impulsive behavior and can be unpredictable throughout their stay with you, so you should consult the child's therapists and doctors and use your own best instincts on whether or not to have a full time pet in the house. Pet visits can still be effective with these types of children in monitored conditions and help build responsibility, empathy and social skills.

Check out these websites and resources for more information on pet therapy training.

image: flickr: Attribution Some rights reserved by chris friese

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