In addition to the individual sessions I run I have also delivered dog safety talks to school’s, and workshops for professional staff who have to do home visits as part of their work role. I appreciate how difficult it can be to focus on the task in hand if a large rottweiler is trying to sit on your lap or staring at you from a higher seating position, or dogs are play fighting at your feet. These courses are very popular and get great feedback being a combination of knowledge, practical tips, and hands on practice. This enables staff who may already have a challenging role to concentrate on the purpose of their visit, rather than their own fears and concerns.
It is always interesting to see which dogs are the scariest, and for whom. Of course many people find the large dogs intimidating, whereas others find the really quick movements and noisy barking from small dogs more scary and off putting.
My sessions be they individual or group involve exposure to dogs of different sizes and energy levels, on lead, off lead (when ready), walking, running. maybe two dogs together. Taz our elderly large dog, although he can look intimidating at first glance actually moves pretty slowly now and most people find him easy. More anxiety provoking is Izzy who although small can be made to sing and bark, run and jump, and generally look excited. Teya and Billy are different again. I can always borrow other people and their dogs too if I need more variety!
This is probably the major difference in the work I do compared to more traditional and formal therapy. Often these sessions involve a lot of talking, thinking and planning, and writing lists. We do not usually write much (well anything actually) in my sessions but I do sometimes leave handouts and reminders for people once we are finished. It is very much a practical process and the sessions provided by others can lay a good ground work for ours.
However it can only go so far without exposure to dogs – in the words of one young man to his mum- “I am tired of talking I want to DO something”. Of course with that approach he made rapid progress.
In my next and final (for now) being scared of dogs blog post I am going to shut up, and hand over to the people who have been on the receiving end to have their say.
Thank goodness I hear you say.