Goldendoodle puppy starts training to become play therapy dog

Goldendoodle puppy training to become play therapy dog. (Sydney Glenn/WPDE)

Ellen King has a new goldendoodle puppy named Beans and he's being trained to be more than just a loving pet.

Goldendoodle's are a golden retriever and poodle mix and a hypo-allergenic breed. King, a licensed counselor and a registered play therapist at TLC Counseling Center in Little River, got him to help her at work.

"Therapy dogs are for emotional support. He's going to be a therapy dog, but in addition to that he'll do play therapy with me," she said.

Play therapy is a unique form of therapy that requires extra schooling and training, King said.

"When talking to an adult you could say, 'Hey, whats going on with you this week? What's happening?' An adult could tell you back, usually, typically. A child, not so. But, they can show you through their art, their play, role play, puppets, that type of thing."

Beans will assist in the play therapy, Kings said.

"If the dog is trained correctly and the child is gradually introduced in a playful manner they can overcome that fear (of dogs). But also you can help a child learn things like self control, patience, care, empathy, all types of things," King said.

According to the International Institution for Animal Assisted Play Therapy, "Animal Assisted Play Therapy (AAPT) is a full integration of play therapy with animal-assisted therapy, primarily for mental health/psychotherapy and education purposes. It is valuable in helping children, adolescents, and adults, and can be provided for individuals, groups, and families."

King and Beans will train both together and separately throughout at least the next year. There is no exact time frame and there is no guarantee that Beans will become a therapy dog, it'll depend on his temperament and development throughout the process, King said.

The certification program is rigorous and requires substantial work and dedication, according to the IIAAPT website.

When the training is complete, King will be a certified animal-assisted play therapist and Beans will be her certified therapy dog, King said.

For more information about Animal Assisted Play Therapy, click here.

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