Troubled Teen Options

Troubled Teens And Animal Therapy

Troubled teens generally would say that they don’t particularly feel that they are loved. And indeed, for many, the concern and love most of us take for granted is something many teens have simply never experienced. Maybe that is why those troubled teen boarding schools that utilize animal assisted therapy meet with such success. For most teens the give and take of love and affection that goes on between a dog and a human is a novel, unique and, many times, a powerful experience. “Shane, an abused Doberman from Pennsylvania, sat at attention at the feet of his trainer. Eric, a delinquent 18-year-old from Minnesota, knelt to the floor with a treat in his hand, urging the dog to lie down. It took several times before the dog’s belly hit the floor. When it did, the boy smiled, gave him the treat and tousled his head. It was an accomplishment for both.


Eric is participating in the Renaissance Program at Boys Totem Town, a juvenile treatment institution in St. Paul. Boys who come from rough-and-tumble backgrounds are teaching dogs who come from rough-and-tumble backgrounds how to become therapy animals. The theory is, by teaching dogs the skills and discipline the boys are trying to learn; the boys will improve their own behavior faster, said superintendent Tom McGinn.” (Unknown source) By Ann Walker