Good Dog in a Box co-founders Jenn Merritt, CPDT-KA and Kim Merritt-Butler attended the Family Paws Parent Education Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina July 30-August 1st. This extraordinary gathering of dog/child educators from across North America was a wonderful opportunity to discuss innovative techniques to help create “dog aware” generations by supporting families with children and dogs.
Day 1 of the Family Paws Parent Education Conference included a wide ranging session on the importance of play and empathy in working with families by Dr. Risë VanFleet, PhD, RPT-S, CDBC. Dr. VanFleet is a child and family psychologist, a registered play therapist, and a certified dog behavior consultant with 40 years of experience. Her insights included:
- Children learn best when play in included in the learning process
- Play can reduce nervousness and tension (with children and adults)
- Elements of play can add emotional safety
- Play makes it easier to change behavior and retain new information
Dr. VanFleet’s session included suggestions for helping learners practice new skills and how to improve feedback that is given. Perhaps the most important point was the need for educators to foster relationships, and that lasting change occurs within the context of a relationship. Dr. VanFleet’s session was a wonderful beginning to a weekend of learning.