The proud collies and frisky white puppy who romp across the Boys Town Jerusalem campus each Monday afternoon for dog training sessions are not only boys’ best friends. In many cases, they’re also the boys’ best therapy to overcome emotional trauma. In all cases, they’re a generous source of love.
Dog training proves to help with emotional support
For BTJ students, the popular extracurricular sessions offer a fascinating venture where the youngsters are taught to master the art of reward-based animal training, while they themselves gain instinctive emotional support from the “therapy dogs.”
BTJ has been offering dog training for nearly ten years
Over the near-decade in which BTJ has offered the Dog Training sessions, the school’s social workers, teachers and rabbis laud its contribution towards improving boys’ self-image while boosting their self-confidence and sense of achievement. “Patience is the key to successful dog training,” trainer Moshe Daniel emphasized to his rapt audience of BTJ students. “What’s more, a positive reward is crucial to boost the dog’s confidence.” Dog yummies in hand, the youngsters then practiced ordering “Come,” “Sit,” “Stay” and “Down” and rewarding their obedient four-legged friends. Working together on a lawn of the school’s campus, the boys and dogs were soon wrapped in hugs.
The dog trainers meet with BTJ social workers to discuss the progress of students
“These dogs, which change from week to week, are selected for their particular character – from being playful to smart, friendly and calm – and are professionally trained as therapy animals,” explains Moshe, a team member of the Ofer Therapeutic Dog Center selected to conduct the BTJ Dog Training sessions. Their Therapeutic Treatment Director Liat Bartov notes that the staff meets regularly with BTJ social workers to discuss the progress of boys facing traumatic home situations.
On the ground, 13-year-old Levi* admitted, “I used to be afraid of dogs, but now I love them. I dream of having my own dog someday.” For now, he blissfully curled his face in the fur of the collie he cradled in his arms.
Dog training sessions are thanks to the Rosenfeld Foundation
Boys Town Jerusalem sincerely thanks the Rosenfeld Foundation for their generous sponsorship of the extracurricular Dog Training sessions.
*not his real name