Teal Paws is a program focused on education and healing; it is a support group for sexual assault survivors that also incorporates the therapeutic benefits of working to train their own dog. Each Survivor is paired with their own Ally Dog to build a relationship of mutual love and respect. Teal Paws rescues dogs specifically chosen to match the needs and lifestyles of a Survivor. If a Survivor already has a pet dog that they want to train to be their Ally Dog, there will be a required temperament evaluation for that dog.
Teal Paws Family Program is focused on the family. Weekly sessions over 3 months provide lessons in dog training while also incorporating mindfulness practices to help on the journey to healing after sexual assault. Family pet dogs will be considered for the program or Teal Paws will rescue a dog specifically chosen to match the needs and lifestyle of the family.
Dog Training occurs in conjunction with the mindfulness coaching.
Survivors will learn skills that adhere to science-based pain-free techniques using positive reinforcement. Individual's education will go beyond the general "how-to" of dog training, and delve into the "why". This information is based in behavior modification using classical and operant conditioning which applies not only to dogs, but to all animals, people included.
The goal of our time together will be to graduate Ally Dog Teams that have achieved the level of training they each feel comfortable with. Some teams will graduate with the skills needed to qualify as a Service Dog Team, others will graduate as a team that does their work mostly at home; the dog functioning as an Emotional Support Animal (ESA). Regardless of level of training, the Ally Dog Teams will leave Teal Paws as confidants that have a deep sense of love and trust for one another.
Mindfulness coaching occurs in conjunction with dog training.
We are intrinsically built for survival. Every experience is processed through our minds, our bodies and our spirit. And those parts all work together, instinctively, to keep us alive in a traumatic situation like sexual assault. So whatever you did was exactly the right thing to do during your assault. And now it’s over. But traumatized brains and bodies don’t always recognize that fact. Mindfulness practices help us step out of the past and become fully present to Now, this moment. Through committed practice each week in this program, we build the ability to be more present in our thoughts, emotions, and our bodies in a less judgmental and reactive way. We strengthen our self-awareness. We learn to pay attention to our experiences without being influenced by them. Activities like breathing techniques, gentle body movement (yoga) and meditation will also assist in quieting our minds, relaxing our bodies and deepening the connection to our inner voice and power.