The Buddy Project Is A Program Which Teaches At-Risk Youth How To Train Rescue Dogs.
The goal of the program is to provide mutually beneficial experiences for the students and the dogs. The youth learn how to train the dogs using positive based training methods, which supports the dogs’ process towards adoption and also provides the youth with a model for positive social interactions. The dogs learn basic skills, which makes them more appealing to potential adopters.
The Buddy Project pairs youth who are at risk for school failure with homeless dogs from the Sanctuary. While learning how to train the dogs, the youth also learn how to engage with them in a positive manner that promotes empathy.
The Buddy Project works with youth with Asperger’s, ADHD, learning disabilities, and significant emotional problems. Some of the youth have experienced trauma, are in the foster care system, or are experiencing other life challenges.
Social workers, therapists, teachers, and parents identify and refer youth who may benefit from this program.
General program goals include providing the dogs with positive‐based training and socialization experiences to aid in their rehabilitation and enhance their chances for successful adoptions. Goals for the students include providing them with a humane education experience that helps to develop a sense of achievement and feelings of empathy.
The program provides the youth with an opportunity to engage in an activity outside of their school or traditional therapeutic environments. It can simulate a work experience for some, teaching them the importance of honoring commitments and fulfilling responsibilities. According to the literature on animal-assisted interactions (AAIs), engaging with animals can serve as a catalyst to help support the development of other social interactions. Involvement in positive‐based dog training approaches can serve as a model for positive and appropriate interpersonal interactions outside of the training sessions.
The Buddy Project collaborates with referring partners to develop individualized, measurable goals for each student. Goals for the Sanctuary dogs are developed in collaboration with Our Companions’ Canine Operations Director. When one of “their” dogs is adopted, youth are encouraged to remain within the program to help another dog in need.
Most of the dogs reside at the Sanctuary in Ashford.
All dogs are temperament‐tested by Our Companions’ Canine Operations Director. Dogs that are selected have demonstrated high sociability and are considered highly trainable. Individual needs and goals are taken into consideration when pairing a student with a dog.
Most Buddy Project sessions occur at the Sanctuary in Ashford, CT. Some sessions are held at the Valerie Friedman Program Center in Manchester, Connecticut.
Sessions are offered once a week for an hour.
Ready To Find Out More?
For more information please contact Risa Davidson, The Buddy Project Manager, at 860-242-9999 or fill out our contact form