This is the story of Yoav (not his real name), a 3 year old who lived in Manhattan with his
parents, where his father was an emissary, and who was diagnosed as high-functioning on the
The family came to Israel for a short visit and his mother wanted to experience therapeutic dog
training since Yoav responded very positively to dogs. In order to take them as quickly as
possible, we began a speedy diagnosis that included the regular consultations we have at TRCI.
We arranged to have two sessions a week, for one month, which left us with only 8 sessions
before their return to New York.
This is how the therapeutic trainer tells the story:
At our first session I met a sweet little boy of three, who was very excited to be in the kennels
with his mother. Since I didn’t know Yoav, I wasn’t sure what would attract his attention, so I
came to the first session equipped with a selection of accessories such as books and toys so that I
could use them at the right moment.
When we went into the yard with the dogs, we noticed that Yoav reacted very positively to them,
but I still couldn’t identify what exactly attracted him and how I would be able to enlist him in
the process, so at the next session I brought many more accessories.
During the third session I decided to try and work with Thelma, one of the female dogs, since I
had seen that Yoav was most interested in her. In order to focus on the therapeutic process, we
moved into the dogs’ activity area. As soon as we were in place, I invented a game where he and
Thelma alternated getting onto the installations. That is a highly complex ability for an autistic
child, which requires that he sees the other on the one hand, and delays his own satisfaction on
the other hand.
For the rest of the sessions I managed to establish a regular program, in which we took turns on
the installations – Yoav and Thelma, and afterwards we would sit in chairs and give Thelma
snacks. In addition, we invented games around the distribution of the snacks, which included
going in and out of the routine, which is imperative for an autistic child.
Towards the end of the process, after having assimilated the regular program and creating the
right environment for the work, we were forced to shorten the final session, due to the family’s
return to New York. However, it had become very clear that therapeutic dog training was
definitely a preferable and effective channel of therapy for Yoav, who achieved results even after
this short period.