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Bark and Heal treatment program at Alexander Youth Network

Bark and Heal: ‘Pawsitive’ Training for Rescued Dogs and Youth in Treatment

Bark and Heal is a unique treatment program designed to provide healing to the children of Alexander Youth Network through the compassion and positive reinforcement of canine training.

The Bark and Heal program pairs youth in our programs with rescued dogs who are in need of skills training prior to adoption.

Over the course of an 8-week program, children learn methods of positive reinforcement and repetition. They teach their dogs basic obedience and house training skills while socializing with other trainers, volunteers and dogs. Through the companionship of their dogs, children develop trust and empathy. They find acceptance, gain confidence, and build self-esteem through their dedicated responsibilities in the program. The Bark and Heal program enables children and their dogs to achieve rehabilitation towards long-term success.

Sit. Stay. Succeed.

Since the launch of Bark and Heal in January 2018, 17 kids have participated in the program. Through the Bark and Heal program:

  • A boy who stopped running away and embraced a new foster family after he taught his dog to stop running.
  • A girl with a history of depression and self-harm stopped cutting herself, in part because she was able to look forward to time with her dog.
  • 18 dogs from the program have been adopted into loving homes with the help of the children in the program.


Our Partners

Bark and Heal was launched as a pilot program in 2018 thanks to support from Daryl Wagner, therapeutic foster parent and owner of FurBabies Animal Rescue, and a transformative gift from the Bill and Sharon Allen Family Foundation.

Led by six trained staff members and volunteers, Bark and Heal currently serves at the Psychiatric Residential Treatment and Day Treatment programs at our Main Campus in Charlotte as well as Day Treatment programs throughout the state. Children and their canine companions meet three days a week to work on:

  • Relationship building skills
  • Self-soothing and self-regulation skills
  • Listening skills
  • Communication skills
  • Healthy detachment and pet adoption

Connect With Us

Bark and Heal Program Director

Contact the Program Director, Lori Douglas to learn more about the Bark and Heal program and where it is operating.

Email: LDouglas@alexanderyouthnetwork.org | Phone: 704.401.3489

Donations and Support

Contact the Alexander Children’s Foundation President, Lynn Crutchfield to schedule a campus tour and find out how you can support Bark and Heal.

EmailLCrutchfield@alexanderyouthnetwork.org | Phone: 704.227.9171