DBT The “DEAR DOG” Inter-species Effectiveness Skill

Dear all creatures of the world and our DBT friends and family,   

With the assistance of microscopic entity, we are facing the new epic era of human contact- the exchange of our souls and dealing with our difficulties online. In reviewing the DEAR MAN skill in a DBT online group session, we found out that one of our young adult clients had been stuck at home alone with her dog for nearly 4 weeks. Her only contact was her own dog, ‘co-co’. We asked her to apply the DEAR MAN skill with her dog; she did it with co-co and it was  an amazing extension of the DEAR MAN skill to other creatures. We named it “DEAR DOG, Inter-Species Effectiveness Skill.” We hope this humorous skill set brightens the mood of all DBT clinicians and clients around the world.   Thanks to Dr. Linehan for this wonderful skill. Cheers to all!   

From. Yong (yes, it is me) and the DBT Center of Korea Team 

The “DEAR DOG” skill is an inter-species effectiveness skill that can help us connect with our furry friends at a more meaningful level.

Describe: Describe the current situation whenever needed. Try to focus on the facts even if your dog makes a big mess! Tell your dog exactly what makes you angry.

“There are more than five pairs of shoes that I had to throw away because CoCo (or your dog’s name) chewed on them.”

Express: Express your feelings and opinions about the situation. Try not to assume that your dog knows how you feel just because he/she gives you the puppy eye.

“When you chew on my shoes, I feel very angry and disappointed.”

Speak with mutual words (“The reason why I am angry is…, I do not want to buy another pair of shoes”) instead of speaking with conclusive words (“You are a bad dog, I must reprimand you”).

Assert: Assert what you want. Say “No” clearly. Do not assume that your dog would understand how we feel.

“I want you to let me know that you want to go for a walk when you feel stressed and want to chew on my shoes.”

Reinforce: Reinforce your dog’s good behavior by explaining the positive consequences that will happen when you get what you want.

“If you do that, then I will not get angry and not have to buy more shoes. And I can go for a walk with you more often.”

Make sure to reinforce when your dog behaves in the way you want!

(ALWAYS maintain this sequence)

Doodle: Your dog’s ultimate goal is always to have fun with you. Don’t forget that problem behaviors arise when this goal is not met!

Observe: Does my dog need more nose work activities? Is my dog feeling uncomfortable? Always observe mindfully.

(be) Gentle: No aggression, threats, criticism, or mockery. Always keep a gentle attitude even when you dog makes trouble.


Palm the Present Moment

The DBT Skills Training Group have practiced mindfulness by palming the present moment to be aware of current presence.