Allynwood Academy Presents: The Theory and Practice of Canine Human Attunement Training/Therapy (CHAT®)

Allynwood Academy Presents:

The Theory and Practice of Canine Human Attunement Training/Therapy (CHAT®)
A one day seminar at Allynwood Academy, Hancock, New York
Saturday, November 23, 2013 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
RSVP: to Jennifer Culver by November 21th (

Dr. Rita Argiros, Executive Program Director at Allynwod Academy and Founder and Program Director of CHAT®. Rita has crib memories of her first dog, Doc, and has never been without a dog. She is the oldest daughter of the founders of The Family Foundation School, now Allynwood Academy. She drafted the first program handbook in 1978 (a very primitive 12 page document). Rita studied sociology at Binghamton University receiving her PhD in 1992. She was an Associate Professor of Sociology at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota from 1989 until returning to New York to take up her leadership role at what is now Allynwood Academy. She is currently Executive Program Director of the Allynwood programs. Her sociological perspective informs everything she does at Allynwood as she is no stranger to dialogic, dialectical and systems perspectives of all kinds. In Rita’s world, everything is always “in formation.” Rita started working with dogs and students in 2003. She is a certified SAR dog handler, fielding both search dogs trained to find live people and human remains detector dogs. She has had various leadership positions in the New York State Federation of Search and Rescue Teams including K-9 coordinator and vice-chairman. She is the president of Eagle Valley Search Dogs, a Search and Rescue team that has helped resolve a number of cold cases in New York and New Jersey. She has worked with the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the New York State Missing Persons Clearing House, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police and numerous county and local law enforcement agencies. Students in Dog Corp (a part of the CHAT program) almost always accompany her and the dogs on searches.

Mr. Richard Reeve, Head of School at Allynwood Academy and 5th year psychoanalytical candidate at The C.G. Jung Institute of New York, he is currently writing his thesis on early relational trauma, shame and addiction. Richard has been listening to Rita chew his ear off about her observations of the interactions between dogs and students and the changes she was seeing for several years. When he was introduced to the work of Dr. Beatrice Beebe and early relational trauma, he brought to Rita’s attention the parallels and correspondences between the discoveries made concerning human attunement and the most recent research on canine learning and cognition. The outcome of those discussions led to the creation CHAT®.

Jennifer Eckhardt, CPDT-KA, IACP, gifted canine behaviorist and the CHAT® program Training Director. Jennifer is the founder of Life Long Tails, a 501c3 non-profit animal rescue organization which she founded as a teenager. She has been training client’s dogs for the past 8 years and has been working with adolescents in her current capacity for the past two years. Jennifer is a member of Eagle Valley Search dogs and has certified 3 search and rescue dogs (live find, human remains detection, trailing and water recovery) and has two more in training. She is currently training a narcotics dog as well. She shares her home with 11 dogs of all ages and sizes. When Rita and Rick approached Jennifer with the idea that attunement might be the explanation for the patterns of healing we were all seeing in our students, her response was-“of course, it’s all about the relationship. This is exactly what I do.”

What is CHAT®?
CHAT® is Allynwood Academy’s unique program for adolescent and young adult dog enthusiasts. CHAT® stands for Canine Human Attunement Training/Therapy. CHAT® emerged out of more than 16 years combined experience and thousands of hours of practice with adults, adolescents and dogs of all breeds. It builds upon the best of current canine learning theory, human and canine brain science, and the groundbreaking work of Dr. Beebe et. al on mother-infant attachment and attunement. CHAT® coursework and experiential learning address a number of issues, particularly those related to trauma and addiction.

What you can expect
By the end of the seminar you will understand how and why developing properly attuned relationships with dogs can help address a variety of issues including many stemming from early relational trauma. AND, while it’s only one day, we think the seminar will help you improve your relationships with the dogs that share your life.


    • 8-9 Registration and Breakfast (anyone who brought a dog and didn’t fill out the pre-seminar questioner does so now)
    • 9AM-9:15 AM Introduction and Overview
    • 9:15-10:15 Introduction to Attunement and CHAT® theory
    • 10:15 Break
    • 10:30-Noon Crash Course in Canine Human Attunement
      • Dog-Human Meeting and Greeting (Interactive) We meet any dogs that you have brought with you one at a time and observe their behavior. The students and instructors discuss what they see.
      • Doggy Dialectics (Classroom) Dog body language: Is it a signal or an expression of feeling or both? Interweaving Turid Rugass, author of Calming Signals in Dogs, and Dr. Beatrice Beebe’s work in a way that helps participants really understand the interaction diagram.
      • Eyes (Interactive) The “gaze” is one of the most important parts of the experience of attunement. Participants do the “eyes” exercise with one or more dogs and then reports on what it felt like. Hopefully most participants will experience mid-range attunement. We will also discuss the “look-away” and the problem of the gaze for dogs and some humans.

    • 12 -1 Lunch
    • 12:30 -1 Lunch Speaker Rita Argiros on “Dogs R Us” What the research says about canine evolution, emotions and cognition and why it matters.
    • 1:15-2:00 Crash Course in Canine Attunement continued
      • Dog-Dog Meeting and Greeting. Participants and our students “read” dog-dog attunement. We put together (safe) dogs and watch them interact.

    • 2:00 Break
    • 2:15-2:45 Collar & Lead (Classroom) A presentation of something so mundane and every day. Walking a dog on lead and what it says about attunement style.
    • 2:45-3:30 Attention Regulation (Interactive) Everyone takes a dog on a walk. (outside or in the gym depending on the weather). Can people use what they have learned to have a sustained interaction with the dog?
    • 3:30 Break
    • 3:45-4:30 “Trust the Dog” (Demonstration) How often do you hear students say they don’t trust anyone. When you are doing scent work, you have to trust. Scent work as the ultimate communion between dog and human. You can’t smell what the dog is smelling. You have to rely totally upon their abilities.
  • 4:30 Closing remarks