Thanks to our sponsors Maddie’s Fund (maddiesfund.org), Best Friends (bestfriends.org), and PawEDU.com, we’ll have presentations on the Canine Good Citizen program (initially funded by Best Friends) and shelter tours including demonstrations with dogs currently in the program as part of this year’s conference coming up in less than a week! Need tickets? www.americanpetsalive.org .
Guest Post by Jess Borda
As part of APA!’s Dog Behavior Program mission, each dog gets enrichment and training to prepare them for a life outside of the shelter, both in the community and in their actual home. Some dogs come into our program obviously needing hands on, one-on-one attention because of behaviors that were seen previously. Some dogs develop unwanted behaviors overtime as part of the stress of living in the shelter. These dogs are quickly identified and either trained by the 5 members of the behavior staff, by a highly trained volunteer or a volunteer passionate about helping their favorite dog to help ready them for a home. We’ve created standards for these dogs to meet to make them highly adoptable and ready to settle into a home. With the following skills, we hope to make the transition just a little bit easier.
At APA, we prize the passion and dedication our volunteers have for our dogs and train them to handle the dogs inside the shelter as well as improve their behavior to improve their forever home chances. Each dog is an individual and each dog gets an individual training plan with one or more of the skills below.
Sit: verbal command that the dog holds until released (free) (Real life scenario: basic obedience, waiting at the door before you open it before a walk.)
Down: verbal command that the dog holds until released (free) ((Real life scenario: basic obedience)
Leash walking: the dog heeling on the left hand side, giving eye contact, not pulling ahead or lagging behind. Not (too) distracted by his/her environment or other dogs, people, bikes or joggers passing by (Real life scenario: leashed walks around the neighborhood or parks)
Composed around other leashed dogs: dog sits by your left side while another person with a dog approaches. Both dogs hold sits as handlers shake hands. The dogs and handlers then politely walk past each other (Real life scenario: when you want to hang out around another calm leashed dog, even if one or both of the dogs isn’t social with dogs)
Recall: dog comes when called even with distractions around (Real life scenario: when the dog is trying to rush the door or when they are distracted by a squirrel)
Friendly greeting: dog will sit calmly by your side as a human stranger approaches. The dog waits until you allow them to stand from their sit (free) to politely greet the new person without jumping on that person (Real life scenario: every time the dog meets a new (or old) friend)
Paw handling: the dog will allow paws to be picked up and examined (Real life scenario: vet’s office or groomer
Furniture respect: dog won’t jump on the couch, chair or bed until he/she is invited (Real life scenario: saving that brand new furniture!)
Place: goes to a designated location every time and stays there until released (Real life scenario: have your arms full and want to get in the house without being tackled; when people are visiting and the dog is being rude)
Leave it: dog ignores things on command (including treats or potentially harmful items) (Real life scenario: unknown food dropped on the ground when you’re on a walk or a rattlesnake appears during a hike.)
When each dog is treated as an individual, each dog wins! Nearly 40 dogs at our main location at any given point in time is getting training. Taking the time to get know what a dog needs help improves their chances for getting and staying in a home. All dogs are identified as getting training with a prominent card on each dog’s kennel to encourage potential adopters to ask for more info.