Editor’s note: Dogs are relinquished to shelters for many reasons. People move, have a new baby, get divorced, lose their homes.
Just for Shelters
A pioneer overseas
Carole Husein, one of the first graduates of the new KPA Shelter Training & Enrichment course, is putting to good use everything that she learned in the course recently. Not only is she integrating lessons and tips from the Shelter course in her dog training business, School for Dogs, but she is making tremendous improvements in the lives of rescue dogs. Working through CyDRA (Cyprus Dogs Rehoming Association), an organization that supports private rescue kennels (Carole is the group's education and training coordinator), she oversees a private rescue kennel herself. Carole's volunteer and professional work is in Cyprus, a tiny ancient island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, and northwest of Israel.
Lindsay Wood, Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Certified Training Partner (CTP) and the newest member of the KPA faculty, once thought her lifelong desire for a career working with animals was nothing more than a pipe dream. Fortunately for both Lindsay and the animals in her care at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, Lindsay's pipe dream is now a reality. Since 2007, Lindsay has served as the Director of Animal Training and Behavior for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. She developed and implemented the Humane Society's comprehensive behavior modification program created to rehabilitate dogs with specific concerns, including food guarding, fearful behavior, body-handling sensitivities, separation anxiety, and dog-dog aggression. As a result, adoption and retention rates have increased at the Humane Society, and many dogs that might have been euthanized have been re-homed successfully.
Shy dogs are an especially difficult challenge in the shelter environment because it is so hard for them to establish trust. We have found that teaching these dogs to target our hand can help many shy dogs develop confidence with people fairly quickly. You can't begin to try this method until there is at least one person (staff or volunteer) the shy dog has a little trust in.
Target training teaches the dog to touch his nose to some object or person for a click and then treat. (If the shy dog is very noise reactive, you may choose to use a "soft" voice marker or a muffled clicker)
If you've ever had a rewarding experience volunteering, you know that it's not always clear who benefits more: the person donating their time and services, or the recipient. This is especially true when working with animals. That win-win scenario is exemplified in The Latham Letter article "A New Wrinkle in Animal-Assisted Therapy," written by Lynn Loar, Ph.D., LCSW, President, The Pryor Foundation and Ken White, President, Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA.