With more and more dogs being abandoned due to “behavior problems,” many shelters are looking for ways to address these behaviors and make the animals more adoptable. Some shelters have a full training and behavioral service, while others ask local trainers to volunteer their time. A few even have a program that allows volunteers to work with professional trainers, learning valuable skills while helping them. If you are lucky enough to live near such a refuge, here are six reasons why you should take advantage of this opportunity.
1. You will learn to speak a dog
It can be difficult to notice the intricacies of your own dog’s body language, but seeing how different dogs act and having a professional trainer to translate is a wonderful learning experience – one you can use to better understand your dog.
TO Friends for life, an animal shelter in Houston, Texas, the organization offers a five-level train-the-trainer program. Each level gives the intern / volunteer behavior experience in a different field, and he must complete each level before moving on to the next. Body language is at level two, and it “benefits their handling skills and reduces stress levels in our shelter pets,” says Melissa Taylor, Behavior and Training Manager.
2. Your dog will help you with his homework
In a trainer training program, you learn the best ways to teach dogs basic (and maybe more advanced) skills, then you can go home and work with your own puppy.
3. You will learn to manage problematic behaviors
Many dogs end up in shelters because of problematic behaviors, and as a more advanced trainee you will learn how to solve these problems. If your dog is not walking well on a leash, or in more severe cases, has leash responsiveness, you may be able to bring home remedies for this problem.
At Friends For Life, interns learn learning theory and dog training, and they even take shelter dogs to classes where they work to earn their Canine Good Citizen designation.
4. You will help dogs become more adoptable.
Some dogs do not do well in the shelter environment. Interaction and enrichment make them happier and more attractive to potential adopters. People want to see a dog’s personality, and the more exercise (physical and mental) and trainer a dog, the more that personality will come out.
And this type of program not only improves adoptability, it also helps dogs stay in a home once there. Shelter trainers and / or behavior volunteers advise foster families and potential adopters, and they work with families to ensure a smooth transition and can help with any issues that may arise.
5. You can do what you love by volunteering
The more experience you gain and the more skills you show, the more things you will have to do at the shelter. While some people just walk the dogs, you might want to take it to the next level.
Taylor explains that âvolunteers are not able to organize dog meetings until I reach level 2. Supervising dog meetings is so much funâ¦ even I would do it all day if I had it. time !
Some behavioral volunteers also help with behavioral assessments and reunions between an adopter’s current dog and the potential new family member.
6. You might find a new job
Before opening my dog ââtraining business, I completed a training course in the behavioral service of the Boulder Valley Humanitarian Society. I had a mentor and required reading, and learned more than I thought possible. I loved the experience for all of the reasons mentioned above, and it only increased my love for dogs.
Taylor saw the same thing happen at Friends For Life.
âI’m proud to say that most of the Level 5 Behavior Volunteers I’ve trained end up opening businesses in the field. At the shelter, they continue to hone their skills in solving difficult behavioral issues in both our shelter animals and private pets. Many of them go into work with other species.