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Part Three of Four

Welcome to Diana Guerrero's Ark Animals Training & Therapy. This section is dedicated to pets, companion animals, and topics related to their care and training. Pet training, behavior modification, and animal therapy are important steps toward better behavior. This four part pet article discusses how to increase the adoptability of animals in pet rescues, animal shelters, animal control agencies, humane societies, and animal services facilities. Begin at Part One.You should get professional help for pet problems.

Increasing the Adoptability of Shelter Animals

This is Part Three of Four regarding Increasing the Adoptability of Shelter Animals and may be used by sheltering facilities, animal control, and other similar animal housing facilities. We encourage you to implement this programming in exchange for program credit to Diana Guerrero's Ark Animals. Media, publishing, and other such projects will need to note the copyright and contact Ms. Guerrero directly for permissions.

There are several levels of application to consider. Onsite training for staff and volunteers and application, trainer/behaviorist participation and application, prevention programming, mandatory support training for new owners, optional services onsite and offsite.

This would entail training staff and volunteers for and eight week period. One to two days a week for two hours per session. Traditionally people will correctly apply a lesson for a couple of days and recede back into inappropriate patterns after that, this strategy eliminates the risk of mistakes escalating bad behavior. Other than the two days of training and supervised application, this would entail daily application of simple techniques from staff. Please see the BARE NECESSITIES.

There are numerous target behaviors. Some require more complex strategies. Leash pulling, food guarding or possessiveness, and other problems can be addressed at another time. If you have specific questions, please feel free to submit them directly. The following would be onsite application from staff with supervision by behaviorist initially.

Dogs will jump to greet people. This is a learned behavior that is reinforced by accident through physical contact, eye contact, or even negative attention. The animal does not care whether the attention is negative or positive --they just want any type of attention. "off" and "good off" is the term most commonly used for jumping and reinforcing.
  • Crouch low to greet dog with hand from outside of kennel so there is no need to jump and only give attention when all four paws are on the ground.
  • Use the term "good off" to initially teach the dog the right response.
  • Upon your entry of kennel drop body to greet dog.
  • Do not pet or give attention to dog that is jumping.
  • Other: train an incompatible behavior such as "sit" without the verbal or hand signal.
Dogs in a shelter environment use barking in many ways. Most often they use it to get attention, move people away, or communicate with each other. Social influences make this behavior escalate quickly.
  • Praise dogs for being quiet.
  • While walking through the kennels, ignore barking dogs and stop and praise quiet dogs.
  • Assess visual barriers and other frustration triggers and implement options to decrease stimulus.
  • Reward quiet behavior verbally and with a treat. "good quiet" and an occasional treat will work well to increase the proper behavior.
  • Other: train the whole kennel to respond with an audio distraction device or interrupter and the professional help of trainer or behavior consultant
Dogs learn that leaving their kennel is a very happy occasion. This increases the drive to dart out the door or crash through the gate. Making the kennel a more complex and enriching environment will help in this challenge area too.
  • If you touch the gate latch and the dog jumps up, remove your hand and begin again. Enter when the dog has all four paws on the ground. Use in conjunction with "off" as discussed before.
  • Use this method with an incompatible behavior such as "sit" for both entry and exit.
  • Increase environmental enrichment and in-kennel activities such as brushing and physical contact.
  • Other: Train a replacement behavior "sit" without the verbal or physical command.
Dogs will explore with their mouth. Channeling this destructive behavior into proper toys and activities is important. This also occupies the dog and wears out some of their energy.
  • Supply proper chew items.
  • Rotate different items every couple of days.
  • Use food related treats to encourage this behavior.
  • Do not allow mouthing, substitute a replacement behavior.

    Continue to Part 4

The following program was developed to assist domestic dogs held in a sheltering or kennel facility for long periods of time. In 1998 the American Humane Society began including the program in their Shelter Operations School. In 1999 the program was donated to Animal Behavior & Training Associates, Inc. for their use in assisting animals nationally.

If you are experiencing this behavior problem help is just a phone call away! Hire Animal Expert

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum.


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