Posted October 30, 2019 at 06:03 PM Under "Animal Behavior, Training & Enrichment"
Training in a shelter

I am brand new here but have a question. I volunteer for both a shelter and a trainer. I have been able to use the skills the trainer has taught me to help dogs at the shelter. Recently I was told that if ALL volunteers do not use the same training, commands, and tools than I should not be doing it. I disagree thinking at least one day a week that dog is getting some training. Thoughts??

  • October 31, 2019 at 06:21 AM

    Consistency is vitally important in training. Take the example of "down". Some people use it to mean "lie down", others to mean "get off me". It can become confusing for the dogs if they aren't being given consistent verbal and visual cues. BUT that doesn't mean you shouldn't be doing it, just that you should be teaching others to do it!! Our shelter has a pretty rigid set of rules about training and interacting with the dogs and we have been able to address multiple behavior issues because of it. Our Volunteer Coordinator and our Director of Operations work closely together to ensure that the program works for both the dogs and the volunteers, and we offer training nearly every weekend.

  • October 30, 2019 at 08:04 PM

    We do training at our shelter and we work hard to standardize our cues because if people teach with different commands, you do run the risk of making the cues meaningless. Here’s what we tell volunteers: even if you are not meaning to be training the dog, they are learning from you every day. You may as well teach them the right things. Good luck and don’t give up.

  • October 30, 2019 at 07:48 PM

    Congratulations for seeing a need. It’s sad that someone felt the need to discourage you and not encourage you. Perhaps you should approach the Vol Coord for help in putting a training program together. The dogs would benefit from the attention and learning something that could help in their potential adoption.

    • October 31, 2019 at 08:19 AM

      I would speak with the person responsible for training and enrichment. Perhaps your trainer acquaintance would volunteer a session or two.

      Our Auxiliary supports an open intake County Shelter. Using positive reinforcement tools our list of commands is taught when we mentor new volunteers who work with senior handlers for 3 sessions, more if needed. Follow ups and spot checks ensure everyone is following those methods; we post reminders and as needed,,hold refreshers.