The purpose of this training is to build on the basic skills we introduced in Level 1 and to give handlers the knowledge they need to help dogs with resource-intensive behavior issues.
To learn clear and consistent techniques for training our dogs, ensuring that staff and volunteers are trained in the same methods and approaches and veterans are able to help reinforce those methods for new volunteers & staff.
To use small changes to create big results. Knowing what to do at just the right moment can be the difference between having a successful session with a dog or having a lousy time.
To provide clear and actionable information that enables staff and volunteers to safely and comfortably manage, support and adopt out dogs with varying behavioral needs.
Dog Body Language
What is the dog saying to you and how are you using that information to redirect unwanted behavior?
Use the right equipment (refresh audience knowledge as needed)
In order to complete Level 2 training, all attendees must demonstrate the ability to put a harness on a real dog
Um, he doesn't want me to leave …
Naughty dogs need love too.
When working with this population of dogs, treats cannot be the only tool in our toolbox!
A variety of treats
Premack Principle (you can use a high probability behavior to reinforce a low probability behavior)
… Toys are Tools!
Especially with this subset of shelter dogs, toys are not a frivolity or just something to leave a dog alone with. Play training and play time are as important for shelter dogs as potty breaks.
Toys are handy for:
Redirecting mouthy dogs
Distracting shy or reactive dogs
Building a relationship
Changing a moment
Rewarding a success
Salvaging a failure
Teaching important skills
"Toy play is considered a "luxury behavior". So the idea is that if an animal is suffering, has poor welfare, he is not going to be likely to play. So providing animals opportunities to play gives you a good guage on how they are feeling."
The goal is to bring the dog's stress level down to the point that his physiological and safety needs are met. After that, his willingness to play will often emerge.
Toys are Enrichment!
Toys provide Active Enrichment - all dogs need access to a rotating variety of enrichment items. Dogs need toys to chew on as well as toys to play with. Also rotate through consumable chewies (bully sticks, jerky sticks, etc.).
Team Players Wanted!
Be willing to set clear and consistent expectations/boundaries:
Follow Kennel Routine: calm/four paws on the floor/sit AND eye contact to leave the kennel;
Practice loose leash walking everywhere;
Know how to redirect a mouthy dog to carry a toy, play find it or Go Hunt, or hand target; and,
Engage with the dog constantly throughout your session.
Use appropriate equipment
Understand dog body language and these behaviors so you know how to redirect and teach an appropriate replacement behavior
Understand your own limits and work only with the dogs you know you can handle
Helping a Young or Rowdy Dog Put His Best Paw Forward
Send those doggies home!
These behaviors are likely specific to the shelter, and may not be as intense or even present in a home.
Be careful what you say about dogs – "He needs to be a working dog." "He needs to go a distance runner." "He needs to live with a trainer." – because it might not come true in a home!
Don't oversell the energy level.
Set reasonable expectations for who can succeed with this dog.