Shelter dog training programs can help socialize canines and provide them with useful skills, improving their chances of getting adopted. Training programs also provide community-building opportunities centered around animals in need.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that 3.1 million dogs enter shelters in the United States annually, and, unfortunately, not all will be placed with new families before their time runs out. Training programs established by shelters or as community initiatives can help save lives by giving shelter dogs a second chance at a happy, healthy life.
What Kind of Dogs Enter the Shelter System?
There’s a stigma associated with shelter animals that brands them as unwanted or inferior to animals bought from a breeder or pet store. The truth is that shelter dogs are each an individual–with a range of aptitudes and positive personality traits–who ended up in an animal shelter for one of any number of reasons, including abandonment, surrender by an owner who could no longer care for them, curious natures that led them away from the safe confines of home, neglect by the humans they trusted to keep them safe, or simply being born to a mother who fit one of these criteria.
Shelter dog training helps these animals accentuate their positive traits while smoothing out rough behavioral edges and giving them better habits to take the place of problematic behaviors.
Your training program should be designed to teach dogs common commands and skills and help them navigate new social situations involving both humans and other animals.
Consistent supervision and training should initially be provided in a one-to-one environment, with dog runs or dog room dividers used to create semi-isolated training spaces. As the dogs learn discipline and self-control, group training with several trainers and several dogs at a time can provide structured socialization that helps prepare them for life after adoption around entire families and other pets.
Shelter dog training does far more than just benefit the animal and their future owner. It can serve as a cornerstone program fostering community outreach and involvement and lower the operational costs of the shelter.
1. Improved Chance of Adoption
Shelter dog training programs are focused on the life skills dogs need to be companions in human society. This training often includes how to communicate better with humans, responding to simple commands (like sitting, staying, and not jumping up), and the proper behavior expected in a home or public setting.
By getting the dogs out of the kennels, socializing them with humans in and around the shelter environment, giving them basic obedience training, and offering plenty of positive encouragement, dogs are better prepared to meet prospective owners and show their full potential for affection and companionship.
2. Offers Community Service and Rehabilitation Opportunities
Shelter dog training programs can be a great way for shelters to get noticed in the communities they serve and offer constructive service opportunities.
Training programs have been established to help young people earn their Eagle Rank or Gold Award in scouting, offer incarcerated people a healthy outlet for their time and energy while learning a skill, and help shelter operations save money by bringing in much-needed volunteers to help care for animals.
The scope of your program can easily be scaled to suit the needs of your animals and the volunteer hours available, giving you a versatile program that shows your value to the community you serve.
3. Prepares the Dogs to Be Better Long-Term Companions
Shelter dog training doesn’t just help dogs get adopted but also to remain in their new homes as loved and valuable family members. From curbing chewing and aggressive bad habits to teaching them constructive ways to tell their owners they need play time, food, or to go outside, trained dogs have the people skills people love to see in their pets.
4. Helps Supplement Traditional Service Animal Sources
Service animals can be incredibly expensive to purchase and train. Many shelter dogs have the capacity to serve as guide dogs for the blind, warn epilepsy patients of an imminent seizure, or help someone with narcolepsy to a seated position before they lose consciousness.
Shelter dog training not only helps identify animals who are ready to learn these potentially life-saving skills but also helps identify how the animal learns and is motivated–information that can be communicated to a certified special needs trainer to help streamline the process.
5. Lowers Infrastructure Costs for Overcrowded Shelters
In addition to the potential increase in volunteer support from the local community, more adoptions means less overcrowding, lower food costs, and a reduced workload on staff and volunteers. In addition, more space and resources remain for housing, treating, caring for, and preparing every animal–trained or not–that enters the shelter.
Training at the shelter can lead to better outcomes for the animals and their new owners as well as improved operational efficiency. We’re here to support you with high-quality animal shelter kennels and other equipment and accessories for dog care professionals. Order your animal shelter supplies from Direct Animal today.