PAWS Magazine

Issue 60, Spring 2005

Ain't Misbehavin’!

Many dog guardians know it takes time, patience and energy to create a successful relationship with a canine companion. As a resource to our adopters, and to the broader community, PAWS offers programs to give both humans and dogs the skills they need to succeed. These services help maintain and strengthen the human-companion animal bond—one of PAWS’ goals.

Best Paw Forward

Most dogs at PAWS are between the ages of one and three and have little obedience training, which is often the reason they are surrendered into our care. To address this, we developed our Good Dog! Program to teach dogs manners that will help them transition into new homes. Staff and volunteers use training protocols to provide consistency and help dogs learn to sit nicely, walk well on-leash and be attentive to the human at their side. We also work hard to keep dogs mentally and physically stimulated during their stay at PAWS. Thanks in large part to PAWS’ dedicated volunteers, dogs are walked several times a day on our nature trail. Many are also treated to a game of fetch or a good run in one of our enclosed exercise yards. While they wait in their kennels to be adopted, toys keep them engaged and minimize their stress levels.

PAWS has recently developed an advanced volunteer position for veteran volunteers who want to increase their skills and provide higher-level training for dogs. These volunteers teach additional commands—such as drop and leave it—and provide further socialization and exercise for dogs that need extra work. They also mentor novice volunteers to build their skills and ensure consistency throughout the program.

The Secret to Success

Our extensive adoption counseling allows us to assess what adopters want and need in order to match them with the right dog. Explaining breed types and typical behaviors as well as sharing our extensive library of materials on the "how to's" of living with a dog, help people make the right decisions in bringing home a new friend. Well-prepared adopters, who are comfortable with the adjustments that come with adding a new companion to their household, lead to more successful relationships.

Once a dog goes home and the family gets settled, the real learning begins. To facilitate this process, PAWS offers obedience classes with Certified Pet Dog Trainer Caren Malgesini. This seven-week course for dogs six months and older, provides guidance for both dogs and humans. The most critical element in living with a dog is understanding what he is thinking and why, and how to positively motivate him. Malgesini’s class teaches guardians how to communicate expectations to a dog in a way that makes sense to two and four-legged creatures alike.

While obedience classes help to prevent problems from arising, sometimes a little extra help with specific questions is needed. PAWS’ free Behavior Helpline, which can be accessed by phone or on-line, provides help before problems become unbearable. Through phone consultation as well as distributing a variety of fact sheets, trained volunteers provide assistance to dog (and cat) guardians. Issues range from barking and digging to housetraining and improving leash manners. This vital service allows PAWS to provide both post-adoption support, as well as pre-relinquishment support to people who might otherwise surrender their animals to a shelter if the problems are unresolved.

In its 38 years PAWS has learned much about the inner workings of the human-companion animal bond. Our trained staff and volunteers relish the opportunity to share this knowledge with our community to help reduce the number of homeless animals and to give people and animals the skills they need to build beautiful and lasting relationships.

PAWS Behavior Helpline
425.787.2500
Dogs x 852
Cats x 605
www.paws.org/cas/helpline/

 

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