Open Paw R Shelter Manual Open Paw, Inc. PO

Open Paw R Shelter Manual Open Paw, Inc. PO
R
Open PawShelter
Manual
Open Paw, Inc.
P.O. Box 9097
Berkeley, CA 94709-9097
c 2006 by Open Paw, Inc.
Copyright All rights reserved. Individual materials may be copied for internal use in the shelter; volunteer orientation materials may be copied for distribution to staff and volunteers. Written
permission is required to reprint materials for use outside this shelter.
To purchase a copy of the Open Paw Shelter Manual, go to www.openpaw.org or call 510644-0729.
Book Design: John MacFarlane and Colleen Boyle
Cover: Colleen Boyle
Photography: Tony Rotundo and Tez Weege
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Acknowledgements
Our deepest thanks to the following people, who contributed time, energy, expertise, and
materials to this manual.
• Karen Barta
• Dr. Ian Dunbar
• Jacquelyn England
• Lisa Fine
• Sharon Fletcher
• Emily Gaydos
• John MacFarlane
• Sharon Melnyk
• UC Davis Shelter Medicine Team
It wouldn’t have been possible without you. Thank you.
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Contents
1
2
Introducing Open Paw
1
Imagine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
What is Open Paw? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2
Owner Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2
Community Educational Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2
Minimum Mental Health Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3
Classical Conditioning and Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3
Sample Press Release . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5
Day-to-Day Operations
7
Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7
Additional Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Puppies . . . . . . . .
8
Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9
Additional Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Kittens . . . . . . . . .
9
Open Paw’s Minimum Mental Health Requirements—Dog-Dog Play . . . . . . .
10
Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11
Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12
General Cleaning Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13
Sample Cleaning Protocols . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
21
Sample Kennel Cleaning Protocol Based on UC Davis Recommendations . .
25
Protocol For Quarantine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
35
General Daily Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
38
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Weekly Deep Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
41
Spot Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
44
Monthly Cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
45
Sample Weekly Deep Cleaning Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
46
Implementing Open Paw: Where to begin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
47
Frequently Asked Questions and Frequently Raised Concerns . . . . . . . .
49
Staff Training Outline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
60
Protocols and Procedures—Sample Daily Schedule For Kennel Attendants .
67
Sample Schedule for Evening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
69
Reading Animal Body Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
71
What is Adoptable? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
73
Intake Criteria Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
76
Sample Surrender Questionnaire Telephone Script . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
80
Sample Surrender Profile—Dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
82
Open Paw’s Animal Control Officer Questionnaire (OPACO Form) . . . . .
88
Adoption Counseling Guidelines
89
Front Desk Staff/Docents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
89
Adoption Counselors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
91
Adoption Questionnaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
96
Red Flag Form—Potential Problems with Would-be Adopters . . . . . . . .
97
Dog and Cat Evaluation Spreadsheets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
98
Example Animal Adoption Follow-up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
99
Open Paw’s Guide To The First Two Weeks With Your New Dog . . . . . . . 101
What Every Cat Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
Shelter Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
Ask the Right Questions to Help You Find a Lifelong Companion . . . . . . 107
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Behavior Counseling
113
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Cat Manners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Adopting a New Kitten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Adopting an Adult Cat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Teaching Household Manners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
Safety Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: New Puppy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Deciding Which Type of Puppy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Selecting Your Individual Puppy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
Raising and Training Your Puppy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: New Adult Dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Mutual Affection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Test-Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Your Dog’s First Couple of Weeks at Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Fearful Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Housetraining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
Prevent Mistakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
Teach Your Dog to Eliminate in the Right Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Chewing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Chewing is Normal, Natural, and Necessary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Prevent Destructive Chewing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 122
Redirect Chewing to Chew Toys . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Digging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Dogs Don’t See Your Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Prevent Digging in Your Absence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Redirect Digging to a Digging Pit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Garden Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Barking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Reduce the Frequency of Barks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
Teach ”Woof” and ”Shush” On Cue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
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Teach Your Dog When to Bark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 127
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Home Alone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
A Special Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Teach Your Puppydog to Enjoy His Doggy Den . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Teach Your Dog to Teach Herself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
Housetraining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
Home-Alone Dogs Need An Occupation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Puppy Biting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
Puppy Biting is Normal, Natural, and Necessary! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
No Pain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131
No Pressure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Off! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Puppy Must Never Initiate Mouthing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Fighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Socialization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Prevent Developmental Desocialization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
Bite Inhibition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 134
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Fear of People . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Narrow Window of Opportunity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Neonatal Handling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Socialization in the Puppy’s Original Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
Socialization in the Puppydog’s New Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Puppy Classes, Walks, and Parties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Dogs & Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
Teaching Dogs How to Act Around Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
New Baby . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Hyperdog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Sit and Settle Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Jumping Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
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Put Doggy Enthusiasm and Activity on Cue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Pulling on Leash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Teach Your Dog to Follow Off-Leash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Sits, Downs, and Stays . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Teach Your Dog to Heel Off-Leash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
Walking On-Leash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Puppy Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Basic Manners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Behavior Modification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Socialization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146
Bite Inhibition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Come—Sit—Down—Stand—Stay . . . . . . . 148
Come . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Sit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Stand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Stay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
Phasing Out Food Lures and Rewards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
The Recall: Teaching Your Dog to Come Reliably When Called . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Training A Recall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
Escaping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
The Problem . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
The Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
Reactive dogs—Behavior Problem Counselor Copy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
Prevention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
In-Kennel Treatment of Reactivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
The ‘Settle Down’ Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Treatment of Low-Level Reactivity in the New Home—Behavior Problem Counselor Copy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
When to Seek the Help of a Certified Professional Trainer . . . . . . . . . . . 160
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Low-Level Reactivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
When to Seek the Help of a Certified Professional Trainer . . . . . . . . . . . 162
Separation Anxiety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Probable Symptoms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Possible Symptoms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
To Find a Trainer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
Additional Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
How to Stuff a Chew Toy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
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Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
Recruitment Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
Retention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
Orientation and Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Owner Education . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
Community Educational Centers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Minimum Mental Health Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
How Animals Learn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
Levels of Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
Demonstration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
Demonstrations—Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Open Paw Dogs Level 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
Open Paw Dogs Level 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Open Paw Dogs Level 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
Open Paw Dogs Level 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Open Paw Dogs Level 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Demonstrations—Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Open Paw Cats Level 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Open Paw Cats Level 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
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Open Paw Cats Level 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Open Paw Cats Level 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Open Paw Cats Level 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
Volunteer Orientation Handout—Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Open Paw Dogs Level 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Open Paw Dogs Level 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Open Paw Dogs Level 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Open Paw Dogs Level 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Volunteer Orientation Handout—Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Open Paw Cats Level 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Open Paw Cats Level 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Open Paw Cats Level 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Open Paw Cats Level 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
Open Paw Cats Level 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
LEVEL 1 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Classical Conditioning (Forming Positive Associations) . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
LEVEL 2 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
Classical Conditioning Fearful Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
Reward Training Fearful Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193
LEVEL 2 KITTENS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Quality Time for Shelter Kittens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Getting to know your kitten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Guiding Principles and Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196
How to Pick up a Kitten . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
Ideas for Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
LEVEL 3 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Reward Cessation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
LEVEL 4 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
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Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
Progressive Desensitization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
LEVEL 5 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Stage 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
Stage 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
LEVEL 1 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Classical Conditioning (Forming Positive Associations) . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209
LEVEL 2 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Entering the Kennel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Once Inside the Kennel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
Exiting the Kennel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
LEVEL 3 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Exiting the Kennel with the Dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Lure-Reward Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Handling and Progressive Desensitization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213
Open Fist-Closed Fist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
Tug of War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
Polite Greeting (Teaching the dog not to jump up) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215
LEVEL 4 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Exiting the Kennel with the Dog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Off-Leash Training . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Dog Walking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 1 Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 2 Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 3 Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 4 Dogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 1 Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 2 Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 225
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 3 Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226
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Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 4 Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 5 Cats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
Feedback for Volunteer Proficiency Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Sample Orientation and Training Schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Training Sign-up Sheet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
A Walk Charts
233
B Open Paw Training Chart
237
C Housetraining Chart
241
D Dog and Cat Evaluation Charts
243
E Behavior Matrix
247
Behavior Matrix Key and Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
F Example Crate Training Sign
253
G Example ”Out Training” Sign
255
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CONTENTS
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Chapter 1
Introducing Open Paw
Imagine
the following scenario: A prospective adopter walks into an animal shelter that
is quiet and smells clean. The dogs are peacefully lounging on beds, happily chewing
away on food-stuffed chew toys, or sitting calmly at the front of their kennels wagging
hello at every passer-by. The cats are either curled up in beds on elevated platforms or
batting at dangling catnip toys. Volunteers are busily training dogs throughout the facility
and cat cuddlers are patiently teaching young, playful cats to retract their claws before
getting over-excited. This is the type of shelter that people travel for miles to visit, clamoring to adopt the friendly, well-trained residents. These are cats and dogs that will easily
settle into their new, permanent homes. This is a shelter that focuses on public education,
and everyone who walks in walks out smarter and more aware of the needs of companion
animals. This is an Open Paw Shelter.
I
M agine
Open Paw is a non-profit organization that was founded in January of 2000 by Dr. Ian
Dunbar and Kelly Gorman. It is designed to help stop the surrender and euthanasia of
unwanted dogs and cats through the education of people and animals. The primary goal
of Open Paw is to educate pet owners and, especially, prospective owners about animal
behavior and care. Our second goal is to turn every animal shelter into a pleasant, friendly,
quiet place where members of the community can go to learn about animals, and about
basic training and behavior. Thirdly, we want to change the way shelters are structured, so
that animals learn or retain social skills, house training, and basic manners while they are
in the shelter instead of losing those skills. Thus, pets leave the shelter much better able to
live successfully in a new home. We want every animal shelter to become a Dog and Cat
University, where not only animals, but also people, can learn.
For more information go to: www.openpaw.org.
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WHAT IS OPEN PAW?
What is Open Paw?
Open Paw’s mission is to give people and their pets the tools they need to develop a successful relationship with one another and with our communities. Our goal is to prevent
the surrender, abandonment, and euthanasia of unwanted animals by making sure that
they do not become unwanted. Open Paw’s approach is threefold:
1. Educate prospective pet owners before they get their pets,
2. Provide practical hands-on experience and training for shelter staff and volunteers,
and for prospective and existing pet owners, and
3. Promote the adoption of Minimum Mental Health Requirements for shelter animals.
Owner Education
All shelter animals were once perfectly normal, loveable and loved puppies and kittens.
Yet many are surrendered to shelters or abandoned when they are 6 months to 2 years
old. Why have these animals become unwanted? In most cases, because of behavior,
temperament, or training problems, all of which could easily have been prevented. Many
of these problems are apparent before puppies and kittens are 8 weeks old, and are already
well established before 3 months of age, that is, before owners normally come into contact
with pet professionals who could help them.
The solution is to educate prospective pet owners before they get their pets. By alerting
people to predictable developmental pet problems and teaching them a variety of userand-animal-friendly training techniques and preventive measures, we can help people to
raise their new puppies and kittens into well mannered dogs and cats. Thus, animals are
kept in their original homes with happy and appreciative owners.
To accomplish this, Open Paw advertises and distributes educational materials, much of it
free, to prospective and existing pet owners and veterinary students. By championing this
preventive approach, we ensure that animals do not become unwanted in the first place.
Community Educational Centers
Open Paw has created protocols to establish shelters as hands-on educational centers within
the community, by redirecting the focus of sheltering towards education and prevention.
Conventionally, day-to-day shelter operations comprise the collection, routine care, and rehoming of unwanted cats and dogs. Rather than limiting shelter operations to the routine
husbandry of resident animals, Open Paw has devised protocols so that the process of rehabilitating and re-homing the shelter animals can be used as an educational opportunity
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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCING OPEN PAW
for prospective and existing pet owners in the community. Open Paw’s shelter program
provides practical experience and education to shelter staff and volunteers (prospective
pet owners themselves) and, by using the Open Paw program in the animals’ daily care,
staff and volunteers model easy, animal-friendly training and management techniques to
the visiting community. Thus, the very process of providing daily care provides practical
education for prospective and existing pet owners.
Minimum Mental Health Requirements
One of the most important parts of the animals’ daily care is the set of Minimum Mental
Health Requirements.
Many animals have behavioral baggage when they come to the shelter and, sadly, many
animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time in the shelter environment. Shelter animals often become de-housetrained, hyperactive, noisy, anxious, and lonely. If they do not
become intimidated when strangers walk up to their kennels, their delight and excitement
at seeing people is expressed as uncontrollable exuberance. Unless a vigorous socialization
and training program is in effect, the animals, particularly puppies and kittens, become
less and less adoptable with each day that they stay.
While there are many rigorous physical health regulations for kenneling animals, there are
no standard guidelines for the maintenance and improvement of the animals’ psychological health when kenneled.
Open Paw has created a set of Minimum Mental Health Requirements to provide for the
essential needs of sheltered animals, specifically regarding their adoptability, comfort, and
needs for companionship, entertainment, and education.
Classical Conditioning and Reward Training
As you read through the shelter manual, you’ll see many references to two training techniques—
Classical Conditioning and Reward Training. Open Paw uses these two methods for much
of its training, and you’ll be incorporating these techniques into much of your new daily
routine.
Classical Conditioning (CC) is learning by association. You all probably remember this
from your biology class in high school: say there’s something that naturally makes you
blink, like having a puff of air blown into your eyes. Now, say that every time someone
blows a puff of air into your eyes, they make a sound immediately before blowing the air.
After a few repetitions, you’ll blink when you hear the sound by itself—you’ve associated
the sound with the puff of air, and react to the sound just like you formerly reacted to the
puff of air.
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WHAT IS OPEN PAW?
Classical Conditioning can be used to help dogs make positive associations to all kinds of
things, such as learning to enjoy being in the kennel and having new people approach (because you’ll teach them that new people approaching the kennel means that yummy treats
will be handed out!) or to enjoy the presence of things that may have initially frightened
them, such as umbrellas or baby strollers.
Generally, when we use classical conditioning we’re trying to change an animal’s behavior
by changing its emotional or reflexive response to a given stimulus. When using CC in the
shelter, a ”good consequence” might be paired with a stimulus we want the dog to learn
to like (e.g., a dog terrified of men is given lots of liver treats by a male staff member). This
act of Classical Conditioning is performed repeatedly, regardless of the animal’s response,
in an attempt to change the underlying emotion (fear) of the stimulus in question (men).
Reward Training (RT) is a low-pressure way to influence an animal’s behavior. When we
use RT, we present something rewarding when the animal voluntarily does something we
would like to see more of in the future. Reward Training relies on the premise that animals
will naturally repeat behaviors that are positively reinforced. In Reward Training, the
trainer simply waits for the animal to voluntarily offer a behavior, and then rewards the
animal. This is much less stressful than prompting the animal to do something, or touching
an animal (who may be too stressed or agitated to deal with the physical contact just then).
For example, even the most hyperactive dog will have to lie down sometime. In Reward
Training, the trainer would observe the dog in her kennel and ignore all of the behaviors
she does not want to encourage, such as jumping, pacing, or barking. The moment the
hyperactive dog lies down in her kennel, the trainer would immediately reward the dog
in some way, whether it be with a food morsel, a game of fetch or tug, or a walk.
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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCING OPEN PAW
Sample Press Release
hshelter logo or letterhead herei
Contact Name
Agency Name
Phone
email
For Immediate Release
hShelter Namei Launches New Open Paw Program
hShelter Cityi hDatei- hCity/Countyi, hShelter Namei has launched the Open Paw Program! hYour shelter namei will now be able to help our community in two ways: through
a tested national training program and by implementing the new Mental Health Guidelines for our shelter pets. Shelters nationwide utilize the Open Paw Program to train staff
and volunteers in basic animal behavior and training, as well as to enhance the adoptability of their resident cats and dogs.
Open Paw’s training curriculum provides many useful benefits for the public, the shelter
staff and, most importantly, the animals themselves. The main functions of the program
are to educate the community and to train or retain adoptable traits in the resident animals.
hYour shelter namei is excited to employ the Open Paw training method to serve as a
model for our community. ”Every time someone enters an Open Paw shelter they leave
a little bit smarter and kinder than when they arrived. It doesn’t matter if they are there
to volunteer, to adopt an animal, just visiting, or even to surrender an animal,” says Kelly
Gorman, President of Open Paw. Gorman continues, ”Change begins with education and,
with Open Paw, the animals are the real teachers. The main focus of an Open Paw shelter
is to provide a humane education resource for every person in the community. Modeling
fun and friendly training methods through the daily care of the resident dogs and cats
achieves this goal. People see the wonderful results of training right before their eyes and
they ask questions of the staff and volunteers, who are happy to share their knowledge.”
The more people know about how to raise and train their animals, the more likely animals
are to stay in their original homes.
Furthermore, the thorough daily handling and training of the cats and dogs provides the
staff with valuable insight into each animal’s personality, which aides in finding permanent homes, and helps them see potential behavior issues that may then be addressed prior
to adoption.
Finally, the program is designed to teach shelter dogs and cats how to behave in order to
get adopted, and to stay adopted. Basic household manners and friendly behaviors are
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WHAT IS OPEN PAW?
taught in order to assure success in the real world. Open Paw teaches shelter animals how
to greet people politely, which items are okay to chew or scratch on, where to eliminate
appropriately, and more.
We encourage you to volunteer at hShelter Cityi’s Open Paw shelter and become part of
the educational revolution. For more information go to: hwww.your shelter website herei
or www.openpaw.org.
hInsert paragraph describing your shelter herei
Open Paw is a non-profit organization committed to helping people and animals build
successful relationships with each other and their community. Our organization is dedicated to decreasing the surrender and abandonment of unwanted animals by making sure
that they don’t become unwanted. This is accomplished in three ways: (1) by educating
prospective pet owners before they get their pets, (2) by providing practical hands-on experience and training for shelter staff and volunteers and for prospective and existing pet
owners, and (3) by promoting the adoption of Minimum Mental Health Requirements for
shelter animals.
hYOUR SHELTER INFO HERE
Address
City, State, Zipi
For more information on Open Paw - www.openpaw.org
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Chapter 2
Day-to-Day Operations
Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Dogs
• At least 3 walks daily to a Canine Relief Center outside their kennel, and a reward
for using it.
• A comfortable bed or ”den” for each adult dog; puppies can share.
• Interaction with at least 20 people each day (either people visiting the kennel OR on
a walk, mobile adoption, field trip, etc.), including 5 unfamiliar people.
• Environmental enrichment: appropriate chew toys available at all times, such as
stuffed Kongs, Buster Cubes, Molecule Balls, Big Kahunas.
• Quiet ”down time” each day (a scheduled break from the public).
• Daily mental stimulation through training (anything from basic manners to agility).
• Food daily hand-fed or stuffed in a chew toy; i.e., no feeding from bowls.
• Access to water at all times.
• Daily grooming and handling exercises with 3 people, including 1 unfamiliar person.
• At least 20 minutes out of their kennel run each day, used either for training, socialization, playtime, exercise or just ”down time” in somebody’s office. (Open Paw
does recommend same-species interaction for animals that have been in the shelter for more than 1 month, but not necessarily before, because there are other more
pressing activities that will help the cats and dogs get adopted.)
• Regular healthcare (or euthanasia) for any illness or physical conditions that may
arise.
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MINIMAL MENTAL HEALTH REQUIREMENTS FOR DOGS
• If your shelter is fulfilling all of the other Minimal Mental Health Requirements, add
the following for those dogs who have been with you for over one month: Canine
companionship—either housed with other dogs, or daily 10-20 minutes play/train
session. See our handout on dog-dog play in this section for specific recommendations.
Additional Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Puppies
• Daily handling, grooming, and manners training from at least 5 unfamiliar people; mock vet visit, placement on different surfaces, mock visit to groomer, hearing sounds of household items like vacuum cleaners running and dishes clattering;
sound of nail clipper while handling feet, etc., all while being hand-fed.
• Access to appropriate toilet area in the kennel run.
• Must be hand- and chew toy-fed—no bowls!
• Housed together whenever possible in a self-training, long-term confinement area.
• Fostered whenever possible.
• Field trips to animal-free or ”safe” places outside of the shelter.
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CHAPTER 2. DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS
Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Cats
• A warm, clean environment with a comfortable hiding place.
• A separate litter box area.
• Litter box should be cleaned regularly (feces removed immediately when noticed).
• A convenient scratching post with suspended toys.
• Interaction with at least 20 people daily, including at least 5 unfamiliar people.
• Daily handling, gentling, and grooming by at least 5 people, including 1 unfamiliar
person.
• Feline companionship for social cats (group housing).
Additional Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Kittens
• Daily handling, grooming, gentling with at least 5 unfamiliar people.
• Mock vet visit, placement on different surfaces, hearing sound of household noises
like vacuum cleaner running and dishes clattering, sound of nail clippers while handling paws, while being hand-fed.
• Constant access to appropriate toilet area in the cage.
• Must be hand- and chew toy-fed—no bowls!
• Housed together whenever possible in self-training, long-term confinement area,
with constant access to scratching surface with suspended toys, and a separate litter box area.
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OPEN PAW’S MINIMUM MENTAL HEALTH REQUIREMENTS—DOG-DOG PLAY
Open Paw’s Minimum Mental Health Requirements—Dog-Dog Play
To play or not to play? That is the question.
Open Paw’s Minimum Mental Health Requirements for Kenneled Animals suggests that
shelter dogs receive regular canine companionship and that friendly, social cats be housed
communally when possible. No single MMHR has been misinterpreted more than this
one.
The Open Paw MMHRs were written in response to the increasing number of ”no-kill”
shelters and rescue groups sprouting up across the nation. Until recently, most shelters
did not keep animals in shelters indefinitely; instead, animals were often euthanized if not
reclaimed or adopted in a relatively short period of time. Nowadays many shelters will
keep animals as long as they are considered ”adoptable”—safe for the public and physically and mentally healthy. This is a tremendous step towards the socially responsible,
humane treatment of animals in our society and should be applauded. However, it has
become clear that long-term confinement often causes problems that actually make the
animals less adoptable over time. Mainly, it is clear that long-term confinement detrimentally affects an animal’s mental well-being. If shelters plan to stay committed to the cats
and dogs in their care, and plan to let them remain in residence until adoption—regardless
of length of stay—there must also be a plan to keep the animals in top physical and mental
shape to facilitate their eventual adoption.
Open Paw’s ultimate goal is to keep animals out of shelters in the first place by educating
all pet owners about responsible, user-and-animal-friendly training and care.
Until that goal is achieved in its entirety, Open Paw realizes that shelters must do what they
can for the animals in their care. The first goal of any animal adoption agency should be to
reduce the length of stay of their resident cats and dogs by teaching them basic manners
and training them to like all people—in short, giving their animals the skills they need
to get quickly adopted and succeed in their new homes. In addition, aggressive public
relations and quality marketing campaigns should be in place, as should a responsible
selection process that places the most adoptable animals up for adoption. This in and of
itself resolves the problem of deterioration due to length of stay. By far the best option
for shelter animals is to find a permanent home and get out of the shelter as quickly as
possible, even if the shelter has an excellent enrichment program.
Sometimes shelter staff and volunteers lose sight of the big picture and the ultimate goal:
adoption. This is often because they truly care about the animals, but become desensitized
to the shelter environment and forget how hard it is on an animal’s health to be confined
in such a way for long periods of time.
To best serve the animals, shelters must prioritize and focus on setting up the shelter environment to help the dogs and cats get adopted quickly, rather than simply altering the
shelter environment to ease the stress of a long-term stay. The very best shelter in the
world is still not as suitable for a dog or cat as even a mediocre home.
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CHAPTER 2. DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS
Cats and dogs that languish in the shelter for months or years on end should most definitely be the extreme exception, not the rule. Open Paw does recommend same-species
interaction for animals that have been in the shelter for more than 1 month, but not necessarily before, because there are other more pressing activities that will help the cats and
dogs get adopted.
Dogs
Dog-dog play can be very beneficial to the resident dogs if it is well thought out, carefully
planned, and executed with specific goals in mind. But dog play in the shelter environment
can be tricky and, if not executed properly, may do more harm than good.
Dog-dog play is a very low priority on Open Paw’s list of daily activities for an adoptable shelter dog. It is much more important for dogs to learn to play with, and enjoy the
company of, humans. Interactive games that teach them to seek out human companionship, make eye contact with humans, be well-mannered, and look cute will do infinitely
more to achieve the goal of adoption (and retention in the home) than will dog-focused
activities. They also need the daily opportunity to enjoy some quiet time, learning how
to settle down around people and simulating a day in the average home. An unshakable
chew toy addiction is a big plus, too. Basic manners training will give the dogs the mental
stimulation and skills to help them get adopted and stay adopted.
Too much free dog-dog play tends to create a dog-focused dog in the best scenarios, and
can create a defensive, snarky, or guardy dog in the worst cases. For example, in most private doggy daycare situations, many of the dogs are over-stimulated and pushed beyond
their tolerance level (over threshold) much of the time they are there, either because they
have been playing like fools all day or because they have been stressed by forced social
interaction for too long without a break. Sure, they are tired at the end of the day, but it is
more likely exhaustion, not satiation.
Dogs that hang out with dogs all day will become (for better or worse) extremely socially aware of other dogs and will tend to focus on dogs rather than on people in most
situations—when out on a walk with a potential adopter, for instance. These dogs need
to learn to seek out eye contact with the potential adopter to make an emotional connection. They need to learn to walk politely with a person instead of pulling on leash and
constantly looking for other dogs, or perhaps even whining or lunging annoyingly in the
presence of other dogs.
In a nutshell: dogs do not adopt other dogs. It is strictly a people decision, and a dog
only has about 30 seconds to make a connection with a potential adopter or be passed by.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if, when hanging out with a potential adopter in a meet-and-greet
room, the dog either drops a toy on the person’s lap or curls up with a chew toy near the
person’s feet?
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OPEN PAW’S MINIMUM MENTAL HEALTH REQUIREMENTS—DOG-DOG PLAY
The exception is dogs that live in permanent rescue situations with little or no hope for
adoption. If that is the case, appropriate dog play should be a part of their daily activity,
if they like to play with other dogs. But in a shelter full of adoptable dogs, where the goal
is to get them into good homes as soon as possible, too much dog time is ”barking up
the wrong tree”. We limit dog-dog time to: (1) short introductions to assess each dog’s
social skills and (2) perhaps a weekly play-and-train session (with no more than 4 dogs
and no fewer than 2 people at a time) where training exercises are integrated into the play
session. The play and train sessions teach dogs that play and training are not mutually
exclusive, and that the better they pay attention to what the person is asking them to do,
the more playtime they get. Use the distraction of other dogs as the ultimate reward for
following the requests of people. It’s a very fun and efficient way of meeting the social,
physical, and educational needs of your resident dogs. However, a weekly play-and-train
session for adoptable dogs should only be introduced after all of the other MMHRs are
being met. If your shelter’s dogs are all potty-trained, quietly napping or chewing stuffed
toys when they’re in their kennels, sitting for walks, quietly approaching and engaging
charmingly with shelter visitors, sitting or standing still to greet when they’re out of the
kennel, walking on a loose lead, and enjoying physical contact from humans even on ears,
muzzle, rump, tail, paws and around their collar, then it may be time to add in onceweekly play-and-train sessions. If any of the above is not in place, focus on those goals for
adoptable animals before considering dog-dog play sessions.
Cats
Studies have shown that friendly cats thrive in an open environment with lots of litter
boxes, nooks, and crannies. They fare better physically and mentally in an open community cat room than in a sterile kennel with nowhere to curl up or hide. This is true in spite
of the presence of other cats!
As long as there are plenty of litter boxes (a one-to-one ratio is best) and enough beds for
all, the cats will choose whether or not to interact. Please do NOT force the cats to intermingle. Cats do not require a separate, defined playtime but, rather, choose to be spontaneous
in their play. Let it happen naturally and in their familiar temporary surroundings.
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CHAPTER 2. DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS
General Cleaning Considerations for Shelters from the UC Davis
Shelter Medicine Program
Cleaning and disinfection are not trivial concerns in shelters. Careful and effective cleaning
by well trained employees is literally life saving. Although the main purpose of cleaning
animal areas is prevention of infectious disease spread, an additional benefit is increased
willingness of the public to adopt from and support a shelter that looks and smells clean.
Because of its importance for animal health, cleaning should be approached systematically,
and a well thought out plan developed, implemented and periodically revisited to make
sure it is still functional. Time and money spent on training and supplies for an effective
cleaning program will be amply repaid in decreased costs due to a reduction in disease.
What needs to be cleaned?
When we think of cleaning protocols, often the focus is on cleaning cat cages and dog
runs. However, germs are tracked by human and animal traffic throughout any shelter.
Additionally, germs are spread by hands, on doorknobs, clothing, carriers, exam tables,
instruments, animal transport vehicles, and so on. Different protocols and products may
be needed for different areas. Following is a list of some areas and items to consider:
• Office areas (lower priority if shelter animals are not allowed in offices, but employees will still track germs in and out from animal areas)
• Main lobbies and hallways
• Dog runs, including central walkways, walls, doors, gates, etc.
• Cat rooms, including floors, walls, doorknobs, etc. as well as cages (if applicable)
• Quarantine areas
• Isolation areas
• Medical/surgical areas, including instruments and equipment
• Other indoor animal areas, such as grooming, treatment rooms, intake rooms, visiting rooms, training areas, etc.
• Exercise yards or other outside animal areas
• Transport vehicles
• Carriers/transport cages
• Hands
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
• Employee clothing (separate clothing should be worn while doing heavy cleaning or
handling infectious animals)
• Bedding
• Dishes
• Toys
• Tools, such as poop scoopers and mops
• Ventilation and heating ducts
• Storage areas (especially food storage)
• Entire building, especially door knobs, phones, keyboards, and other frequently handled items.
If no specific guidelines exist, it’s likely that cleaning some of the above listed areas will be
overlooked in a busy shelter. Therefore, for each of the areas/objects to be cleaned, at least
a brief outline should be written detailing:
• How often the area/object is to be cleaned (after each use, daily, weekly, annually?)
• Who is responsible for cleaning (and who will double check and make sure it has
been cleaned adequately)
• What cleaning and disinfection products are to be used
• Details on how cleaning is to be performed
In some cases, it may make sense to have one basic daily or more frequent protocol, with
a more thorough cleaning protocol used at less frequent intervals (e.g., once a week).
Who gets cleaned first?
To avoid dragging disease from sick to healthy animals, cleaning should proceed from the
cleanest areas of the building housing the least vulnerable animals, to the most contaminated areas and the most vulnerable animals. A good general order would be:
1. Adoptable kittens/puppies
2. Adoptable adult animals
3. Stray/Quarantine kittens/puppies
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CHAPTER 2. DAY-TO-DAY OPERATIONS
4. Stray/Quarantine adult animals
5. Isolation animals
Other animals that are likely to be healthy but may have compromised immune systems, such as those recovering from spay/neuter surgery or being treated for other noninfectious conditions, should be cleaned relatively early in the cycle.
Separate brushes, mops and other supplies should be provided for each of these areas.
What cleaning products should be used?
A clear understanding of the definition and function of different cleaning products is important to design an effective cleaning protocol. Three types of products are generally used
for environmental cleaning:
Soap/detergent: Cleaning agent which works by suspending dirt and grease. Does not
kill harmful microorganisms.
Disinfectant: Chemical agent which kills harmful microorganisms. Does not necessarily
remove dirt or grease.
Degreaser: More powerful soap/detergent specially formulated to penetrate layers of
dried-on body oils and other greasy debris.
Effective sanitation requires applying a germicidal agent to a basically clean surface. This
requires use of both detergent and disinfectant products, in that order. Detergents in themselves do nothing to kill germs. Although some disinfectants can also act as detergents,
many (such as bleach) do not. Virtually all disinfectants used in shelters are inactivated by
organic material (such as feces, kitty litter, saliva, sneeze marks and plain old dirt) to some
extent so, if they are not applied to a clean surface, they simply will not work. Periodically,
a stronger degreaser should be used to deal with body oils and other grunge that builds
up in kennels over time and can render disinfectants ineffective.
Choosing disinfection products
Disinfection products in general share certain characteristics:
• Disinfectants MUST be used at the correct concentration. Going by smell or color or
”eyeballing” it leads to extra expense and potential toxicity if too much is used, and
ineffectiveness if too little is used. Cleaning protocols need to include clear instructions on how to correctly dilute the disinfectant.
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
• Adequate contact time is required. Virtually all disinfectants require a contact time
of at least 10 minutes. Spraying on, wiping off and immediately putting an animal
in the freshly ”cleaned” cage will not prevent disease spread.
• Disinfectants must be applied to a basically clean, non-porous surface, free of organic
matter. Porous surfaces such as wood, carpeting, unsealed concrete and turf can’t be
completely disinfected.
• Disinfectants and detergents can cancel each other’s actions, and should not be mixed
unless specifically directed by the manufacturer.
There is no single perfect disinfectant for use in all circumstances. It is important to consider the surface to be cleaned and the harmful microorganisms most likely to be present.
Most disinfectants are effective against most bacteria, enveloped viruses and fungi. Unenveloped viruses are more resistant, and are only killed by a few disinfectants safe enough
for routine use. Unenveloped viruses of importance in shelters include parvo, feline panleukopenia and calicivirus (a significant component of feline URI). Other agents not reliably inactivated by most disinfectants include ringworm, some protozoal and coccidial
cysts, parasite eggs such as roundworm and whipworm, and external parasites such as
fleas, ticks and mites. Special protocols are required when these agents are an ongoing
problem in a shelter. Other considerations in choice of cleaning/disinfection agents include cost, ease of storage and application, and animal and staff tolerance.
Following are some common disinfectants used in shelters.
Quaternary ammonium compounds (marketed as Roccal, Parvo-sol, Triple-Two, Kennelsol) are:
• effective against most bacteria and some viruses.
• not reliably effective against parvo, panleukopenia or ringworm, and only partially or completely ineffective against calicivirus (common cause of feline URI).
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• less effective than the label claimed, based on studies from 1980, 1995, and 2002
that tested quaternary ammonium compounds labeled for use against unenveloped
viruses such as parvo.1
• moderately inactivated by organic debris (but less so than bleach).
• reduced in effectiveness by hard water.
• should not be mixed with other soaps and detergents, as they may cancel each other’s
actions.
• have low tissue toxicity.
References
Scott FW. Virucidal disinfectants and feline viruses. Am J Vet Res 1980;41:410-4
Kennedy MA, Mellon VS, Caldwell G, et al. Virucidal efficacy of the newer quaternary
ammonium compounds. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 1995;31:254-8.
Eleraky NZ, Potgieter LN, Kennedy MA. Virucidal efficacy of four new disinfectants. J Am
Anim Hosp Assoc 2002;38:231-4
1
Some quaternary ammonium compounds have detergent/cleaning action as well as acting as disinfectants, and are suitable as a good general purpose product for both cleaning and disinfection (a stronger degreaser should still be used periodically). Keep in mind that control of unenveloped viruses requires the
addition of other products. In general, products used at a higher concentration (i.e. diluted 1:64 versus 1:256)
are likely to have more effectiveness as a detergent. Specifics should be discussed with the manufacturer.
A reasonable choice would be to use a quaternary ammonium compound with detergent characteristics for
general cleaning of all areas, followed by an application of bleach where unenveloped viruses are a concern
(ALWAYS in cat areas since feline calicivirus is so common, in dog areas whenever parvo is a concern, for
example in isolation and quarantine. Follow cleaning with bleach disinfection at least once a week in all areas,
even if parvo is not suspected).
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite)
• Member of halogen family of disinfectants, which also includes iodine and related
products.
• 5% solution diluted at 1:32 (1/2 cup per gallon) completely inactivates parvo, panleukopenia and calicivirus when used correctly.
• Inactivates ringworm at higher concentrations and with repeated application
• Significantly inactivated by organic matter, light and extended storage: should be
stored for limited time in light-proof containers.
• Low tissue toxicity, but fumes can be irritating at high concentration and bleach is
corrosive to metal.
• Hard water reduces effectiveness.
• Bleach has no detergent action, and cannot be used as the sole cleaning agent in
a shelter. Disinfection with bleach requires prior cleaning of the surface with a
detergent.
Potassium peroxymonosulfate (marketed as Virkon or Trifectant)
• Relatively new product.
• According to 2002 study (Eleraky et al.), effective against panleukopenia and feline
calicivirus. Studies also support efficacy against other unenveloped viral agents, including parvo.
• Reportedly less corrosive to metal than bleach, somewhat inactivated by the presence
of organic matter, but less so than bleach.
• Comes in powdered form; mixed solution stable up to 7 days.
• Like quaternary ammonium compounds, potassium peroxymonosulfate reportedly has some detergent effect and can be used as a sole cleaning/disinfection
agent for lightly soiled surfaces.
Alcohol (usually in hand sanitizer)
• effectiveness similar to quaternary ammonium.
• Commonly used in hand sanitizers, not used as an environmental cleaner.
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• Less irritating to tissue than quaternary ammonium or bleach.
• Ethanol at 70% concentration is more effective than other alcohols against calicivirus.
• No effect on parvo, panleukopenia, ringworm. Gloves should be worn whenever
these diseases are suspected.
• Adequate contact time required (15-30 seconds recommended by manufacturer).
• Hand washing with soap and water is preferable to hand sanitizer, when possible.
Chlorhexidine (Nolvasan)
• Very gentle, with low toxicity, but not very powerful.
• Relatively expensive.
• Ineffective against unenveloped viruses, including calicivirus. Should not be used as
a general-purpose cleaning agent.
Phenolic disinfectants, such as Lysol, are toxic to cats and should not be used in a shelter. Gluteraldehyde and formaldehyde are highly effective but also too toxic for routine
environmental cleaning use.
Method of application
Whatever disinfectant/detergent combination is selected, it is important that storage, dilution and application be straightforward and that all needed equipment be provided and
be in good working order. An investment in a slightly more expensive cleaning system
that is designed especially for shelter use will likely result in better results, improved compliance and reduced cleaning time. Buying components such as disinfectant, applicators
and mixing systems separately can also result in a functional system but may require a
more active effort to put together.
Mopping versus spraying
Spraying: Spraying disinfectant keeps it from getting contaminated by organic material,
as it would be in a mop bucket. Spraying also tends to be faster than mopping, and commercial sprayers can be set to automatically supply the correct dilution. Hose-end or highpressure sprayers coat the area to be cleaned more effectively than hand-held spray bottles,
and should be used whenever practical. A wide array of cleaning systems appropriate for
shelters of various sizes are available through animal care and janitorial supply houses,
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
from built-in centralized systems to high quality sprayers that can be used with existing
hoses. Although a high pressure sprayer may reduce the need for scrubbing, no matter
what system is used, caked-on organic material still needs to be mechanically scrubbed
using a brush or mop.
Mopping: Mopping or wiping on disinfectant using a rag or paper towel is generally less
efficient than spraying, but may be the only practical option in some circumstances, such
as in rooms without drains or where the animal stays in the cage while it is cleaned. Compared with spraying, mopping does have the advantage of less aerosolization and moisture. In addition to being more time consuming, the disadvantage of mopping (or use of a
bucket and rags or brush for cat cages) is the potential for the cleaning solution to get heavily contaminated by organic matter over the course of cleaning a number of cages/runs or
a large floor surface, rendering the disinfectant ineffective and spreading disease through
the contaminated water. This can be addressed with a two bucket system, whereby you
rinse the mop or other applicator in a clear water bucket between each application of disinfectant. Two-sided buckets are available from janitorial supply houses. Another solution,
particularly when cleaning cat cages, is to use a separate rag for each cage. Buckets of
disinfectant should always be emptied, rinsed and refilled between cleaning each ward or
area.
Cat cage cleaning considerations
Few shelters are designed to allow for easy and effective cleaning of cat cages. Shifting cats
from cage to cage invites disease spread and makes it difficult to ensure adequate contact
time for disinfection. Leaving the cat in the cage while it is being cleaned is logistically
difficult and exposes the cat to disinfectant fumes. Placing the cat in a carrier means that
the carriers also need to be cleaned. All of these methods require extensive handling of
cats which, in itself, can be stressful for the cats and result in worker injury in addition
to spreading disease. Ideally, cat housing areas in the future will be designed to allow
each cat a two-sided cage, just as is the case in many dog runs, so that the cat can be safe
and comfortable on one side while the other side is cleaned. Infectious disease is an even
greater problem in cats than dogs in many shelters, and it does not make sense to continue
designing cat holding areas that are not easily cleaned. For shelters without this luxury,
however, compromise is required. Possible solutions include:
• Each cat is assigned a cardboard carrier, in which s/he is placed during cleaning.
Cat goes back into same cage s/he was in previously. The carrier goes home with cat
when s/he is adopted.
• Place a small cat box with a door (made of plexiglass or other easily cleaned material)
inside the cage. The cat goes into the box while the cage is cleaned. The box is
cleaned thoroughly, then used on the next cat. This technique is often used in feral cat
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housing areas, but can be effective for tame cats as well, and has the added advantage
of giving the cat a cozy place to hide.
• All cats in one zone are placed in a rolling cage bank while individual cages are
cleaned. Cats are put back into the same cage they were in previously, and the cage
bank is thoroughly sprayed and cleaned before holding next group of cats.
• Metal or other easily cleaned transport cages are used to house cats while cages are
being cleaned. These are thoroughly cleaned between cats. This requires as many
transport cages as there are cats to be cleaned.
Cage cleaning in a ”jigsaw puzzle” fashion, that is, cleaning one cage, moving a cat into it,
then cleaning the just vacated cage and moving another cat into it, is very time consuming
and likely to spread disease, and is not recommended. Likewise, placing a cat in a holding
cage while its cage is cleaned, then replacing the cat in its cage and putting another cat in
the same holding cage will lead to the spread of disease. Even if the holding cage is wiped
out between cats, it is impractical to allow ten minute disinfectant contact time between
each and every cat.
Another important consideration in cat cage cleaning is control of disease spread via handler contact with soiled supplies. In the course of picking up dirty newspapers, emptying
litter pans and so on, the cleaning attendant’s hands and clothing become heavily contaminated. This person should not then go on to handle clean supplies and cats without
a change of gloves and top, at least. This means either having two people clean each cat
ward (it should take half as long, so no more total staff hours are required), with one person assigned to handle all dirty material, and the other to handle cats and clean supplies,
or having one person put on a protective smock and gloves, go through and remove all
dirty materials, clean the cages, then change gloves and remove the smock before handling clean supplies. If cat cages must be cleaned one by one, rather than cleaning a whole
bank or ward at a time, the two-person system must be used. After cleaning is completed,
all cleaning staff should change clothing and shoes before returning to other duties that
involve animal handling.
Sample Cleaning Protocols
Basic cleaning, whether a dog run or a kitty litter pan, consists of the same steps:
1. Mechanically removing organic matter: by scooping poop, dumping litter and food,
sweeping and/or rinsing with plain water. This still leaves behind caked-on debris,
such as dried-on feces, dirt, and saliva. Removal of this requires...
2. Cleaning using a detergent/soap product, and mechanical scrubbing with a brush,
rag, paper towel, etc. This still leaves behind a film of potentially harmful microorganisms, which requires...
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3. Disinfecting using a germicidal product effective against whatever harmful agents
are likely to be present. (For areas that are not heavily soiled, in some cases steps
two and three can be combined if a product is used that has both disinfectant and
detergent qualities.)
Dog runs: (This protocol was designed for general adult dog wards in a shelter with frequent enough parvo to warrant concern, using a quaternary ammonium compound with
detergent qualities. In a shelter with infrequent parvo, bleaching dog runs weekly instead
of daily may be acceptable.)
Dog cage cleaning should proceed in the following order: adoptable puppies, adoptable
adults, stray puppies, stray adults, quarantine animals, isolation animals.
Before you begin: Put on a protective jumpsuit, boots, eye protection and gloves. (Masks
should be worn if desired or if indicated for the product being used.)
Daily cleaning
1. Get the supply cart.
2. Move all dogs to one side of the ward and close the connecting kennel doors.
3. Fill and attach the disinfectant sprayer and make sure it is set to the correct dilution.
4. Spray any severely soiled runs with disinfectant solution and allow to soak while
proceeding with cleaning.
5. Collect food and water dishes and stack on cart, collect used blankets and toys and
place in hamper.
6. Scoop feces from each run using pooper scooper. Discard feces in designated trash
can (on supply cart or one for each ward).
7. Spray each run with disinfectant, including walls, door and gate. Surfaces should be
completely covered with disinfectant.
8. Using the stiff bristled brush labeled for the ward you are cleaning, scrub off any
caked-on debris.
9. Spray main aisle with disinfectant.
10. Scrub aisle.
11. Empty pooper scooper bucket into drain. Spray pooper scooper, bucket, and brush
with disinfectant.
12. Disconnect the disinfectant sprayer and rinse all runs and aisle with water.
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13. Fill the sprayer with bleach and make sure it is set to the correct dilution.
14. Spray runs, including walls, doors and aisle with bleach solution.
15. Fill the poop scooper bucket with fresh bleach solution.
16. Squeegee each run and aisle dry (if needed).
17. Feed and water all dogs. (Clean dishes and food on cart.)
18. Spray and wipe around doorknob using hand sprayer with disinfectant and paper
towel.
19. Transport soiled blankets to laundry, soiled dishes to kitchen.
20. Restock cart.
21. After all cleaning is completed, remove jumpsuit and clean or change boots.
Separate boots or shoe covers and a protective smock should be worn when cleaning
isolation wards.
Once a week, prior to disinfection, cages should be cleaned and scrubbed with a degreaser,
with careful attention paid to scrubbing cracks around gates, where wall meets floor and
any other likely spots where dirt can hide. Doors, areas around light switches, hose handles and any other frequently handled areas should also be cleaned.
Sample cat cage cleaning protocol
Again, this presumes a quaternary ammonium compound with detergent properties has
been chosen for general cleaning. Because calicivirus is so common, bleach is also used
daily.
In this shelter, each cat is assigned a cardboard carrier at intake which remains with the cat
throughout its stay and, when the cat is adopted, goes home with the cat. The cost of the
carrier is added to the adoption fee. For lively cats which escape from the cardboard carrier, a plastic carrier is used and thoroughly cleaned after the cat goes home, before being
used for another cat. (Thoroughly cleaning plastic carriers requires completely breaking
them down and scrubbing; dirt and body oils otherwise readily accumulate.) As discussed
above, this is only one of many ways to clean cat cages in less-than-ideal circumstances.
Cat cage cleaning should proceed in the following order: adoptable kittens, adoptable
cats, stray kittens, stray cats, quarantined cats, isolation cats.
Before you begin: Put on a protective jumpsuit, boots, eye protection and gloves. (Masks
should be worn if desired or if indicated for the product being used.)
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1. Stock the cart with litter pans, food and dishes, paper towels, gloves and other
needed supplies.
2. Put on the smock hanging by the door inside the ward.
3. Remove each cat in the ward from its cage and place in its assigned carrier (cage
number should be noted on carrier). Place the carriers in the hall outside the ward.
4. Remove and discard soiled paper, dump litter pans into trash, stack used litter pans
and food dishes on the cart. Put dirty bedding in the laundry hamper.
5. Sweep debris out of any heavily soiled cages using the hand broom and dust pan
designated for that ward. Sweep the floor of the ward. Remove stray pieces of feces
using a paper towel. (This step is not needed if there is not much litter on the floor
and the drains can easily handle what there is.)
6. Fill and attach the disinfectant sprayer and make sure it is set to the correct dilution.
7. Spray all cages with disinfectant, including all surfaces and doors.
8. Using the stiff bristled brush assigned to that ward, scrub all cages, including doors.
9. Spray floor with disinfectant and scrub with brush.
10. Disconnect the disinfectant sprayer and rinse cages and floor with water.
11. Fill the sprayer with bleach and make sure it is set to the correct dilution.
12. Spray cages, including sides, doors, and floor with bleach solution.
13. Squeegee cages if needed.
14. Remove soiled smock, put on a clean pair of gloves.
15. Place clean paper, bedding, fresh food and water in each cage.
16. Replace cats in the same cage they were in before.
17. Spray and wipe around doorknob using hand sprayer with disinfectant and paper
towel.
18. Transport soiled blankets to laundry, soiled dishes to kitchen.
19. Restock cart.
20. After all cleaning is completed, remove jumpsuit and clean or change boots.
In isolation or whenever handling sick cats or cats that have a known exposure to serious infectious disease such as panleukopenia, gloves should be changed or hands
thoroughly cleaned with hand sanitizer or soap and water between handling each cat.
Gloves are required when handling cats with panleukopenia.
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Sample Kennel Cleaning Protocol Based on UC Davis Recommendations
Parvo Outbreak Recommendations
1. Take one day to thoroughly clean all areas of the shelter that have had puppies in
them, including all walkways and outdoor toilet areas, all drains and gutters, and
the front lobby. This should involve scrubbing with soap/detergent at the correct
dilution, including scrubbing all walls, gates, corners and cracks. This should be
followed by spraying with bleach diluted at 1:32, covering all the same surfaces. Implements used for cleaning should be rinsed and then dipped in bleach at a dilution
of 1:32.
2. All plastic/scratchable items (such as toys, Kongs, dishes) that may have been exposed to a parvo puppy should be discarded. Parvo can persist in cracks in plastic.
3. Keep puppies strictly confined in the steel cage bank only for short term intake evaluation, and send to foster homes within 48 hours.
4. Do not mix puppies unless housed together prior to entering the shelter. An exception may be made for single puppies under 8 weeks old for socialization purposes, if
a medical exam reveals no evidence of health problems.
5. Vaccinate puppies starting at 6 weeks (or at intake if over 6 weeks) and every 2 weeks
thereafter until 12 weeks of age.
6. The only puppies that should be allowed in other parts of the shelter must have been
vaccinated at least 2 weeks prior to entry AND were vaccinated at age 12 weeks or
greater (this means only puppies 14 weeks and older will be kept in the shelter.
7. Foster parents need to be aware that puppies may be incubating parvo in the first 1-2
weeks at home, and should be kept off of all unbleachable surfaces (e.g., carpeting)
during this time.
8. Foster homes in which parvo has been diagnosed should be prepared to steam clean
soiled carpeting and not bring in any new puppies (foster or otherwise) for 3-6
months, with one exception: contaminated homes may be used for known parvoexposed (i.e., littermates of the parvo-positive pup) or recently parvo-recovered puppies, but full cleaning precautions must still be taken after every possible exposure.
9. Clean the steel cage bank thoroughly after each use, including scrubbing the seams
with a scrub brush and general detergent, followed by thorough bleaching with at
least 10 minutes contact time.
10. Puppy rooms should have all wooden material removed, floor fully covered with
sturdy tile or other readily cleanable flooring, and walls painted with sealed enamel
paint.
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Common Cleaning Errors
Disinfectant and bleach concentration not being measured. Correct dilution is important.
Too strong will irritate human and animal respiratory tracts, and too weak is ineffective.
Walls of dog runs not being effectively sprayed; disinfectant is sometimes sloshed on using
a bucket, which will likely not provide consistent and adequate coverage, and is very
wasteful of disinfectant. Sprayers may be too small, difficult to use, and have a part that
comes off and gets lost easily; some sprayers are hard to refill without splashing bleach on
clothing.
Gates of dog runs often not cleaned at all.
Crates not cleaned routinely.
Outside aisleways (high dog traffic areas) not routinely cleaned.
Sometimes confusion about whether outside dog cage is clean and set up or dog has just
been moved in or adopted and it is dirty. New dogs may be put in dirty cage.
Brushes from different wards getting mixed up.
Drains and gutters not routinely disinfected. No drain covers in dog runs.
Cat litter pans often washed in same water that dishes are soaking in, same sponges sometimes used for both purposes.
Dishes and litter pans are put straight into bleach water to soak. The organic matter on
the dishes and pans will immediately inactivate the bleach, rendering this step ineffective.
They need to be washed with soap or detergent prior to bleach dip.
An unknown amount of bleach is used in the soaking solution for dishes. The way to get
the right dilution is to measure the approximate number of gallons the sink holds, and add
1/2 cup of bleach per gallon.
Sink is small and dishes and toys are stacked so high they have no contact with bleach
water.
Plastic sink is scratched and grimy.
Cat cages not routinely scrubbed between bars on front gates.
Nolvasan diluted to unknown level being used to clean cat cages. Nolvasan is relatively
expensive and is not effective against cat viruses.
Walls, molding, doorknobs of cat rooms cleaned infrequently, if at all. Lots of accumulated
grime on walls, especially at cat level.
Lots of hair and litter in presumably recently cleaned cat rooms.
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Supply list
• 2 sets of 2 high quality sprayers with quick disconnect: one set for detergent application, one set for bleach.
• Measuring cups (at least four) to measure bleach.
• Stiff bristled scrub brushes: several long-handled so each dog area has its own (inside, outside adoptable, outside quarantine, isolation, others?), several short-handled
labeled separately for puppy cages, food/toys, litter pans, and one short-handled for
each cat area.
• Mop and bucket for indoor dog runs.
• Hand spray bottles—use light-proof ones for bleach; Triple-Two comes with its own
spray bottles.
• Hand-held vacuum for cat rooms.
• Brooms, dustpans: intake, adoption cats and cat rooms can share. Use a separate one
for isolation.
• Smocks, old surgery gowns, jumpsuits or some sort of other protective clothing to
wear while cleaning (separate ones for cleaning cat intake and isolation areas).
• Poop scooper and bucket for each dog area, if not already available.
• Detergent and Disinfectant
• Plenty o’ bleach for disinfecting
• Degreasing solution
• A double-sided high capacity stainless steel sink, sometimes available for cheap or
free from restaurants going out of business.
• DO NOT USE: Pine-sol or Nolvasan (Nolvasan should be used only in the veterinary
hospital side of operations, not for routine cleaning).
Cleaning recommendations
In a shelter population that is relatively stable and healthy, such as in adoptions versus
quarantine, it makes sense to have 2 levels of cleaning for most animal areas: daily spot
cleaning/tidying up, and more in-depth cleaning weekly, between animals (i.e., every time
an animal leaves a cage) or when a run or cage is heavily soiled. There needs to be a system
to designate clean versus dirty empty runs and cages. For instance, when an animal is
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adopted out, the run be left open and dirty with contents still inside. After cleaning, the
crate is placed upside down to drain (in dog runs) and cat cages are left completely empty.
That way you can assume an empty cat cage or a dog run with an upside-down crate is
clean and ready to go; you just have to set it up and pop in the animal. (This is safer than
the other way round, since someone might forget to take all the junk out of the cage when
an animal is adopted, and you might not be able to tell if it is clean and set up, or dirty and
set up.)
The most important areas to clean thoroughly every day are the quarantine and isolation
areas, and common areas which experience frequent animal traffic: the lobby, aisleways,
and outdoor toilet areas. For weekly cleaning tasks, we suggest dividing it up so that it
doesn’t all happen on the same day—maybe do the weekly cleaning of the indoor dog runs
one day, outdoor the next, cat cages the next, etc. Ultimately, protocols must be developed
for every area of the shelter! (puppy runs, offices, the front lobby, etc.) Please see general
cleaning considerations for shelters for more information on developing a comprehensive
cleaning protocol.
Examples:
Occupied dog runs should be cleaned in the following order: Puppies, adoptions going
out, quarantine dogs, isolation dogs.
Daily dog cleaning, adoptions
(This example uses Triple-Two, a combination detergent/disinfectant)
1. Fill one mop bucket with Triple-Two (pre-diluted from the dispenser) and another
with clear water.
2. Walk through and look at all the dogs. Check for signs of depression, discharge from
the nose or eyes, or other abnormalities. Check the cages for vomit, diarrhea or other
abnormalities. If you have any medical concerns, notify medical staff, and clean that
cage after all others.
3. Remove a dog from its run (to go on a walk or, if no walker is available, to an outside
empty, clean run).
4. Scoop poop if needed and discard in garbage (not in drain).
5. Remove soiled bedding and dirty toys or dishes. Dump water into drain. Water
dishes may be left in the run if not visibly soiled. Put dirty laundry in laundry room
and stack dirty toys and dishes on a cart for transport to the kitchen.
6. For heavily soiled runs or if a dog has just been adopted out of that run:
(a) remove the crate to the central walkway and take it apart
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(b) attach a sprayer filled with Triple-Two to the hose end
(c) spray the run and crate
(d) scrub everything with stiff bristled brush, including walls, door and crate
(e) rinse with clear water
(f) put the crate back together and replace in run, face down if the run is empty
7. For lightly soiled runs, spot mop any soiled areas. Dip the mop in the detergent/disinfectant
bucket, mop, then rinse in the clear water bucket.
8. Fill the water dish with clean water.
9. Place clean bedding and toys in the run.
10. Return the dog.
11. After all runs are complete, thoroughly mop the central walkway, then rinse with
water from the hose.
12. Dump out the dirty Triple-Two, rinse the bucket, and refill with fresh, properly diluted Triple-Two. Rinse the poop scooper, then place it in the fresh bucket.
13. Clear any debris from drain covers, then pour Triple-Two into drain gutter. Follow
by rinsing all debris from behind the kennels and the drain gutter with the hose.
14. If any outdoor runs were used for dog housing during cleaning, spray the runs with
Triple-Two using the hose end sprayer. Squeegee if necessary.
Weekly dog cleaning, adoptions (this protocol should also be applied after a dog leaves
a run, before putting a new dog in that run, and any time a run is heavily soiled). This
protocol would also be appropriate when there are sick dogs in isolation.
1. Remove all dogs from dog area, either taking them out on walks or to unoccupied
runs.
2. Scoop poop if needed and discard in garbage (not in drain).
3. Remove soiled bedding and all toys and dishes (including water dishes). Stack toys
and dishes to go to kitchen, put soiled laundry in hamper.
4. Move crates to a spacious area for cleaning. Break down all crates. (At minimum,
crates MUST be broken down and completely cleaned between dogs.)
5. Fill the hose-end sprayer with Triple-Two and attach to hose. Make sure the sprayer
is set for the correct dilution (1:64).
6. Spray each run, including walls and door.
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7. Spray all walkways, including the area behind the runs and the hallway by the
kitchen.
8. Spray the inside and outside of the crates.
9. Using a stiff bristled scrub brush labeled for that zone’s dog runs, scrub all runs,
walkways and crates, paying special attention to scrubbing corners and cracks.
10. Remove the spray applicator and rinse runs, walkways and crates with water.
11. Fill the bleach spray applicator and attach to hose end. Spray all runs and crates with
bleach, including walls and door.
12. Squeegee if needed.
13. Put crates back together and replace in runs.
14. When the central walkway is clear, scrub with stiff bristled brush, then spray with
bleach. Squeegee if needed.
15. Place clean bedding, toys and water dishes in the runs.
16. Return the dogs.
17. Dump out the dirty Triple-Two, rinse the bucket, and refill with fresh, properly diluted Triple-Two. Rinse the poop scooper then place it in the fresh bucket.
18. Clear any debris from drain covers, then pour Triple-Two into drain gutter. Follow
by rinsing all debris from behind the kennels and the drain gutter with the hose.
19. If any outdoor runs were used for dog housing during cleaning, use the hose end
sprayer to spray the run with Triple-Two disinfectant solution first, then with bleach
solution.
Whenever there is a crate in a dog kennel, it is very important to take it apart and clean it
really well after each dog is finished using it.
Once a month, Triple-Two should be replaced with degreasing solution for cleaning and
scrubbing all runs and crates. All other steps, including bleach application, should be
followed as usual.
Cat cage cleaning: intake/quarantine/isolation
Before you begin: Put on boots, eye protection and gloves. (Masks should be worn if
desired or if indicated for the product being used.)
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1. Stock the cart with litter pans, food and dishes, paper towels, gloves and other
needed supplies. Fill a hand sprayer with properly diluted Triple-Two, and another
one with bleach solution (bleach solution should be freshly made up at the start of
each day). Fill the mop bucket with Triple-Two.
2. Fill a bleach footbath (diluted at 1:10) for the doorways to cat intake, quarantine and
isolation.
3. Put on a clean pair of gloves and smock.
4. Visually examine all cats for signs of illness, and look in litter pans and cages for
signs of diarrhea, vomit or other abnormalities. Notify medical staff of any concerns.
If you are worried about any cat, handle it last after all the other cats, and change
gloves afterwards.
5. Remove each cat in the ward from its cage and place in its assigned carrier. (Put all
the cats in carriers at once, then clean all cages, not one cat in carrier, clean one cage,
put cat back, etc.)
6. Remove and discard soiled paper, dump litter pans into trash, stack used food dishes
and dirty litter pans on the cart. Dump water dishes in the closest sink. Put dirty
bedding in the laundry hamper. Litter pans, water dishes and bedding that are not
visibly soiled (no feces or food material) may be reused for the same cat (be sure not
to switch them around, though—if in doubt, just use fresh supplies!)
7. Sweep debris out of any heavily soiled cages using the hand broom and dust pan
designated for that ward. Sweep the floor of the ward.
8. Spray all cages with Triple-Two, including all surfaces and doors.
9. Remove any visible caked-on debris using the stiff bristled brush labeled for the room
you are in.
10. Wipe cages with paper towels or rags, using one rag for each cage.
11. Spray cages with bleach, including cage doors.
12. Wipe down doorknob with Triple-Two, then spray lightly with bleach.
13. Change gloves.2
14. Replace bedding and toys in same cage they came from (can stack on carrier to keep
track), refill litter or put in clean litter pans, provide fresh food and water.
2
Whenever handling sick cats or cats that have a known exposure to serious infectious disease such as
Panleukopenia, gloves should be changed or hands thoroughly cleaned with hand sanitizer or soap and water
between handling each cat. Gloves are required when handling cats with Panleukopenia.
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15. Put cats back in cages and restack carriers.
16. Mop floor with Triple-Two solution.
17. Remove smock and put in dirty laundry. (A separate smock should be used for
isolation and intake).
Between intake cats: Cages need an extra-thorough cleaning after cats have been moved
out into adoption and before another group of cats comes in. In addition to the steps
outlined above:
• Thoroughly scrub cages using Triple-Two and a stiff bristled brush, including corners
and between cage bars, then wipe dry.
• All bedding, dishes and toys should be removed and washed (toys may alternatively
move with the cat into adoption; bedding should be washed, however)
• After mopping floor with Triple-Two, mop or spray with bleach.
Cat cage cleaning: adoption cats daily cleaning
(This example uses Triple-Two, a combination detergent/disinfectant)
1. Stock the cart with litter pans (set up with sheet of paper in bottom and clean litter),
extra litter, food and dishes, paper towels, rags, gloves and other needed supplies.
Fill a 2-sided bucket (or 2 buckets) with properly diluted Triple-Two in 1 and rinse
water in the other.
2. Put on a clean pair of gloves and smock.
3. Visually examine all cats for signs of illness, and look in litter pans and cages for
signs of diarrhea, vomit or other abnormalities. Notify medical staff of any concerns.
If you are worried about any cat, handle it last after all the other cats, change gloves
afterwards, and clean the cage after all the others.
4. Remove each cat in the ward from its cage and place in its assigned carrier.
5. Remove and discard soiled paper, dump litter pans into trash, stack used food dishes
and dirty litter pans on the cart. Dump water dishes. Put dirty bedding in the laundry hamper. Litter pans, water dishes and bedding that are not visibly soiled may be
reused (for the same cat only).
6. Remove any visible caked-on debris with scrub brush, then sanitize it.
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7. Sweep debris out of any heavily soiled cages using the hand broom and dustpan
designated for that ward. Sweep the floor of the ward.
8. For cages with a resident cat, spot-clean as needed using Triple-Two on a rag. Rinse
rag in water between uses, and dunk in Triple-Two. The same rag may be reused
within a single ward, provided all the cats are healthy.
9. For cages that have just been emptied and are dirty (blankets, toys, litter box etc. still
in cage, but no cat):
• Remove all bedding, toys, litter, dishes, etc.
• Thoroughly wipe with a generous amount of Triple-Two.
• Use the stiff bristled brush labeled for cat adoption to scrub walls, door, between
bars and in all corners.
• Spray with bleach solution, including cage door.
• Leave cage empty to indicate it has been cleaned and is ready to set up for a
new cat.
10. Replace bedding and toys in same cage they came from (can stack on carrier to keep
track), line litter pan with a sheet of newspaper and refill (or put in fresh litter pan),
provide fresh food and water.
11. Wipe down doorknob with Triple-Two, then spray lightly with bleach.
12. Change gloves and put cats back in cages.3
13. After cleaning is completed, all ward floors and central walkway should be mopped
with Triple-Two.
14. Remove smock/jumpsuit and clean or change shoes before proceeding with the rest
of your responsibilities for the day.
Once a week:
• Remove and wash all water dishes and litter pans.
• Mop floors with Triple-Two, followed by bleach application.
• Clean walls of ward with Triple-Two.
3
Whenever handling sick cats or cats that have a known exposure to serious infectious disease such as
Panleukopenia, gloves should be changed or hands thoroughly cleaned with hand sanitizer or soap and water
between handling each cat. Gloves are required when handling cats with Panleukopenia.
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Dish Toy and Litterpan Cleaning
The same principles that apply to disinfection of cages also apply here. Dishes have to be
clean before disinfectant is applied; it does no good to simply dunk dirty dishes, Kongs,
etc. in bleach water. Need to measure number of gallons of water when sink is full and
add 1/2 cup bleach per gallon.
Dishes and toys should always be washed separately from litter pans. For dishes to be
washed properly, do not overload the sink: no more dishes can be washed at any one time
than can fit in the sink and be completely covered by water. If there is no more room, stack
dishes waiting to be washed next to the sink, not in the sink.
1. Fill one side of sink with soapy water (can use regular dish soap).
2. Dump leftover food in trash, rinse if necessary over the empty side of the sink, then
put dishes in soapy water to soak.
3. While the dishes are soaking in the soapy water, fill the other side of the sink with
water and add the appropriate amount of bleach.
4. Using a stiff bristled brush, scrub each dish to remove any remaining food particles,
then place in bleach solution and let soak for at least ten minutes.
5. After soaking, place dishes to dry next to the sink. No need to rinse again.
6. Drain and refill both sides with every load of dishes, or as needed. Rinsing in dirty
bleach solution is ineffective.
Same process with litter pans. Litter pans should be washed after the dish washing is
completed. After litter pans have been washed, both sides of the sink should be drained,
then scrubbed and sprayed with bleach solution.
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Protocol For Quarantine
1. What dogs should be quarantined?
(a) Dogs that are surrendered by an owner and reported by the owner and/or
owner’s veterinarian to be in free of signs of infectious diseases may be housed
in adoption areas without quarantine.
(b) Owner-surrendered dogs with a long history (greater than 2 months) of ocular or nasal discharge, mild to moderate diarrhea, cough or other signs consistent with some infections should be brought to the attention of the veterinarian. S/he may opt to place the dogs directly into adoption, 1-week observation/quarantine, or full two week quarantine.
(c) Owner-surrendered dogs with sub-acute or acute onset (less than 2 months)
of ocular or nasal discharge, mild to moderate diarrhea, cough or other signs
consistent with some infections will be quarantined for two weeks.
(d) All dogs from animal control facilities, breeders, pet shops, or other locations
where dogs are densely housed and subject to high turnover will be quarantined
for two weeks.
2. Initiating quarantine
(a) Dogs should be moved into quarantine in a cohort system (aka ”all-in-all-out”).
This means that if there are already residents in the quarantine area, no new
dogs should be introduced into that area until the residents are moved (typically
to adoption). It would be reasonable to get a group of dogs from one animal
control facility on one day and a second group the next day, and then hold all
of the dogs for 14 additional days. It would not be appropriate to get dogs from
one location on a Monday, another group on Friday, and then hold all until the
Monday 9 days later (rather, they would need to all be held in quarantine until
the Friday 14 days later).
(b) Dogs going into quarantine should be examined by the veterinarian to get baseline health information, and the following information should be recorded in
a record: vaccination, body condition score, weight, signs of dermatological
lesions suggesting fleas or mites, results of listening to chest, oral and facial examination, and abdominal palpation. Dogs should receive the same medical
preparation as all dogs at the shelter, possibly including vaccines, heartworm
testing, flea and other parasite medication, baths, and so forth.
3. During quarantine
(a) Dogs are in quarantine to determine whether they might be incubating infections that could harm them, other dogs, or staff. They should be observed
daily for any signs of infection, which should be reported to the veterinarian
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promptly. Signs to monitor specifically include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the
stool or urine, lethargy, sneezing, coughing, eye or nose discharge, changes in
behavior, or difficult or labored breathing.
(b) At the veterinarian’s discretion, testing for infectious diseases should be performed, including assays for kennel cough, parvovirus fecal testing, blood testing for distemper, and others.
(c) Dogs with mild disease, typically mild cough and discharge from eyes and/or
nose, should stay in the quarantine area, under treatment of the veterinarian.
If the veterinarian determines that the dog has severe disease, s/he may elect
euthanasia or move the dog to a hospital/isolation area.
(d) Dogs with mild disease may receive medication as prescribed by the veterinarian. Trained staff should administer treatments and all treatments should
be performed either after handling healthy dogs or using suitable precautions
such as wearing a lab coat that does not leave the quarantine area, wearing foot
protection, and washing hands, before handling healthy dogs.
(e) All dogs in quarantine should be fed and handled according to Open Paw protocols established for healthy dogs at the shelter. Staff should be trained on procedures for dogs in quarantine and use precautions as described in #3d when
feeding, playing, training, etc.
(f) Quarantine kennels should be cleaned according to protocols established for all
dogs at the shelter. This may involve spot cleaning daily if dogs do not soil
the run, or daily scrubbing and bleaching. Where possible, dogs should not be
moved around into new runs, but be returned to the same run they were in
earlier.
(g) Dogs in quarantine should have the same access to staff, play, walks, and Open
Paw training as dogs in the adoptable kennels. Where possible, all healthy dogs
should be walked first, then dogs in quarantine, and then the floor areas where
quarantine dogs walked bleached before healthy dogs are walked through that
area. However, almost every adoptable dog at the shelter has already been exposed to kennel cough pathogens and/or been fully vaccinated, and is already
immune. It is important that quarantine dogs have the opportunity to walk and
play, even if minor interaction occurs with healthy dogs.
(h) Dogs in quarantine are adoptable. Clients should ask to see dogs in this area
and be escorted by staff, after they have visited all of the healthy dogs. Staff
should remind potential owners that they won’t be allowed back among healthy
dogs after playing with quarantined dogs. If a new owner does choose a dog in
quarantine, they should be encouraged to adopt her and sign a medical release,
after being informed what signs to monitor and what actions to take if the dog
develops clinical disease.
(i) Dogs in quarantine should have toys, crates, leashes, etc., but these should be
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kept with each individual dog and not shared with other dogs until thoroughly
cleaned and bleached.
4. Following quarantine
(a) Dogs may leave quarantine and go to adoptable dog areas if they’re healthy at
14 days and the veterinarian verifies that there are no signs of infection.
(b) Any dogs with ongoing signs should stay in quarantine or isolation. One option
might be to move affected dogs to an isolated small area, freeing up the larger
areas for a new batch of incoming dogs.
(c) Empty runs should be thoroughly cleaned and bleach applied at a 1:32 dilution
for a minimum contact time of 30 minutes. The bleach should be rinsed, the
kennel dried, and then it is ready for a new group of quarantine dogs.
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General Daily Cleaning
NOTE: It is up to you which brands of cleaning products to use, as long as you are sure to
use a detergent AND a disinfectant daily, as well as a potent degreaser for occasional deep
cleaning. The following example uses ”Triple-Two”, a combination detergent/disinfectant.
You may wish to purchase a copy of ”Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff” (Miller,
Stephen, and Zawistowski) for cleaning recommendations, as well as scientific studies on
the impact systematic cleaning protocols have on the health of shelter animals.
DOG RUNS AND CONTENTS
1. Walk through your assigned area(s) and look at all the dogs in your care. Check for
signs of depression, discharge from the nose or eyes, or other abnormalities. Check
the runs for vomit, diarrhea or other abnormalities. If you have medical concerns,
write them down for the medical staff. Clean that cage after all others.
2. Remove each assigned dog from its run to go for a pee walk. Dogs that have not
soiled their kennels or dogs on a crate-training regimen go out FIRST!
3. After the walk, clean the dog’s run. The dog should be temporarily placed in a clean
run or, if the run has guillotine doors, confine the dog to 1 side while you clean the
other side.
4. Scoop any poop and discard in garbage (not in drain).
5. Remove bedding, crates and toys. Take food bucket down and empty the water dish.
Leave water dishes that are not visibly soiled in the run. Bedding that has feces on it
should be thrown away, not washed for reuse. Put the rest of the dirty laundry next
to washer. Discard feces-soiled toys that are not bleachable. Stack bleachable toys
and soiled water dishes in a bucket and bring into kitchen.
6. Sweep kennels thoroughly with a broom. Use brush and dustpan to pick up stray
kibble, pieces of toys and all other debris; discard dustpan contents in garbage can.
Kennels should be completely free of debris!
7. Some dogs do not soil their runs. After sweeping, if you find that the run, the bedding, crate, toys and water dish are completely free of any dirt, feces or urine, AND
the dog is not in quarantine or ISO, simply place the dog’s possessions back in the
run. For Quarantine/ISO dogs and those with soiled runs:
8. At the mixing station, fill the hose-end sprayer with Triple-Two detergent/disinfectant
and attach to hose.
9. If soiled, spray the run, including walls, floors and doors as needed. Surfaces should
be completely covered with Triple-Two. Allow Triple-Two to soak for 10 minutes
while cleaning next soiled kennel.
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10. If a crate is heavily soiled on the outside only, spray and scrub as necessary. If the
inside is soiled, refer to Deep Cleaning instructions.
11. Hose crate and run with water until clear. Squeegee and towel the kennel completely
dry.
12. Fill water dishes with clean water.
13. Place clean bedding and toys in the runs.
14. Raise guillotine doors or return dogs to their clean runs.
15. Quickly re-spray any runs used temporarily. If you find them deeply soiled—sorry—
start again with step 10.
16. After all runs are complete, thoroughly clean the walkway and aisle-ways with TripleTwo, then again with water.
17. Clear any debris from drain covers and, if necessary, rinse the debris from behind the
kennels and the drain gutter. Clear debris from the drain covers again.
PUPPY ROOM
1. Remove puppies from their cages, and crate them in a non-dog area (such as intake
room or volunteer office). Move x-pen and other room contents into hallway.
2. Dispose of newspaper, poop and debris into trash.
3. Bedding that has feces on it should be thrown away, not washed for reuse. Put the
rest of the dirty laundry next to washer. Discard feces-soiled toys. Stack bleachable
toys and soiled water dishes in a bucket and bring into kitchen.
4. Sweep floor of all debris.
5. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with Triple-Two disinfectant/detergent, and another bucket with clean water.
6. Clean cages and mop floor end to end with Triple-Two. If soiled, also scrub walls,
back of door, crates, x-pen, etc. with Triple-Two (allow contact time of 10 minutes.)
7. Mop everything with water. Squeegee and towel the cages completely dry.
8. Place clean bedding, toys, water dishes, x-pen and other contents back in the room.
9. Return puppies to cages.
10. Dip clean rag into Triple-Two and clean the door handle (both sides), area around
door handles, light switches and other places that are touched by human hands frequently. Dry with a clean rag.
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
LEVEL 3 AREA
1. Remove all contents of Level 3 area.
2. Sweep away all debris. Collect and wash all toys and return to L3.
3. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with Triple-Two disinfectant/detergent, and another bucket with clean water.
4. Mop floor end to end with Triple-Two. If soiled, also scrub walls with Triple-Two.
5. Mop everything with water. Squeegee dry.
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Weekly Deep Cleaning
OCCUPIED, ISO, QUARANTINE RUNS /DEEPLY SOILED & NEWLY VACATED RUNS
1. Walk through your assigned area(s) and look at all the dogs in your care. Check for
signs of depression, discharge from the nose or eyes, or other abnormalities. Check
the runs for vomit, diarrhea or other abnormalities. If you have any medical concerns, write them down promptly for the medical staff. Clean that cage after all
others.
2. Remove each assigned dog from its run to go for a pee walk. Dogs that have not
soiled their kennels or dogs on a crate-training regimen go out FIRST!
3. After the walk, clean the dog’s run. The dog should be temporarily placed in a clean
run or, if the run has guillotine doors, confine the dog to 1 side while you clean the
other side.
4. Put on jumpsuit, boots and disposable gloves.
5. Scoop any poop and discard in garbage (not in drain).
6. Remove bedding, crates and toys. Empty water dishes into drain. Bedding that
has feces on it should be thrown away, not washed for reuse. Put the rest of the
dirty laundry next to washer. Discard feces-soiled toys that are not bleachable. Stack
bleachable toys and all water dishes in a bucket and bring into kitchen.
7. In a clear area, break down every crate that is in an occupied kennel. Place all screws
from a crate into its own baggie. (If a kennel is not occupied, its crate should be
upside down and previously cleaned for next occupant.)
8. At the mixing station, fill the hose-end sprayer with Triple-Two and attach to hose.
9. Spray each run, including walls, floors and doors (front and back). Surfaces should
be completely covered. Allow Triple-Two to soak for 10 minutes while cleaning next
kennel.
10. Spray the inside and outside of the crates and let soak.
11. Using a stiff bristled scrub brush labeled for the zone you are cleaning, scrub runs,
walkways, aisle-ways, behind runs, and crates; pay special attention to scrubbing
corners, cracks, crate seams, edges and any other likely spots where dirt can hide.
12. After all runs are complete, thoroughly spray the walkways, walls and aisle-ways
with Triple-Two, let soak for ten minutes then scrub with scrub brush.
13. Remove the spray applicator; hose with water everything scrubbed in step 12 & 13
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
14. At the mixing station, fill the hose-end sprayer with properly diulted bleach and
attach to hose.
15. Spray each run, including walls, floors and doors (front and back). Spray the inside
and outside of the crates.
16. Put crates back together and replace, OPEN SIDE DOWN, in run, if run unoccupied.
17. Completely dry the floor and place clean bedding, toys and water dishes in the runs.
18. Raise guillotine doors or return dogs to their clean runs.
19. Spray any runs used temporarily with bleach. If dog has soiled run, spot clean with
Triple-Two then spray with bleach.
20. Clear any debris from drain covers, then pour Triple-Two solution into drain gutter;
hose all debris from behind the kennels and drain gutter with water. Clear debris
from the drain covers again.
21. Fill spray bottle with Triple-Two; spray then wipe around all doorknobs, light switches,
and other places that are touched by human hands frequently. Dry with clean rag.
CRATES FOUND HEAVILY SOILED ON A GENERAL CLEANING DAY
1. In a clear area, break down every soiled crate that is in an occupied kennel. Place all
screws from a crate into its own baggie. (If a kennel is not occupied, its crate should
be upside down and previously cleaned for next occupant.)
2. Spray the inside and outside of the crates with Triple-Two solution and let soak for
ten minutes.
3. Using a stiff bristled scrub brush designated for crates, scrub inside and out thoroughly.
4. Spray the zone you are cleaning with Triple-Two, scrub runs, walkways, aisle-ways,
behind runs.
5. Pay special attention to scrubbing crate seams, edges and corners.
6. Remove the spray applicator; hose each crate and the general area with water.
7. At the mixing station, fill the hose-end sprayer with properly diluted bleach and
attach to hose.
8. Spray the inside and outside of the crates.
9. Put crates back together and replace in runs; towel dry. Clean crates should be left
OPEN SIDE DOWN in unoccupied runs.
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PUPPY ROOM
(Occupied)
1. Remove puppies from their cages, and crate them in a non-dog area (such as intake
room or volunteer office). Move x-pen and other room contents into hallway.
2. Dispose of newspaper, poop and debris into trash.
3. Bedding that has feces on it should be thrown away, not washed for reuse. Put the
rest of the dirty laundry next to washer. Discard feces-soiled toys. Stack bleachable
toys and soiled water dishes in a bucket and bring into kitchen.
4. Sweep floor of all debris.
5. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with Triple-Two solution and
another with bleach solution.
6. Mop floor end to end with Triple-Two solution. Use scrub brush to scrub walls, back
of door, crates, x-pen, etc..
7. Mop floor, walls, back of door, crates, x-pen with bleach solution. Let dry completely.
8. Place clean bedding, toys, water dishes, x-pen and other contents in the room.
9. Return puppies to their cages.
10. Dip clean rag into bleach solution and clean the door handle(s) (both sides), area
around door handles, light switches and other places that are touched by human
hands frequently. Dry with a clean rag.
LEVEL 3 AREA
1. Remove all contents of Level 3 area.
2. Sweep away all debris. Collect and wash all toys and return to L3.
3. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with properly diluted TripleTwo and another with clean water.
4. Mop floor end to end with Triple-Two. If soiled, also scrub walls with Triple-Two.
5. Mop everything with water. Squeegee dry.
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
Spot Cleaning
DOG RUNS
1. Scoop poop and discard in garbage (not in drain).
2. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with Triple-Two disinfectant/detergent
3. Move dog to the other side of guillotine, or have someone else take him/her for a
walk if housed in the indoor runs.
4. Hose any vomit or diarrhea into gutter with water.
5. Spot mop soiled areas with Triple-Two.
6. Rinse area briefly with hose. Squeegee dry.
7. Return dog to run.
PUPPY ROOM
1. Remove puppies from their cages and place in crates in a non-dog area. Move anything in the way into hallway.
2. From mixing station, fill rolling bucket 1/4 of the way with Triple-Two disinfectant/detergent and another with clean water.
3. Spot mop soiled areas with Triple-Two.
4. Spot mop soiled areas with water. Squeegee dry.
5. Return puppies to their cages.
6. Dip clean rag into Triple-Two and clean the door handle (both sides), area around
door handles, light switches and other places that are touched by human hands frequently. Dry with a clean rag.
For runs that are deeply soiled anytime after the morning cleaning, proceed to GENERAL CLEANING instructions for healthy dogs, and to DEEP CLEANING instructions
for ISO/Quarantine dogs.
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Monthly Cleaning
MONTHLY CLEANING IS PERFORMED STARTING ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF THE
MONTH AND THROUGHOUT THAT WEEK.
ON THE DAYS SCHEDULED FOR A DEEP CLEANING, FOLLOW THE GENERAL DAILY
CLEANING PROTOCOLS EXACTLY, BUT REPLACE TRIPLE-TWO WITH CAGE AND
KENNEL DEGREASER.
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GENERAL CLEANING CONSIDERATIONS
Sample Weekly Deep Cleaning Schedule
Monday : Kitchen, lobby, intake room & bathroom, Level 3 Area, cat cages & cat rooms
Tuesday : Outdoor kennels & crates—left side (all kennels, walkways & walls)
Wednesday : Outdoor kennels & crates—right side (all kennels, walkways & walls)
Thursday : Indoor kennels and crates
Friday : Lobby, intake room & bathroom
Saturday : Spot clean all rooms
Sunday : Liaison room & volunteer room
Once a week, prior to disinfection, cages should be cleaned and scrubbed with a degreaser,
with careful attention paid to scrubbing cracks around gates, where wall meets floor and
any other likely spots where dirt can hide. Doors, areas around light switches, hose handles and any other frequently handled areas should be cleaned.
Use the Degreaser when doing weekly thorough cleaning of these areas. Remember, whenever animals are adopted or change kennel locations, follow the deep cleaning protocol,
regardless of the day of the week.
This weekly deep cleaning will ensure we can continue to ”spot clean” throughout the
rest of the week. Please read through the ”General Cleaning Protocols.” It is essential for
everyone to understand that we MUST follow this cleaning regimen. To do otherwise
would compromise the health and safety of our animal guests.
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Implementing Open Paw: Where to begin
Launching a new program is a large undertaking and should be done in a systematic,
yet gentle way. It is important not to alienate or confuse your current staff and volunteers. They are in the habit of doing things the way they were instructed to when first
trained, and changing the routine may cause stress and uncertainty. If not handled properly, change can also bring about resentment, even chaos. It is essential to avoid this if you
want any new program to succeed. The best way to avoid such confusion is to include and
empower your staff and key volunteers from the beginning.
How To Begin: Steps to Take
• Make a presentation to the BOD or shelter administration
• Write an action plan
• Gather resources and materials
• Train Staff (2 parts)
• Implement MMHRs
• Adjust volunteer orientation and training programs and schedule new training sessions
• Determine grace period for existing volunteers
• Train existing volunteers and incorporate key volunteers into new volunteer training
program
• Launch new OP orientation and volunteer training program
In many cases, it is most effective to launch an Open Paw pilot program with just a few
animals initially participating. Launching a small pilot program will not only allow you to
work out the kinks of implementation with minimal confusion, but will also serve as a test
group which, when successful, will create enthusiasm for the program which will make
the shelter-wide transition go much more smoothly. Open Paw recommends starting with
as few as 5 dogs, preferably dogs who are hard to place and who have been in the shelter
for over a month. However, it is good to include at least 1 dog that is new to the shelter
environment, because doing so will illustrate how easily a dog with no existing “shelter
habits” will adjust and improve with the guidance of the program.
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Customizing Your Open Paw Program
While most every animal shelter has similar goals and challenges, Open Paw recognizes
that every shelter is unique. Each shelter has its own physical layout, access to resources,
charter, and community needs. In order to best address your shelter’s strengths and weaknesses, and to best utilize your unique resources, it may be necessary to modify the program to suit your individual circumstances.
When modifying the Open Paw Program to suit your specific shelter, it is important to
prioritize the animals’ immediate needs, always focusing on the activities that will build
skills to help get them permanently adopted. When prioritizing the shelter animals’ daily
activities, it is helpful to divide the activities into two categories—urgent and important—
and to focus on the urgent first.
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Frequently Asked Questions and Frequently Raised Concerns
Your shelter staff, governing board members, administrators and volunteers will have
questions and concerns about the new program. We’ve included a list of the most frequently raised issues below, as well as some answers to those issues, to help you in your
transition to the Open Paw shelter program.
The most important things to keep in mind as you present the Open Paw program to your
shelter partners is to do so respectfully and in a spirit of team work. People who work or
volunteer at a shelter do so out of a deep love for and commitment to the animals, and
they are often far more emotionally committed to the work than almost any other professionals. The obvious benefit of that is that they’re often willing to work very hard for
very little (or no) pay for the animals in your care. The challenge for you is that your
staff and volunteers may be more vulnerable to developing an antipathy to the program
because of perceived insult or unfairness, so you must present the changes called for in
the new protocols carefully. Regardless of their particular beliefs about animal husbandry,
training, and management, though, the belief shared by you and all of your staff and volunteers is the commitment to providing excellent care for your shelter’s animals, and the
commitment to finding good homes for them. So start with those shared goals and commitments, and show your partners in the shelter how the Open Paw program helps you to
best accomplish those goals.
The Divide Between Missions
“Of course it works at a private no-kill; they get to CHOOSE their animals.”
The Open Paw program primarily focuses on two things: the mental well-being of shelter
animals, and community education and awareness programs to prevent animals from becoming unwanted . The environmental enrichment and humane treatment of incarcerated
animals should not be optional, regardless of the ultimate fate of some of the resident cats
and dogs. Open Paw has worked with both municipal animal control facilities and private
shelters to design the program. All of the Open Paw guidelines have been designed with
both open door and private facilities in mind.
It’s time for shelters to take it upon themselves to raise the bar for standards of care for
shelter animals. There are numerous and rigorous veterinary and physical health requirements for livestock and for laboratory, zoo, and shelter animals. However, apart from
zoological environmental enrichment programs, there are few requirements that cater to
the animals’ social and psychological needs in the shelter setting. If shelter animals are to
remain, or become, suitable social companions for people, they require comfort, companionship, communication, education, and entertainment.
As ambassadors for the humane treatment of animals across the nation, it is essential for
shelters to place equal value on the mental and physical needs of the animals in their
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custody. Attention to an incarcerated animal’s mental well-being should not be an afterthought or a bonus, but on par with physical health concerns and part of the standard
protocol for care.
“But she didn’t mean to bite me—it was my fault, anyway.”
Are these people suggesting placing UNSAFE animals with the unsuspecting public? Remember a shelter’s reputation depends on the quality of adopted animals the public encounters. People often generalize beyond their immediate experience, so every shelter
animal is an ambassador not only for herself and for your shelter, but for shelter animals
in general. People who return an adopted dog because of aggression issues do not return to a shelter to adopt again—and their friends, relatives, and acquaintances may never
adopt from a shelter if they hear a vivid, memorable story about a bad shelter adoption.
Instead, they purchase their next pet from a breeder to avoid getting an ”unpredictable
shelter dog”.
“All lives are precious.”
But where should they live? With whom? And how? It is tragic and heartbreaking that
some animals have been so damaged by humans that they are now considered unadoptable. The rehabilitation of an animal with severe behavior problems can take years and
cost hundreds of dollars in resources. Such an animal can occupy desperately needed
space for long periods of time, all without any guarantee of success. Moreover, studies
have shown that animals with severe behavior problems often spontaneously recover the
undesirable behavior. In general, the shelter world is not ready to deal with long-term
housing and rehabilitation at this time. It is important to prioritize to determine where to
focus the all-too-scarce resources of the typical shelter. As much as we would love to do
so, it is simply impossible to save every animal that comes into our care. And ultimately,
putting numerous resources and enormous amounts of time into such rehabilitation does
nothing to prevent the next animal from becoming behaviorally damaged. Prevention and
education are key. The more prevention and education shelters do now, the fewer animals
will need help in the future, which will eventually allow more time for behavior cases and
research. But we must not put the cart before the horse.
The Divide Between Methodologies (or no method)
“I just want to walk the dogs/play with the cats.”
Our focus in the shelter must be to find good, permanent homes for the dogs and cats.
Teaching life skills is one of the most important things you can do for a shelter animal to
help her get adopted. Open Paw focuses on walking the dog outside in the real world,
integrating training with really big rewards, such as exercise, ranging (exploring around
freely) so long as the dog does not pull on the lead, and sniffing. We are not just ”taking
the dog for a walk,” but rather ”teaching the dog how to walk on a loose lead.” We’re not
just playing with the cats, but teaching them how to play with their claws in, and solicit
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attention from potential adopters. This will not only help to impress potential adopters,
but will also help both the new owners and the polite doggy or kitty! Although we do
love all of our dog and cat guests, love is not enough. Most shelter cats and dogs are
lacking some of the skills that will help them get adopted and stay permanently in their
new homes. It is the job of shelter staff and volunteers to teach them these necessary skills;
it is the best thing to do for them.
“We already have a dog-walking program in place.”
Whatever your dog walking program, it should be well organized with specific goals in
mind, particularly goals that help the animals acquire the necessary skills to get adopted
and stay adopted. If the staff and volunteers are not making sure that they follow the
protocols for getting dogs in and out of the kennels, and are not walking the dogs with the
ultimate goal of adoption in mind, they can actually be undermining the dog’s adoption
chances by inadvertently reinforcing rude behavior on walks and when meeting people.
While it may not bother you to be hauled down the street by a dog, or jumped all over
when you greet the dog, it will very likely bother potential adopters.
“People shouldn’t be required to have a Ph.D. in behavior just to walk dogs.”
Open Paw agrees that dog walking should be relatively easy, and that’s why our Four
Level Training Program for shelter staff and volunteers is designed to address the bare
bones essence of the skills needed to be up and running with the animals on the very first
day of training. However, animal training and behavior is a branch of the sciences of psychology and learning theory, and is actually quite complex; that is why we recommend
building your skills gradually, beginning at Level 1 with the basic principles of learning
and animal body language. Also, stressed animals in a shelter can be somewhat rambunctious and dangerous; a trained person is less likely to get into a difficult situation or to get
hurt. At each level of training, you are putting yourself at risk in a new way. The shelter
and Open Paw must place your safety as a priority, and the skills you develop in each level
will help you to interact more safely with the animal at the next level.
“The animals need exercise, not training. How will we wear them out?”
The benefits of mental exercise and positive human interaction that training provides
dwarves the perceived benefit of a “willy-nilly” playtime free-for-all. It is very difficult
to physically tire the average adolescent shelter dog, and too much extreme activity not
only makes the dog more fit (and more difficult to tire in the future), but also revs the dog
up physiologically, something most shelter dogs already have a problem with due to overstimulation in their kennel. Remember that the shelter’s priority is to find good permanent
homes for its shelter residents. A brisk human-dragging session around the neighborhood
might make the dog feel better during the session, but the dog is never going to feel truly
better until she’s established in a home of her own. We must focus on placing the dogs in
permanent homes; all of our activities with the dogs should be aimed at this end. These
dogs need to learn basic manners and how to settle down in order to get adopted.
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“Dogs need strong leaders or they will try to “get away with” as much as possible in an
attempt to dominate you.”
This type of thinking is archaic and potentially dangerous, especially in dealing with
stressed-out animals in a shelter environment. Using the principles of learning theory—
rewarding desirable behaviors, and ignoring undesirable behavior or removing rewards
when the animal behaves in an undesirable way—is much more progressive and humane
than relying on physical punishment. Animals make associations with you and with the
situation every time you interact with them. Thus, an unfortunate side-effect of using punishment to try to train animals is that, while they may learn to respond to cues, they may
also form negative associations to you, to the situation, to people, or to training. Furthermore, often you don’t get the result you wanted from trying to use punishment to train.
Take for example a dog jumping on people. It’s not a desirable behavior to people but, in
the dog-dog world, it is an appeasing, friendly greeting gesture. If you use punishment
to try to get the dog to stop jumping, you have to use a severe enough punishment the
first time that it effectively outweighs the positive associations of the friendly greeting gesture. If the punishment is not severe enough, then you are not effectively damping that
behavior. You may even unintentionally be rewarding it. Furthermore, some dogs may try
to stop the punishment by offering an appeasement gesture rather than by stopping the
undesirable behavior—so the result might be more jumping, rather than less.
So, using punishment to train is pretty inefficient, difficult to do correctly and, in order to
be effective, must be severe. A much more efficient, friendlier way to train is to teach the
dog a desirable, alternative behavior; ask, ”If this is ’wrong,’ what is ’right’?” In this case,
we might train the dog to sit to greet people.
“There are so many opinions and animal “experts” out there. None of them agree. What
makes your method so special; why follow OP?”
Open Paw’s Shelter Program is not based on opinion or ideology, but on facts and results.
The animal behavior sub-discipline of Psychology is, like other sciences, based on the interpretation of empirical evidence. Theories are judged by the quality of the evidence, and
the degree to which the interpretation of that evidence can be defended through rational
argument. Differing theories are not matters of ”mere opinion,” and therefore relative and
incompatible with rational judgment. Judging between two competing views of animal
behavior is a matter of judging the ability of each view to rationally defend its interpretive
strategy, and the evidence on which it bases its interpretation. Open Paw’s behavior counseling and training techniques are based on decades of research by the foremost experts in
animal learning theory, including Edward Thorndike, Dr. B.F. Skinner, Dr. Keller Breland,
Dr. Marion Breland-Bailey, Dr. Ian Dunbar, Dr. Pamela Reid, and Jean Donaldson. Each of
these behaviorists regularly follow(ed) the scientific method of laying out their interpretive schema, and the empirical evidence on which those interpretations are based, to the
peer review of their colleagues. Open Paw’s behavioral and training techniques are based
on the most rational, most up-to-date, most strongly argued and most well-grounded evidence available.
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Staff, Facility, and Board Issues
“We cannot afford: a volunteer coordinator, a staff behavior consultant, a Level 3 area, a
toilet area, enough staff to implement walks (for extended hours).”
Given your shelter’s mission and goals, you can’t afford not to! These are the workings of
a functional, successful animal shelter, necessary to achieve the mission. Apply for grants
or ask for corporate sponsorship to aid in implementation of the program. You may have
to implement the program slowly, using smaller, ”pilot” groups of animals to raise grant
money and help solicit donations. The shelters we’ve worked with have had good luck
in getting excellent press and donations because of the innovation of the program and its
impressive results. The program itself is not very costly; most of the changes are emotional
or intellectual.
“How will we know which animals have already been cared for (walked, handled,
trained)?”
The interactions with animals you’ll be experiencing with the Open Paw Four Level Training Program and MMHR handling recommendations will provide opportunities for an
ongoing behavior evaluation that gives you real-time insight into the behavior and temperament of your resident cats and dogs. Be sure to record every interaction with each animal through the use of Open Paw’s various charts, such as the Walk Chart, Levels Chart,
Training Observation Form, and Elimination Chart (included in the appendix). Each interaction provides important information about the animal. Daily interaction will not only
help staff get a more accurate picture of each animal as a complex living creature, but
will allow you to chart progress or deterioration of the animals in your care. Using the
charts provides clear and instantaneous communication between all staff and volunteers
and actually eliminates excess work.
“Volunteers are more work for the staff than help; they just get in the way and don’t
know what they’re doing.”
Volunteers should be trained and treated just like employees. Open Paw has found that,
with proper training, guidance, and actual work assignments, volunteers become the greatest allies of an overworked staff. Treat and train them well from the beginning—it’s well
worth the initial investment. The Open Paw Four Level Training Program will give volunteers skills to be helpful instead of a hindrance.
“The staff (vet/kennel) doesn’t have the time to wait for good behavior before interacting with the dogs, because we’re too busy.”
Example: Kneeing the dog in the chest or spraying the dog with the hose to gain control
instead of waiting for the dog to stop jumping before entering the kennel.
Again, this goes back to determining your mission and being committed to a paradigm
shift in sheltering views. Open Paw’s vision for shelters is to raise the bar for basic domestic animal care, as well as to serve as a model for the public. Adopting Open Paw’s
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Minimum Mental Health Requirements (MMHR) and practicing efficient animal-friendly
and user-friendly techniques for basic care and training of the shelter animals has a tremendous impact on the community. Everyone who enters the shelter observes firsthand that
animal care and training can be simple, humane and enjoyable.
At first glance, some of the recommendations may seem unfeasible or too labor-intensive to
implement. However, following the MMHRs and adopting the Open Paw volunteer training program actually reduces the amount of time required for husbandry, kennel cleaning
and upkeep. This allows staff and volunteers to spend time on the more gratifying goal
of interacting with and training the resident animals. For example, by providing access
to a separate, appropriate toilet area for dogs (rather than forcing them to soil their kennels), hours of unpleasant daily manual labor is virtually eliminated. Also, toilet-trained
animals are cleaner and more adoptable, meaning a shorter stay at the shelter. And what
an improvement a clean-smelling Open Paw shelter has over the average, eye-watering
facility.
It is true that the first 3 or 4 times you wait for good behavior before entering a kennel, it
will take longer than just muscling the dog aside or using a hose. However, with consistent
application, the learning curve is very steep for this training—very soon, you’ll have a
polite dog sitting quietly to wait for you to enter the kennel. Thus, after just a few days,
your kennel routine will go much faster than before.
Certainly Open Paw’s guidelines require a considerable paradigm shift, and of course
there are initial growing pains and adjustments, but the transformation is magical. Once
staff and volunteers see calm, contented, and mannerly cats and dogs, they become very
eager and excited about participating in the program.
“We have outgrown our current staff; they will never be able to/willing to follow through
with the new protocols.”
Start at the top. In order to succeed, the program must have the support of the board
of directors, shelter director/manager, oversight committee, etc. Present the program to
them first. Implementation of the Open Paw program will be more successful if everyone
is on board and new protocols are properly trained and mandatory. You may want to use
a sample section of your kennel to pilot and demonstrate the benefits and success of the
program. Modeling the program is very convincing; once people see Open Paw in action
they generally become advocates of the program.
Initiating the Open Paw program will most likely require re-evaluating some of your facility’s current operations. While change is an opportunity for improvement, the prospect
may be threatening for much of the staff. People may feel that by suggesting a change in
the status quo, you’re implying they have been doing everything ”wrong” up until now. It
is important not to make people feel defensive when making changes and re-training staff
and volunteers. The same passion that keeps people in such a challenging line of work
may mean that they’re more vulnerable when change is implemented. Please remember
to be kind to your human counterparts. Treat your colleagues and volunteers with the
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same patience and understanding as you do the animals. Reward successive approximations of the behavior you would like to see more of in the future.
Be sure to identify your common goals, such as permanently re-homing as many animals
as possible.
Remember, people save animals—include them, don’t alienate them, regardless of who
they are and what role they play.
The key elements for staff support are:
• Acceptance or buy-in
• Education
• Consistency
• Patience
However, if a staff member or volunteer is genuinely obstructing the program and is not
showing evidence of progressive change after you’ve given them patient direction and
consideration, as well as time to adjust, you will need to be a manager: sometimes someone does need to be fired. Follow all of the above advice with your staff and volunteers,
consider and address their legitimate concerns, show patience and gentle firmness, but
don’t be afraid of ultimately letting someone go if they simply can’t follow the rules of the
shelter.
“I have been doing this for years; I already KNOW what works best for the animals.”
If you are happy with the quality of your adoptions and care of the animals, are meeting
your adoption numbers and length-of-stay goals, meeting your mission and have a very
low return rate, then perhaps you do know what works best and do not need to implement
a new program. However, if you are having trouble with any of the items above, it may
be useful to try Open Paw’s innovative recommendations to help your shelter meet and
exceed its goals.
“Why can’t we have multiple programs in place simultaneously?”
As with cats and dogs, humans learn best through consistency and repetition. It is too
confusing to mix and match methodologies and programs, and doing so only results in
compromising all of your efforts. Furthermore, conflicting programs can often undermine
and undo the progress you’ve accomplished with the animals under the Open Paw program. For example, you may have Open Paw volunteers spending several hours teaching
an especially rambunctious adolescent how to sit politely before anyone enters his kennel.
If your dog walking program isn’t compatible with the Open Paw levels, though, a dog
walker might easily come up to the kennel, wrestle a jumping dog back into the kennel
(remember, dogs don’t generalize well, so everyone has to make them sit before entering the kennel until they get the picture and begin to offer it right away), clip the leash
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on a wriggling, jumpy dog, and bestow the ultimate reward—a walk—for really unruly
behavior, thus undoing in 2 minutes what a volunteer or staff member just spent 30 minutes training. Not only does that undermine the training for the dog, but it’s extremely
frustrating to the Open Paw volunteer or staff member.
Logistics
“Where do we put the Level 3 area? Doggy toilet?”
You do not need a lot of room for a doggy toilet. Location is a secondary concern; it is more
important to give dogs several regular opportunities to use a doggy toilet and to use the
proper substrate than to fret about location or size. An unused kennel or two will make a
fine doggy toilet.
“While we’re initiating the program and everyone is at Level 1 or Level 2, the animals
are not getting enough walks/attention/training.”
When the program begins there may be a temporary shortage of qualified Level 4 dog
walkers. There are many ways to avoid this pitfall, such as: training all staff and key
volunteers through all of the levels prior to implementation, starting the program with a
small sample size of your population to ease transition, or to grandfather in a few walkers
for a few months until they can eventually be trained up to Level 4.
“What about long standing pre-Open Paw-trained volunteers? And staff for that matter.”
See Staff, Facility, and Board Issues
“Level 1 volunteers have less access to the animals than the public.”
Level 1 volunteers are serving a very different role than the public, and their lack of direct
contact with the animals will be very temporary if they show some commitment and stay
with the program. Level 1 work is the foundation of all other levels and makes the staff’s
job much easier. The importance and impact of Level 1 should not be overlooked. Also,
Level 1 volunteers serve as a wonderful model for the public and may spark interest in
training and behavior in the average shelter visitor.
“We don’t HAVE enough volunteers to make this work. Who will hand-feed and walk
the dogs on days when few volunteers show up?”
There are days that will be busy or short-staffed; in the shelter environment this is often
the case. However, Open Paw’s toilet training protocol and the UC Davis Shelter Medicine
cleaning protocols allow for much less cleaning and more time for interactive activities,
such as hand-feeding and training. On days when you are very low staffed, you may have
to prioritize and just do the toilet breaks (which should be very short—no more than 5
minutes per dog!) plus a bare 20 minutes of walk training or Level 3 training per dog. As
we mentioned, you may want to start with a small pilot program while you build your
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volunteer base, train your staff, and get the program up and running. Use the incredible improvement in those pilot animals to recruit volunteers and get their buy-in, and to
demonstrate to the staff how quickly the potty walks can go, and how much less time is
necessary for kennel cleaning under the Open Paw program.
“Isn’t all of this in and out of the kennel too stimulating or stressful for the dogs? They
are very reactive when other dogs walk by their kennels.”
If the program’s guidelines are followed appropriately, the dogs should desensitize, not
sensitize, to the new protocol. This will be most difficult for long-standing shelter residents
with existing habits, so be patient. Dogs that come into the shelter post-implementation
will fall right in line with the new status quo. See Level 3 in the Open Paw Four-Level
Manual for People and Dogs for a description of how to manage dogs through the kennel
for the potty walks and training breaks.
Sanitation Concerns
“If food sits outside/on the bottom of cages there will be an increase in bacteria.” “If
the dogs share a communal doggy toilet, they will give each other parasites.” “People
should wash hands between feeding every dog to prevent the spread of disease, and
that will make hand-feeding far too onerous and time-consuming.” “Hand-feeding will
spread disease.” Concerns about communal cat rooms, cat handling and contagious
disease.
In your healthy, adoptable dog and cat population, none of these should be an issue—it’s
no different from petting or giving treats to several dogs in the dog park. We particularly
brought these issues to the attention of the UC Davis Shelter Medicine Program to be sure
that our MMHR and training protocols would be safe and sanitary; they have assured us
that they foresee no problem with the protocols. It should also be noted that none of the
shelters implementing Open Paw’s shelter program since the inception of the program in
2000 has experienced a problem with parasites or bacteria developing from the protocols.
If you want to implement the protocols with your quarantined animals, you should follow the same precautions that you follow in all handling situations: clean hands between
feeding and establish a separate toilet area for quarantined animals.
Concerns about Stress
Stressing the animals by “having food close yet so far. It is teasing them.” “Dogs are
pack animals and like to eat when the rest of the pack is eating.” “The increased stress of
’teasing’ (through hand-feeding) will frustrate the animals and they will be so ’amped
up’ that there will be more occurrences of bites.”
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This has not been the experience of any of the shelters that have used Open Paw. The
animals are busy during the day—they’re focused on their stuffed chew toys while in the
kennel, they are appropriately tired from training exercises and, as a result, they don’t pay
attention to the buckets at all. Because the food is coming from people (not directly from
the buckets), the dogs don’t really associate the food with the buckets—they associate the
food with people.
Since the dogs do learn quickly to associate the delivery of their food with people visiting
the kennels, the exercise becomes a proactive safety plan. Contrary to the worry about
an increase in biting, dogs (and cats) learn to enjoy and look forward to the approach of
visitors to their kennel. The decrease in stress helps to decrease the incidents of biting.
A lot of the information out there on wolves is based on faulty, archaic research done
through poorly developed studies that have since been soundly disproved. Aside from
that, the fact is—dogs are not wolves. Far from being primarily ”pack” animals, dogs have
long been village scavengers living largely alone. Dogs, as opposed to wolves, have not
developed eating in packs, but picking small bits of food throughout the day that they find
and eat on their own.
Protocol/Implementation Concerns
“Will hand-feeding allow the animals to eat enough? Will they starve? Will all of this
anticipation cause them to gorge and bloat when given the chance?”
We’ve never run into this problem in shelters, and in fact, in our experience, dogs thrive
under this protocol because of all the interaction and enrichment. Food is a passive reinforcer, whereas training and chew toy interaction actually enhances the eating experience
for the dogs.
Dogs developed, and are meant, to scavenge regularly and gorge occasionally; Open Paw
is not recommending that you change the amount of food you feed your dogs (although
many shelters actually do overfeed their dogs, so you might want to reassess the daily
rations each of your dogs are getting for optimal health), just that you feed it in a different
way. The ”schedule” of feeding for dogs on the Open Paw program is actually closer to
the dog’s natural diet than the traditional way of feeding dogs once or twice a day out of a
bowl.
“It will be difficult to monitor the eating habits and rationing of the animal’s food.”
You’re giving the dogs the same rations, and putting those into the buckets hung on the
front of the kennels, so it’s no harder to keep track of than a protocol in which you put the
rations into a food bowl. On the contrary, because you’re interacting with the animals so
much each day, you get a very clear indication if the animals are having any issues with
their food.
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“All of this interaction with the animals requires more supervision (of volunteers and
the public).”
Yes, it will require regular supervision. On the other hand, should volunteers and the
general public be left unsupervised under any circumstances with carnivorous animals
with sharp teeth? Your shelter does have a legal liability, as well as an ethical responsibility,
for the public who visit your shelter, as well as the volunteers who come to help you.
Ultimately, this is an issue about the quality of your program. Although shelters often have
to invent clever solutions and cut back on expenses for some things because of economic
difficulties, there are some things that simply can’t be compromised, and the mental wellbeing of the animals in your care, as well as the safety of the public, are some of the most
important of those things.
“How do we know which volunteers are trained for certain activities?”
Open Paw has included volunteer training sheets and spreadsheets in the Volunteer Coordinator section of the Shelter Manual. So that the public and staff can keep track of
which volunteers are trained at which levels, you should create simple tags or pins that
volunteers can wear that indicate levels of training.
“What about specials diets?”
It’s quite simple to make a separate bowl of soaked kibble for the dogs on a special diet.
Furthermore, if the dogs are on special diets because they’re stressed or unwell, there’s
all the more reason to provide them with the entertainment and enrichment that will help
them to settle down and feel more comfortable in the kennel.
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Staff Training Outline
Depending on how you split up the training, a general staff training to get everyone up to
speed will take about 4 days, or 2 full days and 4 half days. We’ve included time estimates
based on our experience next to each section of training to help you plan your training
sessions.
Existing Shelter Policies and Procedures (8 hours)
Before orienting your staff to the Open Paw shelter methods, you should review the existing policies and protocols of your shelter to update wherever is necessary and make
appropriate changes (for example, staff schedules, particularly for those caring for dogs,
will probably need to change to incorporate Open Paw protocols).
We recommend that you start your staff’s Open Paw orientation with a review of your
facility’s policies and protocols, with an emphasis on the changes and updates.
The following would be important to cover as an introduction to your staff training:
Open Paw related policies
Your facility rules and mission, with an emphasis on how the Open Paw program can
help you to achieve your mission.
Dress code. With the increased outreach and public mission involved in the Open Paw
shelter program, it’s important that the public be able to distinguish between shelter staff
and themselves. Staff will be doing a great deal of handling and interaction with the animals in the Open Paw program, so a dress code, even if it’s a minor one, is important
for safety on several levels. Not only will appropriate shoes, shirts, and pants help your
staff avoid injuries but, if the staff is dressed like members of the general public, and the
public sees them interacting heavily with the animals, they may think that the public is
allowed to, for instance, enter kennels, physically interact with the animals without staff
supervision, etc..
Staff Schedules. You’ll almost certainly have to make some adjustments to staff schedules,
including the weekly, daily, overtime, break, and lunch schedules. We’ve included some
example staff schedules in this section to help you plan.
Chain of command/roles within the shelter. If your shelter does not already have a
strongly established chain of command and clear roles for each person in the shelter, now
is the time to establish one. With new schedules, expectations and rules, strong and clearly
established leadership will be indispensable during the change-over period.
Volunteer relations/utilizing volunteers. Talk to your staff about how Open Paw training makes volunteers into well-trained assets, almost unpaid workers at the shelter, upon
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whom staff can rely for help. Strongly emphasize that the staff should be polite and respectful of volunteers and that the volunteers, rather than nuisances who are in the way,
will be an asset to the program. Give a quick outline to the staff about the training volunteers will receive, so that they understand what volunteers can be relied on to help with,
and tell the staff how to recognize the volunteers and their level of training. (You’ll want
to have identifying tags or some other item so that staff and the public can recognize your
volunteers).
Communication. Communication among staff, managers, and volunteers will be key, especially as volunteers can be so helpful in completing many of the daily duties. Open Paw
has created several charts and log entries to help you keep track of when dogs have been
walked, when and at what level they’ve been trained, and what each trainer has noticed
during training, as well as to help you keep track of what level of training your staff and
volunteers have received. You don’t want to accidentally walk one dog several times during a walk period and ignore another because of crossed wires between staff and volunteers. For safety, you also want to be sure that each staff member and volunteer is working
with the animals at the appropriate level (particularly during the transition, when not everyone will be trained at every level right away). Without a strong and reliable system of
communication, the shelter’s daily activities can become very confused: there are many
goals that will be accomplished in the day, and a whole new category of workers (your
volunteers) helping to do them, so communications will be key. Review the walk charts,
training charts, training logs, and the animals’ kennel cards (example included) with the
staff, go over where each chart/template/log will be located, and explain how to fill them
in and why it’s important to update them daily.
Working with Local Trainers. Although Open Paw’s shelter training program is designed
to be executed by any shelter, municipal facility, or rescue organization that is committed to the program, there are some aspects of responsible adoption, euthanasia, and/or
rehabilitation that must be done under the advice of a professional animal trainer.
Open Paw’s Four Levels program and Minimum Mental Health Requirements are designed to deal with the normal and expected stress a dog or cat will feel when suddenly
transferred to a shelter environment; to help the animals learn to feel comfortable in the
shelter and happy to see strangers approach the kennels; and to address training issues
like over-exuberance, boisterous behavior, potty and chew toy training, loose-leash training, and other training issues that most dogs will develop in the absence of clear and
consistent direction. We’ve designed the programs so that everyone can safely and easily
learn to address these issues, and help the shelter’s animal residents learn the skills they
need to find and keep homes.
However, behavioral issues are significantly more complex and difficult to deal with. Shelters should work with local trainers who have been recommended or approved by Open
Paw for procedures like intake evaluations/evaluations of adoptable animals, behavioral
rehabilitation (if that is one of your facility’s goals and is within your facility’s capabilities),
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lems (post-adoption training problems can be addressed by trained volunteers using our
phone follow-up and adoption counseling materials—see Chapter 3, Adoption Counseling
Guidelines). If your facility does not already employ a professional trainer/trained behaviorist, consult Open Paw at info@openpaw.org for help finding an Open Paw approved
trainer in your area. Ideally, you can find someone to work hands-on with the animals
in the shelter for several hours per week. If that isn’t possible, you should at least find
a trainer to consult via phone for behavior evaluations, intake assessments, and behavior
problems that crop up.
Other Policies to Review
The following policies will probably not be affected by the Open Paw program, but it might
be helpful to review them at this time.
• Company vehicles
• Phone calls
• Staff visitors
• Absences from work/time off/punctuality
Daily Priorities and Protocols
Cleaning. Because of the Open Paw housetraining program, your daily cleaning protocols should become simple and less time-consuming, and your staff will be able to spend
less time mucking the kennels and more time doing interesting and meaningful training
and behavioral work with the animals. Review the cleaning procedures and protocols
(included in this section) with your staff and emphasize the changes. Because you’re
changing the whole system, the cleaning protocols may seem more difficult during the
transition; but once the staff becomes accustomed to the new procedures, cleaning will be
significantly faster and simpler.
Basic animal care. Review the feeding schedule and chart with your staff. It is sometimes
the case that animals in shelters are overfed, so you may want to review each animal’s
food allotment and discuss the new food allowance with the staff. Review Kong-stuffing
routines. Review with your staff basic ideas about handling and caring for the animals,
and what changes, if any, your shelter will be making in the ways in which you handle and
interact with the animals. Review the procedures below in your kennel and emphasize the
changes with the staff.
Remember that every moment is a training moment with animals, and that they’re always
learning how they feel about interaction with people. It’s important that you give the
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animals the feedback you want them to have regarding people, the kennels, and the care
they receive. Even when the staff is in a hurry and needs to get something done quickly,
procedures should be set up so that it’s an appropriate learning moment for the animal.
You should review and make appropriate changes to the following procedures in your
facility:
Moving animals from place to place. For example, if you squirt the animals with a hose to
get them to move from place to place, they experience the kennel as an unsafe place, and
can perceive you, the kennel, or even water, to be threatening and unpleasant. This is a
major safety issue. If the animals perceive you as threatening, they’re much more likely to
bite, or to injure themselves trying to avoid you. Instead, incorporate cleaning procedures
with the dogs’ daily walks, which is more efficient, safe, and pleasant for everyone.
Moving animals from their kennel to another location in the facility. Refer to the section
on managing animals through the facility in Level 3 of the Open Paw Four Levels book.
Staff should be sure to avoid allowing dogs to fence fight, and avoid having to drag the
animal amidst chaos, whenever they need to move the dogs from place to place.
Medical treatments. The dogs should be moved out of their runs for unpleasant medical
treatments, even simple ones. While it may seem to be quicker and easier to do simple
medical treatments inside the animals’ kennels, they may learn to perceive the kennel as
threatening if they associate their kennels with unpleasant medical procedures. Remember
that it’s important to maintain not just good medical health, but good mental health as
well, and that dogs who feel comfortable in their environment are likely to be calmer,
happier, and friendlier (therefore more adoptable) when the public visits. Getting chewy
heartworm pills is perfectly pleasant, so that needn’t be done elsewhere; something like
ear cleaning or eye drops might be scary and threatening, so move the dog out of her
kennel to do those procedures.
Adoptions
Customer Service. Remember that your facility’s main goal is to get those adoptable animals into permanent homes! So quality customer care of your potential adopters/shelter
visitors is key. The adoption counseling process is a wonderful opportunity to educate
the public about how to train and care for a new dog or cat, and to significantly reduce
the ”recidivism” rate for the resident animals. While certain shelter staff members and
volunteers will have the bulk of the adoption counseling duties for the shelter, every staff
member and volunteer will have a certain role to play in this vital process.
First impressions are very important. Remember that most people are anxious or overwhelmed when visiting an animal shelter. Friendly guidance can go a long way towards
making the public comfortable at your facility. The educational process should begin right
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at the front of the shelter, with a friendly greeting and some guidance from either a member of the front desk staff or a volunteer docent (see our Adoption Counseling section for
specific training for docents and front desk staff).
Public Education. Open Paw’s protocols are devised so that the process of rehabilitating
and re-homing the shelter animals can be used as an educational opportunity for prospective and existing pet owners in the community. Open Paw’s shelter program provides
practical experience and education to shelter staff and volunteers (prospective pet owners
themselves) and, by using the Open Paw program in the animals’ daily care, staff and volunteers model easy, animal-friendly training and management techniques to the visiting
community. Thus, the very process of providing daily care provides practical education
for prospective and existing pet owners.
Enhancing Adoptability. Open Paw’s protocols and procedures are designed specifically
to address the adoptability and mental well-being of shelter animals. By following the
Four Levels recommendations and being sure to enforce the Minimum Mental Health Requirements, you’re enhancing the adoptability of resident animals every day.
Adoption Counseling. Adoption counseling will be one of the most important efforts in
the shelter. You should identify staff members who have especially good people skills
and diplomacy to train as adoption counselors. For the general staff training session, go
over the ”Front desk staff/docent” section of the Adoption Counseling chapter, so that
everyone on the staff knows the general rules about how to greet visitors, what materials
to use and documentation to reference, and where the paperwork is located. Show the staff
where the pre-screening paperwork for potential adopters is located, and where to find the
dog and cat characteristics charts to consult. (See Chapter 3, Adoption Counseling.)
For staff and volunteers who will be training as adoption counselors, set up separate training sessions using the whole Adoption Counseling section in this manual.
Open Paw Overview (8 hours)
Open Paw Orientation. Follow the orientation script included in Chapter 5—Volunteer
Coordinator—of this manual. Go all the way through to the end of the script (including
the brief demonstrations of each level) and tell them that you’ll go more deeply into each
level during subsequent training sessions.
Behavior Problem Quiz. Give the quiz out a week in advance, and have the staff complete
the quiz for the day of the Open Paw Overview training. Use the quiz as a training tool as
you talk the staff through the right answers. (Answer key included in this section).
What is adoptable. Review our handout ”What is Adoptable” (included in this section).
Review of Shelter Mission and Euthanasia Policy. Quickly review your shelter’s mission
and discuss your euthanasia policy. It’s each shelter’s prerogative to set its own criteria for
adoptability, admissions, and euthanasia, but we strongly recommend that you do have a
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set policy in place and that you stick to the policy. This way, procedures are clear during
emotional times and decisions are made according to the policy, rather than according to
emotion.
Reading Canine Body Language and Basic Safety in Animal Handling. Review Open
Paw’s handout ”Reading Animal Body Language” (included in this section). For a clear,
concise, more detailed explanation of dog body language and safe handling, consult On
Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas.
Dog-Dog Play. Dog-dog play is an enticing activity for shelter staff; however, for adoptable animals that spend less than one month in the shelter, it is a very low priority, as other
training and activities are much more likely to make the dogs adoptable and give them
the skills to stay in their new homes. Since staff members often enjoy conducting dog-dog
play sessions, though, go over Open Paw’s dog-dog play recommendations (included in
this manual) and hand out copies to staff.
Open Paw Levels: Detailed Training
There should be a limit of 10 participants for each training session. The time period for
each session will vary depending on how many people are being trained.
Follow Open Paw’s Four Level Training Manual for People and Dogs for staff training in each
level. We do not recommend training all 4 levels in one day; you can easily combine Levels
1 and 2 into a single training day, but we recommend that you conduct Level 3 and Level
4 training in their own, half-day-long sessions, as each of these levels contains a great deal
of information to process and retain.
• Level 1: Dogs (1 hour)
• Level 2: Dogs (3 hours)
• Level 3: Dogs (4 hours)
• Level 4: Dogs (3 hours)
• Levels 1-5: Cats (4-1/2 hours)
Future Training Sessions
The following training is important, but can be conducted once the full staff has undergone
the basic training sessions:
Adoption Counseling. Friendly, helpful adoption counseling is a key to helping place
your animals in good homes. After your staff members have undergone the basic Open
Paw training, identify skillful individuals with good people skills and use the Adoption
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Counseling section of this manual to train them. This should be one of your first priorities
after the basic Open Paw training.
Behavior Problems in Dogs and Cats. If your shelter has decided that it is capable and
willing to try to rehabilitate dogs and cats with behavior (not just training) problems, those
animals should be referred to and handled by the professional, Open-Paw-recommended
trainer working with your facility. Behavior problems are much more difficult to work
with than training issues, and should be addressed by a trained professional.
Intake Assessment. Staff should be trained to do temperament evaluations in order to
determine which dogs and cats should be put up for adoption. Refer to our surrender
questionnaire so that you have as much information as possible from private surrenders,
and refer to the Emily Weiss’ SAFER Behavior Assessment for a quality intake assessment
test.
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Protocols and Procedures—Sample Daily Schedule For Kennel Attendants
7:30—8:30 am
8:30—10:00 am
10:00—10:30 am
10:30—11:00 am
11:00 am—3:00 pm
3:00—4:00 pm
Take all dogs to doggie toilet, choosing clean/crated
dogs first. If dog does not eliminate within 3 minutes, return to kennel and confine appropriately
(kennel or crate). Try again at the end of the rotation.
Record elimination activity on walk chart.
Designated cleaning according to chart in cleaning
binder. Initial each required cleaning when complete. Rotate morning breaks.
Put out fresh water, food buckets and stuffed Kongs.
Level 3 training: each attendant should bring a dog
to the Level 3 area and work them independently
on-leash for Level 3 activities. Attendants can bring
non-quarantine dogs to either Level 3, the intake
room or the training room for Level 3 and 4 activity. Quarantine dogs can be worked, but in a separate area from the healthy population, or in their
kennels. Record all levels training and observations
in the Open Paw binder.
Begin second potty walks. Each dog not on a walk
should be calm and in kennel with a stuffed Kong.
During public hours, first priority is to remain on the
floor; at least one attendant should be on the floor at
all times. Attendants on the floor should be assisting potential adopters, practicing Level 1 and 2 activities, Gentle Leader desensitization, and working
on jumpy, mouthy behavior. Quarantine dogs can be
worked, but in a separate area from the healthy population, or in their kennels. Record all levels training in the Open Paw binder. Rotate breaks, lunches
and relief reception coverage. Work on any behavior
modification plans currently in place.
Third potty walks, 5 minutes maximum for each
dog.
Additional Daily Activities (to occur every day, after scheduled tasks are completed)
Spot clean kennels (includes sweeping up uneaten kibble), sweep floors, wipe down doorknobs in cat rooms with Triple-Two on a rag, stuff Kongs, socialize cats, complete Open
Paw training for the dogs, ”Doggie Downtime” (accompany dog to intake room and reward calm, attentive behavior), etc..
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Extra Activities (when ALL tasks above are completed, listed in order of importance)
Human-dog 1-on-1 play time (e.g., fetch, tug), mini-field trips for dogs, teaching cats and
dogs tricks, grooming cats and dogs, bathing dogs, dog-dog play (if qualified).
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Sample Schedule for Evening
4:00 pm
4:00—6:30 pm
6:30—7:00 pm
7:00—7:30 pm
7:30—8:15 pm
8:15—8:30 pm
Check walk chart to be sure all 3d walks have been
completed; walk any dogs that have not been out.
During public hours, first priority for the customer
service attendant is to remain on the floor. If customer service attendant is out showing a dog or attending to other duties, at least 1 kennel attendant
should be on the floor at all times. Attendants on
the floor should be practicing Level 1 and 2 activities, Gentle Leader desensitization, and working on
jumpy, mouthy behavior. Attendants can bring nonquarantine dogs to either Level 3, the intake room or
the training room for Level 3 and 4 activity. Quarantine dogs can be worked, but in a separate area
from the healthy population, or in their kennels..
Record all levels training in the Open Paw binder.
Rotate breaks, lunches and relief reception coverage.
Work on any behavior modification plans currently
in place. Complete daily activities.
Collect food buckets and discard uneaten portions.
Check that all dogs have fresh water. Wash all dishes
in the sink.
Clean Level 3 area. Unlock all dog cages. Unlock all
cat cages and check that all felines have fresh water
and clean litter boxes and all kittens have full food
bowls.
Final potty walks, 5 minutes maximum for each dog.
Crate the dogs who need crating.
Final sweep, empty all open trash bins, put all food
items away in sealed containers, check that all doors
are locked and all lights are off.
Additional Daily Activities (to occur everyday, after scheduled tasks are completed)
Replace any soiled litter with fresh litter and assure all cats have water, spot clean kennels
(also includes sweeping up uneaten kibble), sweep floors, wipe down doorknobs in cat
rooms with Triple-Two on a rag, stuff Kongs, complete Open Paw training for the dogs,
”Doggie Downtime” (accompany dog to intake room and reward calm, attentive behavior), etc..
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Extra Activities (when all the above tasks are completed; listed in order of importance)
Human-dog 1-on-1 play time (e.g., fetch, tug), teaching cats and dogs tricks, grooming cats
and dogs, bathing dogs, dog-dog play (if qualified), etc..
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Reading Animal Body Language
Remember that behavior is always changing, so we want to look out for changes in all our
shelter guests.
Dogs
Whenever you’re interacting with—or deciding whether to interact with—a dog, pay attention to its body language. What does the dog do as you approach? Does she approach
you happily, wiggle, sit, lift a paw, or press her side against the kennel bars (or against you,
if you’re meeting outside of the kennel)? If he’s barking and/or jumping, is he bending
his front elbows, hanging his tongue out, or interrupting the jumping or interspersing the
barking with play bows or quick, small turns from side to side? If so, he probably feels
comfortable with your presence.
On the other hand, is the dog cowering in the back of the kennel or backing away from
you as you approach? Is she holding herself, particularly her front legs, very stiff, rolling
her eyes to look at you, pulling her tongue back from her teeth (or doing any of these
while barking), or running forward to bark and then retreating? If so, this dog feels very
uncomfortable about being in the shelter and/or having you approach.
Occasionally, a dog will be more difficult to read when you assess body language, because
he simply holds very still, rather than engaging in any of the behaviors listed above. If
you’re uncertain about how the dog feels, try stepping back a few paces and holding out
a food treat to the dog. Will she approach to take the food from your hand? If not, you’re
probably dealing with a very uncomfortable dog. If he does approach, does he walk over
with an easy and confident gait with bent elbows? After she takes the treat, does she seem
more comfortable (cocking her head to ask for another food treat, remaining in proximity,
sitting or lifting a paw)? If so, then after a bit more classical conditioning that dog will
probably feel comfortable with your approach and interaction. Or does he approach cautiously for the treat, watching you carefully? Does he then retreat immediately, putting
distance between you again? Does he continue to hold quite still, without relaxing limbs
at all, after he takes the treat? If so, you’re dealing with an uncomfortable dog.
It’s quite normal and natural for a dog to feel stress when she first enters a kennel environment (or a new kennel, if the dog is a transfer). If you needn’t interact with the dog
immediately, hold off and continue to use your most low-key form of classical conditioning. Walk past the kennel at an ordinary walking pace and, at first, don’t even turn to face
the dog as you pass by—just casually toss a piece of kibble and move on. (Use higher-value
treats, such as liver, sparingly, and only with dogs who are having trouble adjusting). Go
work with another dog for a few minutes, and then pass by the stressed dog again, still
very casually and without pressuring the dog at all. Only when she begins to show comfort with your approach should you begin to spend any time facing her in front of her
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kennel, even to toss treats. And only when she is displaying the comfortable behaviors
listed above (which may be several days later) should you begin to use reward training.
If you must interact with the dog immediately, continue to use classical conditioning with
high-value treats to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the dog, and use
your facility’s methods for dealing with frightened animals.
For a more in-depth discussion of dog body language, we recommend On Talking Terms
with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas.
Cats
Cats can be subtle in their displays of stress and anxiety, but it is important that you take
note of these indications that a cat is not comfortable with her circumstances or with you.
Stress signals indicate that you are moving too fast. Make certain that you move at a pace
determined by the cat, not by you.
Signs of stress are indicated by dilated pupils, not accepting the reward, not paying attention to you or turning his back on you, tensing or hunching up, breathing rapidly, licking
or scratching at a body part, yawning, vocalizing, hissing, swatting, flattening ears, pulling
whiskers back, and retreating.
Signs of desirable behavior are when a cat looks at you with normal-sized pupils or eyes
half-closed, sniffs at the food offered, eats in your presence, purrs, sits or lies in a relaxed
manner, holds ears forward, stretches her head towards you or the object/food in a curious
manner, stretches her entire body in a relaxed manner, accepts the food, approaches you,
rubs her body/head on you, or solicits attention.
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What is Adoptable?
The question of what is adoptable is a somewhat subjective one, as the answer to this
question will vary depending on the mission, resources, and community of your shelter or
rescue. The important thing is to have clear, definable, pre-determined criteria in place and
to make the process of determining adoptability as objective and quantifiable as possible.
Doing so keeps the responsibility off of one single person and alleviates second-guessing
and laying blame. Open Paw offers basic guidelines to quantify the process, as well as
questions to ask, that will aid you in creating a definition of “adoptable” for your specific
circumstances.
It is important to develop a measurable list of criteria, weighted by score, as a starting
point for any behavior evaluation. When you develop these criteria (or evaluate an assessment/test that has already been developed), try to avoid using subjective terms of opinion
when describing the animals. For example, instead of using the word “hyper” to describe
a dog, try to specifically identify what the dog is doing and then quantify it. Remember
that “hyper” will mean different things to different people; it is an opinion term. In this
case, instead of labeling the dog with an opinion, quantify how much activity you observe
in a measurable amount of time. “The dog paced for 10 minutes without stopping at the
beginning of the test.” Or, “the dog jumped up on me 17 times in one minute.” This not
only allows everyone to be on exactly the same page, which keeps communication clear, it
also serves as a starting point for measuring improvement or deterioration in behavior.
Emily Weiss’s SAFER assessment and the San Francisco SPCA behavior evaluation are
good behavior assessment tools to help you with this.
After an initial behavior evaluation has been completed, it is very useful to conduct an
“objective quantification of subjective opinion”—in other words, a simple yes-or-no vote
in favor of or against going into the kennel with a particular dog or picking up/holding a
particular cat. In this circumstance, opinion is useful because it is the collective, educated
opinion of many animal professionals and lay people. The voting team should be an odd
number of people (3, 5, or 7 will do) of different sexes and backgrounds (perhaps even
a child or teen if possible). No one will touch the dog or cat, but will simply spend 2
minutes observing the animal in the kennel to determine whether or not they would be
comfortable entering the kennel with, or picking up, the animal in question. Generally the
vote is unanimous; however if it is not, it can be very telling. Who was uncomfortable with
the animal? A man with a beard? A young child? Why were they uncomfortable? You
should note all of the reactions in detail.
The vote alone will not determine adoptability, but will offer further insight and input into
the final decision.
Because behavior is always in motion and mammals are such complex creatures with a
wide range of personality traits and reactions, the best way to get a complete picture of
each of your resident animals is to both objectively and subjectively assess each one on
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a daily (or hourly) basis from the moment they enter your facility. The Open Paw Four
Level Training Program and MMHR handling recommendations will provide opportunities
for an ongoing behavior evaluation that gives you real-time insight into the behavior and
temperament of your resident cats and dogs. Be sure to record every interaction with
each animal through the use of Open Paw’s various charts, such as the Walk Chart, Levels
Chart, Training Observation Form, and Elimination (Potty) Chart. Each interaction provides important information about the animal. Daily interaction will not only help staff
get a more accurate picture of each animal as a complex living creature, but will allow you
to chart progress or deterioration of the animals in your care.
Here are some questions to consider when determining your criteria for adoptability:
Who is your community made up of? In other words, who will adopt your animals—
mostly suburban families with young children? Urban, childless, adults? Farmers?
What is the general cultural attitude towards cats and dogs in your community? Do your
shelter animals fit that model?
How would you like your organization to be perceived by your community? The animals
you adopt out are your biggest advertisement for future adoptions. It is essential that
when a member of the public comes into contact with an animal that came from your
organization, they have a pleasant experience.
Determine for each individual cat or dog: who would adopt this animal?
Would you send him/her home with one of your own family members (assuming you
wouldn’t be around to provide intensive help)?
What issues need to be worked on to facilitate a successful adoption? Are they training
issues or behavioral issues? Will your shelter take an aggressive animal? What is your
shelter’s definition of aggression? Where will your facility draw the line? Will you take
fearful animals? How fearful an animal will you take? What specific, quantifiable behaviors will indicate that an animal is aggressive or fearful?
How much training or behavior modification will each animal need to live successfully in
an average home?
Does your shelter have the resources to provide the necessary training and behavior modification?
What is the average length of stay at your shelter? What is the ideal length of stay?
What is your return rate? Why are animals returned to you? Can you identify a pattern
of problems with animals you adopted out? Be brutally honest with yourself—might this
problem be the result of a bit of magical thinking on the part of you or your staff? Do you
have the resources it would take to rehabilitate animals ? Remember that every time you
adopt out an animal with much greater problems than a new owner could reasonably be
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expected to manage, you don’t just damage that new owner and the family—you do great
damage to the reputation of your shelter and of shelter animals everywhere.
What is your shelter’s volume and capacity? Can you afford to use up kennel space for
long-term care or training?
Do you have a follow-up program both for the support of adopters and for keeping statistics? (This is very important, not just for maintaining a realistic vision of what your facility
can handle, but also for obtaining grants and for other fundraising efforts).
The three most important things a shelter must decide, and all its workers and volunteers
adopt, in order to be efficient and successful are:
1. Goals
2. Resources
3. Criteria for adoption
And the more efficient and successful you are as a shelter, the more animals and people
you can assist in the future.
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Intake Criteria Recommendations
Introduction
Assessing behavior is an ongoing process. Temperament and social status are contextual
and mutable. It is impossible to evaluate any being’s personality and temperament based
on a single interaction, especially in only one context. Any one test is just a snapshot in
time; behavior is variable and fluid. All living beings are reactive in certain circumstances;
although there are reactions that are too severe to be ignored, a single behavior assessment
test is only a small piece of a very large pie. It is one way to collect data but, on its own,
does not provide a fair and complete behavior evaluation.
The only comprehensive assessment of temperament is an ongoing real time collection
of data based on regular observation of the dog in many situations, reacting to as many
stimuli as possible.
Assessing an adult dog (especially if it is of unknown origin) and deeming it adoptable is
a tremendous responsibility. Placing a dog in a new home is an even bigger responsibility.
It is important to get the most information possible about each dog to decide if placement
is a responsible option, as well as to determine the most suitable home. Keep in mind that
domestic cats and dogs are not at zero population growth and, in the public’s eyes, shelter
animals are still largely considered inferior companions. Dogs and cats who come out of
shelters must be wonderful ambassadors for shelter animals. It is essential to place only
friendly, safe, and social cats and dogs into the community.
Intake
The first thing to consider is how you acquired the dog.
Owner surrender: This is the best circumstance, because you can get the most information
about the dog. Use the Open Paw surrender questionnaire and observe the dog with the
owner.
Office stray (a dog brought in by a member of the general public): The second best option
because it allows you to interview a novice handler about how s/he captured the dog,
where s/he found it and what the dog was doing. If the person who found the dog held
on to him for more than 7 days, proceed with the surrender questionnaire. If not, use Open
Paw’s Animal Control(OPACO) form.
Field stray/Animal Control picked up animal: Use the OPACO form, a short questionnaire
for the animal control officer about his/her experience with the dog. (Did they have to
snare the dog? Did the dog come with a lure or jump into the car? Did a neighbor call and
do you have information from neighbor?)
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Abandonment on site: The dog was left in drop box or tied up outside shelter. Assess
whether you’re able to handle the dog for a behavioral evaluation and, if so, follow your
facility’s procedure for handling strays.
(Support materials are: The Open Paw Owner Surrender Questionnaire, OPACO form,
your facility’s behavior assessment form.)
If possible, the dog should stay in the shelter for 3 days before formal assessment. The animal should be given a chance to feel more comfortable in the shelter before it is assessed,
not only because its whole future is riding on the test, but because it’s fairly common for
animals to suppress some behaviors if they’re frightened—so potentially dangerous reactions might be hidden in a premature assessment test. During the 3-day wait, apply as
many of the 4 levels and MMHRs as possible; this will provide an ongoing real-time assessment that should be considered in addition to the formal assessment when evaluating
the dog’s adoptability. At the very least, practice hand-feeding and leash-walking when
possible—both will give an incredible amount of information about the dog. Whether the
dog will stay at the shelter or not, it should be treated humanely while in residence.
Tips for Developing Your Criteria for Adoptability/Intake Criteria
It is important to remember that the assessment process is not designed to deem dogs
unadoptable in order to influence adoption statistics, nor is it designed to push dogs into
reacting—any dog will react with enough provocation—but should focus on identifying
highly adoptable animals—animals that will be the safest and best to place. By evaluating
each dog’s disposition, the shelter can make sound decisions regarding placement, quality
of life, and euthanasia.
For any assessment protocol to work, it is crucial for the facility to have a pre-determined
plan for marginal animals. Determine your own objective, quantifiable criteria for animals
suitable for adoption, for euthanasia, and somewhere between the two.
When determining criteria for adoption: identify your target market. Who are your adopters?
This will be different for every shelter. Is your community family-oriented? Rural? Urban?
Identify your facility’s resources and limitations. Do you have the staff, volunteers, time,
and resources to implement, for example, a food-guarding rehabilitation protocol? How
many volunteers do you have? How much training do volunteers receive? Do you have
a behavior counselor on staff? What is your shelter’s mission? Are you a rehab facility or
do you just need to place as many animals as possible? Are you a high volume shelter?
What kind of post-adoption support can you provide for adopters? Will you take marginal
resource-guarders and work with them? Does your facility have a plan? What does the
assessment mean for your facility? This should all be determined before you put an assessment protocol in place. There should not be a gray area when determining adoptability:
dogs should fall into 3 categories: animals that pass with flying colors, animals that you
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definitely have the resources to rehab, and animals that are euthanized. Avoid sheltering animals that aren’t up to adoptability standards but aren’t up to euthanasia standards,
either.
Practice quantifying subjective opinion—enlist an odd number (3 or 5 is sufficient) of people from the shelter with different levels of experience—everyone from high-level volunteers to behaviorists— and have them vote on 3 things: Would you go in the kennel with
this dog? Would you hug this dog? Would you recommend this dog for adoption? The
voting scale should be 1 to 4, to avoid ambiguous answers. Add the average to your assessment data.
Observe the dog’s kennel presentation: Does the dog kennel well? Certain dogs may not
be able to be humanely kenneled—this should be taken strongly into consideration. If
the dog exhibits incessant barking, licking, chewing, spinning, jumping or other obsessive
behaviors, you might want to consider a foster home or humane euthanasia.
There should be a process by which staff and volunteers report experiences with animals
as they go through 4-levels training—handling, responsiveness, playfulness, reactivity, etc.
How do the animals react to people outside the kennel? Expose the dog to many different
types of people: children of different ages, if possible; men; women; if possible, people in
wheelchairs, infants in baby strollers, teens on skateboards. This can be done before the
official assessment. Introduce new objects or people one at a time.
Tips for choosing and scoring a formal behavior assessment
Regardless of the test you’re using, identify specific responses you are testing for and have
objective criteria in mind.
1. Clearly identify what you’re looking for with each part of the test, and make sure the
test is set up to genuinely reveal what you’re looking for: Reactivity? Bounce back?
Friendliness or sociability? Reactions to specific situations or objects? For example, if
you’re looking for general friendliness or sociability, make sure you’re exposing the
dog to as many types of people as possible (men, children, tall people, short people,
people on crutches—as many different variables as possible). If you’re testing for
resource-guarding, make sure you test several different kinds of resources. If you
test using only a food bowl and a pig ear, you will not uncover the Golden Retriever
that only guards tissue, but does so viciously.
2. Quantify the results. Of the reactions the dog can have to each test, which reactions
will mean that the dog ”passes” that section? How much weight should each test be
given for the final grade, bearing in mind your facility’s mission?
3. Make the test as realistic (lifelike) as possible, considering the circumstance you’re
testing for. For example, if someone is going to try to take away a dog’s pig ear in
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real life, they’ll either take the pig ear away, or the dog will react and they won’t
take it (no one in real life is going to attempt to take a pig ear away from a dog 10
times in a row, especially if the dog is responding poorly). Try to get a series of
the most realistic possible snapshots of the dog’s reactions, and the intensity of the
reactions. Reaction in and of itself should not earn a negative mark. Reaction is
natural—determine whether or not the response is acceptable, manageable, or dangerous in a home environment. A lengthy, rigid assessment is aversive and stressful
for the animal and, again, doesn’t give a realistic picture of the animal’s behavior. If
you keep repeating an assessment, you’re escalating the dog’s annoyance level. You
won’t really see the dog’s temperament. On assessment day, as you’re testing several
dogs, rather than testing one dog sequentially on each segment, do each segment of
the test with each dog and put the dog away in between each segment. Don’t test for
more than 15 minutes on any one dog for any segment. There’s no reason for you to
repeat a segment more than twice to see the dog’s response. One’s first response is
one’s true response. A second response is helpful if you were unclear or missed the
reaction. Anything beyond a 3rd response is unnatural and puts too much pressure
on the dog. In a naturally occurring situation, very few of these scenarios would
be repeated more than twice, unless you think there is some underlying, potentially
dangerous behavior that you are trying to flush out with the test.
4. Make sure to include the records of ”daily-life” assessments from 4 Levels interactions in your evaluation of the overall temperament assessment.
5. Behavior is always changing, and animals should be retested every 2 weeks during
their stay at the shelter. This also allows you to catch deterioration or anything new
that’s cropped up before it’s too late, as well as to note improvement.
6. Whenever possible, avoid emotional language—use objective, descriptive terms. For
example, don’t call the dog ”dominant,” when you can objectively say, ”dog attempted to mount me five times.” Don’t call the dog ”aggressive.” Say ”the dog
snapped at my hand and missed”. Not only does this avoid emotional assessments,
but it also allows you to include more helpful information in the evaluation. One
person’s ”friendly” might be another person’s ”pushy” and, if such language is used,
there’s no basis on which to make an objective assessment of the behavior. The place
for subjective observations is in the voting portion of the test.
All of the tips above will assist in the decision-making process when determining adoptability, and will help keep the process as objective as possible. It is essential to have solid
protocols and criteria in place to avoid staff and volunteer burnout, finger-pointing and
hostility.
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Sample Surrender Questionnaire Telephone Script
Thank you for inquiring about placing your dog at the (name of your shelter).
Despite our efforts to provide a peaceful, loving environment for dogs and cats, the shelter
is still terribly stressful. We recommend that you surrender your pet to a shelter only as
your last option. Notify friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers that you need
to re-home your pet. This type of networking can have very positive results.
NOTE: If you wish to surrender a stray dog, please recognize that there may be a frantic
owner looking for her/him. Posting signs with a photo near where you found the dog is
often helpful, and it is best to bring the animal to your city’s animal control agency so s/he
will be logged into the lost and found system and, hopefully, reunited with her/his owner.
At our shelter, dog guests learn or retain social skills and basic manners instead of losing
those skills in the shelter environment. We want pets to leave the shelter equipped to live
successfully in a new home. To this end, dogs living in the (name of your shelter) shelter
are hand-fed their meals and receive daily socialization, veterinary care, basic obedience
training, 3 walks per day for exercise and housetraining, and a tremendous amount of love
and affection during their stay. We provide toys, crates, blankets and beds to keep them
comfortable and happy while we look for the right home for them.
(THE FOLLOWING MAY NOT BE APPLICABLE TO YOUR SHELTER: No dog is ever
euthanized unless s/he develops serious health or behavior problems that make her/him
unadoptable. The (name of shelter) accepts adoptable animals only. This allows us to fulfill
our mission of placing pet animals in quality, loving homes. All animals must undergo
and pass a rigorous intake evaluation that includes a behavior assessment and medical
examination.)
We would be delighted to provide you unlimited free behavior consultations by phone if
you are motivated to keep your dog in your home. We can also provide names of professional trainers to work with you and your dog in your home. Phone (xxx) xxx-xxxx, ext. x
during business hours (Day-Day, time-time) and ask to speak to a behavior consultant.
If you feel you must surrender your dog, we are here to help. However, please understand
that our help may come in the form of providing you with other resources. Domestic dogs
become stressed and miserable after what seems like an eternity in a kennel run. (Your
shelter) considers it inhumane to accept animals that will fare poorly here or that will have
to stay here for many months. Please note that older dogs and breeds that are common in
municipal shelters can be harder for us to place. We always make our decision about taking
your dog based on what is best for your animal, and will always provide alternatives if we
must say ”no”.
We do not charge for a surrender assessment or intake, though the process is costly. Donations in any amount are appreciated. If we do accept your dog, we will contact you when
s/he is placed, so you can put your mind at ease!
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The more you can tell us about your dog, the easier it will be to find her/him a new home.
Thank you for helping us begin the process by providing all of the information requested
on the following pages. You can complete the form on your computer by deleting the
lines allocated for your response as you type. Otherwise, please use ink, write legibly, and
provide as much detail as possible.
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Sample Surrender Profile—Dog
Your Name:
Daytime phone:
Today’s Date:
Dog’s Name:
Approximate age or exact birthdate if known:
Is your dog spayed/neutered?
Breed:
Date of surgery:
Approximate weight:
How long have you had this dog?
Is s/he your first dog?
Where did you get him/her?
What was the main reason you got this dog?
Please tell us why you need to give up your dog:
Is your dog licensed?
If yes, please provide license number and issuing city:
Has a complaint ever been filed with animal services regarding this dog?
yes, please provide details:
If
Please tell us about any medical issues your pet might have now or in the past:
Is your dog current on vaccinations?
Please provide the name and phone number of your veterinarian:
When was his/her last trip to the vet?
How many people has your dog nipped, mouthed, bruised, or scratched with his/her
teeth?
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Can you tell us what led up to this happening?
Has this dog ever broken a person’s skin with her/his teeth? yes no
If yes, please describe the situation.
Has this dog attended an obedience course? yes no
If yes, please tell us how old the dog was then and provide the name of the instructor or
training center.
How often does your dog get walked on a leash?
on walks? yes no
Does he/she meet dogs
If yes, please briefly describe his/her reaction to other dogs while on a walk:
Do you let your dog sniff/touch/play with other dogs? yes no
If yes, please describe her/his style of playing:
What form of exercise does your dog get, and how often?
How long do you leave your dog alone each day?
Where does your dog stay when you leave him/her alone at home?
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Do you use, or have you ever used, a dog crate for this dog? yes no
Do you have a yard? yes no If yes, how often does the dog stay alone in the yard?
Is the dog loose or tied when in the yard?
For how long at a time?
Is the dog loose or tied when in the yard?
How many times has your dog escaped from the yard?
What does your dog chew when left alone?
Where does the dog sleep at night?
Please list all people, and the ages of those people, who live in the household with your
dog:
Please list other pets that live in the household with your dog:
If your dog has experience with children, what were their ages?
Describe your dog’s behavior when s/he interacts with children:
Does your dog have experience with cats? yes no If yes, how does s/he respond to
cats?
Has your dog ever injured another animal? yes no If yes, please describe what occurred:
How many fights has your dog had with other dogs?
another dog in a fight? yes no
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What are your dog’s favorite games/toys?
Does your dog have another dog as a special playmate? yes no If yes, what is the other
dog’s breed, age, and gender?
What do the dogs do when they play together?
When you/your family/housemates are eating a meal at home, where is the dog?
Does your dog enjoy dog food? yes no
When someone tries to take something away from your dog (for example, a food bowl, a
bone, a toy), what is the dog’s response?
If your dog picks something up that you don’t want him/her to have (for example, a
chicken bone, a piece of garbage, a shoe), how does the dog react when you try to take it
from her/his mouth?
Which people cause your dog to bark, to be nervous, fearful, assertive, or unsure?
How does your dog react when people come to your house to visit?
What areas of your dog’s body does s/he NOT like you to touch?
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How do you know s/he doesn’t like it?
Tell us your favorite thing about your dog:
How do you correct your dog when s/he does something wrong?
Where does your dog urinate and defecate?
How many house-soiling mistakes does your dog have each week?
If you could change one thing about your dog’s behavior, what would it be?
What do you think the ideal home for your dog would look like?
How much longer can you keep your dog in your home?
If you were placing an ad to re-home your dog, what would it say about him/her?
PLEASE SIGN
I certify that all statements above are true and correct.
Signature:
Date:
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Thank you for completing the surrender profile. The (Name of Shelter) will use it to
assess you dog’s adoptability. Submission of this profile in no way guarantees that
(Name of Shelter) will accept your dog.
A behavior consultant from (Name of Shelter) will review your responses and will contact you at the phone number you provided. The consultant may ask you to bring your
dog to the (Name of Shelter) for a behavior assessment or may discuss other options to
assist you in placing your dog.
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Open Paw’s Animal Control Officer Questionnaire (OPACO Form)
Please give a detailed description of where you found the animal:
Did the animal have a leash, collar, chain dragging, rope, or other tethering equipment
when you found him/her? Please describe in detail:
Did the animal have identification on him/her? yes no
What was the animal’s physical condition when you found him/her? Did the animal have
any physical problems (e.g., emaciation, dehydration, visible wounds, worn down pads)
when you found him/her?
How did you catch the animal? Did you have to pursue, or did the animal approach you?
Did you need to get a snare pole, could you catch the animal with a lure, or did it come to
you willingly? Please describe in detail:
Would the dog take food or water from you? Could you handle the dog physically? Did
you need the help of a partner to catch the animal? Did the dog respond to any verbal or
hand signals?
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Chapter 3
Adoption Counseling Guidelines
The adoption counseling process is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about
how to train and care for a new dog or cat, and to significantly reduce the ”recidivism” rate
for the resident animals. While certain shelter staff members and volunteers will have the
bulk of the adoption counseling duties for the shelter, every staff member and volunteer
will play a role in this vital process.
Front Desk Staff/Docents
First impressions are very important. Remember that most people are anxious or overwhelmed when visiting an animal shelter. Friendly guidance can go a long way towards
making the public comfortable at your facility. The educational process should begin right
at the front of the shelter, with a friendly greeting and some guidance from either a member of the front desk staff or a volunteer docent. All front-end staff and docents should
have copies of a current list of shelter residents and their relevant adoption characteristics,
and be trained to hand out a pre-screen questionnaire, Open Paw’s “How to Select a Dog
or Cat,” and a guide to the shelter.
On busy days, docents should try to split up so that some are in the kennel areas and some
are near the front desk. On slower days, docents can practice Open Paw levels 1 and 2
(with dogs) and appropriate Open Paw levels (with cats) until visitors enter.
Greet each visitor right away.
“Hi, how are you today? Are you beginning to think about getting a dog or cat?”
• If the visitor says “No, I’m just here to look around”: “Great! Our shelter has adopted
an exciting new program designed to help the animals to get, and stay, adopted,
and to help keep today’s pets from becoming tomorrow’s shelter animals. Here’s a
handout to tell you a little about our shelter.” Give them the guide to the shelter.
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• If the visitor says “I’m thinking about it, but I’m not ready to adopt today”: “Great!
Feel free to visit our dogs and cats from outside their kennels (give them a quick
overview of where to find the kennels). We have a really helpful handout designed
to help you select the best possible match for your family and lifestyle—this will help
you think about what qualities to look for as you begin your search.” Give the visitor
a copy of ”How to Select a Dog or Cat” and direct them to the Open Paw website for
their free copy of BEFORE You Get Your Puppy and for other free information on
dogs and cats.
• If the visitor says “Yes, I’m looking for a dog/cat/puppy/kitten”: “Wonderful! We
have a short questionnaire designed to help you select the best possible match for
your family and lifestyle. If you’ll take a minute to fill this out, and bring it back to
me when you’re finished, we can show you some of the adorable dogs/cats we have
here that would be the best match for you.” (If the visitor is already in the kennel area
when you greet him or her, you can ask the questions and fill out the questionnaire
yourself). Hand them “How to Select a Dog or Cat” and the questionnaire. Some
people will reply that they “just want to look around.” It’s preferable that they fill
out the pre-screener and that you guide them to appropriate dogs, to cut down on
the “he’s all wrong for me but I have to have him” syndrome and, if you’re very
matter-of-fact about the procedure, most people will go along with it. It’s not worth
arguing with people over the pre-screener though, and inappropriate matches can be
weeded out later, so if a visitor prefers to look for herself, tell her “Okay. Dogs/cats
have a wide range of personalities, behaviors, and activity needs. Each dog/cat has
a card on the front of his or her kennel telling you what kind of home would be
a great match for that animal. If you’d like to meet any of the animals, just ask
me or any of the docents or front desk staff.” After the pre-screener is filled out,
consult your list of shelter animals and their characteristics and make a list of the
appropriate animals for the visitor. Check the red flag sheets to be sure that there are
no previously noted worries about this adopter. Front desk staff, find a docent for the
visitor and give the docent the pre-screener and list of dogs or cats. Docents, guide
the visitor to each appropriate animal and give a brief introduction. As you approach
each kennel, tell the visitor about the purpose of the buckets and explain that the
Open Paw shelter program is designed to maintain or train sociability to people and
other dogs/cats, potty training, chew toy training, and good manners. Hand the
visitor some kibble to feed, and take some kibble yourself to help the dog or cat show
off her polite sitting/friendly greeting and any cute tricks. Talk up all of the animal’s
good points and its suitability for the visitor’s lifestyle and family, but don’t gloss
over any training issues the animal has—it’s not fair to either the visitor or the animal
to be dishonest. Any animals in the adoptable sections of the shelter should have
fairly fixable issues, so you can give a quick explanation of how to manage and train
out any problems the animal has (the adoption counselor will go into more detail
if the person is interested in adopting). If and when the visitor is ready to meet a
particular dog(s)/cat(s), introduce her to an adoption counselor. Hand the adoption
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counselor the pre-screen questionnaire and advise which animal(s) the visitor would
like to meet.
Adoption Counselors
Your role is to engage visitors in open-ended conversation and to observe the visitors interacting with the animals in order to help make the best match between resident animals
and potential adopters. Encourage potential adopters to talk and to think through their
lifestyle, expectations, and needs. All family members should meet the dog or cat before
adoption, and existing family dogs should meet the dog before adoption. If a single family
member is interested in an animal, that person can either meet the animal first and come
back again with the whole family for a group meeting, or wait until the whole family can
visit before meeting the animal. It is essential that all household members agree on the
selection in order to assure a permanent placement.
Explain to the potential adopter(s) that you will first go to the meet-and-greet area to meet
the animal and that, if the match looks good, at that point the potential adopter will be
asked to fill out an adoption application form and to show proof of home ownership or
permission from a landlord to have that type of pet. Some shelters institute a 24-hour
waiting period, allowing the adopter to ready the home. If your shelter has such a policy,
explain the wait period to the potential adopter. After the meet-and-greet, those interested
in a dog will take the dog for a test walk and, if all goes well, will continue with the
adoption procedure.
Bring the potential adopter(s) and the dog or cat to the meet-and-greet area and allow them
to interact while you observe them together.
Look for the following:
• Does the animal seem comfortable with all of the family members? Does it approach
them readily and happily accept physical contact? How do the family members react
if the animal shies away from their contact? How do they react if the animal jumps
up or paws them, or plays roughly? If their first reaction is to pressure or punish
the animal, how do they react when you politely and respectfully explain positive
reinforcement and classical conditioning training as a training solution? How does
the animal react to their admonishment?
• Do all of the family members seem comfortable with the animal? Particularly watch
the children—do they greet the animal enthusiastically but gently? Do they shy away
at all when the animal approaches? Do they treat the animal roughly? How are the
parents with the children? If the child is being too rough with the animal, do the
parents gently correct him or her immediately and explain how to treat an animal,
or do they ignore the behavior? If the child is timid around the animal, are they
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sensitive to the child’s discomfort, or do they dismiss the shyness or try to pressure
the child to interact with the animal? How do the parents react if you politely and
respectfully point out that the child seems shy, or explain to the child how to handle
animals?
• How do the family’s other pets and the potential adoptee respond to one another?
Do they play happily and immediately (or ignore one another happily and comfortably, with cross-species, cat-cat, or low-energy dog- low-energy-dog introductions)?
How do the potential adopters react to the introduction? Do they seem comfortable
and calm? Do they try to pressure animals to interact or punish rowdy-but-friendly
interactions? How do they react if you politely and respectfully explain animal play,
if they have misinterpreted an interaction?
When you’re talking to the potential adopters, remember to give them some time to gather
their thoughts after you ask a question. One strong temptation we often have when we
“know the answer we’re looking for” is to jump in when the other person hesitates, and
try to prompt answers from them. Keep in mind that the potential adopter doesn’t know
the script, and may not have thought through all of these issues yet. Our role is to help
them think through the answers, not to interrogate them or “quiz” them, so give them a
chance to absorb the questions you ask and to form their own opinions. Also, a person’s
first instinct might be to give simple yes or no answers to your questions. Often, simply
sitting silently and looking interested will prompt them to elaborate on their answers.
Don’t be afraid to let the room be silent for up to 10 seconds while you look politely at
the potential adopter and wait for them to elaborate. If they don’t elaborate after you’ve
silently counted to 10, try to draw them out at more length. Train yourself to listen, as well
as educate.
Questions to ask potential adopters
• Do you know about errorless housetraining? If they say “Yes,” ask them where they
plan to locate their long-term confinement area, how they’ll set up short-term confinement, and which hollow chew toys they have for the animal. If they have an
intelligible answer to those questions, great. If not, treat it as a “no.” If they say
“No,” explain that errorless housetraining is a wonderful, pet-, people-, floor-andfurniture-friendly method of training the animal to eliminate in the appropriate place
(as chosen by the adopter) and to chew only chew toys and scratch only scratching
posts rather than sofa legs, shoes, and curtains when they’re bored and need an activity. Tell them that, even if they’ve potty-trained many dogs or cats in the past, they
will love errorless housetraining and wonder how they ever got along without it, and
that using it right will mean that there is never a potty mistake in the house. Then
quickly describe how to do errorless housetraining and give them a flyer directing
them to download their free copy of BEFORE You Get Your Puppy from Open Paw’s
website (kitten booklet coming soon).
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• “What kind of activities do you like to do? Which activities would you like to share
with your dog/cat?” For dogs: “How many times a day will you take her on leashed
walks? Trips to the dog park? Long hikes?” Draw the potential adopter out as much
as possible here—some people think that if they get a dog, it will “cause” them to
become more active. The activity level of the dog should match up with realistic
expectations about what kind of activities the person is likely to pursue. If the person
is active outdoors and would like to take the dog on off-leash activities, explain that
recall has to be trained in gradually, starting somewhere easy (the backyard) and
building up slowly to more and more exciting places. Point out that whenever they
take the dog to a more exciting place for the first time, they should expect to have
a more difficult time recalling the dog, and explain why they should always have
dozens of “play” recalls (where the dog is recalled, the leash is snapped on, the dog
is given a couple of treats and is released back to play or explore) on any trip. If
the potential adopter plans on taking the dog on leashed walks, explain the 4 basic
methods for training and maintaining loose-leash walking. For cats: “do you know
how to train the cat to play gently without using claws or teeth?” Explain how to
play “dead mouse” to encourage the cat to play gently.
• “Where will the animal stay during the day?” (This question is on the questionnaire,
but ask again and give them a chance to elaborate). If the answer is “outside,” ask the
person if they prefer the animal to stay outside because they’re afraid it will create
a mess in the house when they’re away, or because they want the animal to enjoy
itself more because it’s “out in nature.” Regardless of whether they say “inside” or
“outside,” remind them of how easy and effective it is to use errorless housetraining
to train the animal to chew or scratch appropriate objects when it’s bored. Point out
to them that dogs and cats need to have things to do during the day just as we do,
but that they won’t sit down and watch Montel like we might—they need doggy and
kitty things to do, like chewing and scratching. It’s up to us humans to show them
what we’d like them to chew and scratch, to make that the most desirable thing to
do while we’re away, and to provide appropriate activities and outlets. The second
most common reason people give for keeping the animal outdoors during the day
is that many people assume that the cat or dog prefers to be outside because it’s an
animal and it will want to be closer to nature. Explain that studies show that many
dogs really prefer to be indoors, that they can be trained to behave appropriately
indoors even while you’re away, and that outside, there are many more stimuli to
induce the dog to bark, seriously annoying the neighbors. Keep in mind, though,
that with a well-built doghouse on a raised platform, fresh water, a comfortable bed,
an accessible dog run, and an enriched environment (a variety of stuffed chew toys
distributed each morning, made to challenge and engage the dog), an outside home
is not a bad place for the dog to be. If you’re showing a highly adoptable dog who can
pick and choose among potential adopters, then be picky; an outdoor residence, so
long as it meets the standards listed above, should not necessarily be a deal-breaker,
though. Kittens and cats can also, with some effort, be trained to stay within the back
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yard, so that they can enjoy the outdoors without incurring the risks of wandering
completely free.
• “Are you planning on having children/more children in the near future (within the
next couple of years)?” If the answer is “yes,” counsel the person to wait until the
child is several years old before thinking about getting a new animal. Explain that
new children in the household change things dramatically, and that a major reason
for surrender to shelters is that the animal becomes “too difficult” with a new child—
even those dogs and cats who were the apple of their peoples’ eyes.
• “Are you planning on having the cat declawed?” Many, many people are completely
unaware of what declawing involves—in fact, some veterinarians have assured them
in the past that it doesn’t hurt cats. Please don’t assume that the person would be
a bad guardian if he or she says “yes” to this question. Respectfully explain how
declawing is done, and explain that it often leads to back and leg problems as well
as litterbox problems (because the litter becomes painful to scratch). Explain how
important it is for a cat’s muscles and bones to be able to scratch, and remind the
potential adopter that it is quite simple to train the cat to scratch only at scratching
posts, or suggest cats that have already been declawed.
Other things to discuss with the potential adopters
• How to introduce a new animal to the home—explain that, although they’ll be tempted
to let the dog or cat have a few “free” days with no rules, it’s not fair to the animal
to suddenly change expectations once it’s settled in a new home. Rules should be
clear from the start, long-term and short-term confinement areas should be ready to
go and, as tempting as it is to spend every minute of the first few days with the new
companion, you should begin alone-training right away—for just 1 or 2 minutes at a
time if the animal is having difficulty being alone, but working up to getting ready
for your first day back at work. Explain that it’s not fair to the animal to build expectations that you’ll be around and giving constant attention, and then suddenly
leave it entirely by itself for 10 hours. Go over the handout “The First Two Weeks”
or “What Every Cat Needs” with the potential adopter, and send them home with
the handout and directions to the Open Paw website to get other free dog and cat
information.
• Supplies they’ll want to get before they bring a dog home: at least 6 hollow chew
toys and stuffing supplies (high-quality kibble to soak and stuff, honey to dribble
inside, wet food to seal the ends); a comfortable bed; a crate with a comfortable pad,
big enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in; a sturdy water bowl; a 6-foot
lead and head collar or martingale collar; a flat collar for daily wear; gates to block
off long-term confinement areas if necessary; a litter box and appropriate substrate
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for the long-term confinement area; BEFORE You Get Your Puppy and “The First Two
Weeks”; high-value treats, such as liver treats, for training.
• Supplies they’ll want to get before they bring a new cat home: a variety of hollow
chew toys and stuffing supplies; a comfortable bed; a crate or other place to withdraw for private time; a sturdy water bowl; 2 litter boxes and high quality litter (the
home should contain 1 litter box per cat plus 1 extra); several scratching posts with
sturdy bases, a variety of different surfaces (not carpet), and dangling toys; “What
Every Cat Needs”; and high value treats for training.
For dogs: If the discussion and meeting go well, take the dog and potential adopter for
a walk together. Observe the potential adopter and family to be sure that they seem able
to control the dog on leash, and explain and demonstrate the 4 basic techniques to train
loose-leash walking. Explain why these methods are much more efficient and appropriate
for training. If the dog requires a head collar or no-pull harness, demonstrate how to dress
it in the head collar or harness and show them how to walk with the head collar.
For Dogs and Cats: If all discussions and observations indicate that this will be a good
match, take the potential adopter to the front desk to fill out the adoption form, and explain
again the 24-hour wait period policy if applicable.
If your observations indicate at any point that this particular animal will not be a good
match, but that the client is otherwise a potentially good adopter for another cat or dog
in the shelter, gently guide the person to the animals you think will be a good match.
Talk about the reasons you think other potential animals will be great for that person,
accentuating the positive. If there are no potential good matches currently in the shelter,
explain how important it is that the animal match the adopter’s lifestyle and encourage
the adopter to come back. If the person continues to want an inappropriate cat or dog,
explain, without accusing the person in any way, why you think this would not be the
best match. If you do not match that adopter with a more appropriate cat or dog, fill out
a “red flag” form just to be sure that he or she does not come back, armed with the “right
answers” that you have now provided, and try to adopt the animal through a different
adoption counselor.
If the person would not make a good match for any dog or cat, present your reasons in
terms of why the dogs’ or cats’ needs, or the particular circumstances, make it impossible
to adopt. Do not accuse the person in any way or present your reasons in terms of problems
with the person. Remember that, even if the person is not a good match for any dog or cat,
it is the match, and not the person, that is problematic. Fill out a “red flag” form to be sure
that he or she does not come back and try to adopt through a different counselor.
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Adoption Questionnaire
Congratulations! You’re beginning a process of bringing a life-long companion and family member into your home. We wish you many years of joy with your new companion
animal. This questionnaire is designed to help achieve that life-long companionship, by
helping you select the dog or cat who is best suited to your family and lifestyle. Please
be sure to visit www.openpaw.org for free and low-cost books, booklets, pamphlets, and
other advice to help you train and raise a wonderful, well-behaved companion.
Name:
Occupation:
Are you interested in adopting a dog, or cat?
How many of the following reside in your household (include roommates) or visit your
household often?
male adults female adults male children female children dogs cats
other animals
Are the dogs or cats that live with or visit you spayed or neutered? yes no
What are your childrens’ ages?
Are you planning on having children in the near future? yes no
Where will the animal stay during the day?
At night?
Who will be responsible for the animal’s care (e.g., feeding, walking, cleaning litterbox/scooping
poop, training, stuffing chew toys, making and keeping regular vet appointments, clipping
nails, brushing teeth, washing or making and keeping regular grooming appointments)?
What is your past experience with dogs/cats?
How much time per day do you plan to spend with your new companion?
About how many hours per day do you spend at work?
What kind of activities would you like to share with your dog/cat?
How much time do you want to spend exercising your dog per day?
How much time do you want to spend grooming your dog/cat?
Are you planning on having your cat declawed? yes no
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Red Flag Form—Potential Problems with Would-be Adopters
Your Name:
Today’s Date:
Name of Potential Adopter:
Physical Description of Potential Adopter:
Describe the circumstances that worried you:
Keep these Red Flag forms in a designated place in the shelter so that adoption counselors
and others involved in the adoption process can look through the forms before they complete an adoption.
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Dog and Cat Evaluation Spreadsheets
The dog and cat evaluation spreadsheets in the appendix are fast, convenient tools for everyone in the shelter to keep up with the needs and personalities of your shelter guests.
They will help your staff and volunteers direct potential adopters to the best possible
matches. Update the spreadsheets every week to add new shelter guests and include
new behavior observations. Keep several copies of the spreadsheets around the shelter
in designated areas so that your adoption counseling volunteers and staff can easily refer
to them while they help potential adopters.
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Example Animal Adoption Follow-up
Date:
Adoption Date:
Follow Up: call 1( ) call 2 ( ) call 3 ( )
Name:
Home Phone:
Work Phone:
Animal: dog cat other
Name:
Age:
Sex: M F
Breed/Color:
Notes:
Call 1 PASS ON TO COUNSELOR?: No Yes:
Notified By: email phone this form
Call 2 PASS ON TO COUNSELOR?: No Yes: Notified By: email phone this form
Call 3 PASS ON: No Yes: Dog Counselor Cat Counselor
Notified By: email phone this form
Follow Up By: Call 1:
Call 3:
Call 2:
Form Reviewed By: Call 1:
Call 3:
1. How is
Call 2:
adjusting to his/her new home?
2. Do you have other pets? If yes, how are they adjusting?
3. Do you have children? yes no If yes, how are they interacting? Do you have any concerns about
’s behavior around children? (if yes, pass on to counselor)
4. Are you and your pet currently enrolled in any form of training or will be in the future?
Self Training?
5. Are you having any housetraining or chewing problems? If so what are they and what
have you done to try to correct it? (if having problems, pass on to counselor)
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6. Are you having any other behavioral problems that you would like further assistance
with? (if yes, pass on to counselor)
7. Is
showing any protective behavior around the following... food, toys,
rawhides, you, territory? If yes what are you doing to correct it, if anything?
8. Where does
sleep?
9. What kind of exercise is
10. Has
getting?
improved your life? If yes, how?
11. What type of identification is
tags.)
wearing? (Inform about easy-to-make
12. If you or your family wanted to get another pet, would you choose to adopt from
another shelter or humane society again? Why or why not?
13. How has your overall experience been with us? Do you have any suggestions to help
us to increase our adoption rate and maintain quality placements?
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Open Paw’s Guide To The First Two Weeks With Your New Dog
Congratulations on the new addition to your family! With a little work, some planning,
and forethought, your new dog will be an effortless, well-behaved companion for years to
come. It is important to recognize that first impressions are lasting ones, and habits begin
to develop from day one. Be sure to instill good manners and habits from the first day you
bring your new puppy or dog home. Remember, good habits are as hard to break as bad
ones. If you follow these simple guidelines, your dog’s transition into your home will be a
piece of cake for both you and your new best friend.
1. Teach your new dog the rules of your house from the beginning. In the words of Dr. Ian
Dunbar, “If you want your dog to follow the rules of the house, by all means do not keep
them a secret.” When your dog first gets home, he or she may be a little confused and unsure of the new living situation. Even though your home is undoubtedly more comfortable
than the shelter, it is different, and different can be stressful. It is important to remember
dogs do not speak our language and will best understand your expectations through training and management. Training and management should begin the very moment your new
dog arrives in your home.
Your instinct may be to give your new friend a few days to unwind and adjust before
imposing rules and restrictions. While you may mean well, this delay of training has the
potential to be both frustrating and damaging. Right from the very first day, it is crucial
to convey your expectations to the dog and to establish an errorless training system. If
you do this, your dog will succeed in learning house rules right from the beginning. If
you change the house rules a few days after your dog has arrived, he will not understand
why things have changed. Your dog may have already formed new habits and will have a
difficult time adjusting to yet another set of expectations. It is much more efficient to teach
your dog everything you would like her to know from the outset.
2. Try not to overwhelm your new dog with too much activity during this initial adjustment period (individual dogs’ adjustment periods will vary). It is very exciting to have a
new dog. Of course you want to introduce her to all of your friends and family and, of
course, you want to take your new pal everywhere! All this excitement, however, could be
exceptionally stressful for your dog. Please keep in mind that, even in the best of shelters,
your dog’s world was probably limited to a handful of environments and activities. It is
best for your dog to spend the first couple of weeks quietly settling in and getting to know
you, with frequent, brief outings to continue the socialization process. In the beginning,
limit introductions to just a few visitors at a time. If your dog has time to become familiar
with you and your home surroundings, she will be more confident when setting out on
adventures beyond your immediate neighborhood.
3. Keep your new dog either safely confined with appropriate chew toys, or supervised,
at all times. This is the best way to keep your new friend (and house!) out of trouble when
you are unable to monitor his actions. Your dog requires a dog-proof, safe place: a “doggie
den”—the equivalent of a toddler’s playpen—where he can rest and chew appropriate
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items in your absence. There are many options for your “doggie den,” but a crate or small
room in your house is ideal. However, you may also choose an outside kennel run. Initially
when your dog is loose in the house or yard, you must be around to gently redirect your
dog when he chooses an inappropriate activity. If you are vigilant about supervising your
dog and showing him what you expect, your dog will learn to settle down quietly, to chew
only appropriate chew toys and eventually to become trustworthy in your absence.
FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES WITH YOUR NEW DOG FOR AT LEAST THE FIRST
TWO WEEKS. PLEASE REMEMBER, MOST PUPPIES AND EVEN SOME ADULT DOGS
WILL TAKE LONGER TO ADJUST—SO BE PATIENT.
-DO immediately show your dog to his/her appropriate toilet area.
-DO take your dog to the designated toilet area once an hour, every hour, on leash (except
overnight). Allow supervised free time only after he relieves himself in the appropriate
area. If your dog does not eliminate on one of these trips, confine him to his “doggie den”
OR keep him on leash and supervised, until the next scheduled potty break.
-DO confine your dog to a “doggie den” whenever you are physically (or mentally!) absent, such as when you are at work, paying bills, making dinner, sleeping, etc.
-DO throw away your dog food bowl! Instead, feed your dog throughout the day out of
a hollow Kong or other chew toy stuffed with kibble and snacks, especially when she’s in
her “doggie den” or when you are busy. Also use part of your dog’s daily ration while on
walks, during training, or when meeting new people. All food should come either out of
a Kong or from somebody’s hand.
-DO provide plenty of appropriate chew toys to keep your dog busy and prevent chewing
“casualties” in your home and yard. Redirect any chewing “mistakes” by directing your
dog to an acceptable alternative. This will also help establish an appropriate chewing habit
throughout your dog’s life.
-DO introduce your dog to new people and other pets gradually so as not to overwhelm
him. Use kibble and treats to help form a positive association to new people. Be sure he
has access to his “den” in case he needs a break from all the activity.
-DO enroll in a basic obedience class right away! This will help you learn how to better
communicate with your dog in a way she will understand.
-DO look for a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) that uses dog-friendly training methods.
Contact APDT.com or call 1-800-PET-DOGS to find a trainer in your area.
-DON’T allow your dog free run of the entire house right away, or else your new friend
may learn all sorts of bad habits. First take the time to teach him good habits.
-DON’T take your dog off-leash in public until you have successfully completed an obedience class and have built a strong positive relationship with him.
For more information about training your dog, please read “After You Get Your Puppy”.
To place an order, visit the James & Kenneth website at jamesandkenneth.com.
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What Every Cat Needs
Like all of us, cats have basic needs which must be met for them to be happy and healthy,
both behaviorally and physically. In addition to making sure a new kitty is provided with
ample, daily opportunities to satisfy its fundamental needs, it can be helpful to review the
household arrangements whenever there are changes in the home (the addition of new
pets, new people, etc.), the household routine (new work hours), or whenever you see
signs of behavior problems or stress in your cat(s).
In a multi-cat household, it is particularly important to make sure that each and every
cat can get what it needs without having to compete with the other cats. Depending on
how well the cats get along, this may mean providing multiple food and water stations,
multiple scratching posts, extra beds, more perches, and so on. Cats are extremely sensitive
to smells, and may decline to eat out of a bowl or share a litter box used by another cat
whom they fear or dislike.
Physical Needs:
Food. Cats can be very fussy, not only about the quality and freshness of their food, but
about the location and presentation of it. Many dry foods (kibble) are coated with fat in
the last stages of processing, and the fat can oxidize (go rancid) very quickly when left out.
Offering smaller amounts more often can help keep kibble fresh. Food bowls should be
washed frequently, with old food particles removed, and the area around the food dish
should be kept clean. Food bowls should be placed where the cat can eat in peace, without
being disturbed by other pets or human traffic. If you have multiple cats who aren’t completely comfortable eating side-by-side or at different times, provide additional feeding
stations so each cat has a chance to eat at the same time, undisturbed.
Water. Cats need continuous access to fresh, clean drinking water. Water bowls should be
refilled daily. Provide extra water bowls in a multi-cat household.
A Clean Litter Box. For multiple cat households, the general rule is 1 litter box per cat, plus
1 extra. Litter boxes should be located in low-traffic, quiet areas with easy access routes,
and should not be so tucked away that the cat will feel trapped in it if a human or other
pet approaches. Boxes should be age and size appropriate—boxes with very tall sides may
be hard for very young kittens or senior cats to get in and out of, and larger-than-average
cats may find small boxes cramped. Litter boxes must be kept clean; urine clumps should
be removed regularly, and feces ideally should be scooped immediately.
Sleeping Places. Cats spend a great deal of time catnapping, and need to have places to
sleep which are comfortable and safe. Most cats prefer to have several napping choices,
and will select favorite-for-now spots depending on the temperature—warm places when
it’s cold and cool places when it’s hot. In a multi-cat household, every cat should have a
range of options, so that they don’t compete for the one warm (or cool) bed in the house.
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A Scratching Post. Cats need to scratch, both to help remove the outgrown sheathes on
their claws and to stretch, keeping their muscles and spines supple. Posts wrapped in sisal
or other natural fiber rope are often preferred to ordinary carpet but, whichever style you
choose, teaching a cat to use a scratching post will discourage the use of your furniture for
that purpose.
An elevated perch or other vertical space. Whether it’s a floor-to-ceiling cat tree or the top
of your bookcase, cats need to climb and visit high places. If you don’t want cats climbing
your furniture or drapes, be sure to provide them with safe, legal alternatives such as cat
trees, cat shelves or window seats.
Places to Hide. Even the most social cat needs solitude at times, and hidey-holes are
an absolute must for the mental health of shy cats. In addition to ”natural” household
hiding places beneath and behind furniture, you can satisfy both your cat’s need to hide
and the urge to explore and ”get into” things with temporary hiding places, like brown
paper grocery bags (remove handles first—cats can get their necks caught in them), empty
cardboard boxes, baskets and the like.
Escape Routes. Cats need ways to move from one area to the next—from food dishes to
water bowls to litter boxes to scratching posts—without feeling trapped by resident dogs,
other cats, scary humans or blocked exits. Particularly in multi-pet households, cats need
ways of getting away from other animals without confronting them in a hall or doorway.
Whenever possible, try to locate a cat’s food, water, bed and litter box in places with more
than one way to get out.
Grooming. Short-haired cats usually require only occasional brushing or combing, while
long-coated varieties may need more frequent and extensive care. Regardless of coat type,
cats should be kept free of mats, and grooming sessions should be used to check the cat for
injuries, external parasites and/or signs of illness. Most cats are naturally fastidious, and
any cat that stops caring for his coat should be examined carefully for dental problems,
mouth lesions or other disease. All cats also need regular nail trimming.
Regular veterinary care. Routine check-ups, vaccinations, dental care and parasite control
are necessary for a cat’s health and well-being.
Social Needs
Social interaction with their humans. Cats vary tremendously in their sociability, from
semi-feral barn cats who are happiest when people aren’t around, to die-hard lap cats who
love as much human attention as they can get. Most cats fall somewhere in between. But
don’t be misled by the feline reputation for aloofness and independence: most pet cats may
not need as much attention as dogs, but they still need it. Interactive playtime, petting and
cuddling, grooming and reward training are all excellent, positive ways to enjoy time with
your cat.
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Exercise and mental stimulation. In addition to the social aspect of playing, cats—particularly
indoor cats—need exercise to keep them fit and healthy. They also need opportunities to
hone their predatory skills and fulfill their natural urge to explore and investigate. In addition to interactive games, cats can be amused by faux prey items in the form of catnip
mousies, wadded up pieces of paper, balls, cat Kongs stuffed with kibble or other treats—
or any small, novel item which is safe to play with. Providing exercise and mental stimulation suitable for the age and activity level of the cat will alleviate boredom, reduce or
eliminate destructive behaviors, and result in a healthier and happier pet.
Respect for their individual preferences with other pets. Depending on their experiences
as kittens, whether they grew up accustomed to other animals, and their individual temperaments, cats can range from terrified or hostile to actively congenial with other pets.
Many cats will take readily to one pet, but not another. Others will tolerate other cats (or
dogs) but never show any real signs of bonding or affection, while yet others will bond
deeply with a feline or canine friend. Wherever a cat is on the social scale, he deserves to
have his preferences considered before introducing another pet into the home, and careful
thought should be given to how to make the introduction positive and the new relationship successful.
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Shelter Guide
(Shelter Logo Here) A Guide to Our Shelter
Welcome to [Name of Shelter]! Our facility is committed to giving the best possible care
to our guests, and to reducing the surrender of unwanted dogs and cats. [Name of ShelR
ter] has adopted the Open PawShelter
Program to help the animals remain physically
and mentally healthy during their stay; retain or learn socialization to people and other
animals; retain or learn potty and chew toy training; and learn good dog or cat manners,
like greeting people politely and playing with claws retracted. Shelter staff and volunteers
work with the animals every day to help them develop these fundamentally important
skills so that they are more adoptable, and more likely to settle easily into their new homes.
The process of teaching these skills to our animals also models humane, friendly, training
and management techniques to the public; our shelter animals help to keep today’s pets
from ever having to be surrendered! We hope you enjoy your visit to our facility.
As you walk around the shelter, you’ll notice
Buckets of kibble on the outside of the kennels. Hand-feeding animals is the simplest,
and one of the most powerful tools we have to help them feel good about having all kinds
of people approach them. The idea is simple: animals like their food very much; we want
animals to like having strangers approach them in their kennels very much; every time a
person approaches the kennel and tosses in 1 or 2 pieces of kibble, it strengthens the animal’s association of the approach of a person with the delivery of lunch or dinner. Before
long, the animals in our shelter feel great about having lots of complete strangers approach
them in their kennels! In just a 10-minute visit, you can do an enormous amount to help
make our shelter guests healthier and happier.
Animals chewing intently on oddly-shaped rubber chew toys. Animals get bored just
like people. Unlike people, they don’t read the paper or do crosswords to amuse themselves. What do animals do when they’re bored and need an occupation? They chew,
scratch, dig, or make lots of noise. By stuffing hollow chew toys with part of their daily
ration of food, we can accomplish amazing things! Every time the animal chews on the toy,
she is rewarded by some bits of food—wow, that makes it the best toy ever! Not only is
the animal happily occupied, calm, and quiet, she quickly learns to love to chew her chew
toy better than couches, shoes, curtains, and socks. Each animal adopted goes home with
his own chew toy, and an instruction sheet for his new guardian about how to stuff the toy
full of goodies.
If you’d like to donate to help us supply chew toys, beds, buckets, and food for our animals, please visit the front desk on your way out. For more information on [Name of
Shelter], visit [website]. For more information on Open Paw, and to download free training and adoption materials, visit www.openpaw.org. Thank you!
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Ask the Right Questions to Help You Find a Lifelong Companion
Bringing home a new puppy, kitten, dog, cat, or any companion animal, is an exciting
time, as you envision a lifetime of fun together with your new family member. Getting an
animal is a lifelong commitment, so you’ll want to make sure that you find the animal that
is the best choice for you. Open Paw is here to help you find that furry friend, and to help
you both to live happily ever after.
You should first think carefully about what kind of animal is the right match for you and
your family. The following questions will help you.
The Right Companion for You and Your Family
When you think about a new dog or cat, what is your dream picture? What do you see
yourself doing with your new companion, and how do you see her fitting into your life?
Do you want a dog as a jogging partner, or a lap warmer while you read the paper? Do
you want a cat who constantly explores and plays, or one who will quietly cuddle with
you for hours on the couch? Your lifestyle and expectations will be the most important
factors in selecting the best companion for you and your family. Take the time to research
different breed and group characteristics to find a type of dog or cat that suits your routine.
You can find a lot of breed information online. Make trips to your local dog parks and pet
stores to interact with the owners of all sorts of animals. You will learn so much by talking
to people who already own a pet. Consider these lifestyle questions:
• What do a typical day and week look like for you? It is helpful even to write out
a schedule of your typical day and week, and see where animal care will fit in and
how much time you can afford.
• What are the rules of your house? For example, will the animal be allowed on the
couch? In the kitchen? It is best to discuss and determine these rules as a household
before adding the complication of a new, live creature in your house. Things will go
more smoothly if everyone in the house is on the same page. And you must know
what your house rules are before you can teach them to your new dog or cat.
• How active is the household? Do you hike every weekend, or watch sports on
T.V.? How often and to what extent will you exercise your pet? Be honest: if you’ve
never been a jogger, don’t try to convince yourself you will suddenly be motivated
because you have a Dalmatian puppy. If you prefer lounging in the living room to
running laps around the track on weekends, the presence of a dog will most likely
not spontaneously turn you into a marathon runner. Instead, you will end up with
a furry bundle of energy with not enough outlets. Your Dalmatian pup will turn
into a pressure-cooker, and the steam will eventually blow, with or without your
guidance. If you don’t take the time to exercise your pet, this undirected energy will
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be expended on projects of your dog or cat’s liking—such as re-landscaping your
garden. Do yourself a favor—objectively assess your exercise habits and take the
time to research breeds and breed types that best match your lifestyle.
• How often will you play with the dog or cat, and how rambunctious do you want
the play to be? If you like the idea of wrestling around on the floor with your big
dog, great! Look at a large, hearty breed or mix. Some breeds may be too fragile or
uninterested in rough, physical play. Alternately, if you want a dog and have a small
apartment with neighbors below, perhaps you should choose a smaller dog, a couch
potato, or at least a dog that is light on its feet (such as Greyhounds, which tend to
be both light on their feet and couch potatoes). Similarly, cats have a wide range of
preferred play styles. Be sure to choose one that fits your family’s needs.
• Do you have children? What are their ages? Are they comfortable around animals
of all sizes? Do they have friends over a lot? What is their activity level? Will
doors, cabinets, or gates get left open? Just some general things to think about
before you decide to get a pet. Some pets are more likely to roam or escape than
others. This type of information will be especially useful if you decide to adopt a
dog or cat with established habits and history.
• Where will the pet have her “downtime” space (to go when she needs a break from
the activity of the house)? Again, this question is simply part of good planning. The
more you’ve thought things through in advance, the easier the transition will be once
your new pet arrives. For more information, see our handouts “The First Two Weeks
with Your New Dog” or “What Every Cat Needs”.
• Do you travel often? If so, will you/can you take your pet with you? If you will
not be taking your pet along, who will care for him in your absence? Familiarize
yourself with pet care options and costs in your area. Travel with a pet may change
your travel plans and may prove difficult. Pet care can be pricey in some areas, and
that could put a dent in your travel budget.
• Do you entertain often? If so, do your friends and family like dogs or cats? Are
they fearful or allergic? If you do entertain often, you may do well to get a friendly,
gregarious breed and personality, rather than a guarding breed with potential to be
reactive around strangers, or an animal with a shy personality who prefers the company of only a few select people.
• Where will your pet sleep at night? When you are at work? Planning, planning,
planning! Something to discuss with other family members before your pup or kitten
arrives.
• What will he do when you are busy? When you have a party? When you travel?
While you’re at work? Who will provide daily care? Who will provide vacation
care? Are you willing to pay for pet care? Once again, these questions involve
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expense and planning. For example, if you decide to get a young puppy that requires
several trips to a toilet area at regular frequent intervals, and you work 10 hours a
day, who will attend to your pup for the first 6 months or so? Will you hire a pet
sitter or dog walker? Is someone in the family home and willing to help with pet
care? How much would professional animal care cost, and can you afford it? Are
you willing to spend the money?
• What do you expect a cat or dog to provide for you and your family? Affection?
Protection? Amusement? This question goes back to lifestyle and expectations.
Food for thought and meant to facilitate discussion and planning to aid in your selection process.
• Does everyone in the household want a pet? Many animals are surrendered to
shelters because of conflict within the family regarding the presence of the pet or the
training methods and expectations. Open Paw strongly believes that everyone in the
household must be in agreement, not only regarding whether or not to get a pet, but
also on what kind of pet to get.
• Can/will you adjust your routine to the demands of a new feline or canine family
member?
• Who will take the dog to training class? Will everyone in the family go to class?
Enrolling in some sort of training program is highly recommended, but it will take
time and commitment, not to mention money. Determine who will be in charge of
training your new dog, and research the going rate for pet dog manners classes in
your area.
• How much time are you willing to spend grooming? Long hair and double coats
require regular grooming, such as brushing, bathing and, in some breeds, regular
haircuts! Research different coat types and determine how much time or money you
are willing to spend on this necessary task.
• How much does fur bother you? Don’t just think about allergens, but also about
fur on the carpet, the furniture, and your clothes. All cats and dogs shed or drop
fur. Some coat types shed more than others. If you get a dog or cat, you will have
fur on your clothes, in your car, in your house and in your life. How often are you
willing to vacuum the house?
• How much money are you willing to spend on: food; the veterinarian; exercise;
training; toys; grooming; boarding? A large dog will cost more annually than a
small dog or cat.
It is also important to consider your needs and those of other household members when
you think about choosing an animal.
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• Is anyone in the family allergic to animals? The number 1 reason given for animals
surrendered to a shelter is the allergies of a family member. There is suspicion this is
often used as a convenient, inarguable excuse to “give up” on an animal when training and behavior problems crop up. Perhaps there are no allergies after all. However,
as it’s the number 1 cited reason for surrender, Open Paw feels it is necessary to say
that, if you or someone in your family is allergic to cats or dogs, please reconsider
adding one to your household.
• Are there any elderly people in your household, or visiting regularly? Again, think
of lifestyle. If your elderly parent visits frequently, cares for your children regularly,
or may move in with you in the near future, consider their physical abilities and
how much they will be expected to interact with, or care for, your new pet. Can
Granny handle an 85-pound Labrador Retriever? Will she enjoy interacting with a
rambunctious young cat?
• Are you pregnant, or do you plan to become pregnant soon? How many children
do you plan to have? The care and training of a new pet demands a significant
amount of time and energy; Open Paw does not recommend getting a new companion animal if you are pregnant or have very young children in the household. Wait a
few years until your children are able to be part of the selection process and routine
care. Furthermore, your lifestyle, expectations, and needs change when a new child
comes into the family, and this may affect your relationship with your pet; you may
find you have less time to dedicate to the care and companionship of a cat or dog
than you thought would be the case.
• Do you have noise-sensitive neighbors? Good fences may make good neighbors,
but so do quiet, well behaved dogs. If you live in close proximity to others, how will
adding a dog to your family affect your neighbors? Some breeds and breed types are
more vocal than others. Please think about how you feel about barking, and about
the noise tolerance of those around you. Then do research to find a type of dog that
will meet your expectations.
• How many animals will your new pet have to interact with? (Do you already
have animals? Do your immediate neighbors have animals? Do friends bring
their animals to visit?) Are the other animals in your life large or small? Think of
the size differential between types of dogs and, to a smaller extent, cats. To avoid
accidents and keeping physical safety in mind, do not get dogs on opposite extremes
of the size spectrum. Open Paw does not recommend having a dog of more than 50%
less of the adult size of the other dog/s in the household. Before choosing a breed
type, consider the other species of animals in the house. For example, if you have a
Finch aviary, perhaps it is unwise to bring a dog meant for flushing out birds, such
as a spaniel, into your home.
• How often will you walk the dog or play with the cat? Will the dog go to offleash parks, or mostly on leashed walks? Dogs who go on leashed walks through
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neighborhoods will have to be very friendly to people and animals. Think about the
exercise needs of your preferred breed type, your access to parkland, and the type of
regular exercise you are able to provide.
• What is your living situation? If you rent, do you have permission from your
landlord to have an animal? Will you be moving soon, or do you move frequently?
Moving is another common reason given for surrendering a pet to a shelter. Finding
an apartment that allows cats or dogs can be very difficult, and pet deposits can be
very expensive. Please think about your living situation before getting a pet. Pet
ownership is a lifelong commitment, and it is important to look into your future to
be sure you will be able to provide a permanent home for your dog or cat, not just
for this year.
• What kind of activities do you want your cat or dog to participate in with you
(sports, car companion, sitting at cafes, going to the dog park, camping, etc.)? Once
again, take time to identify what your lifestyle is like and to select a suitable breed
type and personality.
Only after you have considered the above questions should you think about preferences.
Keeping in mind what you learned from thinking about the questions above, now ask
yourself:
• Who is your favorite cat or dog? Think of an actual animal you know.
• What is that animal like? What is it that you find appealing about him or her?
• What kinds of things have affected her personality? Has that particular dog had a
great deal of training? Is it an older cat that is already trained and calm?
• Would that cat or dog’s personality, behavior, energy level, and needs fit in well
with your family?
• Do you prefer that the animal live indoors, or in the yard? Keep in mind that
dogs often develop barking, digging, and escaping problems if they are left all day
in a yard without significant environmental enrichment. Outdoor animals should
always have a shelter on a raised platform, a supply of fresh water, and a source of
shade. Fences should be at least 8 feet high for dogs. Also keep in mind that dogs
can easily be trained to eliminate out of doors only and to chew appropriate toys.
If adult dogs have a chance to relieve themselves and exercise in the morning and
when you return from work, they can generally go for 8 hours without a potty break.
• Do you want to adopt a dog or cat, or to purchase one from a breeder?
• Would you like a kitten/puppy, an adolescent, or an adult cat/dog? Puppies and
kittens take the most time and energy, with adolescents coming in a close second.
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Adult dogs and cats with sound temperaments make wonderful, virtually readymade companions.
Once you have a good idea of what your companion should be like, you can begin to
evaluate the cats and dogs you meet at the breeder’s or in a shelter. Open Paw does not
recommend purchasing a dog or cat from a pet store unless they adhere to the Open Paw
Minimum Mental Health Requirements for kenneled animals.
• You should select a dog or cat with the behavior and temperament that is right for
you. Emotional issues and activity levels are very hard to change. An animal that is
frightened of children, for example, might learn to tolerate children, but will probably never be easy or comfortable around them. On the other hand, behavioral issues
(jumping up, playing with claws out, chewing, potty training, play biting, pulling on
leash, etc.) are simple to change with training and management.
• Study the body language of the animal when she is around you, your children, and
your other pets if you have them. Does the cat or dog approach each of you readily?
Does she accept touches happily? Does she seem relaxed, or does she try to put
distance between you, stiffen up, watch you warily, pant heavily or lick her lips
continually? (Yawning can also be a sign of stress.) Watch the body language of
your children or other animals around this animal. Do they seem comfortable and
respectful around her?
With care and education, you can find a lifelong, loving companion for yourself and your
family.
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Chapter 4
Behavior Counseling
Dr. Dunbar’s “Behavior Blueprints” and the accompanying Open Paw Behavior Sheets
included in this section are tools for your staff or volunteers who work with animals. They
facilitate phone counseling, adoption counseling, or Adopters Anonymous counseling,
and can also serve as handouts for your clients. To learn how to counsel clients, staff members and volunteers should read BEFORE and AFTER You Get Your Puppy, Dr. Dunbar’s
Good Little Dog Book by Dr. Ian Dunbar, and Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. Serious behavior modification problems should be immediately referred to a local APDT dog trainer
(see www.apdt.com for a list of trainers in your area).
Our Behavior Matrix and the companion key and definitions, in the appendix, are meant
to serve as quick guides to behavior counseling. The matrix lists the top 14 challenges
faced by owners and refers the counselor to a variety of recommended training processes,
in order of importance. The answer key gives a quick review of what each training process
consists of. These are meant to be used as a reference, in conjunction with the books listed
above.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: CAT MANNERS
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Cat Manners
Before you get a new kitten or adopt an adult cat, make sure you complete your own education about kitty education. If you are already living with an untrained cat with existing
problems, simply designate today as the first day at Kitty College for both of you. Kitten
training techniques work perfectly well with adult cats.
Adopting a New Kitten
Check that the kitten was raised indoors, around human companionship and influence.
Ask the breeder how many strangers, especially including men and children, have handled
and gentled the kittens. Spend at least an hour observing, playing with, and hugging and
handling (restraining and examining) your prospective kitten. At 8 weeks of age, kitten
activity recycles every 40 minutes so. To get a representative feel for your kitten’s overall
demeanor, make sure that you observe her while she sleeps, when she plays, and when
she is wild. Check that the kitten already uses a litter box and her scratching post.
Adopting an Adult Cat
Choosing an adult cat is a very personal choice: choose the one that likes all family members best, and choose the one you all like best. The secret to adopting the perfect cat is
patience, patience, patience, and selection, selection, selection. The perfect cat is waiting
for you somewhere, and so take your time to choose with your head as well as your heart.
Teaching Household Manners
The first week your kitten or cat spends in your home is the most important week of her
life. From the very first day, start an errorless housetraining and scratching post training
program so that you prevent any housesoiling and destructive clawing or chewing problems. When you are not at home, leave your kittycat in a long-term confinement area (cat
playroom) which has a comfortable bed, fresh water, a litterbox, and a scratching post with
several cat toys and chewtoys (stuffed with food) hanging from the top. Long-term confinement prevents mistakes around the house and maximizes the likelihood your kittycat
will learn to use her toilet, learn to play with her toys and to use her scratching post. When
you are at home but cannot pay full attention to your kittycat, confine her to a small, shortterm confinement area (cat carrying crate) with a couple of stuffed chewtoys and dangly
cat toys. Confining your kittycat prevents any mistakes around the house, maximizes the
likelihood she will learn to play with her toys, and allows you to predict when she would
like to relieve herself. Knowing when your kittycat wants to go makes litterbox training
easy, because all you have to do is show her where to go and reward her for going. Closely
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confining a kittycat temporarily inhibits elimination. Give her hourly access to the litterbox, and she will promptly pee (and sometimes poop). Then voice gentle appreciation and
give her 3 liver treats as a reward. Confinement is a temporary management and training
measure. Once your kittycat has learned where to eliminate and what to scratch, she may
enjoy full run of your house for the rest of her life. Until she is trained, do not feed your kittycat from a food bowl. Set aside some kibble to use for safety training, and stuff some of
her food into hollow Kong chewtoys with the odd piece of freeze-dried liver. Moisten dry
kibble, squish it into the Kong cavity, and place it in the freezer overnight. In the morning
suspend the stuffed Kongs from the top of her scratching post. Your kittycat will spend a
long time eating and, in the process, will be automatically rewarded for playing with her
toys and scratching post. If eventually you would like your kittycat to eliminate outdoors,
use soil in her litterbox instead of commercial litter. Your kittycat will quickly develop
strong substrate and olfactory preferences for eliminating on soil and will naturally want
to eliminate outside.
Safety Training
When cats are scared, they run and hide; sometimes they remain in hiding for several days.
Indoor cats are especially scared it they escape outdoors (usually when strangers visit the
house). Whether you intend your cat to be allowed outdoors or not, safety training is
essential. At the very least you should teach your cat to come when called. The process is
simple. Before every mealtime, call your cat and have him follow you from room to room
before putting his stuffed Kongs (and your cat) in his confinement area. From time to time,
call your cat and handfeed a piece of kibble or freeze-dried liver when he comes. Back up
and repeat the process several times. If you like, you can use a silent dog whistle instead
of calling your cat.
Indoor cats have a longer life expectancy than indoor-outdoor cats. If you intend to let
your cat outside, you must teach him to remain in the yard, otherwise you will take several
years off his life expectancy. First, neuter your cat and he or she will be less likely to roam.
(Circulating sex hormones fragment normal brain function.) Second, make sure your fence
is cat-proof. Third, convert a section of your yard into a cat activity center—hang a number
of stuffed Kongs and dangly cat toys from a tree, for example. Fourth, you must provide
your cat a ”freeway” escape-route back into the safety of your house. For the first few
weeks your cat begins to investigate your yard, reserve all food for this exercise. Open the
yard door and let your cat poke his nose out and then immediately call him back inside for
a piece of cheese. Next time call him back for a freeze-dried liver treat after he has gone
just one yard outside. Repeat this over and over, each time letting your cat venture a little
further outside. To learn more, read our Cat Behavior Booklets.
To raise and train your cat, you will need a cat-carrying crate, a comfy cat bed, water bowl,
litter box, scratching post, hollow chewtoys, catnip toys, and freeze-dried liver.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: NEW PUPPY
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: New Puppy
Your puppy will grow up very quickly. Train him right and he will become a good natured,
biddable, and well-mannered adult dog. Before you get a new puppy, make sure you
know exactly what kind of puppy to look for and how to raise and train him. If you are
still searching for a puppy, please read BEFORE You Get Your Puppy. And if you haven’t
done so already, purchase a dog crate, 6 Kong chew toys, and some freeze-dried liver treats
before your puppy comes home.
Deciding Which Type of Puppy
The breed, type, size, activity level, hair color, hair length, and sex of your prospective
puppy are personal choices and best left entirely up to you and your family. Once you
have all agreed on a choice, go to your local humane society or dog training school to look
for and ”test-drive” at least 6 adult dogs of the type that you have selected. Test-driving
adult dogs will teach you more about what to expect from a puppy than any book or video.
Also, the experience of test-driving will ensure you know how to teach and control adult
dogs before you get your puppy. Really, the process of choosing a dog is not much different
from choosing a car. First, you need to learn to drive and, second, you want to choose a car
that looks and feels right to you. You will probably have read lots of well-meaning advice
from pet professionals that advise you, for example, not to get certain breeds if you have
children, not to get large dogs if you live in an apartment, and not to get active dogs in the
city. In reality, all breeds and types of dog can be wonderful or problematic with children.
It very much depends on whether or not the puppy was trained how to act around children
and the children were taught how to act around the puppy. Because of their lower activity
levels, large dogs adapt more quickly to apartment living than little dogs. Big dogs just
take up more space. And active dogs can live in cities just as active people live in cities. In
fact, city dogs tend to be walked and exercised more than suburban dogs. In the long run,
it will be you who will be living with your puppy and teaching it to adjust to your lifestyle
and living arrangement.
Selecting Your Individual Puppy
It is vital, however, that you know how to evaluate whether your prospective puppy is
physically and mentally healthy. Research your prospective puppy’s lineage to confirm
that his grandparents and great-grandparents all lived to a ripe old age, and to check how
many of his doggy family suffered from breed-specific problems. Long life is the best indicator of overall physical and behavioral health and the best predictor of your puppy’s life
expectancy. Research well; you want your puppy to enjoy his sunset years with you. My
first malamute died when he was just 5 years old. Heartbreaking. In terms of behavioral
development, by 8 weeks of age your prospective puppy should be housetrained and chew
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toy-trained, outgoing, friendly, and sociable and, at the very least, know how to come, sit,
lie down, and roll over. Any signs of fearfulness are absolutely abnormal in an 8-week-old
pup. Check that the puppy was raised indoors, around human companionship and influence. Check that the puppy uses a dog toilet, rather than urinating and defecating all over
the floor (which he will continue to do if you take him home). Check that hollow chew
toys stuffed with food are readily available. Ask the breeder how many strangers, especially men and children, have handled and trained the puppies. Check for yourself how
easy (or difficult) it is to hug and handle (restrain and examine) your prospective puppy.
Also check how quickly (or slowly) the puppy learns to come, sit, lie down, and roll over
for each family member.
Raising and Training Your Puppy
The first week your puppy comes home is the most important week of her life. From the
very first day, start an errorless housetraining and chew toy-training program so that you
prevent any future housesoiling, destructive chewing, excessive barking, or separation
anxiety problems. When you are not at home, leave your puppy in a long-term confinement area (puppy playroom), which has a comfortable bed, fresh water, several chew toys
stuffed with food, and a temporary indoor toilet. Long-term confinement prevents mistakes around the house and maximizes the likelihood your puppy will learn to chew chew
toys and use her toilet. When you are at home but cannot pay full attention to your puppy,
confine her to a small, short-term confinement area (doggy den or dog crate) with a couple of stuffed chew toys. Confining your puppy to a den prevents any mistakes around
the house, maximizes the likelihood your puppy will learn to chew chew toys, and allows you to predict when your puppy would like to relieve herself. Knowing when your
puppy wants to go makes housetraining easy because now you can show her where to go
and reward her for going in the right spot. Confining a pup to a den temporarily inhibits
elimination, so that every hour you can take her to an appropriate toilet area. When she
promptly pees (and sometimes poops), give her 3 liver treats as a reward. Confinement is
a temporary management and training measure. Once your puppy has learned household
manners, he may enjoy full run of your house for the rest of his life. If you already have a
new puppy, read AFTER You Get Your Puppy and Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book, and
R
watch the award-winning SIRIUSPuppy
Training video.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: NEW ADULT DOG
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: New Adult Dog
Adopting an adult dog can be a marvelous alternative to raising and training a puppy.
Alternatively, a new adult dog can be a full-time project. Adult dogs can be perfect or
problematic—carrying the behavioral baggage of their previous owners. Take your time
to search for the right dog for you and only choose one that you know your family can
train. Some shelter and rescue dogs are purebred, but most are one-of-a-kind mixedbreeds. Some shelter dogs are well trained, well behaved, friendly, and simply in need
of a caring human companion. Others may have a few behavior problems (housesoiling,
chewing, barking, hyperactivity, etc.) and require their puppy education in adulthood.
Other dogs are shy and fearful and require a dedicated owner who is going to spend the
time that it takes to rebuild the dog’s confidence. Raising and training a puppy requires
a lot of time and know-how. The puppy’s behavior is always changing, for better or for
worse, depending on his socialization and training. However, an adult dog’s behavior and
temperament are already well established, for better or for worse. Traits and habits may
change over time but, compared with the behavioral plasticity of young puppies, an older
dog’s habits are much more resistant to change. Whereas temperament problems may take
longer to resolve in a adult dog, good habits are also just as hard to break. Thus the key
to adopting a good shelter or rescue dog depends on selection, selection, selection! Take
your time to test drive plenty of prospective candidates. The perfect dog is waiting for
you somewhere. Be patient, search well, and be realistic about your choice, i.e., choose
with your brain as well as your heart. When selecting an adult dog, you need to evaluate
whether you like the dog, whether the dog likes you (and other people), and the dog’s
basic manners and household etiquette.
Mutual Affection
All family members must be involved in the selection process and agree 100% on the final choice. Likewise, you must check that the dog likes all family members. Make sure
that the dog eagerly approaches each family member and thoroughly enjoys being handled and stroked. Additionally, check that the dog likes other people. Observe the dog’s
behavior when he interacts with a wide variety of people, especially children, men, and
strangers. The most important quality in a companion dog is friendliness: he should enjoy
the company and attentions of people. If he is at all fearful or standoffish, you will need to
devote time to teach him that people are non-threatening.
Test-Driving
Make sure that you get a good feel for your prospective dog before you take her home.
First, check her general demeanor. Is her kennel soiled or clean? Does she play with chew
toys? Is she calm and quiet, or hyperactive and barking? Make sure all family members
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spend plenty of time ”test-driving” the dog. Check to see that everyone can get the dog to
pay attention, come when called, sit, lie down, and roll over. Take the dog for a spin around
the block to evaluate how she walks on leash. Especially spend lots of time handling and
petting (examining) and hugging (restraining) the dog. Check that she enjoys having her
muzzle, ears, neck (and collar), paws, and rear end handled. If you find she has areas
that are sensitive to touch, check to see how she responds to progressive desensitization
exercises. There is little point in sharing your home with a dog that you (or others) cannot
handle.
Your Dog’s First Couple of Weeks at Home
An environmental change offers a wonderful opportunity for a dog to learn new household rules. First impressions are extremely important and leave an indelible impression.
Regardless of your new dog’s presumed housetraining and chew toy-training status, teach
her where to eliminate, what to chew, and how to settle down calmly and quietly during
her first couple of weeks at home. In the beginning, your dog is likely to be somewhat
stressed with all the recent changes in her life. She may be depressed, or she may react
with exuberance (hyperactivity and barking) in her new home. She may become anxious
(bark, chew, pee, and poop) when left alone. It is incredibly important that your dog
does not establish any bad habits during her first couple of weeks at home. Consider a
short-term and long-term confinement program (see our Home Alone booklet), so that
housetraining and chew toy-training are errorless. For the time being, do not feed your
dog from a food bowl. Instead, have family, friends and strangers handfeed most kibble
as training lures and rewards for housetraining, classical conditioning, and teaching basic
manners. Stuff the rest of her kibble into Kongs to teach her to settle down quietly, calmly,
and confidently. Once your dog adapts to her new surroundings and human companions,
she has a lifetime to enjoy full run of her new home.
Fearful Dogs
Many dogs are undersocialized and may become fearful in the shelter environment. You
are a saint to rescue a fearful dog from the stress of a shelter environment, but you must
realize that, for fearful dogs, confidence-building can be an extremely lengthy and heartrending procedure. You must have both the time and the know-how. The last two dogs
that I adopted were fearful and aggressive toward men and strangers. Both dogs became
friendly and confident, but it did take time and patience to help them reach that goal. (For
information on how to rehabilitate a fearful dog, read the Fearfulness booklet.) To learn
more, read the Open Paw Four-Level Training Manual and Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog
Book, and watch the Open Paw Training video. To locate adolescent and adult dog training
classes in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or
www.apdt.com.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: HOUSETRAINING
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Housetraining
Housesoiling is a spatial problem. Your puppydog has been allowed to eliminate in the
wrong place. Housesoiling quickly becomes a bad habit because dogs develop strong location, substrate, and olfactory preferences for their improvised indoor toilet areas. To
housetrain your puppydog: first, prevent any more mistakes; and second, teach your puppydog where you would like him to eliminate.
Prevent Mistakes
Mistakes are a disaster since they set a bad precedent and create bad habits, which can
be hard to break. Consequently, you must prevent mistakes at all cost. Whenever you
are not at home, leave your dog in a long-term confinement area, such as a single room
indoors with easy-to-clean floors (bathroom, kitchen, or utility room). This will be your
puppydog’s playroom. Provide your dog with fresh water, a number of stuffed chew toys
for entertainment, a comfortable bed in one corner, and a doggy toilet in the corner diagonally opposite from his bed. Your dog will naturally want to eliminate as far as possible
from his bed, and so will soon develop the good habit of using his toilet. Good habits are
just as hard to break as bad habits. For a doggy toilet, use sheets of newspaper sprinkled
with soil, or a litter box filled with a roll of turf, or a concrete paving slab. Thus your dog
will develop olfactory and substrate preferences for eliminating on soil, grass, or concrete.
The purpose of long-term confinement is to confine your dog’s natural behaviors (including urinating and defecating) to an area that is protected (thus preventing any mistakes
around the house when you are not there), and to help your dog quickly develop a strong
preference for eliminating on soil, grass, or concrete.
Teach Your Dog to Eliminate in the Right Place
When you are at home, confine your dog to a short-term confinement area with a number
of stuffed chew toys for entertainment. A portable dog crate makes an ideal doggy den.
Alternatively, keep your dog on a short leash fastened to an eye-hook in the base board
near her bed, or attach the leash to your belt. This way your dog may settle down beside
you while you read, work at the computer, or watch television. Every hour on the hour,
say ”Let’s go pee and poop” (or some other appropriate toilet instruction), and hurry your
dog (on leash) to her toilet (in your yard, or at curbside outside the front door of your
house or apartment building). Stand still with your dog on leash and repeat the instruction to eliminate. Give your dog 3 minutes to empty herself. When your dog eliminates,
praise her enthusiastically and offer 3 freeze-dried liver treats. Most puppies will urinate
within 2 minutes on each trip to a toilet area, and defecate within 3 minutes on every other
trip. Once your dog realizes that she can cash in her urine and feces for tasty treats, she
will want to eliminate in her toilet area. Soiling the house just does not have comparable
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fringe benefits. Moreover, after a dozen or so repetitions, you will have taught your dog
to eliminate on command. If your dog does not eliminate during the allotted 3-minute
toilet break, put her back inside her crate for another hour. The purpose of short-term
close confinement is to prevent any mistakes around the house when you are home (but
cannot devote undivided attention to your dog) and to predict when your dog needs to
eliminate. Temporarily (for no more than an hour at a time) confining a puppydog to a
small space (e.g., a dog crate) inhibits elimination, since the dog does not want to soil her
sleeping area. Consequently, your dog will want to go immediately upon release from
confinement—especially since hurrying to the toilet area will jiggle her bladder and bowels. Since you choose when to release your dog, you may choose when your puppy eliminates and, since you can predict when your dog needs to eliminate, you may be there to
show her where to go, to reward your dog for going, and to inspect and immediately clean
up after your dog. Never confine a puppy or an unhousetrained adult dog to a crate for
longer than an hour. A dog confined too long will be forced to soil her crate, making her
extremely difficult to housetrain. Once your pup is old enough to go on walks, make sure
she eliminates (in the yard, or in front of your house) before each walk. If your dog does
not go within 3minutes, put her back in her crate and try again an hour later. However,
if your dog does go, praise and reward her as usual and then say ”Let’s go for a walk.”
With a no-feces/no-walk policy, you will soon have a very a speedy defecator. Moreover,
elimination close to home facilitates clean-up and disposal; you will not have to stroll the
neighborhood weighed down with a bag of doggie doo. If you require a more detailed
description of housetraining, read BEFORE You Get Your Puppy and watch the Training The
Companion Dog Video II: Behavior Problems & Household Etiquette. To housetrain your dog,
you need a dog crate, a number of chew toys, and some freeze-dried liver treats.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: CHEWING
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Chewing
Chewing is essential for maintaining the health of your dog’s teeth, jaws, and gums. Puppies especially have a strong need to chew to relieve the irritation and inflammation of
teething. Dogs chew to relieve anxiety and boredom, as well as for entertainment. Your
dog’s jaws are his tools for carrying objects and for investigating his surroundings. Essentially, a dog’s approach to all items in his environment is ”Can I chew it?”
Chewing is Normal, Natural, and Necessary
Dogs generally sleep at night and in the middle of the day. However, chewing is your dog’s
primary form of entertainment during his morning and late afternoon activity peaks. After
all, there are only so many things your dog can do when left at home alone. He can hardly
read a novel, telephone friends, or watch the soaps! Indeed, most chewing sprees stem
from your dog’s relentless quest for some form of occupational therapy to pass the time
of day when left at home alone. Chewing is a perfectly normal, natural, and necessary
canine behavior. Prevention and treatment of destructive chewing focus on management
and education—to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items and to redirect
your dog’s natural chewing-urge to appropriate, acceptable, and resilient chew toys.
Prevent Destructive Chewing
When leaving home, confine your puppydog to a long-term confinement area, such as
a single room—your puppydog’s playroom—with a comfortable bed, a bowl of water, a
doggy toilet (if not yet housetrained), and nothing to chew but half a dozen freshly-stuffed
chew toys. Housetrained adult dogs may be confined (with their chew toys) to a dog crate.
When you return, instruct your dog to fetch his chew toys so you can extricate the freezedried liver pieces and give them to your dog. Your dog will happily settle down and
entertain himself with his chew toys as soon as you leave in the morning, and he will be
more inclined to search for chew toys when he wakes up in anticipation of your afternoon
return. This is important since most chewing activity occurs right after you leave home
and right before you return. When you are home, confine your puppy to his doggy den
(crate) with nothing but a freshly-stuffed chew toy for entertainment. Every hour on the
hour (or at longer intervals with housetrained adult dogs), take your puppydog to her
doggy toilet (see Housetraining blueprint) and, if she goes, praise her and play some chew
toy games with her before putting her back in her crate with a freshly stuffed chew toy. The
purpose of confinement is to prevent your dog from chewing inappropriate items around
the house and to maximize the likelihood your dog will develop a chew toy habit.
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Redirect Chewing to Chew Toys
The confinement schedule described above optimizes self-training; your dog will train herself to chew chew toys. In fact your dog will soon become a chew toyaholic. With a good
chew toy habit, your puppy will no longer want to destroy carpets, curtains, couches,
clothes, chair legs, computer disks, children’s toys, or electrical cords. Your dog will be
less likely to develop into a recreational barker. And also, your dog will happily settle
down calmly and quietly and will no longer be bored or anxious when left alone. You
must also actively train your dog to want to chew chew toys. Offer praise and maybe a
freeze-dried liver treat every time you notice your dog chewing chew toys. Do not take
chew toy chewing for granted. Let your dog know that you strongly approve of her newly
acquired, appropriate, and acceptable hobby. Play chew toy games with your dog, such
as fetch, search, and tug-of-war. Chew toys should be indestructible and nonconsumable. Consumption of non-food items is decidedly dangerous for your dog’s health. Also,
destruction of chew toys necessitates their regular replacement, which can be expensive.
However, compared with the cost of reupholstering just one couch, 70 dollars worth of
chew toys seems a pretty wise investment. Kongs, Biscuit Balls, Big Kahuna footballs, and
sterilized long-bones are by far the best chew toys. They are made of natural products,
are hollow, and may be stuffed with food to entice your dog to chew them exclusively.
To prevent your dog from porking out, ensure that you only stuff chew toys with part of
your dog’s daily diet (kibble or raw food). Firmly squish a piece of freeze-dried liver in
the small hole in the Kong, fill the rest of the cavity with moistened kibble, and then put
the Kongs in the freezer. Voila, a Kongsicle! As the kibble thaws, some falls out easily
to reinforce your dog as soon as she shows interest. Other bits of kibble come out only
after your dog has worried at the Kong for several minutes, thus reinforcing your dog’s
chewing over time. The liver is the best part. Your dog may smell the liver, see the liver,
(and maybe even talk to the liver), but she cannot get it out. And so your dog will continue to gnaw contentedly at the Kong until she falls asleep. Until your dog is fully chew
toy-trained, do not feed her from a bowl. Instead, feed all kibble, canned food, and raw
diets from chew toys, or handfeed meals as rewards when you notice your dog is chewing
a chew toy. If you would like better insight into your dog’s chewing psyche, read chapter
3, ”It’s All Chew Toys to Them,” in The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. If you require a
more detailed description of chew toy training, read the “Chewing” booklet and BEFORE
You Get Your Puppy and watch the Training The Companion Dog Video II: Behavior Problems &
Household Etiquette. To chew toy-train your dog, you need a dog crate, a number of hollow
chew toys, and some freeze-dried liver treats.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: DIGGING
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Digging
Dogs dig to bury bones, and later to dig them up again. Dogs dig cooling hollows in
the summer, and warming pits in the winter. Dogs dig after eavesdropping on private
ultrasonic conversations of subterranean critters. Bitches dig dens when they are pregnant.
Dogs dig out of boredom, and dogs dig to escape. But, by and large, most dogs dig for the
sheer fun of it.
Dogs Don’t See Your Problem
Dogs consider digging to be a perfectly normal and natural doggy activity. In fact, terriers
consider digging to be their very reason for being. It would therefore be fruitless to try
to stop your dog from digging altogether. Prevention and treatment of digging focus on
management and education: preventing your dog from digging in inappropriate areas and
redirecting your dog’s natural digging-desire to a suitable area.
Prevent Digging in Your Absence
When you are away from home, keep your dog indoors. When you are at home, try your
best to accompany your dog outdoors to supervise and teach garden rules. Housesoiling,
destructive chewing, and hyperactivity are the most common reasons why dogs are relegated to unsupervised, solitary confinement in the yard, where they predictably learn to
bark, dig, and escape, and become over-excited whenever let indoors. Consequently, it is
important to housetrain and chew toy-train your dog. (See Housetraining and Destructive
Chewing blueprints.) Teach your dog to settle down calmly and quietly indoors, and to
sit when greeting visitors (see HyperDog! blueprint). Then your dog may remain safely
indoors whether you are home or not. Your air-conditioned and centrally-heated house
is the safest and most comfortable place for your dog to spend the day. When you are at
home, go outside and enjoy your garden with your dog. Some dogs dig to escape because
they cannot bear the boredom and anxiety of solitary confinement in the yard. Escaping
is exceedingly dangerous for your dog’s health. So, if you decide to leave your dog in the
yard, make the yard more interesting and be sure to fix the fence. Also make sure your
dog has a cool resting place in the summer and warmth in the winter. Teach your dog to
dissipate digging energy with other activities. Make sure your dog is well exercised (psychologically as well as physically) and entertained and, thus, has no need to dig to escape
from the yard. Teach recreational diggers to become recreational chewers. If your dog is
busying himself with a chew toy, he has little time to dig. Consequently, chew toys stuffed
with breakfast kibble are the best objects to leave indoors, or to bury in your dog’s digging
pit. You must teach your dog how to entertain himself outdoors. This means your dog
needs chew toys outside, too.
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Redirect Digging to a Digging Pit
Since you consider your dog’s choice of digging locations to be inappropriate, choose a
location to your liking and teach your dog to dig there. Build your dog a digging pit
(much like a child’s sandbox) in a suitable corner of the yard. Bury a cow’s femur (the
whole thing) in your dog’s digging pit. Your little doggie will be utterly delighted when
she finds a huge meaty bone. Now, this single simple procedure may not totally prevent
holes in other areas of the garden, but your dog will now be much more inclined to dig in
her digging pit. I mean, in 1849 everyone started rushing westwards to California. They
didn’t rush to New Jersey. And why did they rush to California? Because one person
discovered a nugget of gold at Sutter’s Mill. They didn’t find gold in New Jersey, and
so they didn’t rush to New Jersey. And so it is with dogs. After just one remarkable
find, your dog will prefer to excavate in that California corner—her digging pit, where
she once found something very worth finding. Every morning, fill several chew toys with
your dog’s breakfast kibble and bury them in her digging pit. Your dog will discover
that the digging pit is a virtual treasure trove where she can find toys for sustenance and
entertainment.
Garden Rules
Once the dog’s digging activities have been redirected to a suitable location in your yard,
you might consider protecting other parts of the garden. Lay down chicken wire or chainlink fencing over the lawn and flower beds, add plenty of topsoil, and reseed. Use boundary fences to partition the yard into doggy and non-doggy zones. The fences are not meant
to be dog-proof; rather, they are used as training aids to clearly demarcate lawn and garden
boundaries to help you teach the rules. Always try to accompany your dog when he goes
outside, especially during puppyhood or the first few months an older dog is at home.
Remember, an owner in the yard is worth 2 in front of the television! It is not fair to keep
garden rules a secret from your dog and then get angry with the dog for breaking rules he
didn’t even know existed. Encourage and praise your dog for walking on paths and for
lying down in dog zones. Tie a number of stuffed chew toys to ground stakes or hang them
from tree branches in dog zones to encourage your dog to want to spend time in those areas. Discourage your dog from entering non-doggy zones. If you require a more detailed
description, read the Digging booklet and watch the Training The Companion Dog Video
II: Behavior Problems & Household Etiquette. To teach your dog to use a digging pit, you
will need numerous stuffable chew toys and some freeze-dried liver treats.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: BARKING
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Barking
Some dogs get extremely worked up when visitors ring the doorbell, or when dogs walk
by the house. Some spaniels and terriers bark at the drop of a hat. And our good friend
Larry Labrador will bark whenever a leaf falls from a tree 3 blocks away. Barking is as
characteristically doggy as wagging a tail or burying a bone. It would be inane and inhumane to try to stop your dog from barking altogether: ”You’ll never bark in this town
again!” After all, some barking is extremely useful. My dogs are much more efficient than
the doorbell and much more convincing than a burglar alarm. The goal, then, is to teach
dogs normally to be calm and quiet, but to sound the alarm when intruders enter your
property. The barking problem may be resolved to our advantage by management and
education: first, immediately reduce the frequency of barking before we all go insane; and
second, teach your dog to ”Woof” and ”Shush” on cue.
Reduce the Frequency of Barks
The easiest way to immediately reduce woof-frequency is by exclusively feeding your dog
from hollow chew toys. Dogs bark the most right after their owners leave home for the
day. Each evening, weigh out and moisten your dog’s kibble or raw diet for the following
day. Squish the gooey food into hollow chew toys (Kong products and sterilized bones)
and put them in the freezer overnight. In the morning, give your dog some frozen stuffed
chew toys. Your dog will spend well over an hour extricating his breakfast from the chew
toys. And, if your dog is busying himself with chew toys, he will be lying down quietly!
(For detailed chew toy-stuffing instructions, read the Chewing booklet.) Do not leave an
excessive barker outdoors. Yard-bound dogs are exposed to many more disturbances and
their barks more easily penetrate the neighborhood. Leave your dog comfortably in a
single room (away from the street) with a radio playing to mask outside disturbances. If
you have been leaving your dog outside because he soils or destroys the house, housetrain
and chew toy train your dog so he may enjoy indoor comforts when you are away from
home.
Teach ”Woof” and ”Shush” On Cue
It is easier to teach your dog to shush when he is calm and focused. Therefore, teaching your dog to ”Woof” on cue is the first step in ”Shush” training, thus enabling you to
teach ”Shush” at your convenience, and not at inconvenient times when the dog decides
to bark. Moreover, teaching ”Shush” is now much easier because your dog is not barking
uncontrollably—barking was your idea! Station an accomplice outside the front door. Say
”Woof” (or ”Speak,” or ”Alert”), which is the cue for your assistant to ring the bell. Praise
your dog profusely when he barks (prompted by the doorbell); maybe even bark along
with your dog. After a few good woofs, say ”Shush” and then waggle a tasty food treat
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in front of his nose. Your dog will stop barking as soon as he sniffs the treat because it is
impossible to sniff and woof simultaneously. Praise your dog as he sniffs quietly, and then
offer the treat. Repeat this routine a dozen or so times and your dog will learn to anticipate
the doorbell ringing whenever you ask him to speak. Eventually your dog will bark after
your request but before the doorbell rings, meaning that your dog has learned to bark on
command. Similarly, your dog will learn to anticipate the likelihood of sniffables following your ”Shush” request. You have then taught your dog both to speak and shush on cue.
Over repeated ”Woof” and ”Shush” trials, progressively increase the length of required
shush-time before offering a food reward—at first just 2 seconds, then 3, then 5, 8, 12, 20,
and so on. By alternating instructions to woof and shush, the dog is praised and rewarded
for barking on request and for shushing on request. Remember, always speak softly when
instructing your dog to shush, and reinforce your dog’s silence with whisper-praise. The
more softly you speak, the more your dog will be inclined to pay attention and listen (and
therefore, not bark).
Teach Your Dog When to Bark
Invite a dozen people for afternoon tea to teach your dog when, and when not, to bark.
Instruct your visitors (some with dogs) to walk by the house a number of times before
ringing the doorbell. When the first person walks by the house, it will take all of your
attention to keep your dog shushed. But persevere: it will be easier when the same person
walks by the second time, and again easier on the third pass by. Eventually your dog will
habituate and will no longer alert to the same person’s presence in the street. Profusely
praise your dog and offer treats for silent vigilance. Repeat reinforcement for quiet vigilance several times on subsequent passes by. But when the visitor starts up the garden
path, eagerly and urgently say ”Speak! Speak! Speak!” Praise your dog when he woofs,
and then instruct him to sit and shush at the front door while you welcome the visitor.
If your dog exuberantly barks and bounces at this point, simply wait until he sits and
shushes and then praise and offer a treat. Have the visitor leave and come back a number
of times. Eventually, your dog will greet him by sitting in silence. This procedure becomes
easier with each new visitor. Your dog soon learns to watch passersby in silence and to
give voice when they step on your property, but to sit and shush when they are invited
indoors—a trained neighborhood watchdog, which even non-dog-owning neighbors will
welcome on the street where they live. If you require a more detailed description, read
the Barking booklet and watch the Training The Companion Dog Video II: Behavior Problems &
Household Etiquette. To teach your dog to be calmer and bark less, you will need numerous
stuffable chew toys. To teach your dog to ”Woof” and ”Shush” on cue, you need some
freeze-dried liver treats.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: HOME ALONE
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Home Alone
Your new puppydog needs lots of attention (companionship, education, and play), but
also to be taught how to entertain himself appropriately and how to thoroughly enjoy his
time when left at home alone. Otherwise, a social vacuum can be a very lonely place. Puppies and dogs predictably develop housesoiling, chewing, digging, and barking problems
if allowed too much freedom and too little supervision and guidance during their first few
weeks at home. Puppies and newly adopted dogs may become overdependent if allowed
unrestricted access to their owners during the initial time in their new home. Overdependent dogs often become anxious when left at home alone, and they attempt to adapt to the
boredom and stress of solitary confinement by busying themselves with doggy activities—
chewing, digging, barking—which soon become owner-absent behavior problems. What
else is there to do? Severely stressed dogs may work themselves up into a frenzy and
spend the day circling, pacing, and panting.
A Special Place
Dogs are den animals, and they value their own special place—a place for peaceful retreat,
a methodical chew, or even a snooze. A doggy den (a collapsible and portable dog crate
and dog bed) is an ideal training tool. Apart from its obvious use for transporting dogs by
car or plane, a crate may be used for short-term confinement when you cannot supervise
your puppydog—to keep him out of mischief and prevent him from making housesoiling,
destructive chewing, and digging mistakes. In addition, the crate may be used specifically
to create good household habits: to housetrain your puppydog; to establish a hard-tobreak chew toy habit; to reduce excessive barking; to prevent inappropriate digging; and
to foster confidence and calmness. Right from the outset, when you are home, regularly
confine your pup for ”little quiet moments” in his dog crate in order to teach household
manners and imbue confidence. Then your dog can look forward to enjoying a lifetime
with the full run of your house, whether you are home or not.
Teach Your Puppydog to Enjoy His Doggy Den
A dog crate is really no different than a child’s crib, playpen, or bedroom. The first item
on the agenda is to teach your puppydog to thoroughly enjoy spending time in his doggy
den. Stuff your puppy’s first meal into a hollow chew toy (see our Chewing blueprint), tie
the chew toy inside the crate, and leave the door open so the pup may come and go as he
pleases. Praise your puppy while he chews the chew toy and supervise the puppy if he
leaves the crate. Once the pup has settled down for a quiet chew, you may close the crate
door. For your pup’s second meal, put the stuffed chew toys inside the crate and shut the
door with the puppy on the outside. Once your puppy worries at the crate to get to his
dinner, let the puppy enter his crate and close the door behind him. From now on, always
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give your puppy a stuffed chew toy when confining him to his crate. Your pup will soon
learn that confinement is for a short time—and an enjoyable time.
Teach Your Dog to Teach Herself
When at home, always confine your puppydog with a variety of hollow chew toys stuffed
with kibble and treats. Confining a dog to a crate with an attractive chew toy is like confining a child to an empty room with a video game. This is called autoshaping. All you have
to do is set up the situation, and your dog will automatically train herself. Each treat extricated from the chew toy progressively reinforces chewing chew toys and settling down
calmly and quietly. Your dog will soon become hooked on her chew toy-habit, leaving
very little time for inappropriate chewing, digging, or barking. And if your puppydog is
happily preoccupied chewing her chew toy, she will fret less.
Housetraining
A dog crate may be used to predict when your puppy needs to relieve herself. Regular,
but short-term (one hour or less) confinement inhibits your puppy from eliminating. This
means that she will want to eliminate immediately when released each hour and taken to
her toilet area, where she is handsomely rewarded with tasty training treats. However,
never confine your unhousetrained puppy to her crate for longer than an hour, or when
you are away from home; otherwise, the poor pup may be forced to soil her bedroom. As
a temporary necessity until your puppy is housetrained, leave her in a special long-term
confinement area. (See our Housetraining blueprint.)
Home-Alone Dogs Need An Occupation
Preparing dogs for inevitable periods of solitary confinement—and specifically teaching
them how to occupy their time when spent at home alone—is the most pressing humane
consideration for any new puppydog in any household. Every dog requires some form
of enjoyable occupational therapy. Vocational chew toy chewing is the easiest and most
enjoyable solution. Dogs are crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk), and so it is pretty
easy to teach them how to calmly pass the time of day. During your puppydog’s first few
days and weeks at home, regularly confine him to a crate with stuffed chew toys. Prepare
the pup for your absence when you are present. When at home, it is possible to monitor
your pup’s behavior when he is confined for numerous short periods throughout the day.
Your puppydog’s first impressions of an established daily routine create an acceptable and
enjoyable status quo for years to come. Remember, once your puppydog is confident,
independent, and trained, he may enjoy free range of your house and garden for the rest
of his life. If you require a more detailed description, read our “Home Alone” booklet and
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: HOME ALONE
AFTER You Get Your Puppy. To teach your dog to be calmer and bark less, you will need a
dog crate, a number of hollow chew toys, and some freeze-dried liver treats.
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Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Puppy Biting
Puppies bite. And thank goodness they do! Puppy play-fighting and play-biting are essential for your puppy to develop a soft mouth as an adult.
Puppy Biting is Normal, Natural, and Necessary!
Puppy biting seldom causes appreciable harm, but many bites are quite painful and elicit
an appropriate reaction—a yelp and a pause in an otherwise extremely enjoyable play
session. Thus, your puppy learns that his sharp teeth and weak jaws can hurt. Since
your puppy enjoys play-fighting, he will begin to inhibit the force of his biting to keep
the game going. Thus your puppy will learn to play-bite gently before he acquires the
formidable teeth and strong jaws of an adolescent dog. Forbidding a young puppy from
biting altogether may offer immediate and temporary relief, but it is potentially dangerous
because your puppy will not learn that his jaws can inflict pain. Consequently, if ever
provoked or frightened as an adult, the resultant bite is likely to be painful and cause
serious injury. Certainly, puppy play-biting must be controlled, but only in a progressive
and systematic manner. The puppy must be taught to inhibit the force of his bites, before
puppy biting is forbidden altogether. Once your puppy has developed a soft mouth, there
is plenty of time to inhibit the frequency of his now gentler mouthing. Teaching your
puppy to inhibit the force of his bites is a 2-step process: first, teach the pup not to hurt you;
and second, teach your pup not to exert any pressure at all when biting. Thus the puppy’s
biting will become gentle mouthing. Teaching your puppy to inhibit the frequency of his
mouthing is a 2-step process: first, teach your puppy that, whereas mouthing is OK, he
must stop when requested; and second, teach your pup never to initiate mouthing unless
requested.
No Pain
It is not necessary to hurt or frighten your pup to teach her that biting hurts. A simple
”Ouch!” is sufficient. If your pup acknowledges your ”ouch” and stops biting, praise her,
lure her to sit (to reaffirm that you are in control), reward her with a liver treat, and then
resume playing. If your pup ignores the ”ouch” and continues biting, yelp ”Owwwww!”
and leave the room. Your puppy has lost her playmate. Return after a 30-second timeout and make up by lure-rewarding your puppy to come, sit, lie down, and calm down
before resuming play. Do not attempt to take hold of your pup’s collar, or carry her to
confinement; you are out of control and she will probably bite you again. Consequently,
play with your puppy in a room where it is safe to leave her if she does not respond to
your yelp. If she ignores you, she loses her playmate.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: PUPPY BITING
No Pressure
Once your pup’s biting no longer hurts, still pretend that it does. Greet harder nips with
a yelp of pseudo-pain. Your puppy will soon to get the idea: ”Whooahh! These humans
are soooo super-sensitive. I’ll have to be much gentler when I bite them.” The pressure of
your puppy’s bites will progressively decrease until play-biting becomes play-mouthing.
Never allow your puppy to mouth human hair or clothing. Hair and clothing cannot
feel. Allowing a puppy to mouth hair, scarves, shoelaces, trouser legs, or gloved hands,
inadvertently trains the puppy to bite harder, extremely close to human flesh!
Off!
Once your pup exerts no pressure whatsoever when mouthing, then —and only then—
teach him to reduce the frequency of his mouthing. Teach your puppy the meaning of
”Off!” by handfeeding kibble (see the SIRIUS Puppy Training video). Your puppy will
learn that gentle mouthing is OK, but he must stop the instant you ask him to stop.
Puppy Must Never Initiate Mouthing
At this stage, your puppy should never be allowed to initiate mouthing (unless requested
to do so). Please refer to our Preventing Aggression booklet for a detailed description of
the essential rules for bite-inhibition exercises such as handfeeding, play-fighting, and tugof-war. By way of encouragement, mouthing-maniac puppies usually develop gentle jaws
as adults because their many painful puppy bites elicited ample appropriate feedback. On
the other hand, puppies that seldom play and roughhouse with other dogs, puppies that
seldom bite their owners (e.g., shy, fearful, and standoffish pups), and breeds that have
been bred to have soft mouths may not receive sufficient feedback regarding the pain and
power of their jaws. This is the major reason to enroll your puppy in an off-leash puppy
class right away. Should a dog ever bite as an adult, both the prognosis for rehabilitation
and the fate of the dog are almost always decided by the severity of the injury, which is
predetermined by the level of bite inhibition the dog acquired during puppyhood. The
most important survival lesson for a puppy to learn is that bites cause pain! Your puppy
can only learn this lesson if he is allowed to play-bite other puppies and people, and if
he receives appropriate feedback. For more detailed information about bite-inhibition exR
ercises, read our “Preventing Aggression” booklet and watch the SIRIUSPuppy
Training
and Biting videos. If you feel you are having any difficulty whatsoever teaching your
puppy to play-bite gently, seek help immediately. To locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer
(CPDT) in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or
www.apdt.com.
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Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Fighting
Many people have unrealistic expectations about dog-dog social behavior. Dogs are expected to behave perfectly and get along with all other dogs, even though people have
difficulty being universally accepting and friendly. However, although people may often
disagree, argue, and sometimes resort to pushing and shoving, very few people inflict
severe injuries. When tempers flare, extreme physical aggression is strongly inhibited.
Really, dogs are not that much different. Most dogs have frequent disagreements and arguments and, on occasion, resort to scrapping noisily, but only extremely rarely does one
dog severely harm another. Whereas it is unrealistic to expect dogs never to squabble, it
is perfectly realistic to raise and train dogs to never hurt each other when fighting. To
teach canine social savvy: first, socialize your puppy to be friendly, so that it would rather
play than fight; second, prevent predictable adolescent desocialization but, most important: teach your puppy bite inhibition, so that if it does scrap as an adult dog, it causes no
harm.
Socialization
Socializing a young puppy is as easy as it is enjoyable. Enroll in an off-leash puppy class,
visit different dog parks on a regular basis, and walk your puppy at least once a day. To
socialize your puppy, he must meet unfamiliar dogs on a regular basis.
Prevent Developmental Desocialization
Adolescence is a particularly stressful time for young dogs, especially males, who are
repeatedly harassed by older dogs, especially males. The ritualized harassment is both
normal and necessary, allowing older dogs to put developing youngsters ”in their place”
before they are strong enough to compete on the social scene. Harassment is triggered by
rude adolescent behavior and by extremely elevated testosterone levels in 5- to 18-monthold adolescents. Castrating your puppy will prevent most harassment from older dogs.
Additionally, to maintain self-confidence and offset the stress of adult-doggy discipline,
an adolescent dog requires many positive social interactions. Regular play sessions and
repeated friendly encounters are vital. However, for many dogs, socialization with other
dogs is abruptly curtailed at between 6 to 8 months, usually following the first couple of
scraps. This is especially true for small dogs and large dogs. Worrying that a little dog may
get hurt, the owner is more likely to pick him up and less likely to let him play. Similarly,
worrying a large dog might hurt other dogs, the owner now tends to keep her restrained
on a tight leash. Thus, at a crucial developmental stage, many dogs are seldom allowed
to interact with unfamiliar dogs. A vicious cycle develops—the dog desocializes and its
bite inhibition begins to drift, whereupon fights and potential damage now become more
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likely, making it even more difficult to socialize the dog. To prevent your puppy from becoming asocial or antisocial during adolescence, he must continue to meet unfamiliar dogs
on a regular basis. Always praise your puppy for meeting, greeting, and playing with unfamiliar dogs. Never take friendly behavior for granted. Always let your dog know that
you are very happy when he is friendly. Throughout adolescence and adulthood, praise
and reward your dog with food treats after every friendly encounter with another dog.
Bite Inhibition
Most dogs, especially males, are involved in a number of scraps during adolescence. If the
dogs acquired good bite inhibition during puppyhood and learned how to resolve differences without causing harm, there is little, if any, damage. However, if the dogs did not
learn bite inhibition as puppies, there may be substantial damage. Dog fights are noisy
and scary, and many owners insist: ”He fights all the time and is trying to kill the other
dogs!” It is essential to objectively assess which dogs are dangerous and which are not.
Calculate the dog’s fight/bite ratio by asking, ”How many times has the dog fought?”
and ”How many fights warranted veterinary treatment for severe bites?” The observation
(that the dog fights a lot of the time) and the assumption (that the dog is trying to kill other
dogs) are quite contradictory. If the dog is trying to kill other dogs, then obviously he is
not that good at it, since he has had numerous attempts and failed on every occasion. On
the contrary, a large number of fights and the absence of injury offers proof the dog is definitely not trying to kill other dogs. (If one dog were truly trying to harm another dog, the
physical damage from a single incident would be extreme.) Certainly he is undersocialized, but he has marvelous bite inhibition. ”Growl classes” provide an effective solution
for scrappy dogs that have never harmed another dog. Owners can safely practice controlling their dogs in a controlled setting, and dogs may gradually rebuild their confidence so
that eventually they may resume socialization and play. For dogs that harm other dogs,
common-sense and precautionary management are the only options. The dog should be
kept on-leash and muzzled whenever on public property. Allowing a dog that harms other
puppies and dogs the opportunity to interact with other dogs would be unfair, irresponsible, and dangerous. Bite inhibition is the key. The issue is not really whether dogs fight, but
whether or not one dog harms another. Puppies that had ample opportunities to socialize,
play-fight, and play-bite with other puppies usually develop good bite-inhibition. They
learned how to inhibit the power of their jaws and consequently may resolve adulthood
differences without causing harm. Bite inhibition can only safely be established during
puppyhood. Giving your puppy the opportunity to develop good bite inhibition is the
most important reason for enrolling in puppy class. To learn more, read AFTER You Get
R
Your Puppy and the “Fighting” booklet and watch the SIRIUSPuppy
Training and Fighting
videos. To locate puppy classes and ”growl classes” in your area, contact the Association
of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or www.apdt.com.
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Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Fear of People
Socializing a puppy to people is the easiest and most enjoyable aspect of raising a dog. On
a regular and ongoing basis, puppies need to meet, play with, and be handled and trained
by a wide variety of people, especially strangers, men, and children.
Narrow Window of Opportunity
Old dogs can indeed be taught new tricks. An adult dog may learn basic manners and
good behavior (where to eliminate, what to chew, and when, and for how long to bark)
at any time in its life. However, socialization must occur during puppyhood—during the
critical period of socialization, which ends when puppies are 12-13 weeks old. Shy and
fearful dogs can be substantially rehabilitated, but they will never develop the confidence
and social savvy of a well-socialized puppy. They will never become what they could have
been. Puppy socialization is critical for your puppy to develop the confidence and social
savvy to continue socializing with people as an adult dog. Unless your puppy meets unfamiliar people every day, it will become fearful. After 8 weeks of age, puppies start to
become shy and wary of unfamiliar people, and between 5 and 8 months of age, they become fearful of strangers, especially men and children. Fearfulness and aggression worsen
very quickly because, once a dog becomes fearful or aggressive, normal socialization all
but stops. If your puppy becomes fearful, his life as a companion dog will be riddled with
anxiety and stress and he will be useless as a working, competition, or protection dog. If
you notice any signs of shyness, standoffishness, or fearfulness in your puppy or adolescent dog, seek help immediately. Contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (1-800 PET
DOGS or www.apdt.com) to locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area.
Neonatal Handling
There is no better time to accustom puppies to enjoy being handled than when they are still
neonates. The puppies cannot see or hear, but they can taste, smell, and feel. The puppies
recognize and accept the handlers as strangers. What could be easier that inviting friends
and family to gently hold, handle, and stroke neonatal puppies? Additionally, the ideal
time to accustom puppies to sudden movements and loud, strange, and sudden noises is
when the eyes and ears begin to open (between 2 and 3 weeks).
Socialization in the Puppy’s Original Home
To fully enjoy life as a human’s companion, a puppy must be taught to thoroughly enjoy
the company and actions of all people, especially strangers, men and children. It is not
sufficient for puppies to meet the same small circle of familiar friends each day. Puppies
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: FEAR OF PEOPLE
need to meet unfamiliar people every day—especially men and children. Before they are 8
weeks old—and the critical period of socialization is almost 2-thirds over—puppies need
to have been handled and trained by at least 100 different people. Puppy socialization
and handling exercises are so simple, so important, and so much fun. Each person should
use kibble to lure-reward each puppy to come, sit, lie down, and roll over. Then visitors
can pick up, cradle, cuddle, and stroke the pups, while looking in their eyes and gently
examining their jaws, paws, ears, belly, and private parts. Remember to maintain routine
hygiene: All people should leave outdoor shoes outdoors and wash their hands before
handling puppies less than 12 weeks of age.
Socialization in the Puppydog’s New Home
By 8 weeks of age socialized puppies will start to become shy and wary of unfamiliar
people. Consequently, it is necessary to accelerate their socialization program. During his
first month in his new home, a puppy needs to be handled and trained by an additional 100
different people—at least 3 strangers daily. Puppy handling is still so easy and enjoyable.
(Please note: All these exercises will work with adult dogs, they just take much more
time.) Weigh out the puppy’s dinner kibble and divide it into bags to give to each guest
to handfeed to the puppy. Put a few treats into the men’s bags and lots of treats into the
children’s bags. Each guest will train your puppy for you, using kibble and treats to lurereward the puppy to come, sit, lie down, and roll over. Each person will also pick up
and handfeed the pup, examining his mouth, ears, paws, and rear end, before passing the
puppy to someone else. ”Pass the puppy” is marvelous game and prepares the puppy for
handling and examination by veterinarians and groomers. At the end of the evening, your
puppy will love household guests and especially enjoy the company and actions of men
and children.
Puppy Classes, Walks, and Parties
As soon as your puppy is old enough, enroll in a puppy class so your puppy may socialize with other dogs and people and fine-tune his bite inhibition. Without a doubt,
walking your puppy is the very best socialization and confidence-building exercise. Stop
every 25 yards and instruct your puppy to sit (for control), and occasionally to settle down
(with a stuffed chew toy) and watch the world go by. Handfeed dinner when anyone
approaches—1 piece of kibble for a woman, 3 pieces for a man, 3 pieces of freeze-dried
liver for each child, and 5 pieces of liver for a boy on a bike or skateboard. You may allow
passersby to handfeed your pup once you have shown them how to lure him to sit to say
hello. Above all, don’t keep your puppy a secret. Continue to have regular puppy parties
at home and invite family, friends, and, especially, neighbors to meet your puppy. Instruct
each person to bring a friend. When you socialize a puppy properly, you will find your
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own social life improves dramatically. For a more detailed socialization agenda and information on lure-reward training, read BEFORE You Get Your Puppy, AFTER You Get Your
R
Puppy, Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book, and make sure to watch the SIRIUSPuppy
Training video. To locate puppy classes in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog
Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or www.apdt.com.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: DOGS & CHILDREN
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Dogs & Children
Babies and children should never be left unsupervised with puppies or dogs. Learning to
respect, understand, care for, and successfully control a dog gives a dramatic boost to any
child’s self-esteem. But these benefits do not come by magic. Children and parents alike
must realize that cartoon dogs are fantasy, and Lassie was played by several well-trained
dogs. Both Lassie and Timmy were acting. In the domestic environment, both dogs and
children must learn how to act around each other. All dogs must be taught how to act
around children, and all children must be taught how to act around dogs.
Teaching Dogs How to Act Around Children
To improve children’s confidence and self-esteem, it is vital their puppy- and dog-training
exploits succeed. Success depends upon adult planning, participation, and direction. First,
adults must teach the puppy or dog how to act in a controlled manner and, second, adults
must teach children how to control the now-mannerly puppy or dog. Adults should use
kibble to lure-reward train the puppy to come, sit, lie down, stand, and roll over. ”Come,”
”Sit,” and ”Lie down” are the basic control commands, and ”Stand” and ”Roll over” are the
best commands for examining the dog’s body. Additionally, adults should handfeed kibble while cuddling (restraining) the puppy and while stroking and fondling (examining)
his muzzle, ears, paws, belly, and rear end. The puppy will soon learn to positively associate restraint and examination with food. Provide children with tasty treats (in addition to
kibble) and instruct them how to lure-reward train the now-easily-controlled puppy. The
puppy will quickly learn that training is fun and being trained by children is especially
fun. Families without children at home must invite children to meet, handfeed, and train
the puppy during his first 3 months in his new home. Young puppies are impressionable,
cute, and non-threatening. Invite family, friends, and neighbors with children, i.e. children
the puppy is likely to meet as an adult. Instruct the children how to use kibble and treats
to lure-reward train the puppy or dog to come, sit, lie down and roll over. By approaching
and sitting close, the dog voluntarily accepts and enjoys the child’s company. By sitting,
lying down, and rolling over, the dog acknowledges and respects the child’s requests. In
other words, the child asks and the dog agrees. Or, we could say, the child commands and
the dog willingly complies. Moreover, by rolling over on request, the dog shows voluntary
and happy appeasement. Quite frankly, willing compliance and happy deference towards
children is the only workable solution for pet dog training. Additionally, as a major beneficial side effect of lure-reward training, the dog grows to like and respect its trainer: ”Wow!
Children are fun; they give lots of treats. Of course, you have to sit to receive them...but
then that’s just common canine courtesy!” All owners should seek family puppy training
classes, where children can interact with puppies off their leash.
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New Baby
All dogs must be taught to thoroughly enjoy the presence and actions of babies. The solution is classical conditioning. From the outset, integrate your dog into all new baby
moments and routines. When feeding the baby, sit down comfortably, and handfeed kibble to your dog at the same time. Pick up the baby whenever he cries and then call your
dog and offer a treat as you cuddle and shush the baby. (You will find the baby calms
down more quickly if you are slightly distracted by talking to the dog.) When changing
the baby’s diapers, handfeed freeze-dried liver to the dog. (Keep a treat jar on the diaperchanging table.) In no time at all, your dog will form strong positive associations with the
baby’s feeding, crying, cuddling, and diaper-changing. You may find your dog adopts her
baby-minding role with great enthusiasm. Your dog may promptly alert you whenever
your baby cries or messes his diapers. Yes, you will have trained a Dirty Diaper Detection
Dog.
Teaching Children How to Act Around Dogs
Ideally, learn how to teach your children (and yourself) how to teach a puppy or dog before you get a puppy or dog. Observe a puppy class so your children may learn training
skills. Many class instructors will welcome children’s participation, since socializing puppies with unfamiliar children is a major reason for puppy classes. Additionally, observe
an adolescent or adult dog class, so you can preview the predictable problems you are
going to encounter (or better, prevent). And, most important, make sure your children
have ample opportunity to test-drive a variety of puppies and adult dogs. See if your
local Humane Society has a volunteer program. When selecting a puppy or dog, make
sure all family members, especially children, love the dog, feel completely at ease around
the dog, and are able to easily control the dog before you decide to welcome him into
your home. Teach children to train and control the dog using training techniques they
can master—classical conditioning, lure-reward, and reward-training techniques. By using brain instead of brawn, even 3- and 4-year-olds can master these exercises. Sit with
your children, hold the pup’s bowl, and jointly handfeed her first few meals. Instruct your
child to occasionally offer treats (tastier than the dog’s kibble). Your puppy will soon learn
to love the presence and presents of children. Warn children never to approach any dog
without supervision. Teach children how to train puppies to approach them: instruct children to stand still, to always speak softly, and to keep one hand in their pocket while luring
and rewarding the dog with the other hand. Any child who cannot get a puppy to come,
sit, and lie down should never be allowed to play with that pup unsupervised. A single
child (or adult, for that matter) with no control can ruin a good puppy within minutes. Insist on training before playtime. And in no time, the child will be play-training the puppy.
Children feel great because they can control puppies with verbal commands and handsignals. Puppies are ecstatic because they have discovered that sitting is the secret command
that trains children to stand still and deliver treats on cue. And adult owners feel relieved
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: DOGS & CHILDREN
and deservedly proud to know that their soon-to-be adolescent dogs are congenial and
compliant with children. For more information, please watch Dog Training For Children,
R
Every Picture Tells A Story, and the SIRIUSPuppy
Training videos. To locate puppy and
dog classes in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS
or www.apdt.com.
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Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Hyperdog
Puppies are naturally noisy and hyperactive. Puppies are exuberant when greeting, playing, and when expressing friendliness and appeasement. However, adult dogs are noisy
and hyperactive because they are untrained and have unintentionally been encouraged to
act that way. For example, eagerly jumping puppies are petted by people, who later get
angry when the dog jumps up as an adult. The dog’s only crime? It grew! Sadly, adult
dogs receive considerable abuse for expressing their enthusiasm and exuberance. For example, ”The Trainers from the Dark Side” recommend teaching a dog not to jump up by
shouting at the dog; squirting him in the face with water or lemon juice; swatting him on
the nose with a rolled-up newspaper; yanking on the dog’s leash; hanging the dog by its
choke-collar; squeezing the dog’s front paws; treading on his hind paws; kneeing the dog
in the chest; or flipping the dog over backwards. Surely these methods are a bit cruel for
a dog that’s just trying to say hello. Indeed, in the words of Confucius, ”There is no need
to use an axe to remove a fly from the forehead of a friend.” Why not just teach dogs to sit
when greeting people? Be smart. Be kind. Teach your puppy (or adult dog) to settle down
and shush when requested and how to greet people in a mannerly fashion. Both dog noise
and exuberance may be controlled and channeled into appropriate outlets.
Sit and Settle Down
Lure-reward train your puppy or dog to come, sit, and lie down. Simple instructions such
as ”Sit” and ”Lie down” are extremely effectively solutions for nearly all doggy activity
problems. Rather than telling the pup ”No, no, no!” and ”NO!” for everything she does
that annoys you, simply ask her to lie down, and then praise and reward her for doing
so. If she lies down obediently, she cannot run around the living room, chase her tail,
chase the cat, hump the cat, jump on the furniture, jump up and down in the car, run out
the front door, or chase and jump on children. Lying down and most behavior problems
are mutually exclusive; your dog cannot lie down and misbehave at the same time. Take
the initiative and direct your puppy’s behavior by teaching him to lie down on request.
Rather than feeding your puppy from a bowl, weigh out his kibble in the morning and
use individual pieces as lures and rewards during oodles of 5-second training interludes
throughout the day. Practice in every room of the house, in the car (while stationary),
and on walks. Pause every 25 yards and instruct your puppy to perform a series of body
positions: for example, sit-down-sit-stand-down-stand. Within just a couple of days you’ll
have a totally different dog. Reward training methods also work wonders with out-ofcontrol adolescent and adult dogs. Hold a piece of kibble in your hand but don’t give it to
your dog. Stand perfectly still and give no instructions; simply watch to see what your dog
does. Characteristically, the dog will run through his entire behavior repertoire. Your dog
will wiggle, circle, twirl, jump up, lick, paw, back up, bark and then, eventually, he will sit
or lie down. Praise him and offer the piece of kibble as soon as he sits (or lies down—your
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: HYPERDOG
choice). Then take a gigantic step (to reactivate Rover), and stand still with another piece
of kibble in your hand. Repeat the above sequence until Rover sits immediately after you
take each step and then begin to progressively increase the delay before offering the kibble.
Maybe count out the seconds in ”good dogs” —”Good dog one, good dog 2, good dog 3,
etc.” If Rover breaks his sit while you are counting, simple turn your back on him, take a
3-second timeout, and repeat the sequence again. In no time at all you will be able to count
out 20 ”good dogs” as Rover sits and stays calmly, looking up at you expectantly. Move
from room to room repeating this exercise. When walking Rover, stand still every 25 yards
and wait for him to sit, then praise him and continue the walk. After handfeeding your
dog just one meal in this fashion indoors, and on 1 long walk with sits every 25-yards,
you’ll have a calmer and much more attentive dog.
Jumping Up
Jumping up deserves a special mention because it is the cause of so much frustration and
abuse. Right from the outset, teach your puppy to sit when greeting people. Sitting is the
obvious theoretical solution because a dog cannot sit and jump up at the same time. However, it may initially be difficult to teach your dog to sit when greeting people because he is
so excited that he doesn’t hear what you say. Consequently, you will need to troubleshoot
his training. First practice sits (as described above) in locations where your dog normally
greets people, e.g., on-leash outdoors and, especially, indoors by the front door. Then invite over 10 friends for a dog training party. Today your dog’s dinner will be handfed by
guests at the front door and by friends on a walk. After eventually getting your dog to sit
to greet the first guest, praise your dog and have the guest offer a piece of kibble. Then
ask the guest to leave and ring the doorbell again. In fact, repeat front-door greetings until
your dog greets the first guest in a mannerly fashion 3 times in a row. Then repeat the
process with the other 9 guests. In one training party you will probably practice over a 100
front-door greetings. Then ask your all your guests to leave one at a time and walk round
the block. Put your dog on leash and walk around the block in the opposite direction. As
you approach each person, instruct your dog to sit. Praise him when he does so and have
the person offer a couple of pieces of kibble. After 5 laps, you will have practiced 50 sidewalk greetings. Now your dog will be ready to sit to greet bona-fide guests at home and
strangers on the street.
Put Doggy Enthusiasm and Activity on Cue
To be fair to your dog, make sure that she has ample opportunity to let off steam in an
acceptable fashion. Sign up for flyball and agility classes. Play fetch with tennis balls
and Frisbees and do yo-yo recalls (back and forth between 2 people) in the park. Formalize ”crazy time”—train your dog to jump for bubbles, or play ”tag” and chase your dog
around the house. And maybe train your dog that it is acceptable to jump up on cue—to
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give you a welcome-home hug. To learn more, read Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book
and our “HyperDog” booklet and watch the Training The Companion Dog Video III: Walking
on Leash & Preventing Jumping-Up. To locate puppy, adolescent, flyball, and agility classes
in your area, contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at www.apdt.com.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: PULLING ON LEASH
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Pulling on Leash
By and large, leash-pulling masks the real problem: without a leash you would probably
be without a dog. It is indeed a sobering thought to think that most dogs prefer to forge
ahead to sniff the grass or other dogs’ rear ends than to walk by their owner’s side. There
are, of course, some dogs who simply don’t want to walk beside people who keeping
yanking the leash. However, regardless of why your dog pulls, all dogs need to be trained
to walk nicely on leash. If not, they are unlikely to be walked at all. Trying to teach a dog
to heel using leash prompts and corrections requires a lot of skill and time. And, even
then, all you have is a well-behaved dog on-leash. Let him off-leash and he’s history; you
cannot safely take him for off-leash rambles, and you still cannot control him around the
house, where he is off-leash all the time. Luckily, there are more effective and enjoyable
ways to get the job done. First, teach your dog to follow off-leash. Second, incorporate
many sits and stays for control and attention. Third, teach your dog to heel off-leash and
on-leash. After following these steps, you will find it is easier to teach your dog to walk
calmly on-leash.
Teach Your Dog to Follow Off-Leash
Your dog’s desire to follow and remain close is the necessary foundation for walking politely on-leash. You must become the center of your dog’s universe. You need to stimulate
and strengthen your dog’s gravitational attraction towards you by moving away enticingly and heartily praising your dog all the time he follows. Click your fingers, slap your
thigh, or waggle a food treat or a toy in your hand to lure the dog to follow. Proceed with a
happy heart and a sunny disposition: talk to your dog, tell him stories, whistle, walk with
a jaunty step, or even skip and sing. Do not accommodate your dog’s improvisations; you
are the leader, not the dog. Whenever your dog attempts to lead, accentuate his ”mistake”
by doing the opposite. Stretch the psychic bungee cord: if your dog forges ahead, slow
down or smartly turn about; if your dog lags behind, speed up; if your dog goes right,
turn left; and if your dog goes left, turn right. Practice in large areas, such as in your backyard, friends’ yards, tennis courts, dog parks, and safe off-leash areas. Feed your dog his
dinner kibble, piece by piece as you walk. Once your dog is following closer, time yourself
while practicing following courses at home, going around furniture, from room to room,
and from the house to yard.
Sits, Downs, and Stays
Enticing your dog to follow off-leash takes a lot of concentration and it is easy to let your
dog drift. Consequently, instruct your dog to sit or lie down and then stay every 10 yards
or so. Frequent sits, downs, and stays teach your dog to calm down and focus. They also
give you the opportunity to catch your breath, relax your brain, and to objectively assess
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your dog’s level of attention. Sitting is absolute: either your dog is sitting or not. Only have
the dog sit or lie down for a couple of seconds (just to check that he is paying attention)
and then walk on again. Occasionally ask your dog to lie down for a minute or so to watch
the world go by. You will find that the more down-stays that you integrate into the walk,
the calmer and more controlled your dog will be when walking.
Teach Your Dog to Heel Off-Leash
Instruct your dog to sit, and then lure him to sit using a food or toy lure in your right
hand. Transfer the lure to your left hand, say ”Heel,” waggle the lure in front of your
dog’s nose, and quickly walk forwards for a few steps. Then say ”Sit,” transfer the lure
to your right hand to lure your dog to sit, and maybe offer the kibble as a reward if your
dog sits quickly and stylishly. Repeat this sequence over and over. Practice indoors and
in your yard, where there are fewer distractions, before practicing in the dog park and
off-leash walking areas. Then just attach the dog’s leash and you will find he heels nicely
on-leash.
Walking On-Leash
Teach your dog not to pull while you are both standing still. Hold the leash firmly with
both hands and refuse to budge until your dog slackens the leash. Not a single step! It
doesn’t matter how long it takes. Just hold on tight and ignore every leash-lunge. Eventually your dog will stop pulling and sit. As soon as he sits, say ”Good dog,” offer a food
treat, and then take just 1 large step forward and stand still again. Hold on tight; your dog
will likely explode to the end of the leash, thereby illustrating the reinforcing nature of
allowing your dog to pull for just a single step. Wait for your dog to stop pulling again (it
will not take as long this time). Repeat this sequence until your dog walks calmly forward
(because he knows you are only going 1 step) and sits quickly when you stop and stand
still. Your dog quickly learns he has the power to make you stop and to make you go. If he
tightens the leash, you stop. But if he slackens the leash and sits, you take a step. After a
series of single steps and standstills without pulling, try taking 2 steps at a time. Then go
for 3 steps, then 5, 8, 12, and so on. Now you will find your dog will walk attentively on
a loose leash and sit automatically whenever you stop. And the only words you have said
are ”Good dog.” Alternate heeling and walking on-leash. For most of the walk, let your
dog range and sniff on a loose leash but, every 25 yards or so, have your dog sit, heel, and
sit, and then walk on again. Always sit-heel-sit your dog when crossing a street: sit before
crossing, heeling across, and then sitting on the other side of the street. To learn more,
read the Open Paw Four-Level Training Manual and Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book and
watch the Training The Companion Dog Video III: Walking on Leash & Preventing Jumping-Up.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: PUPPY TRAINING
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Puppy Training
When watching puppies in class having a good time playing off-leash and responding
happily and willingly to verbal requests and handsignals to come, sit, heel, and down stay,
1 tends to forget the 2 most important reasons for attending puppy classes: bite inhibition
and socialization with people. Off-leash classes provide an educational forum for pups to
play-fight and play-bite with other dogs and to develop the confidence and social savvy
for friendly interaction with people, especially with children and men.
Basic Manners
Some form of training is necessary for all owners to learn how to control their dogs’ body
position, location, and activity. Certainly, all aspects of obedience training may be accomplished at any time in the dog’s life. But it just so happens to be easier, quicker, and more
enjoyable to train the dog as a pup. In fact, by using modern psychological, dog-friendly,
and owner-friendly training methods, off-leash control and hand-signals may be taught
when your pup is just 3 months old.
Behavior Modification
Similarly, a dog’s natural behavior may be modified at any time in the dog’s life, although
the older the dog, the harder the prospect. To re-educate a dog, it is necessary to first
break the existing bad habit before instilling a good habit. Since good habits are just as
hard to break as bad habits, smart owners teach their puppies appropriate and acceptable
behavior right from the outset—what to chew, where to eliminate, where to dig, when to
bark, how to walk nicely on leash, and how to greet people
Socialization
Socialization and bite inhibition, however, have pressing deadlines. Unlike obedience
training and behavior modification, socialization and bite inhibition training MUST be accomplished during puppyhood. Preventive intervention is the key; to delay is utter folly.
Preventative measures are easy, efficient, effective, effortless, and enjoyable, whereas trying to resolve temperament problems in adult dogs can be time-consuming, difficult, and
often dangerous. The temperament of every dog needs to be modified to some degree—
that is, molded to suit the owner’s lifestyle. All dogs are different. Some dogs lack confidence, whereas others are too pushy. Some are sluggish and others are too active. Some
are shy, reserved, standoffish, asocial, or antisocial, whereas others are overly friendly and
rambunctious. People tend to forget that a domestic dog is not fully domesticated until he
has been adequately trained and socialized to enjoy the company of people, other dogs,
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and other animals. Most potential dog-dog problems take care of themselves if your pup is
given sufficient opportunity to play with other puppies and dogs. Puppies virtually train
themselves to be friendly and outgoing, and a friendly dog would much rather play than
hide or fight. Your puppy does, however, require significant help to develop confidence
around people, especially around children, men, and strangers. Your mission, Understanding Owner, is to teach your puppy not just to tolerate but, rather, to thoroughly enjoy
the presence and actions of people. Specifically, you must desensitize your puppy to every
conceivable potentially threatening situation, including petting, handling, hugging, and
restraint, especially by children, men, and strangers, and especially around valued objects
such as a food bowl, toys, and bones. In addition to attending puppy classes, host a puppy
party at home. Do not keep your pup a secret. Let other people enjoy the puppy, and
give your pup the opportunity to enjoy other people. Socialization parties are a marvelous
opportunity to teach a lot of people how to help you train your dog.
Bite Inhibition
Bite inhibition is by far the single most important quality in any companion animal, and
bite inhibition must be acquired during puppyhood. Bite inhibition is a dog’s fail-safe
mechanism, preventing him from injuring other animals and people. Bite inhibition does
not mean that your dog never reacts when scared or upset. Instead, bite inhibition clicks
in when your dog does react to the unexpected: for example, when a child trips and falls
on a dog when he is gnawing on a bone. Most dogs react when they are hurt, frightened,
or startled. A dog with good bite inhibition would only yelp, growl, or snap, causing
little if any injury. The prognosis is good since the problem may be resolved easily and
safely with increased socialization and classical conditioning. However, a dog who did not
acquire bite inhibition as a puppy might inflict deep puncture wounds and cause serious
injury. Dogs learn bite inhibition, i.e., learn that their jaws can hurt, when they play-fight
and play-bite as youngsters. Puppies amp each other up until one puppy bites another
too hard. Play stops immediately as the injured puppy yelps and takes the time to lick his
wounds. When play resumes, it is slower and gentler. Puppy classes and, later, off-leash
dog parks, offer the best venues for your puppy to learn solid bite inhibition and develop
a soft mouth. Enroll in a puppy class right away. To learn more about the importance of
bite inhibition and socialization, read AFTER You Get Your Puppy and How To Teach A New
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Dog Old Tricks, and watch SIRIUSPuppy
Training. To locate puppy classes in your area,
contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800 PET DOGS or www.apdt.com.
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DR. DUNBAR’S BEHAVIOR BLUEPRINTS: COME—SIT—DOWN—STAND—STAY
Dr. Dunbar’s Behavior Blueprints: Come—Sit—Down—Stand—
Stay
Leashless training methods are essential for pet dogs, because they are usually off-leash
indoors. Lure-reward and reward-training techniques make training quick, easy, effective,
and enjoyable for dogs and their owners. Reward training is as owner-friendly as it is
dog-friendly. Since reward training depends on brain rather than brawn, the techniques
are easily mastered by all dog owners, including children. Weigh out the puppy or dog’s
daily allotment of kibble and put it in a container for family members to use for all of
these exercises. Every piece counts as an individual lure and reward. Use kibble to train
throughout the course of the day.
Come
For puppies, simply say ”Puppy, come,” do something silly, and your puppy will come
running. Praise your pup as she comes running towards you, and grab her collar and offer
a food reward when she arrives. For adult dogs, say ”Doggy, come” and then squat down
a waggle a food lure in front of you. Two or more family members may practice yo-yo
(back and forth) or round-robin recalls. Say ”Puppy, go to Jamie” as a cue for Jamie to call
the pup. Once Jamie has hold of the puppy’s collar, it is his turn to choose whom to send
the puppy to. This is a great way to teach your puppy ”Go to...” commands, as well as the
names of family members.
Sit
Hold a food treat in front of your dog’s nose, say ”Sit,” and move the lure upwards and
backwards just above the dog’s muzzle. As your dog looks up to follow the treat, she will
sit down. If your dog jumps up, you are holding the treat too high. If your dog backs up,
work with the dog in a corner. When she sits, say ”Good girl!” (or ”Good boy!”), and offer
the kibble as a reward. From now on, ask your dog to sit in front of you after every recall.
Down
Say ”Down,” and quickly lower the treat from the dog’s nose to a point in between the
dog’s forepaws. Praise the dog when she lies down (”Goood girl!”) and offer the treat. It
is easier to entice your dog to lie down if she is already sitting, since her hindquarters are
already down. To teach your dog to lie down when she is standing, hold the lure between
finger and thumb and lower the hand (palm downwards) to rest on the floor. As the dog
worries at the lure, she will likely place the side of her muzzle on the floor (”Good girl!”)
and then assume a play-bow with elbows and sternum on the ground (”Gooood girl!”).
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By gently moving the lure towards the dog’s chest and between her forepaws, her rear
end will collapse backwards and she will lie down (”GOOOD GIRL!!!”) Now step back
and ask your puppy to come, sit, and lie down. An upward motion of your hand (held
palm-upwards) has become the handsignal to sit, and a downward motion of your hand
(held palm-downwards) has become the handsignal to lie down.
Stand
Stand is a very useful command when you want (or your veterinarian wants) to examine
your dog. Say ”Stand” and move the lure away from the dog’s nose, waggling it in the
position where your dog’s nose will be when she stands. When she stands, say ”Good girl”
and offer the lure as a reward. Repeat sequences of the 3 body positions (sit, down, and
stand) in random order, e.g., sit-down-sit-stand-down-stand. Initially, praise and reward
each correct response. Once your dog responds fairly reliably, only reward her quicker and
snazzier responses. Have family competitions to see how many body position changes
your dog will do for just 1 food reward.
Stay
Initially, praise and reward your dog the instant she sits, lies down, or stands. With successive trials however, continue to praise correct responses but progressively delay offering
the food reward for a little longer each time: for 2 seconds, then 3 seconds, 5, 8, 12, 20, 40,
60, and so on. Before you know it, your dog will happily respond quickly and remain in
place for several minutes.
Phasing Out Food Lures and Rewards
Initially, use training treats both as lures to entice your dog to come, sit, lie down, and
stand, and as rewards for doing so. Thereafter, use different items as lures and rewards.
For example, lure the dog with a Kong but reward it by throwing a tennis ball. Or, lure the
dog with a food treat but say ”Go play!” as a reward. After a few repetitions dispense with
food lures entirely—your verbal instructions and handsignals will suffice; from now on
only use kibble as a reward. Finally, dispense with training treats as rewards. Instead, ask
your dog to sit and / or lie down before every enjoyable doggy activity. Have your dog sit,
lie down, or stand-stay before you scratch her ear, before throwing her ball, before letting
her off-leash, and before inviting her to share the couch: i.e., replace food rewards with
more meaningful life rewards. Now you will be able to ask your dog to sit for her supper
in a bowl because you no longer need to use her kibble as training lures and rewards.
To learn more about lure-reward training, read Doctor Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book and
watch Training Dogs With Dunbar.
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THE RECALL: TEACHING YOUR DOG TO COME RELIABLY WHEN CALLED
The Recall: Teaching Your Dog to Come Reliably When Called
Many dog owners like to torment themselves with the following scenario, much to the
amusement of bystanders: first, having never practiced recall with their dog before and,
without even having demonstrated to the dog what “come here” means, they let the dog
off leash at the dog park, where she encounters squirrels, rabbits, birds, approximately
6,000,000,000 new smells, and other dogs to play with. Then they scream “come here”
fruitlessly at their dog for the next 30 minutes, while the dog joyfully “ignores” them and
jaunts about playing and sniffing. Finally having caught the dog through sheer luck, they
yell at her and drag her off to the car and home. Smart bystanders know that this method
will guarantee that next time, the dog will be sure not to get caught after a mere 30 minutes.
As this scenario demonstrates, most problems with recall come from asking the dog to
do too much too soon—and from punishing the dog instead of rewarding her when she
does finally come back. Even dogs with very good recall in the back yard will have a very
difficult time coming when called at the park, where there are so many interesting dogs to
meet and smells to smell that they simply can’t see the logic in returning to their guardian.
Running around the park and amusing the other dog owners is one thing, but every time
the dog is running and not under the control of his owner, he is in danger. He needs to be
taught to return to his guardian pronto if she calls him.
There are many reasons why the scenario above is so common. One reason is because dogs
learn contextually, and the park is a very different context than the home where most training sessions take place. Another explanation is that the dog does not associate the word
“Come” with the act of returning to his owner. Remember, dogs do not learn words as cues
very easily and are most likely responding to context and visual body cues when they follow your requests. It is possible to teach your dog to respond reliably to a verbal request,
but it must be done in a specific sequence for the dog to learn. Yet another possibility is
that the bar is simply set too high. Perhaps you have practiced “coming when called” with
Fido in your quiet, fenced back yard, but nowhere else. A recall in a small, familiar space
with little or no distraction is the equivalent of a Kindergarten recall, while a recall at a
public park or in the woods is the doggy equivalent of a Ph. D. There are many “grades”
in between that must be mastered before attempting a doctorate level program. The final,
most common reason a dog may not return to her owner when called is that it has simply
not been rewarded. Worse, coming when called may have led to punishment in the past.
It does not matter whether this punishment was intentional (such as yelling at your dog
for coming too slowly) or unintentional (such as only calling your dog at the end of a play
session, clipping on the leash and leaving the park, or calling your dog and throwing him
right in the bathtub). The result is the same. The dog has learned that coming to you when
you call for him generally means bad news for him or, at the very least, the end of fun. If
your dog does not like to come to you when called, it is a sign there is something amiss in
your relationship or that your dog does not know what you would like him to do when
you call him. The good news is the solution is the same, regardless of the reason your dog
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does not come when called. Systematically teach Fido what you would like him to do, and
then reward him for doing it.
Training A Recall
It is our responsibility to teach dogs that training and fun are not mutually exclusive. In
fact, training should be the most fun that can be had! That way, the dog will want to come
when he’s called. Dogs also need to know what we mean by our commands—that way we
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will not, as in the immortal Farsidecartoon,
merely be yelling “Blah, blah, blah, Ginger!”
at them.
When training recall, keep in mind the following “rules of thumb”: (1) Start small, with
something very easy for the dog to do—she needs to have success in order to figure out
what you want from her when you utter your request. (2) Reward, reward, reward your
dog when she comes to you, with yummy treats, a favorite toy, and lots of praise. You
want her to want to come to you and, remember, you’re competing with lots of interesting
and fun things. (3) Work up very gradually from a very easy recall to harder and harder
ones, with more and more distractions. (4) Make sure that you recall your dog many times
in a session, and then let her go back to the game/walk/activity. This way, she does not
associate coming when called with ending the fun. (5) Never, ever, punish the dog when
she does come back. If your dog gets to run and play while ignoring a request to come
back, but gets punished when she does come back, then she quickly learns the obvious
lesson: it’s a big mistake to come back to you.
To train recall, first, don’t let the dog off leash in a public place until he reliably comes when called
in the back yard, from out of sight anywhere in the house, on leash on walks in the neighborhood,
and in class. Begin with something quite easy: say, the back yard or even indoors. Start
from fairly close to the dog when he’s not terribly distracted, and say in a quiet, happy
voice “come here.” Waggle a treat and back up a bit, when he comes to you, praise him
and offer the treat. (For some dogs you may have to start quite close and on leash.) Then
tell him to “go play” and let him go back to what he was doing for about 30 seconds, and
call him over again. With lots of repetitions of these recall “relays,” the dog begins to learn
that coming when called does not necessarily mean that the fun is over—it often means
only a treat, a quick pat, and a return to the fun. Once he reliably comes from a short
distance, begin to gradually increase the distance, and to work off leash if he had to be on
leash to begin with. Practice this “low impact” recall in various safe places, e.g., a friend’s
fenced yard, a local tennis court after hours, or different parts of the house.
Now begin to add distractions, like toys nearby, or a good doggy friend around. When
you first start adding distractions to the mix, you should start recalling fairly close to the
dog. Gradually increase the distance until the dog reliably comes from afar, even with the
most irresistible distractions. As soon as the dog comes when called, she can return to the
toys, the new smells, or her friend for a bit, until she’s called again for a treat and some
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THE RECALL: TEACHING YOUR DOG TO COME RELIABLY WHEN CALLED
praise—then it’s back to the fun. It’s best when working with distractions to employ an accomplice. If the dog does not come when she’s called with a low, quiet voice the first time,
immediately increase the volume to a loud, commanding (not angry) tone and demand
“FIFI. Come Here!” When she comes after the second call, praise her and show her the
treat but do not give it to her. Instead, back up a few steps and say in your soft voice “Come
here.” When she comes over, praise her and give her the treat. This way she learns that,
in order to earn the treat, she must come the first time she’s called. If she does not come
even after hearing the commanding voice the second time, the accomplice should either
leash up the other dog and end the play, or remove the treat or toy that was distracting the
dog. Thus, the dog is not rewarded (with continued play time) for not responding to your
request. She also learns that, if she does come over, the play quickly resumes, but if she
doesn’t come over, the game ends immediately. Good reason for coming over quickly!
Gradually increase the number of distractions until the dog is ready for the biggest distraction of them all: the park. Remember to start very small again when this giant play land
and smell-scape is presented to the dog for the first (and second, and third) time. Begin
with the dog on a lead and fairly close. Only once he is reliably returning on leash can he
be let off leash, and then immediately begin to do recall relays before he gets too involved
in the fun. Call him over many times, reward and praise him, and release him back to fun
and games while touring the park. Out of 50 recalls, then, only 1 will result in the leash
and home — the vast majority will mean reward and back to play. With those odds, “coming when called” is most certainly worth the gamble. Plus, coming back to a happy owner
with a yummy treat or friendly belly rub, even if it means leaving the park, is not such a
bad deal.
Remember that the dog will need to keep practicing these recall relays every time she goes
to the park. It’s quite easy for you to do, and lots of fun for the dog. Also remember that
new territory is always more distracting, so a trip to a new park will mean starting back a
step or 2 at first.
With practice and patience, the dog will reliably return whenever he’s called—which could
save his life some time and will certainly make life easier for you.
It’s Still Not Working
There are 2 possibilities if the dog doesn’t seem to be “getting it” when she’s learning recall.
One is that you are moving too far, too fast. Dogs differ in their ability to ignore distractions, and an individual dog may simply need to move more slowly when new distractions
or greater distances are introduced.
The other possibility constitutes a behavioral emergency: the dog may be afraid to return
to you when called. This is usually because, in the past, he’s been punished, sometimes
severely, when he (finally) returned. If you think this is the case, reprimand yourself for
having caused an awful rift in the relationship, and for having taught your dog to stay
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far away when called. This relationship must be repaired, but it must be done carefully.
You should also start very slowly and in safe circumstances, when the dog is not very
distracted. Backing slowly away from the dog and speaking softly, sweetly ask the dog to
“Come here.” Toss treats at every step—this way every step the dog takes toward you is
rewarded. It may take a while before the dog gets near enough for you to be able to touch
his collar. Once he does get near enough, gently and quickly touch the collar, reward
immediately with a treat, and release. Repeat as often as necessary until your dog comes
happily when called.
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ESCAPING
Escaping
The Problem
Dogs who escape fall into 2 general categories: those who escape from the back yard, and
those who fly out the front door whenever an unwary guardian or guest leaves it open
for too long (i.e. for more than 1 split second). In both of these cases, the most likely
reason for the escape is that the dog is bored, and has decided to amuse herself by taking
a nice jaunt through the neighborhood. It’s always best to leave the dog inside when
he’s not supervised. Being confined outdoors without companionship or entertainment
leaves a dog bored, lonely, and very susceptible to dangerous potential entertainment, like
chasing cats or squirrels out of the yard, or wandering around looking for aimless fun.
Most dogs are left outside while their guardians are away because they simply can’t be
trusted inside—they’ll soil the house or chew everything in sight.
The Solution
The first line of defense against escaping, then, is to teach the dog toilet training (see
“House Soiling”) and chew toy training (see “Chewing”) so that she can stay safely inside when her guardians are away.
Chew-toy training is also a large part of environmental enrichment. The best idea is always
to offer a dog acceptable entertainment opportunities, teach him that these are the entertainment options he’s allowed in the household, and show him what fun those options are.
If the dog is provided with lots of stuffed chew toys and shown how to use them, he will
naturally pick out his toys to play with when he’s bored and needs a little entertainment.
If the dog must be left outside for reasons other than housetraining or chewing issues, she
should be provided with a comfortable den, a dog run in which she has plenty of room
to romp about, and a variety of toys—many of them stuffed chew toys—so that she can
amuse herself by chewing on the approved toys, rather than by escaping.
Of course, all dogs need exercise each day, and it may be that the dog is escaping because
she simply isn’t getting enough exercise. Make sure that she gets at least 1 walk a day,
preferably with an opportunity for some dog-dog interaction and some off-leash play time.
Nothing beats the entertainment and exercise value of romping with other dogs!
It’s Still Not Working
If the dog is an inside dog with plenty of fun toys to play with and a daily walk/play
regimen, but is still escaping whenever he can slip through the door, the guardian may
want to work on instilling a very strong recall (see “No Recall”). The idea here is that the
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dog may still slip out when the opportunity arises, but he will come back when called. In
order to “proof” the dog against the incredible allure of the great outdoors, you will have
to use very high value rewards (liver treats, an adored toy, perhaps even anchovies) and
very gradually work up from a situation in which the dog will return easily when called,
to ever-so-slightly-more-difficult situations. For example, work from coming when called
in the back yard without a leash, to coming from just a foot or 2 away on leash at the park;
then to a few feet away, then more, then to coming when called from just a few feet away
without the leash, etc. Gradually add in distractions so that the dog will come away from
very interesting things when he is called. Eventually, work on recall (starting very small
again) in the front yard, until the dog will return even as he’s headed across the front yard
to explore new frontiers.
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REACTIVE DOGS—BEHAVIOR PROBLEM COUNSELOR COPY
Reactive dogs—Behavior Problem Counselor Copy
Reactive: a: readily responsive to a stimulus b: occurring as a result of stress or emotional
upset. The term applies regardless of whether the dog is reacting to people, other animals,
or noises.
Reactivity is one of the most common problems in shelter dogs and generally occurs when
a dog is either tethered, on leash, or behind a see-through barrier such as a window or a
chain link fence. Reactivity problems are likely to be one of the top reasons recent adopters
contact your shelter for help. Reactivity does not necessarily equal aggression, but it is
scary, embarrassing, and frustrating to the average owner. It is very important to address
the problem of reactivity in dogs from a shelter, because often the problem leads to a slippery slope of relationship deterioration between the dog and owner. Dogs that are reactive
are less likely to get walked or taken on car rides, trips, or to the park. This leads to further
lack of socialization, increased reactivity, and boredom (which leads to other problem behaviors such as barking, chewing, or digging.). All of the problems listed above can lead
to a breakdown in the bond between dog and owner and eventually affect the quality and
permanence of the adoption.
It is no surprise that shelter dogs tend to become reactive. They live in an environment
that is both over-stimulating and thwarting at the same time. In most shelters, the dogs
do not have enough downtime, environmental enrichment, or socialization to meet their
needs. Reactivity can manifest as a symptom of all of the above.
A responsible shelter will attempt to prevent increased reactivity in their shelter dogs, but
will also have a behavior modification handout ready for recent adopters who are dealing
with the problem of reactivity. Below are some suggestions on how to both prevent and
treat reactivity in shelter dogs.
Prevention
Downtime. If a dog does not get downtime—time to just settle and relax without worrying
about the close proximity of other dogs, strangers, loud noises, and the offensive smell of
kennel chemicals—their stress levels may increase. A stressed animal in a shelter is like a
pressure cooker that is tightly sealed, with no steam valve for release. She needs an outlet.
Quiet downtime in a “real life” room can alleviate some of the daily stress of being in the
over-stimulating shelter environment.
In-Kennel Treatment of Reactivity
For dogs that are already reactive or do not seem to know how to settle down and relax,
crate and chew toy training are essential. These dogs can be identified behaviorally by the
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way they pace or vocalize virtually non-stop. This type of dog also often ignores even the
most palatable chew toys and snacks that are left in her kennel, has chronic loose stool, and
often rapidly drops weight while in the shelter environment. A dog in this state of being
is both behaviorally and physiologically at risk, and will probably be difficult to adopt
due to the way she acts in the kennel and her difficult time connecting with people. The
best options for this type of dog are a foster situation or an office foster and crate/chew
toy training regimen. At the very least, you should conduct a week-long crate-and chew
toy-training program in the actual kennel environment.
The In-kennel Crate and Chew-Toy Training Settle Down Program
For the dog that needs to learn how to settle down and relax, or is simply far too overstimulated in the shelter environment and cannot be fostered, the best option is to cratetrain the dog to thwart acting out (stop the bad habit from happening), while simultaneously providing a calmer auto-shaping environment that sets the dog up for success (i.e.,
create new, preferred habits).
The dog should be settled into an appropriate sized crate inside her kennel run. The crate
should be covered with a lightweight opaque sheet or blanket. The idea is to reduce both
noise and visual stimulation and, therefore, stress. During the training program the dog
should only receive food from stuffed chew toys such as Kongs, SquirrelDudes, or hollow
sterilized cow femurs. There should be no bowl or hand-feeding during the entire process.
Measure out the dog’s daily ration of kibble and soak it in a separate container from the
rest of the Kong-stuffing materials so you can keep track of this specific dog’s food intake.
Stuff all of the day’s ration into appropriate toys, and deliver them to the dog one at a time
throughout the day, leaving one for overnight as well. The first day or 2 might be rough,
with the dog still too agitated to settle down long enough to eat but, generally, by the 3d
day most dogs are happily eating from the toys.
The idea is to provide an alternative energy outlet to the undesirable pacing, whining,
barking, jumping, etc. The chew toys are the steam valves of the pressure cooker. Eating
all necessary food out of the toy will also form positive associations, not only with the appropriate chew toys, but with the crate itself. If you’re really lucky, some of the association
may even extend to the shelter environment as well. However, even if she doesn’t learn
to like the shelter, the dog will learn how to self-soothe in an acceptable way (chew toy
chewing), to develop a strong chew toy habit, and learn that the crate is a good, calm place
to retreat to to get away from the chaos of shelter life.
It is essential to get the dog out of the crate for 4 toilet breaks each day, preferably outside,
on an appropriate substrate such as grass. One of those daily breaks should also serve as
training and human interaction time. During this short-term Settle Down Program, avoid
revving the dog up with activities such as dog-dog play, out-of-control walks, or free time
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in the kennel. All exercise and interaction should be productive and calm, such as manners
training, playing fetch, or a controlled, leisurely walk.
If you are worried about crating impeding adoption, remember: this is a very temporary
situation that will ultimately aid in the adoption and building transitional skills in a troubled dog who might otherwise sit in the shelter as an “undesirable” indefinitely. You may
also choose to make a special kennel card with a photo of the dog, explaining the idea and
process of crate and chew toy training (example included in 3). What an opportunity to
educate the public!
Environmental Enrichment (outlets)
Environmental enrichment for shelter dogs is an excellent outlet for excess energy and
stress. Training, chew toys, interactive toys, and field trips are examples of appropriate
environmental enrichment. Please see Open Paw’s Minimal Mental Health Guidelines
and Kong-stuffing handout for more information.
Socialization
Sometimes dogs become over-reactive around other dogs because, while they are inherently compelled to meet other dogs, it is not always possible or beneficial for dogs to meet
in the shelter environment. Dog-dog socialization may alleviate some of the stress of the
constant frustration that is intrinsic to shelter life. If a non-aggressive dog has been in the
shelter for more than 1 month, it is time to set up regular dog-specific interaction. Please
see Open Paw’s dog-dog socialization guidelines for more information.
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Treatment of Low-Level Reactivity in the New Home—Behavior
Problem Counselor Copy
Once a dog is in her new home, the best way to deal with low-level reactivity is to harness
the power of classical conditioning. The goal is to change the dog’s emotional response to
the presence of the reactivity stimulus (other dogs, new people, cars, cats, etc.) from an
over-excited (or stress response) to a calm and happy state of mind in the presence of the
former trigger.
To accomplish this, it is essential to hand-feed the dog all of her meals while in specific
training scenarios designed to reduce reactivity. All food is presented and offered only in
the presence of the trigger. Whenever the stress trigger is present, we throw a party for the
dog before she has a chance to react aversely.
Several times a day (at least 3 to 5 times) take the dog to an area where the problem stimulus can be easily and frequently located, and where you can control the distance from the
trigger.
For instance, if the dog is reactive to other dogs while on leash walks, find a bench somewhere near (but not too near!) an entrance to a park where many dogs will pass by with
their owners regularly; other options are the parking lot of a large pet supply store, or your
local veterinary hospital.
Sit quietly with the dog at a distance where she can take notice of the other dogs passing
by without reacting above mild interest. Stay at a distance where she will take food while
looking at the other dogs. Feed her quietly while you both watch the world go by. The
goal is for the dog to make the pleasant association between the presence of other dogs
and her dinner, not to mention the calm attention of a relaxed human. If, at any point, the
dog becomes stressed, stops taking food, or begins barking and lunging, you are above
threshold and must create enough distance to get the dog’s attention back.
If this is done properly, your dog will begin to anticipate a portion of her meal (food reward) at the first sign of another dog. When you get to the point where your dog looks at
you when another dog comes into view you are well on your way to success. Good dog!
Do not move forward until the dog is completely comfortable, even bored with the current
distance, and will look at you when another dog comes by as if to say “Hey, there’s another
dog coming. Great! May I have my reward now, please?” When your dog is comfortable,
move forward just enough to start the process over again. Repeat the entire process until
your dog can comfortably sit 4 to 6 feet away from the trigger without reacting.
When your dog is comfortable in close proximity to other dogs and can be in their presence
without reacting negatively, it is time to sign up for a basic manners obedience class. There
you’ll both learn the communication skills necessary to strengthen and develop your bond.
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TREATMENT OF LOW-LEVEL REACTIVITY IN THE NEW HOME—BEHAVIOR
PROBLEM COUNSELOR COPY
When to Seek the Help of a Certified Professional Trainer
If the dog has ever snapped at or bitten anyone, cannot be in the presence of the trigger,
even at 200 yards, or will not take food in the situation at all, even after 5 days of no
other dining options, the problem most likely requires the assistance of a professional dog
behavior problem counselor. Please go to www.APDT.com to find a Certified Pet Dog
Trainer in your area.
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Does Your Dog Bark, Lunge, or Growl at People or Other Dogs?
(Or Shopping Carts, Garbage Trucks, and Bicycles?) Here’s How
You Can Treat Low-Level Reactivity in Your New Pet
The best way to deal with low-level reactivity is to harness the power of classical conditioning. The goal is to change the dog’s emotional response to the presence of the reactivity
stimulus (other dogs, new people, cars, cats, etc.) from an over-excited (or stress response)
to a calm and happy state of mind in the presence of those dogs, people, cats, or cars (the
trigger).
The first, essential step to accomplish this is HAND-FEEDING! That means no more food
out of a bowl while you’re doing this training. This training WILL NOT WORK unless
your dog eats all of her meals out of your hand during reactivity training. You should
hand-feed your dog her meals while in specific training scenarios designed to reduce reactivity. All food is presented and offered only in the presence of the trigger. Whenever
the stress trigger is present, we throw a party for the dog before she has a chance to react
aversely.
Several times a day (at least 3 to 5 times) take the dog to an area where the problem stimulus can be easily and frequently located, and where you can control the distance from the
trigger.
For instance, if the dog is reactive to other dogs while on leash walks, find a bench somewhere near (but not too near!) an entrance to a park where many dogs will pass by with
their owners regularly; other options are the parking lot of a large pet supply store, or your
local veterinary hospital.
Sit quietly with the dog at a distance where she can take notice of the other dogs passing
by without reacting above mild interest. Stay at a distance where she will take food while
looking at the other dogs. Feed her quietly while you both watch the world go by. The
goal is for the dog to make the pleasant association between the presence of other dogs
and her dinner, not to mention the calm attention of a relaxed human. If, at any point, the
dog becomes stressed, stops taking food, or begins barking and lunging, you are above
threshold and must create enough distance to get the dog’s attention back.
If this is done properly, your dog will begin to anticipate a portion of her meal (food reward) at the first sign of another dog. When you get to the point where your dog looks at
you when another dog comes into view you are well on your way to success. Good dog!
Do not move forward until the dog is completely comfortable, even bored with the current
distance, and will look at you when another dog comes by as if to say “Hey, there’s another
dog coming. Great! May I have my reward now, please?” When your dog is comfortable,
move forward just enough to start the process over again. Repeat the entire process until
your dog can comfortably sit 4 to 6 feet away from the trigger without reacting.
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LOW-LEVEL REACTIVITY
When your dog is comfortable in close proximity to other dogs and can be in their presence
without reacting negatively, it is time to sign up for a basic manners obedience class. There
you’ll both learn the communication skills necessary to strengthen and develop your bond.
When to Seek the Help of a Certified Professional Trainer
If your dog has ever snapped at or bitten anyone, cannot be in the presence of the trigger
even at 200 yards, or will not take food in the situation at all, even after 5 days with no
other dining options, the problem most likely requires the assistance of a professional dog
behavior problem counselor. Please go to www.APDT.com to find a Certified Pet Dog
Trainer in your area.
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Separation Anxiety
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the term “separation anxiety.” It is definitely a
real, diagnosable problem, although it is frequently over-diagnosed. Below are lists of
probable and possible symptoms to help you determine if your dog has real separation
anxiety, and some tips to help you solve simpler problems that are sometimes diagnosed
as separation anxiety.
Probable Symptoms
These behaviors would indicate that your dog may, indeed, have separation anxiety:
• Not eating food or treats that are left out while you’re away, especially if it’s something they really love and they eat it right away when you get home (so they’ve
clearly realized it was there but they were too stressed to eat while you were away)
• Destructive chewing, scratching, clawing at exit routes, such as blinds, doorways,
windowpanes (if dog is indoors) or fence, gates and door to the house (if dog is
outdoors). Is the destruction severe and intense? Many animals will paw at a crate
door a bit, but will stop. If the exit route has sustained damage, or the animal’s nails,
pads, or teeth are worn down or the dog is panting from exhaustion, then it’s an
indication of real separation anxiety.
• Pacing, whining, panting, drooling, following you more than usual during your departure routine (e.g., every time you get your car keys out, put on your “work” shoes
or make-up, or dry your hair—anything that serves as a “cue” that you’re departing).
• Excessive whining, panting, drooling while you were gone (e.g., the neighbors tell
you they heard the dog crying, the bedding in a crate might be soaked through, or
the dog will still be exhibiting the stress behaviors when you return).
• Dilated pupils
Possible Symptoms
The following are possible indicators of separation anxiety, but are more likely indicators
of simpler problems:
• Barking and whining. Is the dog sitting and barking at a window when people,
dogs, squirrels, cats, etc. walk by? Is the barking or whining excessive (doesn’t stop
until you return or they become exhausted)? Remember that when you’re first crate
training or alone-training your dog, you should expect more barking or whining
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SEPARATION ANXIETY
initially. Always leave a stuffed chew toy or several stuffed chew toys when your
dog is left alone; this will help you determine if the dog is merely barking out of
boredom or if he really has separation anxiety. If your dog is barking recreationally,
the stuffed chew toy should eliminate the problem within a few weeks.
• House-soiling. House-soiling alone is never separation anxiety. You must see at least
1 other behavior from the “probable” category to consider this separation anxiety.
See our handout on “housetraining” to help your dog learn house manners.
• Chewing. If your dog is not specifically targeting and destructively chewing exit
ways, then she is more likely chewing for recreation. Leave some stuffed chew toys
whenever your dog is left alone. If your dog is chewing recreationally, after a few
weeks she should learn to chew the chew toys rather than other items. Also see our
handout on housetraining to learn more about chew toy training.
If you are ONLY seeing the behaviors in the “possible”category, try other solutions first. A
good test is to leave an extremely tasty treat for the dog—a meaty bone, fish—whatever is
your dog’s favorite thing to eat—go through your regular routine and leave. Drive around
for 5 minutes. If the treat is still there when you come home, and your dog has any of the
other indicators listed, then your dog may have separation anxiety.
If you are still unsure whether or not your dog has true separation anxiety, or if your dog
does have 1 or more “probable” symptoms, the good news is that it can be treated by a
professional. Because the treatment is complex and very specific, we strongly suggest that
you enlist the help of a professional rather than attempting to do it by yourself. Below is a
list of reputable resources.
To Find a Trainer
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
To find a suitable, dog-friendly professional trainer in your area, go to www.apdt.com
Additional Resources
The following books are meant to be an additional resource, not a solution in and of themselves. Please seek professional help to treat separation anxiety.
These books can be purchased at www.dogwise.com.
Canine Separation Anxiety Workbook, James O’Hare
I’ll Be Home Soon, Patricia McConnell
Dogs Home Alone, Roger Abrantes
Dogs are From Neptune, Jean Donaldson
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How to Stuff a Chew Toy
Stuffing chew toys is another wonderful thing we can do for our dogs. By stuffing hollow
toys with the dogs’ daily ration, we help them to settle down quietly with an exciting
project and develop a strong preference for those toys (so that, when they are bored at
home, they will chew on the toys rather than the sofa or the most expensive shoes in the
house).
How to “Stuff It”:
1. Get a hollow toy made of a natural product, like bone or rubber.
2. Soak a portion of the dog’s daily ration overnight, so that it expands and becomes
mushy.
3. Smear honey around the inside of the toy. This makes the toy even more delicious,
and also acts as an antibacterial agent.
4. Fill the chew toy just shy of the end with soaked kibble.
5. Seal the end(s) of the toy with some wet dog food or peanut butter.
6. Present the toy to your dog.
Once the dog has gotten very good at chewing the toy, you can begin freezing it. Not only
does it take the dog longer to get all of the food out (giving the dog a longer period of calm,
engaged activity), but the cold is very soothing on the teeth and gums.
Isn’t it mean/teasing the dog to make it so hard to get her food?
On the contrary, it’s much kinder than giving him/her all her food at once in a bowl. In
the wild, much of an animal’s time is spent finding food. If you give an animal food in
a bowl, eating takes just a minute or 2 in the morning and/or evening, then s/he has
nothing to do for the rest of the day. Giving food in a chew toy gives your dog an activity
that is engaging but calming, and keeps him/her quietly busy for a good amount of time.
Bored dogs that are fed out of bowls quickly gobble their food, then entertain themselves
by barking, pacing, whining or through destructive activities. Dogs who eat out of stuffed
chew toys settle down happily for 20 or 40 minutes for a good chew and then, relaxed and
sleepy, take a nap.
Chew toys stuffed with food are obviously the most alluring objects around to chew on,
and the dogs quickly develop a strong preference for those toys. When they need a chew
during the day while you are absent, they’ll seek out their chew toys rather than the myriad
inappropriate objects they could chew on in the house. Good dog! (Of course, a new dog
should never be given the run of the house until s/he is fully trained).
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HOW TO STUFF A CHEW TOY
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Chapter 5
Volunteer Coordinator Guide
Includes the following
• List of tips for recruiting and retaining volunteers
• Open Paw orientation script and outline
• Volunteer handout
• Introduction script and “Cheat Sheets” for each volunteer level
• Guidelines for volunteer trainers for conducting levels proficiency tests
• Template for instructor feedback for volunteer levels proficiency tests
• Sample schedules for volunteer orientation and levels trainings
• Sample sign-up sheets for levels training
Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers
Volunteers are the key to successful implementation of Open Paw in the shelter—but recruiting and, more importantly, retaining volunteers can be a challenge for the average
shelter.
To some extent, merely offering the Open Paw program for volunteers will improve participation. In our experience, members of the public are very excited about the innovative
shelter training techniques we offer, and about the opportunities to transform shelter animals’ lives and futures. Because volunteers learn so much about behavior and training
and, because there are so many fun things to do at each level, public interest in volunteering and volunteer retention generally jumps up immediately in a new Open Paw shelter.
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RECRUITING AND RETAINING VOLUNTEERS
Volunteer recruitment and retention remains an ongoing challenge, though, in any shelter.
Below are some tips for recruitment opportunities and retention techniques based on our
experience in introducing Open Paw to different types of shelters.
Recruitment Resources
1. Nearby high schools and colleges are often wonderful places to recruit volunteers.
It’s true that many students move after they graduate, but a 2-to-4-year retention for
volunteers isn’t bad at all! Students often have fairly flexible schedules as well, and
are often able to volunteer during the daytime at least 1 or 2 days a week. Some
colleges also have service fraternities, sororities, or clubs that you can contact for
instant recruits.
2. Craigslist and other local Internet clearinghouse sites.
3. Try to generate contacts with the local press. Small, local papers are often looking for
stories, and a short announcement asking for volunteers at the end of a feature can
generate a lot of interest in volunteering.
4. Post notices on bulletin boards at local parks (be sure to check for permissibility from
the park service).
5. Set up a small table at local venues, like farmers’ markets, street fairs, and festivals.
Shelters tend to ignore venues that can’t accommodate animals, but a few pictures
of the shelter animals, some literature on the Open Paw program, and a sign-up
sheet for potential volunteers could also generate some great opportunities for recruitment.
6. Local training clubs or breed clubs are full of animal-savvy people already interested
in animal-related activities.
7. You may be able to set up an agreement with a local college whereby students get
internship credit for volunteering at the shelter. This is ideal, in that the students get
a grade for their work, so they’re likely to be more dedicated to it.
Retention
1. Organization is crucial. Work out a system and schedule for orientations, training,
and supervised volunteer hours immediately, and make sure that front-line staff is
fully informed of the system. If potential volunteers can’t find out how to sign up for
orientations, if they come for an orientation and things are disorganized, if they hear
conflicting information from different people, or if they come for a training session
that is suddenly cancelled or changed, they’ll be frustrated and disillusioned from
the start.
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2. Regular communication is also a key factor in keeping your volunteers happy and
motivated. Ask for e-mail addresses on volunteer forms and add them immediately
to your address list. Just a simple e-mail update letting them know which animals
have been adopted over that month, and what upcoming events you’re planning,
and thanking them for their help will help them to feel appreciated and ’in the loop.’
3. Personal contact is also very helpful. We recommend some kind of semi-permanent
name tags for the volunteers, so that staff members can learn their names quickly and
address volunteers by name regularly. The feeling that there’s a personal contact
with the shelter not only makes them feel better about coming, it makes them feel
more personally obligated to the shelter as well.
4. Scheduling helps. If possible, ask all new volunteers to commit to a certain day
and time, at least 2 times a month. Forming a habit of volunteering makes it much
more likely that they’ll continue to come. Naturally, you can be flexible with their
commitment when their available hours change, but it really helps if they get into
a habit of coming regularly right from the beginning. Also, a specific commitment
feels more obligating than a general promise to come in ’when I can.’
5. If possible, have the shelter itself open during “realtor’s hours” (so that it’s easier
for the general public to visit), and have volunteer hours extend even further than
that. Weekdays are the most difficult time for shelters to attract volunteers but, if the
shelter is open in the evening, the animals can still get their quota of visits every day.
6. Invest in training your volunteers thoroughly to insure they are helpful and not a
hindrance to employees.
7. Be sure that the staff understands how helpful volunteers can be, and understands
that they can make use of the volunteers. Many volunteers become discouraged because they get the feeling from the staff that they’re in the way and a pest—but when
the staff realizes how much well trained volunteers can contribute, their friendliness
and good cheer can do wonders for volunteer commitment!
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ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
Orientation and Training
Introduction
Hello, and welcome to Open Paw! (Introduce self). At this facility, the staff and volunteers
do all that they can to make this a great place for the animals to stay. But wouldn’t it
be even better if the animals never had to be in a shelter in the first place—if they had
stayed in their happy homes with a loving family? Open Paw is a non-profit organization
dedicated to decreasing the surrender and abandonment of unwanted animals by making
sure that they don’t become unwanted. We accomplish this in three ways:
1. by educating prospective pet owners before they get their pets
2. by providing practical hands-on experience and training for shelter staff and volunteers, and for prospective and existing pet owners, and
3. by promoting the adoption of Minimum Mental Health Requirements for shelter
animals.
Owner Education
Most shelter animals were once perfectly normal, well behaved, loveable and loved puppies and kittens. Yet many are surrendered to shelters or abandoned when they are 6
months to 2 years old. Why have these animals become unwanted? In most cases, because
of behavior, temperament or training problems, all of which could easily have been prevented. Many of these problems are already well established before 3 months of age—that
is, before owners normally come into contact with pet professionals who could help them.
The solution is to educate prospective pet owners before they get their pets. By teaching people what to expect and what to watch for, and teaching them variety of user-and-animalfriendly training techniques and preventive measures, we can help people to raise their
new puppies and kittens into perfect dogs and cats. Thus, animals are happily kept in
their original homes and many fewer animals end up in shelters. Let’s focus on preventing the problem.
To accomplish this, Open Paw advertises and distributes FREE educational materials to
prospective and existing pet owners and veterinary students. And we offer the Open Paw
Community Lecture Series, an informative, fun, and FREE series of talks by renowned
behaviorists and trainers giving crucial advice to potential and existing pet owners in the
community (if applicable to your shelter). By championing this preventive approach, we
ensure that animals do not become unwanted in the first place.
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Community Educational Centers
Day-to-day shelter operations usually consist of the collection, routine care, and re-homing
of unwanted cats and dogs. But shelters don’t have to be limited to that role! Why don’t
we make shelters much more involved and active in their communities—why don’t we
make shelters into places that focus on education and prevention, places where potential
and existing pet owners can learn about training so that they can avoid the tragedy of
surrendering a pet?
Rather than limiting shelter operations to the routine care of resident animals, Open Paw
has devised protocols so that the process of rehabilitating and re-homing the shelter animals can be used as an educational opportunity for prospective and existing pet owners in
the community. Open Paw’s shelter program provides practical experience and education
to shelter staff and volunteers (prospective pet owners themselves) and, by using the Open
Paw program in the animals’ daily care, staff and volunteers model easy, animal-friendly
training and management techniques to the visiting community. Thus, the very process of
providing daily care provides practical education for prospective and existing pet owners.
You are a vital part of the community education center!
Minimum Mental Health Requirements
As a volunteer, the single most important thing you’ll do is to help the animals form positive associations to all kinds of people. This will help make them more calm, quiet and
friendly when people approach the kennel, which will help them to get adopted, and will
make them better socialized to people once they’re out in the “real world,” so they stay
adopted. You’ll learn how to teach the animals fundamentally important skills, like friendliness and handle-ability. You’ll learn how to teach cats how to cuddle without using their
claws or dogs how to walk on a loose leash and to greet people politely. In sum, you’ll
learn how to teach the animals the skills they’ll need to get along well in a domestic environment, so that they can impress the heck out of potential adopters, and settle peacefully
into their new homes.
Many animals have behavioral baggage when they come to the shelter and, sadly, many
animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time in the shelter environment. Shelter animals often become de-housetrained, hyperactive, noisy, anxious, and lonely. If they do not
become intimidated when strangers walk up to their kennels, their delight and excitement
at seeing people is expressed as uncontrollable exuberance. Unless a vigorous socialization
and training program is in effect, the animals—particularly puppies and kittens —become
less and less adoptable with each day that they stay.
Open Paw has created a set of Minimum Mental Health Requirements to provide for the
essential needs of sheltered animals, specifically regarding their adoptability, comfort, and
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ORIENTATION AND TRAINING
needs for companionship, entertainment, and education. You are a crucial part of providing that comfort, education, entertainment, and training.
Open Paw is a non-profit organization separate from this facility. Its shelter program can
be adopted by any shelter, municipal facility, or rescue group that is dedicated to changing
the focus of sheltering animals.
(Ask if there are any questions so far.)
How Animals Learn
Animals are very efficient in their behavior. If a behavior is inherently pleasurable (eating,
playing, chasing), or if it gets something pleasurable for the animal (like food, attention
or interaction), the animal will display that behavior more and more often. If a behavior
is not pleasurable, or if it does not work to obtain something pleasurable, the animal will
use that behavior less and less. Whenever you interact with an animal, you’re constantly
giving her feedback about what works to get pleasurable things and what doesn’t work. If
a dog jumps up and gets attention, even if the attention is that you push him down, then
he knows that jumping “works”—that is, it gets him attention. If a cat play-bites and you
don’t end the game, then he knows that play-biting “works” — the fun continues.
The good news about this is that we can easily use the way animals learn to “sculpt” their
behavior, by consistently rewarding the desirable behaviors, and ignoring or interrupting
the undesirable behaviors. Gradually, you will see the animal behaving more and more in
desirable ways, and less and less in undesirable ways.
But what about, for example, dogs who jump all the time? Well, that’s just it: no dog ever
jumps literally all the time. Even with a dog that jumps a lot, there’s a moment when she
isn’t jumping, so reinforce that moment with attention and some food! If you don’t like
what she’s doing, show her what you would like her to do.
Repetition and patience are the keys to animal training. There’s never a magic moment
when the animal understands the meaning of our requests. Animals gradually become
conditioned, through lots of repetition, that certain behaviors in certain situations will or
will not “pay off.”
We use these principles—rewarding desirable behaviors, and ignoring undesirable ones or
removing rewards when the animal behaves in an undesirable way—in Open Paw training, and do not use physical punishment. Animals make associations with you and with
the situation every time you interact with them. Thus, an unfortunate side effect of using punishment to try to train animals is that, while they may learn to respond to cues,
they may also form negative associations to you, to the situation, to people or to training.
Furthermore, often you don’t get the result you wanted from trying to use punishment to
train. Take, for example, a dog jumping on people. It’s not a desirable behavior to people
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but, in the dog-dog world it is an appeasing, friendly greeting gesture. If you use punishment to try to get the dog to stop jumping, you have to use a severe enough punishment
the first time, that it effectively outweighs the positive associations of the friendly greeting
gesture. If the punishment is not severe enough, then you are not effectively damping that
behavior. You may even unintentionally be rewarding it. Furthermore, some dogs may try
to stop the punishment by offering an appeasement gesture rather than by stopping the
undesirable behavior—so the result might be more jumping, rather than less.
So, using punishment to train is pretty inefficient, difficult to do correctly and, in order to
be effective, must be severe. A much more efficient, friendlier way to train is to teach the
dog a desirable, incompatible behavior; ask yourself, “if this is ’wrong,’ what is ’right’? In
this case, we might train the dog to sit to greet people.
(Ask for questions.)
Levels of Training
We teach our volunteers training techniques in four levels: OP Cats or OP Dogs Level
1, 2, 3 and 4. There are also several specialties you can train for once you’ve passed OP
4. Specialties include working with animals with special behavior needs, doing adoption
counseling, bathing/grooming and mobile adoption.
Why Do We Have Several Levels of Training?
We train you in stages for several reasons:
1. Dog and cat training is a VERY complex undertaking. We can’t make you into a master trainer overnight but, because we have divided the training into 4 user-friendly
levels, you can be up and working with dogs or cats on the very first day, if you want
to.
2. The things you learn first are the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS you will learn in
animal training. The methods and ideas you learn in Open Paw Level 1 are the underlying principles for all the training we do in the program, no matter how complex.
These methods are very powerful, and will affect the animals in the most important
way possible: by making them feel comfortable in their environment and with people, and by making the environment itself less stressful through teaching the dogs
to shush. (Barking, and hearing dogs barking, raises blood pressure and heart rates
and contributes to greater stress and illness for both dogs and cats). It is also vitally important that you understand these basic principles before you do any further
training. The particular methods will only make sense if the underlying principles
make sense, and the best way to understand these foundational principles is to use
them and to see them in action.
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3. For your SAFETY and for the SAFETY of the animals. We work hard to make the
shelter as comfortable for the animals as possible, but any shelter environment will
always be more stressful for an animal than all but the worst home environment.
Because they are unusually stressed, it will take less for these animals to react than
if they were pet animals in a home. Also, animals will react differently to different
people—that’s one reason why our volunteers are so important to us, but it also
means that we all have to be cautious.
By practicing at every level before you move on to the next, you not only help to lower the
stress level of the animals by performing the critical methods of Level 1 training for them,
but you also learn essential skills such as recognizing animal body language and defusing
potential reactions. At each stage in the training you are compromising your safety in a
new way. Consequently, we must insist that you meet a certain level of proficiency at
each level before moving on to the next. If you are a professional animal trainer, or if you
have a lot of experience in training and feel confident at any or all of the levels, you may
ask for a personal proficiency test at any time to move through the levels more quickly.
Demonstration
(Tell them how to sign up for further training.)
(Split class into those who want to work with dogs and those who want to work with cats)
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Demonstrations—Dogs
Open Paw Dogs Level 1
Now we’ll learn Open Paw Level 1. At the end of this lesson, you’ll all be Open Paw Level
1 volunteers, and can work with the animals today.
In Open Paw Level 1, we use 2 different training methods: Forming Positive Associations/Classical Conditioning and Reward Training.
Forming Positive Associations/Classical Conditioning
In “forming positive associations,” we train the dogs and cats to associate something they
already like very much (dinner!) with something we want them to like: being in their
kennel, and having people approach the kennel. The Open Paw dogs in this facility are
hand-fed all their kibble; they do not eat out of a bowl, but take all their food from people’s
hands or from a stuffed chew toy. Because a great many people will toss in or hand-feed a
piece of kibble to the dog as they approach the kennel, the animal will progressively form
a positive association with all sorts of people, and will look forward to seeing people approach the kennel. Because an association has been established between people and kibble,
the dog responds to people in anticipation of being hand-fed. As people approach the kennel, the animal will no longer become stressed at the sight of an approaching stranger. The
dog will then be less inclined to bark, lunge, growl or hide. He’d much rather approach
with a happy face and a wagging tail!
Because you’re only trying to get the dog to form a positive association to people approaching the kennel, you are going to give the dog a piece of kibble no matter what she’s doing
when you approach. In “forming positive associations,” we’re only trying to establish a
positive emotional reaction in the dog; we’re NOT trying to get any particular “behavior” from the dog. This is the most important thing we’ll do in our training. If the dog is
alarmed every time she sees someone approaching the kennel, we obviously can’t do any
other training with her. She needs to be relaxed and comfortable for her own health, and
for any further training.
Here’s what you do in classical conditioning (demonstrate classical conditioning as you
talk the method through.)
Reward Training
In reward training, we sculpt the dog’s behavior by rewarding things we like with attention, praise and a piece of kibble, and ignoring things we don’t like. Dogs (like most of
us most of the time) perform certain behaviors because they’re rewarding in some way or
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another: either because the behavior itself is rewarding (like chasing a stick or eating) or
because the behavior works to get the dog something that’s rewarding (like attention, play
time or food). The more times a certain behavior works to get the dog attention and a piece
of kibble, the more likely it is that she will repeat that behavior in the near future. And the
more the dog tries out a behavior and it fails to get attention or kibble, the less likely it is
that she’ll repeat it in the future. As lots of different volunteers continue to reward behaviors like approaching in a friendly way, making eye contact, being quiet, sitting or lying
down, the dog will begin to offer those behaviors to anyone who comes up to the kennel.
As lots of volunteers continue to ignore behaviors like jumping up, barking and lunging,
the dog will offer those behaviors less and less and, eventually, the dogs will stop lunging
and barking altogether in their kennel.
As you do reward training, simply walk quietly up to the kennel and let the dog offer behaviors to you. Then pick any desirable behaviors to reward. Don’t ask for any particular
behavior; the dog may not know the voice command and then you and the dog may both
become frustrated. Also, don’t have a single particular behavior in mind; this often stops
you from picking up on perfectly adorable behaviors because you’re concentrating on one
behavior in particular. Just watch the dog and reward any adoptable behaviors you see.
Another very important thing you can do is to actively train the dogs to “shush”. First, put
the barking on command, so that you can work with the dog when she doesn’t particularly
want to bark. To do this, ask the dog to “speak” and then make a noise (knocking on a piece
of wood is usually an effective noise) that will set her off barking. Ask her to “shush” and
waggle a very tempting treat under her nose. Once she settles down and shushes, praise
her and give her the treat. Repeat until she begins to bark immediately upon hearing the
request to speak. (You can also use the dogs’ potty walks in this exercise: pick one dog,
and simply time the exercise so that you ask the dog to speak right before each of the other
dogs is taken out for his or her potty walk. The sight and sound of another dog being taken
out for a walk almost always sets the dogs to barking.)
After she is barking reliably upon request, ask the dog to bark when she is fairly calm, and
praise her for doing so; then ask her to “shush” and waggle a treat in front of her nose.
When she stops to sniff, offer the treat and praise the dog.
Repeat this sequence many times. No matter how long it took the dog to shush the first
time, it will get shorter and shorter with repetition! Once the dogs get very good as shushing when they don’t particularly want to bark, it becomes much easier for them to shush
upon request when they are actively barking at something.
(Demonstrate reward training.)
Chew-toy Stuffing
Stuffing chew toys is another wonderful thing we can do for the animals in the shelter.
By stuffing hollow toys with part of the dogs’ daily ration, we help them to settle down
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quietly with an exciting project and develop a strong preference for those toys (so that,
when they are bored at home, they will chew on the toy rather than the sofa or the most
expensive shoes in the house).
To stuff a chew toy, start with a hollow toy made of a natural product, like bone or rubber.
Soak a portion of the dog’s daily ration overnight, so that it expands and becomes mushy.
Squish the soaked kibble into the chew toy and seal the end(s) of the toy with some wet
dog food or peanut butter (this part is optional). You can also smear honey around the
inside of the toy before you stuff it. Honey makes the toy all the more delicious, and also
acts as an antibacterial agent.
Once the dog has gotten very good at chewing the toy, you can begin freezing it. Not only
does it take the dog longer to get all of the food out (giving the dog a longer period of calm,
engaged activity), but the cold is very soothing on the teeth and gums.
(Ask for questions.)
(Options: either very quickly describe each of the coming levels, or, if there’s time, quickly
demonstrate the forthcoming levels. Outlines for demos of levels 2-5 are below.)
Open Paw Dogs Level 2
Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways for a dog to convince a person not to adopt her is
by offering a friendly greeting to that person. This is because happy, exuberant greeting
behavior to a dog looks like scary, intimidating behavior to a human—the dog jumps up,
paws or mouths, and maybe even barks loudly. This is “hyper” activity. The dog is as
happy and excited as she can be, but the person is thinking, “No way could I live with
this!”
Fortunately, we can use the training ideas we learned in Open Paw Level 1 to teach the
dog to greet people in a socially desirable way. Potential adopters are very impressed
when they see the dog they like sitting quietly and politely to be dressed in her collar and
lead, and sitting again to exit the kennel. Now they’re thinking, “Wow! What a great dog!”
The goal of Level 2 is to desensitize the dog to people entering the kennel and to getting
her collar and lead on. This makes the dog much less likely to get overexcited and do
things like jump, mouth and paw. At Level 2 we continue to use classical conditioning
and reward training—only now, the reward is you. You will reward calm, quiet sitting by
opening the kennel door and coming in to the kennel, and by putting the dog’s collar on.
As you repeat the steps of Level 2, you are also conditioning the dog to learn that getting
her collar on is not as exciting as she thought. Sure, it’s still rewarding, but it doesn’t
necessarily mean that a walk is forthcoming. Thus, it becomes easier and easier for the
dog to behave properly at the sight of a person with a collar and lead. Not only does this
make the dog more adoptable, it also makes her much easier to get ready for a walk once
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she’s in a home: instead of trying to put a lead onto a dog doing her best imitation of a
jumping bean, the owner can easily get the quietly sitting dog ready to go.
Remember that opening the kennel latch, opening the kennel door, going into the kennel
and putting the dog’s collar and lead on are all rewarding for the dog. Since you are giving
a reward by doing any of these things, you should only do them if the dog is behaving
himself and being polite—that is, sitting and being quiet.
Here’s what you should do (demonstrate Level 2 as you talk through the method.)
(ask for questions)
Open Paw Dogs Level 3
In Open Paw Level 3, we’ll continue to use classical conditioning and reward training
techniques. We’ll also learn reward and lure reward training—the same training used for
killer whales, grizzly bears and most working dogs (like search and rescue dogs). In Open
Paw Dog 3, you’ll take the dogs outside their kennel and train them in a designated area.
In Open Paw Level 3 you’ll learn how to:
1. use lure-reward training to teach the dogs basic obedience skills like sit, down, stand
and watch
2. check the dogs safely for sensitive spots and desensitize the dogs to being touched
in those spots
3. teach the dogs to take food and toys politely and to play tug according to the rules
4. use play as a reward in training, and
5. teach the dogs how to greet people politely!
Lure Reward Training
In lure-reward training, you use the dog’s love of kibble or toys to literally lure him into
the body position you want to teach. Essentially, the dog’s nose will follow the kibble or
toy wherever you move it. So, if you start with some kibble right in front of the dog’s
muzzle and slowly move it up and over his head (keeping it close to the top of his head,
otherwise he’ll jump for it), the dog’s muzzle will follow the kibble up. Since it is almost
impossible to do this standing up, he’ll automatically sit!
Here’s how you do lure-reward training. (Demonstrate lure reward training as you talk
through the techniques.)
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Handling/Progressive Desensitization
In handling/progressive desensitization, we carefully learn what, if any, parts of its body
the dog is uncomfortable having touched, and teach him to tolerate and even enjoy being
handled. This is tremendously important because, in a home environment, there are many
situations in which the dog will be touched, and even accidentally stepped or pulled on.
A dog who has been taught to like being handled, even roughly, will adapt well to these
situations; but a dog who can’t stand, for example, to have her tail touched, is in a potentially explosive situation if a 3-year-old visits (or if Dad accidentally steps on her tail on his
way to get the phone). By classically conditioning the dogs to like being handled (that is,
by making a positive association to being touched), we better prepare them for the kinds
of things they’ll face all the time in their home environment: going to the vet’s, getting
their nails clipped, being groomed, having children and strangers approach and pet (and
sometimes pull) them, having their ears and teeth checked, etc. If they are comfortable
with these activities, think how much happier and safer their lives are!
Here’s how we do handling/progressive desensitization (demonstrate as you talk through
these techniques): Some of the most common sensitive areas for dogs are their paws, ears,
rump, tail, muzzle and collar. An easy way to tell immediately if the dog does not like to be
touched in a certain spot is to hold a hand full of kibble in front of the dog’s muzzle while
you carefully brush your other hand over her body. If the dog stops worrying at the kibble
(licking, nibbling, nudging etc.) at any point, you may have touched a sensitive spot. You
will learn how to address these sensitive spots in your Open Paw Level 3 training.
Open Fist/Closed Fist (at this point you may have the dog on a long line, anchored)
This exercise (also sometimes called Off! or leave it/take it) is another immensely important part of the dog’s education. In open fist/closed fist, we teach the dog that she may
only take something if a person tells her she may, and that she must release whatever she
has if a person tells her to do so.
Here’s how we do open fist/closed fist. (Demonstrate as you talk through these techniques.)
Tug-of-War (or Chase-and-Fetch) Rules and Play in Training
Tug-of-war is so much fun, and a wonderful way to teach the dog a whole bunch of important things! 1). By teaching the dog the tug-of-war rules, we continue to make a safer
dog who is happy to have strangers and children approach his toys and is happy to release
the toys on command, and who never puts his teeth on skin. 2). Once the dog knows the
tug-of-war rules, he can release tons of energy by happily playing. 3). We can now use
play as a reward in training, so that now you have double the fun to offer the dog for good
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behavior! 4). And, by combining play with short training interludes, you teach the dog
how to settle down quickly, even when he’s very excited.
Here’s how we establish the tug-of-war rules. (Demonstrate as you talk through these
techniques.)
Once the dog is good at following the rules, you may begin to really get into the game.
Play for a few minutes at a time, taking frequent breaks to settle the dog down and do
some basic obedience, then begin the game again as a reward for good behavior.
Polite Greeting
Unfortunately, jumping to greet is one of those places where natural dog etiquette and
human etiquette clash! In the dog world, jumping up to greet is a polite sign of enthusiasm,
welcome, and even appeasement. Of course, to humans, having a 60 lb. dog jumping on
them when they come in the door is less than pleasing.
In this exercise you’ll learn a productive way to teach the dog to sit or stand quietly to
greet people. We use reward training to teach him that sitting or standing quietly gets
attention and kibble, while jumping up means no attention and no kibble (in fact, it makes
the potential kibble and attention go away)!
Here’s how we teach the dog to greet people politely. (Demonstrate as you talk through
these techniques.)
(Ask for questions.)
Open Paw Dogs Level 4
Open Paw Level 4 focuses on walking the dog outside in the real world, integrating training with really big rewards such as exercise, ranging (exploring around freely, so long as
the dog does not pull on the lead) and sniffing. We are not just “taking the dog for a
walk,” but rather teaching the dog how to walk on a loose lead. This is very impressive to
potential adopters.
(Demonstrate the 4 methods we use to teach the dogs to walk on a loose lead.)
Open Paw Dogs Level 5
We have lots of great opportunities to do specialty work with the dogs once you’ve passed
Open Paw Dogs Level 4:
1. Working with ”project” dogs (these are dogs who have particular behavior or training issues that need to be addressed quickly and intensively)
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2. Adoption counseling
3. Teach other volunteers at each level of training
4. Mobile adoption
5. Making adoption callbacks (talking to adopters and advising them about their new
pups)
6. Grooming and bathing the dogs
7. Being a counselor at Adopters Anonymous
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Demonstrations—Cats
Open Paw Cats Level 1
Forming Positive Associations/Classical Conditioning
In ”forming positive associations,” we train the cats to associate something they already
like very much (food, petting, and playtime with toys) with something we want them to
like: being in their kennels or rooms and having people approach. Because Level 1 cats
are ”Easy to Handle”, they usually do not have to be convinced that people are good to
be around, but we want them to maintain that attitude. They also seem to have adjusted
well to the shelter setting and appear to be at ease (though, of course, we do not know
what they are thinking!). Offering food by hand, petting them or engaging them in play
with toys help them associate people with good things. Here’s what you do in classical
conditioning: (demonstrate as you talk the method through).
Reward Training
In reward training, we sculpt the cat’s behavior by rewarding things we like through attention, praise, playtime with toys, and food, and by ignoring things we don’t like. Cats
(like most of us most of the time) perform certain behaviors because the behavior itself
is rewarding (like eating, grooming or chasing a wad of paper), or because the behavior
works to get the cat something that’s rewarding (like getting a head rub or a back scratch,
or getting that tasty treat). The more times a certain behavior works to get the cat attention
and a piece of kibble, the more likely it is that she will repeat that behavior in the near
future. And the more the cat tries out a behavior that fails to produce attention or food,
the less likely it is that she’ll repeat it in the future. As lots of different volunteers continue to reward such behaviors as approaching in a friendly manner, making eye contact,
head rubbing, reaching out a friendly paw, and purring, the cat will begin to offer those
behaviors to anyone who comes up to the kennel or enters the room. As lots of volunteers
continue to ignore behaviors like hissing, growling, swatting, and cowering in the back of
the kennel, the cat will offer those behaviors less and less and, eventually, stop them altogether. As you do reward training, simply walk up to the kennel or enter the community
cat room and let the cat offer behaviors to you. Then choose any desirable behaviors to reward. Don’t request a particular behavior. The cat may not know the voice command and
both you and the cat may become frustrated. Also, don’t have a single particular behavior
in mind since this may stop you from picking up on cute behaviors because you’re concentrating on a certain behavior. Just watch the cat and reward any adoptable behaviors
you see.
(Demonstrate reward training.)
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Open Paw Cats Level 2
A cat that cowers at the back of his cage or in the corner of his room at an animal shelter
is more likely to be overlooked by someone in search of a new feline companion. Cats
that exhibit fearful behavior could be afraid of people or the environment. The goals of
working with Level 2 cats (fearful at being handled) is to help cats feel good about people
they encounter, to feel more at ease in the shelter setting and, eventually, to show their best
selves to the public. Classical conditioning using food helps to accomplish these goals.
Reward techniques using food, praise, and playtime with toys are used to reinforce any
shows of bravery, until a confident presentation by the cat is the norm. Work at this level
requires extreme patience and the ability to move at the cat’s pace. Calm and minimal
body movement is necessary. In fact, reading silently or aloud to the cat while sitting some
distance away is one of the early activities employed to desensitize the fearful cat to human
presence and the sound of a voice.
Open Paw Cats Level 3
Some people don’t mind when a cat play-bites, plays with her claws unsheathed, or kicks
with her hind feet when someone attempts to give her a friendly petting. Nonetheless,
there are those people who do. In fact, a percentage of the cats that exhibit these behaviors have likely found themselves homeless and in animal shelters because of their behavioral tendencies. Open Paw Level 3 for Cats (difficult and boisterous but safe to handle)
focuses on ignoring the identified behaviors we don’t like, specifically play-biting, playscratching, and play-kicking, in order to relegate those ”games” to the category of ”no
longer any fun.” When the cat responds to handling in these undesirable ways, the person
immediately ”plays dead mouse” (ceases physical movement). After a period of waiting,
the handling resumes. Next, by rewarding even the shortest cessation of these undesirable
play behaviors, we aim to gradually increase the amount of time a cat will allow handling
while remaining calm. The goal is to shape behavior so play-biting, play-scratching, or
play-kicking is only a vague memory. Consistency, timing, and patience are essential for
success in changing the behavior of Level 3 cats.
Open Paw Cats Level 4
In Open Paw Level 4, you’ll work with cats who are behaviorally lovely, but more difficult
to adopt because of issues like coat color, age, or medical issues. You’ll teach these cats fun
and funny tricks and behaviors that will help them catch the eye of potential adopters—
and thus help them get adopted more quickly—and keep them occupied and engaged
during their stay in our shelter.
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DEMONSTRATIONS—CATS
Open Paw Cats Level 5
Open Paw Level 5 involves working with cats that aggressively bite or scratch (difficult
and dangerous to handle). Wearing protective clothing and gloves is a prerequisite. Classical conditioning methods using food and catnip will be used to encourage these cats to
feel that people are a good thing. Attention to body posture and movement is important
as desensitization techniques and lure-reward training are employed to attempt even the
slightest handling. Extreme caution will be necessary at this level.
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Volunteer Orientation Handout—Dogs
and welcome to Open Paw! Open Paw is a revolutionary animal-and-people
education program founded in January of 2000, designed to help stop the surrender
and euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats.
H
E llo,
Every year, millions of dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters, most of them for
easily predictable, easily preventable reasons like chewing inappropriate objects, barking
or clawing, or lack of housetraining. It’s not that their guardians were bad or lazy; it’s just
that most people don’t know what to expect from their new dog or cat, and most don’t
know how to train their new animal to express their animal behavior appropriately in a
home. Furthermore, once the animal goes into the shelter, even in a very good shelter, they
often become de-trained in many ways. This means that the new guardian is faced with
behavior difficulties when they adopt the animal, and the guardian doesn’t know where to
go to find out how to deal with the problems. Many then feel forced to surrender a beloved
animal back to the shelter.
Open Paw is a unique program designed to address these issues through the education
of people and animals. Our primary goal is to educate animal guardians and prospective
guardians. Our second goal is to turn every animal shelter into a pleasant, friendly, quiet
place where members of the community can go to learn about animals, and about basic
training and behavior. And thirdly, we want to change the way shelters are set up, so that
animals learn or retain animal and people social skills, housetraining and basic manners
while they’re in the shelter, instead of losing those skills. Thus, pets leave the shelter much
better able to live successfully in a domestic environment.
We want to turn every animal shelter into a Dog and Cat University, where not only animals, but people, can learn.
And our Dog and Cat Universities are where you come in. As a volunteer, the single most
important thing you’ll do is help the animals to form positive associations to all kinds of
people. This will help make them more calm, quiet and friendly when people approach
the kennel, which will help them to get adopted, and will make them better socialized
to people once they’re out in the ”real world,” which will help keep them in their homes
permanently.
We teach our volunteers training techniques in 4 levels: OP Cats or OP Dogs Levels 1,
2, 3, and 4. There are also several specialties you can learn once you’ve mastered OP 4.
Specialties include working with animals that have special behavior needs, doing adoption
counseling, bathing/grooming and mobile adoption. Consult your training manual for a
complete list of dog and cat specialties.
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VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION HANDOUT—DOGS
Open Paw Dogs Level 1
In Open Paw Dogs Level 1 you learn the 2 most powerful and effective training methods
available: forming positive associations (classical conditioning) and reward training! You
will be amazed at what you can do with these 2 simple techniques. Simply by standing
outside of the kennels and hand-feeding pieces of kibble to the animals, you will be able
to
1. teach resident dogs to enjoy their environment and to enjoy people approaching their
kennels
2. teach the animals beautiful kennel presentation (that is, to impress the heck out of
potential adopters), and
3. establish and maintain a quiet kennel (really, it’s true)!
If you can do this, you have already lowered the animal’s blood pressure and heart rate
and, consequently, made it much more comfortable for the dog to be in her kennel. Your
work will help make the dog more friendly and approachable for potential adopters and
their families, and give her a much better chance of being adopted.
Open Paw Dogs Level 2
Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways for a dog to convince a person not to adopt her is
by offering a friendly greeting to that person. This is because happy, exuberant greeting
behavior to a dog looks like scary, intimidating behavior to a human—the dog jumps up,
paws or mouths, and maybe even barks loudly.
The goal of Level 2 is to desensitize the dog to people entering the kennel and to getting
her collar and lead on. This makes the dog much less likely to get overexcited and do
things like jump, mouth and paw. You will reward calm, quiet sitting by opening the
kennel door, entering the kennel, and putting on the dog’s collar. As you repeat the steps
of Level 2, you are also conditioning the dog to learn that getting her collar on is not as
exciting as she thought. Sure, it’s still rewarding, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a
walk is forthcoming. Thus, it becomes easier and easier for the dog to behave properly at
the sight of a person with a collar and lead.
Open Paw Dogs Level 3
In Open Paw Level 3 you’ll learn how to:
1. use lure-reward training to teach the dogs basic obedience skills like sit, down, stand
and watch
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2. check the dogs safely for sensitive spots and desensitize them to being touched in
those spots
3. teach the dogs to take food and toys politely and to play tug according to the rules
4. use play as a reward in training, and
5. teach the dogs how to greet people politely!
Open Paw Dogs Level 4
Open Paw Level 4 focuses on walking the dog outside in the real world, integrating training with really big rewards, such as exercise, ranging (exploring around freely, so long
as the dog does not pull on the lead) and sniffing. We are not just ”taking the dog for a
walk” but, rather, teaching the dog how to walk on a loose lead. This is very impressive to
potential adopters.
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VOLUNTEER ORIENTATION HANDOUT—CATS
Volunteer Orientation Handout—Cats
and welcome to Open Paw! Open Paw is a revolutionary animal-and-people
education program founded in January of 2000, designed to help stop the surrender
and euthanasia of unwanted dogs and cats.
H
E llo,
Every year, millions of dogs and cats are surrendered to animal shelters, most of them for
easily predictable, easily preventable reasons like chewing inappropriate objects, barking
or clawing, or lack of housetraining. It’s not that their guardians were bad or lazy; it’s just
that most people don’t know what to expect from their new dog or cat, and most don’t
know how to train their new animal to express their animal behavior appropriately in a
home. Furthermore, once the animal goes into the shelter, even in a very good shelter, they
often become de-trained in many ways. This means that the new guardian is faced with
behavior difficulties when they adopt the animal, and the guardian doesn’t know where to
go to find out how to deal with the problems. Many then feel forced to surrender a beloved
animal back to the shelter.
Open Paw is a unique program designed to address these issues through the education
of people and animals. Our primary goal is to educate animal guardians and prospective
guardians. Our second goal is to turn every animal shelter into a pleasant, friendly, quiet
place where members of the community can go to learn about animals, and about basic
training and behavior. And thirdly, we want to change the way shelters are set up, so that
animals learn or retain animal and people social skills, housetraining and basic manners
while they’re in the shelter, instead of losing those skills. Thus, pets leave the shelter much
better able to live successfully in a domestic environment.
We want to turn every animal shelter into a Dog and Cat University, where not only animals, but people, can learn.
And our Dog and Cat Universities are where you come in. As a volunteer, the single most
important thing you’ll do is help the animals to form positive associations to all kinds of
people. This will help make them more calm, quiet and friendly when people approach
the kennel, which will help them to get adopted, and will make them better socialized
to people once they’re out in the ”real world,” which will help keep them in their homes
permanently.
We teach our volunteers training techniques in 4 levels: OP Cats or OP Dogs Levels 1,
2, 3, and 4. There are also several specialties you can learn once you’ve mastered OP 4.
Specialties include working with animals that have special behavior needs, doing adoption
counseling, bathing/grooming and mobile adoption. Consult your training manual for a
complete list of dog and cat specialties.
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Open Paw Cats Level 1
In Open Paw Level 1 you learn the 2 most powerful and effective training methods available: classical conditioning (forming positive associations) and reward training! You will
be amazed at what you can do with these 2 simple techniques. Simply by standing outside
of the kennels and hand-feeding pieces of kibble to the animals, you will be able to
1. teach resident cats to enjoy their environment and to enjoy people approaching their
kennels
2. teach the animals beautiful kennel presentation (that is, to impress the heck out of
potential adopters).
If you can do this, you have already lowered the animal’s blood pressure and heart rate
and, consequently, made it much more comfortable for the cat to be in her kennel. Your
work will help make the cat more friendly and approachable for potential adopters and
their families, and give her a much better chance of being adopted.
Open Paw Cats Level 2
A cat that cowers at the back of his cage or in the corner of his room at an animal shelter
is more likely to be overlooked by someone in search of a new feline companion. Cats
that exhibit fearful behavior could be afraid of people or the environment. The goals of
working with level 2 cats (fearful at being handled) is to help cats feel good about people
they encounter, to feel more at ease in the shelter setting and, eventually, to show their best
selves to the public. Classical conditioning using food helps to accomplish these goals.
Reward techniques using food, praise, and playtime with toys are used to reinforce any
shows of bravery, until a confident presentation by the cat is the norm. Work at this level
requires extreme patience and the ability to move at the cat’s pace. Calm and minimal
body movement is necessary. In fact, reading silently or aloud to the cat while sitting some
distance away is one of the early activities employed to desensitize the fearful cat to human
presence and the sound of a voice.
Open Paw Cats Level 3
Some people don’t mind when a cat play-bites, plays with her claws unsheathed, or kicks
with her hind feet when someone attempts to give her a friendly petting. Nonetheless,
there are people who do. In fact, a percentage of the cats that exhibit these behaviors have
likely found themselves homeless and in animal shelters because of their behavioral tendencies. Open Paw Level 3 for Cats (difficult and boisterous but safe to handle) focuses on
ignoring the identified behaviors we don’t like, specifically play-biting, play-scratching,
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and play-kicking, in order to relegate those ”games” to the category of ”no longer any
fun.” A person immediately ”plays dead mouse” (i.e., ceases physical movement) when a
cat responds to handling in these undesirable ways. After a period of waiting, the handling
resumes. Next, by rewarding even the shortest cessation of these undesirable play behaviors, we gradually increase the amount of time a cat will allow handling while remaining
calm. The goal is to shape behavior so play-biting, play-scratching, or play-kicking is only
a vague memory. Consistency, timing, and patience are essential for success in changing
the behavior of Level 3 cats.
Open Paw Cats Level 4
In Open Paw Level 4, you’ll work with cats who are behaviorally lovely, but more difficult
to adopt because of issues like coat color, age, or medical issues. You’ll teach these cats fun
and funny tricks and behaviors that will help them catch the eye of potential adopters—
and thus help them get adopted more quickly—and keep them occupied and engaged
during their stay in our shelter.
Open Paw Cats Level 5
Open Paw Level 5 involves working with cats that aggressively bite or scratch (difficult
and dangerous to handle). Wearing protective clothing and gloves is a prerequisite. Classical conditioning methods using food and catnip will be used to encourage these cats to
feel that people are a good thing. Attention to body posture and movement is important
as desensitization techniques and lure-reward training are employed to attempt even the
slightest handling. Extreme caution will be necessary at this level.
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LEVEL 1 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 1 is essential to our goal: increasing the adoptability of resident cats! Please continue
to work with Level 1 cats every time you visit, even if you’ve moved on to higher levels!
We will use these basic classical conditioning (forming positive associations) and reward
training techniques to reward and reinforce good behavior, manners and temperament,
and to make sure these friendly cats continue to like all sorts of people.
Classical Conditioning (Forming Positive Associations)
Use classical conditioning to reward resident cats for looking forward to people approaching their kennel. The cat will progressively form a positive association to people and look
forward to seeing people approach the kennel; the cat will then be less inclined to hiss,
huddle in a corner, or hide.
• DO approach the kennel (or enter the community cat room) and place food in front
of the cat or offer it from your hand, regardless of the cat’s reaction. If you are a child
or a man, please give more pieces of kibble.
• DO speak gently to the cat.
• If the cat approaches you, DO offer a finger or hand in greeting for the cat to sniff.
• DO pet the cat if he approaches you and seems interested.
• DO ’play dead mouse’ (become completely still) if the cat seems annoyed, then
slowly move your hand away and return to doing what the cat seemed to like (or
move on to another cat).
• DO use toys, not your hands, to engage the cat in play.
• DO NOT hover or pressure the cat.
Reward Training
Use reward-training techniques to teach resident cats excellent kennel presentation, specifically, to solicit attention when people approach. On each visit, approach the kennel and
stand outside to observe the cat; patience is the key! Wait, WITHOUT saying anything, until the cat does something you like. Then reward with praise and a piece of kibble. Please
keep in mind the adoptable traits we are looking to reinforce (e.g., friendly approach, eye
contact, reaching out a paw in greeting, rubbing against you or the kennel bars, etc.)
• DO identify and reward desirable kitty behavior with a piece of kibble.
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• DON’T call the cat to get his attention.
• DON’T verbally request or try to lure the cat to perform specific behaviors.
• DO take advantage of training opportunities that present themselves. For example,
a cat swatting or hissing at another cat is a great opportunity to teach a cat to tolerate
another cat’s presence without hissing or growling. If the cat hisses or growls, wait
for him to stop hissing for at least 3 seconds, then reward the cessation of hissing or
swatting.
• DO keep your mind open. Cats may surprise you with the wealth of their behavioral
repertoire, so don’t approach the cat with an idea of exactly what you want him to do.
The cat may come up with a variety of adorable behaviors, such as rubbing against
the cage bars and doing a somersault immediately after, or jumping onto your shoulders and rubbing against your ears. Acting cute is one of the best ploys for the cat
to get out of the shelter and into an adopter’s home. Never miss an opportunity to
reinforce cuteness.
• DON’T reward the cat for behavior that the average adopter would not consider
desirable.
Level 1 Safety
Always read the kennel card and behavior notes BEFORE interacting with ANY resident
animal, and please work only with animals designated for your level of training. If a cat is
huddled at the back of her kennel or hiding, do not attempt to interact with her until you’ve
used classical conditioning and made her feel comfortable with your presence. Remember
to follow your local facility’s guidelines (such as dress code) for safety when interacting
with the animals.
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LEVEL 2 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
The goal of Open Paw Level 2 for Cats is to desensitize fearful cats to people and their
environment. The focus is to teach a fearful cat to react positively when people approach
him or enter his room, and to behave in a fairly relaxed manner in the shelter environment.
Remember at all times to BE PATIENT, and proceed at the cat’s pace.
Classical Conditioning Fearful Cats
• DO sit or stand quietly a tolerated distance away from kitty. Slowly move further
away if kitty shows signs of stress.
• DO offer food by gently tossing kibble or tasty treats towards kitty, or placing food
near kitty. (Choose whatever method kitty will accept without retreating.)
• DO read aloud, talk, or sing to kitty quietly, allowing her to slowly become comfortable with your presence. Remember to remain a tolerated distance away from
kitty.
• DO continue to gently toss food treats to kitty.
• DO demonstrate extreme patience by always waiting for kitty to make a move before
proceeding.
• DO be certain not to loom over kitty and not to make direct eye contact.
Reward Training Fearful Cats
• DO wait for kitty to show the tiniest sign of desirable behavior, then immediately
reward him with food. Desirable behaviors include showing an interest in people
and the environment.
• DO acknowledge kitty’s show of stress or undesirable behavior by ”playing dead
mouse” (freezing in place), then slowly moving away until kitty calms down or relaxes.
• DO wait for kitty to show the slightest sign of positive behavior (such as being quiet,
or looking at you), then reward her and end the session.
• DO acknowledge that a show of stress indicates that you have progressed too quickly.
• DO NOT request or encourage a behavior; DO wait for a desirable behavior.
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Safety
Always read the kennel card before interacting with any resident animal, and please work
only with animals designated for, or below, your level of training. Always proceed with
extreme patience at Level 2. If you find yourself losing patience, please avoid working
with Level 2 cats. Working with a partner or a mentor might frighten Level 2 cats, but do
ask an Open Paw Trainer for assistance if you should have questions or problems. Always
follow your facility’s guidelines for safety when interacting with the animals.
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LEVEL 2 KITTENS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Quality Time for Shelter Kittens
To give kittens the best chance at a great life, they need to start out on the right foot. We
want them to have well-rounded personalities and to take delight in all sorts of human
affection and play. The more comfortable they are with their world, the less likely it is that
stress-related behavior problems will develop and complicate their lives later on. During their short stay with us, we want our kittens to develop habits that will make them
welcome in any home for their whole lives—not just the homes of us indulgent cat people!
Getting to know your kitten
We don’t have much time to get to know our kittens, so it helps to think clearly about a
few of their qualities from the start—this helps us decide which activities to spend time
on.
Well socialized or under-socialized?
A well socialized kitten has had so many good experiences with people—and so few
bad ones—that she’s come to associate people with positive experiences. For an undersocialized kitten, the opposite is true. These kittens may respond to people initially with
hissing, cowering, ignoring, or even defensive scratching and biting. Under-socialized
kittens urgently need delicate and diligent work from volunteers. Like all kittens, undersocialized kittens loved to eat, cuddle, and play with their cat families: we will help them
discover that humans can provide all these wonderful things. There are special activities
and games for just this purpose.
Outgoing or shy?
In shelter situations, shy or cautious kittens are at a great disadvantage compared to their
outgoing littermates. Do not confuse shy kittens with under-socialized kittens (although
shyness can stunt socialization). Most shy kittens already associate humans with good
things, but they approach everything new with caution and quickly relinquish the scene
to their rambunctious littermates. We will learn a few strategies for helping shy kittens.
Running and jumping? Snuggling and cuddling?
Most kittens are both athletic and cuddly, but lean more toward one or the other. We
can help them best by expanding on their favorite activities, and encouraging them to
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reconsider their less favored activities. Most adopters will eventually appreciate the full
range of behavior in a kitten or cat. With this in mind, we will learn games and activities
to help round out our kittens’ personalities.
Biting, scratching, squirming: kitten shows all, some, or none
Kittens who bite, scratch or squirm are heading for trouble, so we need to put them on a
different course. This requires diligent use of Open Paw techniques which we will review
shortly. Kittens that don’t show any of these behaviors are fortunate, and must be handled
in a way that preserves this blessed state.
Precautions ”Humans are not toys”
When playing with kittens, your hands should always be holding a play object—never use
your hands to wrestle with a kitten, lure a kitten to pounce, etc. Cats that bite and scratch
in play can quickly become too rough and cause serious injury to a person. Not everyone
who adopts and loves a kitten is ’cat-smart’—if these people use physical punishment to
discipline a cat, or are lax and ignore the behavior, the situation will deteriorate and the
cat will be abandoned one way or another. We want to make certain this never happens to
our darling kittens.
”Humans are not scratching posts or jungle gyms”
Kittens love to climb up jeans and bare skin. Sometimes they are using us as a scratching
post, sometimes as a ’high place’, and sometimes they just want to get as close to our faces
and hearts as possible. For all these ends, we must provide and insist upon alternative
means. In each case, first remove the kittens from your legs and return them to the floor.
Do this in a businesslike way that neither punishes nor reinforces the behavior. Next, try
to provide an immediate alternative by placing them by a scratching post, a high place
(like the sink) or, after inviting them into your hands, cradle the kittens near your face for
a cuddle. A shelter cannot provide the environment a kitten needs—you may need to be
creative and make do with what’s available.
Guiding Principles and Techniques
• Wait for the kitten to come to you. Please do not approach him and do not pull him
from his hiding place. If you force the kitten to do something, you may frighten him
or reinforce his fears.
• Offer the kitten your finger to sniff in greeting. Encourage the kitten to approach
you by using food or a toy, and wait as long as it takes.
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• Hand-feed. Offer the kitten a piece of kibble from the flat of your hand. Be careful
not to get nipped by an enthusiastic eater.
• Engage kitten in play. USE TOYS, NOT YOUR HANDS. If kittens learn it is acceptable to bite, claw or kick human hands, feet, clothing or hair, they will continue this
practice as adults. Cat bites can result in serious illness in people, so it’s extremely
important that kittens learn to treat human skin with respect early on.
• Physical contact between people and kittens should be gentle. After a kitten approaches you and sniffs you, stroke her gently and calmly by petting her around the
back of her ears; along the back of her neck; from head to tail along her back. Observe
where the kitten likes being petted the best, then return to stroking her there when
you want to pet her.
• Time to withdraw your attention. If a kitten nips, scratches or kicks you, immediately ”play dead mouse” (freeze), say ”OUCH” with emphasis, or whimper. Slowly
withdraw your hand when the kitten removes his teeth, claws or hind feet. Then
turn your back to the kitten, or return him to his cage and close the door and end the
interaction. The game is over. Totally ignore him. Or turn your attention to another
kitten. Or simply leave the room. Wait several moments before interacting with the
kitten in any way.
• ”Good Kitty!” Reward kittens immediately (within 3 seconds) with food, praise or
play time with toys when they allow you to pet them without using their claws, teeth
or hind feet.
• Know when to stop. Over-stimulated kittens will not appreciate all that people have
to offer. If a kitten is running around wildly and engaging in vigorous behavior, quiet
him down every three minutes with a ”time out”.
• To calm a kitten. Hold him upright against your chest, with his back to you, your
fingers wrapped around his chest, hold him securely under his front legs. Take a
few deep breaths and wait 1-2 minutes, no matter how much he squiggles, before
releasing him to play once again. Wait until he stops squirming for at least a second
before releasing him. Repeat every few minutes.
• Reward bravery in shy kittens. If a kitten shows fearful/shy behavior (stays in a
corner, scurries away, or startles easily), ignore that behavior. Wait until the kitten
is being brave, then reward his show of confidence (stroke, praise, give food). Be
certain to give fearful kittens a significant amount of attention, equal to or more than
confident kittens.
• Encourage fearful/shy kittens to approach you using food or toys.
• Turn sideways and scrunch up your eyes as the kitten approaches you. Narrowed
eyes are a friendly sign for cats.
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• Move slowly and try to avoid making sudden movements or loud noises.
• Let the kitten explore and sniff you before you attempt to pet him.
• Give generous praise for shows of bravery.
How to Pick up a Kitten
• Place one hand under the kitten’s chest, with 2 or 3 fingers between his front legs.
Pick him up, supporting his bottom with your other hand. Hold the kitten close to
you so he will feel safe.
• If the kitten struggles, put him down gently. Be careful not to drop him or let him
jump out of your hands. Ideally, put him down before he starts struggling.
• Praise the kitten for being quiet and calm.
Ideas for Games
If you are upstaged by the kittens’ siblings, you may choose to put all but one kitten back
in the cage (they have all day and night to play together!)
• Making toys disappear under and behind things. Show the kittens that you are
hiding their toy under a towel, cup, paper towel, etc. Make it reappear and give
them peeks to hold their attention. They may try to scoop the toy out or may pat
it to find out more. Wiggle the toy. If the kittens lose interest immediately, their
brains may not be ready to process hidden objects, but they will understand objects
zooming behind or under things. They will anticipate the object’s reappearance on
the other side and feel quite clever.
• String or chain toy. Place a small string or sturdy chain around and behind objects
and yourself. Do this slowly, allowing the natural twists, turns, and dips to intrigue
the kitten.
• Stick under paper. Place the end of a stick under some covering, possibly torn-up
newspaper. Let the kitten find the end and pounce on it, etc.
• Film canisters, balls, toys to bat around. Put a penny in an empty, plastic film canister and bat it around a few times to activate a kitten’s curiosity. Then let the kitten
do the rest. Do the same with soft balls, ping pong balls, crumpled pieces of paper,
felt toys, etc. Pipe cleaners can be twisted and given to a kitten to play with. Watch
them bat around these nearly weightless objects.
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• Toss small objects. Toss these over your knees or to the far end of the room. Some
kittens even fetch!
• Kitten in a box. If the kitten’s cardboard carrier is in the room, it can be used for
play. Lay it on its side with the opening facing away from you. Entice the kitten to
play through the holes.
• Fun in the sink. Turn the water on in the basin and let the kittens investigate. They
will probably find it most exciting.
• Towel tent. Sit on the floor with knees bent and draped with a towel. Place a toy in
and around the tent. If the siblings are engaged in this game, they will particularly
enjoy ambushing each other from inside or outside the tent.
• Window. Hold the kittens up to your chest and show them the world outside the cat
room. They will see people and dogs rushing about. Be tentative the first time—you
do not want the kitten to panic.
• Paper bags. Open a large paper bag and place on the floor. Throw in a ball, enticing
the kittens to follow. Let them do the rest, running in and out of the bag.
• Straw. Hold one end of a straw and play the other end with the kitten.
• String-on-pole toy. Save this toy for last, since there may be no ’coming down’ from
it. The best way to play this is to sit cross-legged in the middle of the room and
make yourself into a ’maypole’ with your hands high over your head. You can then
fling the toy several times around your body until capture. To avoid lopsided development of the kittens’ strength, alternate directions. This method works better
than the simple back and forth from one end of the room to the other—it provides 3
dimensions and a brief disappearance behind your body.
Strategy for the Well Socialized, Shy Kitten
Shy kittens will not reach their potential if they must constantly compete with their bolder,
pushier littermates. We have actually seen shy kittens lose strength for jumping and running because their littermates dominate the games. For this reason, it is best to play first
with the dominant kittens and then put them back in their cages. If the shy kitten won’t
come out of the cage, remove the dominant kittens from the cage and put them temporarily in their carriers.) You will be amazed by how quickly and fully shy kittens blossom
when they are the stars of the show! If the dominant kittens are in a carrier, be sure to
make a game of it by occasionally running toys in and around the openings—we don’t
want them to feel punished. Finish up the play session by letting everyone out for a short
game together.
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Special games for under-socialized kittens
Under—socialized kittens have not been handled enough by people during the first few
weeks of their lives. They may or may not be shy, but they sometimes act aloof or are
afraid of people because of this lack of handling. We want them to learn that people can
be a source of comfort, companionship, and fun. None of this can happen until these
kittens are encouraged to make positive associations with people. This is accomplished in
3 ways: through hand-feeding, tactile pleasure through petting and grooming, and teasing
out their curiosity through playtime with toys.
Starting Out: Inside the Cage
With one hand, carefully move a small string or chain toy a few inches inside the cage, then
slowly drag it out again. Do this a few times, varying the retreat route to entice curiosity.
You may try to move the toy sideways away from the kittens as well. Just remember that
the enticing part for the kittens is the toy moving away from them. Take care with your
body language: your movements should be smooth, casual and slow; your eyes should be
sleepy; your voice should be soft. Kittens instinctively understand our body language in
most ways, but the adoring stare of a cat lover is alarming to them—keep your eyes as soft
and sleepy as you can. If the kitten seems confident enough, you can gently drop 1 end of
the toy in their ’safe-place’, be that a bed, litterbox, or mountain of towels. Draw the toy
slowly away from them. The first session should be short. You may get some interest in the
form of pricked ears and a tentative paw. Keep teasing the curiosity until the kitten begins
to withdraw. They will stop participating, and may even turn their back to you and stare at
the wall of their cage. Take the hint and come back another time—the kittens will be much
further along, thanks to your efforts and those of other volunteers. NOTE: Be certain to
always supervise play sessions with strings, ropes, cords, ribbons, etc.—anything a cat can
ingest. A lapse in attention can result in expensive surgery or even death.
Progress: Outside the Cage
Your kittens may already show interest in what lies beyond their cage. You can encourage
this by moving back slightly from their cage during your play sessions. The point will
come when they want to jump out but are still too scared. This is where the towel comes
in. Sit on the floor in front of their cage and make a tent with your knees and the towel.
Drag the toy over, in, and around the ’tent’. The kittens will eventually jump out. They
may jump on top of the tent, so it is important to make the top solid—no gap between your
knees. Play with the kittens by making the toy disappear behind the towel, then reappear.
The kittens will find a ’safe place’ again — it may be a far corner of the room, under the
tent, or back in their cage (always keep the path to their cage open: we don’t want them
feeling trapped by us.). Soon the kittens will be playing next to you, under you and on top
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of you! They will become accustomed to the size, smell, and heat of the human body while
having fun. This is what we want. For this reason, this game is preferable to the pole-toy
game, which is better suited to well socialized kittens. Your shy kittens may soon graduate
to games for well socialized kittens.
Safety
Safe toys (no strings or cords) that a kitten can bat around on its own may remain in the
cage, allowing a kitten to have some amusement when people are not around. Examples
include kitty Kongs, balls, or paper toys. Interactive toys (chain/string toys, wand-like
toys, peacock feathers, etc.) should be outside the kittens’ cages unless a person is interacting with the kitten. Reserving these toys for playtime with people will encourage the kitten
to associate fun with people, creating positive experiences for the kitten when people are
around.
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LEVEL 3 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
LEVEL 3 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 3 cats are cats who are boisterous and unruly in their play, but not dangerous. These
are cats who play-bite, play with their claws out, or kick during play, but who don’t break
skin or cause serious damage, and who are friendly toward people (just too rough when
they interact with people).
Some people don’t mind when a cat play-bites, plays with her claws out, or kicks with
her hind feet when someone tries to pet her. But many people do, and one reason people
surrender or return cats to shelters is that the cat plays far too roughly for the family.
Level 3 focuses on teaching cats that play-biting, play-scratching, and play-kicking are no
longer fun, so that the cats will learn to play in a way that’s fun for humans, too!
Reward Cessation
• DO make sure to offer a toy for the cat to play with.
• DON’T let the cats play with your bare hands, fingers, clothing, or hair.
• DO play ”dead mouse” whenever a cat becomes too boisterous in her play (playing
with claws out, biting in play, or kicking): immediately freeze and stay completely
still, so that you’re no longer interesting to play with.
• DO play ”dead mouse” immediately whenever the cat gets too rambunctious. We
must make our rules very clear and easy to discern, especially when we’re introducing new rules to a cat’s life.
• DO end the game if the cat bites, scratches, or kicks you 3 times during play. If our
cats are to understand the rules of play, consequences must be immediate and clear.
Reward Training
• DO resume the game once the cat has stopped biting, scratching, or kicking for a few
seconds. At first, you can resume play after just a moment of calm behavior.
• DO wait for longer intervals of calm as the cat gets better and better at remaining
calm for just a second. At first, just wait for 3 seconds, then 5, then 10, and on and on
until the cat is gradually phasing out the ”crazy” play and is playing calmly most of
the time.
• DON’T reward behavior that the average owner is unlikely to like. While you may
not mind very boisterous play, many potential adopters do, and our job is to teach
our cats the skills they’ll need to get adopted and to stay in their new homes.
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Safety
Always read the kennel card and behavior notes BEFORE interacting with ANY resident
animal, and please work only with animals designated for, or below, your level of training.
If a cat is huddled at the back of her kennel or hiding, do not attempt to interact with her
until you’ve used classical conditioning and made her feel comfortable with your presence.
Remember to follow your local facility’s guidelines (such as dress code) for safety when
interacting with the animals. At Level 3, appropriate clothing is especially important.
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LEVEL 4 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
LEVEL 4 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 4 cats are cats who are perfectly lovely in their behavior, but who aren’t immediately
appealing to potential adopters because of color, coat length, or special medical needs.
Since these cats tend to have longer-than-average stays, they are also at risk for becoming
desocialized or depressed.
Level 4 focuses on providing extra mental stimulation to harder-to-adopt cats so that they
stay healthy and happy during their time with us, and giving these cats a ”boost” in adoptability by helping them to stand out and charm the heck out of potential adopters!
Reward Training
• DO use reward training to desensitize cats to harnesses and on-leash walking as a
bonus skill to make them more attractive.
• DO look for charming and cute behaviors offered by the cats, and reward the heck
out of those behaviors. Some charming cat ”tricks” worthy of rewarding can be
things like: rubbing their face against the kennel bars, sitting (the more it’s rewarded,
the easier it will be to put on cue, and a cat sitting on command is quite impressive to
people!), raising a paw (”high five”), or both paws (”high ten”), rolling over, spinning
around, or rolling onto their backs (”play dead”)—but keep your mind open! You
never know what cute things cats will come up with on their own.
• DO NOT reward behavior that the average owner probably will not like. While you
may not mind very boisterous play, many potential adopters do, and our job is to
teach our cats the skills they’ll need to get adopted and to stay in their new homes.
• DO NOT make a verbal request for a specific position or trick.
• DO use reward training to teach cats to go into their kennels on cue.
• DO keep training sessions short—about 10-15 minutes per session, several times a
week, is ideal for cat learning.
Progressive Desensitization
• DO work with staff to develop a plan for each individual cat, based on his particular
needs and strengths.
• DO take baby steps to gradually desensitize chosen cats to ride comfortably in cars.
• DO gradually desensitize chosen cats to a variety of locations in preparation for appearances in classrooms, at off-site adoption events, or at other programs the shelter
sponsors/works with.
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• DO reward the cats with treats or a favorite toy after EACH progressive move toward
the car or a new location.
• DO progressively desensitize by gradually increasing the proximity to, and length of
stay in, each step toward the car or new location.
Safety
Always read the kennel card and behavior notes BEFORE interacting with ANY resident
animal, and please work only with animals designated for, or below, your level of training.
If a cat is huddled at the back of her kennel or hiding, do not attempt to interact with her
until you’ve used classical conditioning and made her feel comfortable with your presence.
Remember to follow your local facility’s guidelines (such as dress code) for safety when
interacting with the animals.
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LEVEL 5 CATS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Open Paw Level 5 involves working with cats that aggressively bite or scratch (difficult
and dangerous to handle). Level 5 is divided into 2 steps. In the first, volunteers will work
with difficult kitties while they are in their cages. Classical conditioning methods employing social distance, food, and catnip as treats will be used to get these kitties accustomed
to approaching people, and the kitties will be reward-trained for any signs of confidence,
friendliness and calmness.
In the second level of Open Paw Level 5, kitties will be desensitized to increasing levels of social interaction, including having their cage door opened, and being touched and
handled. They will continue to be encouraged and rewarded for all confident, calm and
friendly behaviors. Extreme caution will be necessary at this level, and wearing protective clothing and gloves during handling exercises is a prerequisite. Patience and careful
attention to body posture and movement is vitally important at both levels.
Stage 1
Classical Conditioning Difficult and Dangerous Cats
• DO work with kitty in a cage, preferably in a quiet room. Approach calmly and
casually at an oblique angle and drop a pinch of kibble or catnip through the front of
the cage.
• DO move away immediately, without looming or lingering.
• DO speak or sing softly when approaching, helping kitty to get used to human voices
and begin associating people with good things.
• DO repeat the approach frequently, while giving kitty time between sessions to investigate the treats.
• DO very gradually begin increasing the amount of time spent at the cage before
moving on.
• DO watch kitty closely for increased stress or arousal and stop working immediately
with any cat that shows signs of panic, attempting to fight her way out of the cage or
lunging offensively at the front of the cage. Give over-aroused cats at least an hour
to settle before attempting work again, and this time, work more slowly.
• DO watch for signs that the kitty is ready for the next step—calmness, curiosity and
tolerance.
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Reward Training Difficult and Dangerous Cats
• DO wait for kitty to show the tiniest sign of desirable behavior, then immediately
reward him with both yummy treats and increased social distance—i.e., dropping
a treat and immediately retreating from his cage. Desirable behaviors include not
hissing or spitting, eye contact, curiosity and approaching calmly, with no signs of
aggression.
• DO withdraw when kitty misbehaves so she learns that it is her own undesirable
behavior that is making you retreat”?
• DO slowly increase the amount of calm and confident behaviors kitty must show
before you retreat.
• DO wait for kitty to show the slightest sign of positive behavior (such as not hissing,
showing an interest in you), then reward him and end the session.
• DO acknowledge that a show of stress indicates that you have progressed too quickly.
• DO NOT request or encourage a behavior.
• DO wait for a desirable behavior.
Stage 2
Classical Conditioning Difficult and Dangerous Cats
• DO approach kitty’s cage, touch the door or wiggle the latch. Kitty will probably
retreat to the back of the cage; drop a pinch of kibble or catnip and wait, without
looming or making eye contact. Repeat frequently, until kitty remains calm when
you stand at his cage and open the door a tiny crack.
• DO speak or sing softly to kitty while you work with him.
• DO gradually increase the size of the crack, until kitty remains calm with his door
open enough for you to put a gloved hand in.
• DO slowly begin introducing your gloved hand into the cage. Drop kibble or catnip
at the front of the cage at first, then slowly begin moving your gloved hand closer to
the cat.
• DO gradually and gently offer the gloved hand for kitty to sniff.
• DO slowly offer kitty treats in the gloved hand; if kitty takes them, celebrate quietly!
If not, leave them in the cage for him.
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• DO begin touching kitty’s head with a gloved hand, rub kitty’s chin or scratch kitty’s
ears, and give food treats for each touch.
• DO touch kitty for longer and longer periods of time, while continuing to dispense
treats frequently.
• DO watch kitty closely for any signs of arousal or stress and stop working with him
immediately if he spits, growls, or swats. Give over-aroused cats at least an hour to
settle before attempting work again, and work more slowly.
• DO watch for signs that the kitty is ready for the next step—calmness, curiosity and
tolerance.
Reward Training Difficult and Dangerous Cats
• DO wait for kitty to show the tiniest sign of desirable behavior, then immediately
reward her by opening the cage and putting in yummy treats or catnip. Desirable
behaviors include approaching, making calm eye contact, rubbing against the cage
door, sniffing at the glove, or soliciting affection or attention.
• DO repeat until kitty is offering calm, friendly behaviors to get you to open the cage
door and reward her.
• DO speak or sing softly to kitty, and praise her quietly for desired behaviors.
• DO slowly increase the amount of calm and friendly behaviors kitty must show before you open the door and reward her.
• DO wait for kitty to offer a friendly, positive behavior, then reward her and end the
session.
• DO acknowledge that a show of stress indicates that you have progressed too quickly.
• DO NOT request or encourage a behavior.
• DO wait for a desirable behavior.
Safety
Always read the kennel card before interacting with any resident animal, and please work
only with animals designated for your level of training. Always proceed with extreme
caution at Level 5. If you are not completely confident and comfortable working with
dangerous cats, please avoid working with Level 5 cats. Working with a partner or a
mentor might frighten Level 5 cats, but do ask an Open Paw Trainer for assistance if you
should have questions or problems. Always follow your facility’s guidelines for safety
when interacting with the animals.
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LEVEL 1 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 1 is essential to our goal: increasing the adoptability of resident dogs! Please continue to do Level 1 exercises every time you visit, even if you’ve moved on to higher levels!
We will use these basic classical conditioning (forming positive associations) and reward
training techniques to achieve good behavior, manners and temperament, and to get the
dogs to like all sorts of people; the ultimate goal is a totally quiet kennel! Please carry a
leash with you at all times to desensitize the dogs to seeing people with leashes.
Classical Conditioning (Forming Positive Associations)
Use classical conditioning to teach resident dogs to enjoy people approaching their kennel.
The dog will progressively form a positive association to people and look forward to seeing
people approach the kennel; the dog will then be less inclined to bark, lunge, growl or hide.
• DO approach the kennel and toss or hand-feed kibble to the dog, REGARDLESS of
the dog’s reaction.
• DO NOT hover, pressure or encourage the dog to come forward, and DO NOT request any specific behavior.
Reward Training
Use reward-training techniques to teach resident dogs proper kennel presentation, specifically to sit and shush when people approach. On each visit, approach the kennel and stand
outside to observe the dog. Patience is the key! Wait, WITHOUT saying anything, until
the dog does something you like. Then reward with praise and a piece of kibble. Please
keep in mind the adoptable traits we are looking to reinforce (e.g., friendly approach, eye
contact, sitting, lying down, silence, etc.) If a dog stops barking or stops bouncing around
for at least 3 seconds, reward it.
• DO identify and reward desirable doggy behavior with a piece of kibble.
• DO NOT make a verbal request for a specific position, call the dog or lure him into
position.
• DO keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities, particularly with barking dogs:
if you hear a dog begin to bark, continue to work at what you were doing, but pay
attention for the moment when the dog stops barking (and he will eventually stop).
Then hurry over and throw a party!
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Shush
We can also actively teach a dog to shush:
• DO put the barking on command, so that you can work with the dog when she
doesn’t particularly want to bark.
• DO ask the dog to bark when she is fairly calm and praise her for doing so; then ask
her to ”shush” and waggle a treat in front of her nose. When she stops to sniff, offer
the treat and praise the dog.
• DO repeat this sequence many times. No matter how long it took the dog to shush
the first time, it will get shorter and shorter with repetition!
Level 1 Safety
Always read the kennel card and behavior notes BEFORE interacting with ANY resident
animal, and please work only with animals designated for, or below, your level of training.
Never stick your whole arm or hand through the kennel fence. Remember to follow your
local facility’s guidelines (such as dress code) for safety when interacting with the animals.
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LEVEL 2 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
The goal of Level 2 is to desensitize the dog to seeing the leash and to people entering the
kennel. This will decrease the likelihood of overexcited displays like jumping, mouthing,
pawing, etc. The focus of Level 2 training is to teach the dog to display appropriate manners while a person enters and exits the kennel, to teach the dog to sit politely while his
collar and leash are attached, and not to jump up.
Entering the Kennel
• DO wait for (or lure) the dog to sit before opening the kennel door. If the dog jumps
up as you are lifting the door latch, step back and wait for him to sit again before
attempting to enter.
• DO repeat this process as many times as necessary until the dog remains sitting while
you open the door and enter the kennel. Practice makes perfect!
• DO NOT push the dog aside with your arm or leg as you squeeze in.
• DO NOT open the door and enter the kennel while the dog is jumping up, pushing
to get past you, or barking.
Once Inside the Kennel
• DO wait for the dog to calm down again before interacting with him (i.e., ignore
jumping, etc.)
• DO wait for (or lure) the dog to sit before putting on the collar/gentle leader or
attaching the leash.
• DO start over every time the dog breaks position.
• DO repeat this process several times in a session.
• DO NOT put on collar/gentle leader OR attach the leash while he is standing or
jumping.
• DO NOT physically push the dog into position.
Exiting the Kennel
• DO lure the dog to sit and back out carefully OR toss a few pieces of kibble to the far
side of the run and slip out backwards.
• DO always face the dog when entering and exiting the kennel.
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Level 2 Safety
Enter and exit the kennel quickly and carefully, and always keep your eye on the dog. Be
sure that your dog’s equipment fits properly. We recommend practicing Level 2 with a
partner; consult your local facility for guidelines. Once inside the kennel, NEVER turn
your back on the dog. If you are feeling overwhelmed, shout for help. In an emergency,
toss all of your kibble AWAY from you, scattering it over the floor, and exit promptly.
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LEVEL 3 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 3 is complex; if you don’t feel comfortable at the end of your training session, we
strongly encourage you to sign up for another. At Level 3 we begin to train the dogs in
basic obedience, use play in training as a reward, and assist the staff with daily care such
as toilet training and grooming. Instilling appropriate manners for playing (or, in some
cases, actually teaching the dog to play) is an added bonus at this level.
Exiting the Kennel with the Dog
• DO follow ALL procedures for Levels 1 and 2 when entering the kennel and leashing
the dog, including waiting for a sit before opening the kennel door.
• DO lure the dog into a ”heel” position at your side with a food treat, and quickly
take him to the designated toilet area FIRST! Whenever taking a dog from its kennel,
immediately give him a chance to relieve himself in an appropriate area.
Lure-Reward Training
(in an enclosed designated training area)
• DO lure the dog through the standard training sequence: WATCH, SIT, DOWN, SIT,
STAND, DOWN, STAND (vary this sequence regularly).
• DO hold a food lure in your hand to guide the dog into position.
• DO reward the dog with a food treat at least once in the sequence.
• DO NOT touch the dog to place him in position.
Handling and Progressive Desensitization
• DO cautiously/lightly brush hands over the dog’s entire body to identify sensitive
areas.
• DO acknowledge (and back off) at any sign of stress indicated by the dog.
• DO progressively desensitize sensitive areas by gradually increasing the pressure
and length of the physical contact.
• DO feed kibble after EACH touch (unless the dog is already like putty in your hands)
• DO handle: COLLAR, PAWS (all), EARS (both), RUMP, TAIL, MUZZLE
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Open Fist-Closed Fist
(at this point you may use a long line, anchored)
• DO hold a piece of kibble in your closed fist; allow the dog to sniff and lick, but
gently say ”Leave it.”
• DO allow the dog to worry at the kibble; eventually she will give up and withdraw
her muzzle.
• DO say ”Good dog, take it” the instant the dog breaks contact with your hand, and
offer the kibble by letting it fall into the flat palm of your hand.
• DO repeat this several times. Each time, delay offering the kibble a bit longer after
the dog breaks contact.
Tug of War
• DO practice a release command (”Leave it”) before getting into the game. Give the
dog a tug toy and prompt her to release by saying ”Leave it,” and offering a food
treat. Once she releases the toy, reward her immediately and then offer the toy back
to the dog and say ”Good dog, take it.”
• DO practice this several times before you start the tug of war game.
• DO train the dog to only take or re-take the object when invited to do so. Whenever
you initiate the game, say ”Take it” and present the appropriate tug toy at the same
time.
• DO have a time-out for at least 1 minute if the dog tries to re-take the toy without
being invited to do so. Then invite the dog to take the toy again.
• DO end the game if the dog makes the same mistake 3 times in a row: we must
make our rules clear and meaningful to the dogs and teach them that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Go back to ”leave it/take it.”
• DO alternate frequently between playing the game and doing obedience training
(asking the dog to sit, lie down, stand, let go of the toy, etc.). This will help reinforce obedience in the dog when she is excited over anything, and you can use the
continuation of the game as a reward for obedience.
• DO dramatically screech ”OUCH!!” if the dog accidentally touches your hand or any
other body part while taking the toy, and have a time out for at least 1 minute.
• DON’T slack off about enforcing the rules.
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Polite Greeting (Teaching the dog not to jump up)
• DO work regularly on the ”sit” command, and always reward with play, affection or
food.
• DO tie the dog on a 6’ lead to the wall or floor and approach the dog; as you come
up to the dog, say ”Off.”
• DO walk away from the dog and ignore her for at least 30 seconds if she jumps up
or paws.
• DO reward the dog with a piece of kibble and attention if the dog stays down or sits.
• DO ignore or walk away from the dog if she jumps up on you at any point in your
training, and reward a sit with attention, kibble, or the continuation of the game.
Safety
• DO keep the dog on a very short leash (about 12 inches) while walking through the
facility and past other dogs.
• DON’T let the dog go up to other dogs in the kennel.
• NEVER take the dog out of the kennel without a leash on.
• Be aware that most dogs are fully capable of jumping walls and fences up to 8’ high.
Keep your dog on a leash or on a long lead at all times.
• Never leave your dog alone in the Level 3 area.
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LEVEL 4 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
LEVEL 4 DOGS: VOLUNTEER GUIDELINES
Level 4 focuses on walking the dog outside in the real world, integrating training with
really big rewards such as exercise, ranging and sniffing.
Exiting the Kennel with the Dog
• DO follow ALL procedures for Levels 1 and 2 when entering the kennel and leashing
the dog, including waiting for a sit before opening the door.
• DO lure the dog with a food treat into a ”heel” position at your side, and quickly
take him to the designated toilet area FIRST! Whenever taking a dog from its kennel,
immediately give him a chance to relieve himself in an appropriate area.
Off-Leash Training
(In designated Level 3-4 training area)
• DO warm up with some Level 3 basic obedience exercises.
• DO wait for (or lure) dog to sit before removing the leash.
• DO walk freely about the room and reward the dog with kibble for following OR
eventually approaching.
• DO encourage the dog to play, frequently pausing to settle the dog with a sit, down,
watch or handling/petting.
• DO practice luring the dog into the heel position, including a sit by your side when
stopped.
Dog Walking
• DO practice red light-green light
• DO practice changing speed and direction
• DO practice sit, watch, let’s go! (baby steps)
• DO practice lure-reward heeling
• DO use leash ranging and sniffing as rewards for paying attention and for not pulling.
• DO NOT walk if the leash is taut.
• DO NOT pull or jerk the leash to get the dog’s attention.
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Safety
• Field trips must be authorized by the shelter director or dog behavior manager.
• DO keep the dog on a very short leash (about 12 inches) while on shelter premises.
• DO NOT let your dog meet other dogs unless specifically told to do so.
• DO call out to other dog walkers that you are approaching, especially in doorways
or when rounding corners.
• Close gates and doors behind you.
• NEVER LET THE DOG OFF LEASH OURDOORS!
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VOLUNTEER TRAINER GUIDELINES—LEVEL 1 DOGS
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 1 Dogs
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the first level of training, volunteers must understand the difference between classical conditioning and reward training, and must demonstrate that they understand why
we do classical conditioning, and why reward training. Classical conditioning makes the
dogs more comfortable in their environment and more comfortable with people approaching their kennel, by building up an association between all kinds of people approaching
the kennel and the dog’s dinner being handed out. Since they like to get their dinner,
the dogs gradually come to look forward to having people approach the kennel. Reward
training shapes animals’ behaviors by rewarding the behaviors we like and ignoring the
behaviors we don’t like. The volunteer should demonstrate that she understands at least
the basic behaviors we are trying to reinforce: sit, down, wagging tail, friendly approach,
eye contact, quiet and ”4 on the floor.”
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the dog has been rated for their level
• Sticking whole hand or arm into kennel
Red Flags
• Pressuring dog
• Requesting a behavior, calling the dog or luring the dog into position
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Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 2 Dogs
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the second level of training, volunteers should understand the goal, which is to desensitize the animals to things that normally make them over-reactive, and to teach them that
they should sit quietly whenever a person approaches the kennel door, enters the kennel
or puts on the dog’s collar. This level uses a combination of reward training (opening the
kennel door etc. is rewarding, and should only happen when the dog is sitting quietly) and
classical conditioning (we associate entering the kennel and putting on the collar with a
pat and a kibble, and break the old association between the collar and an immediate walk).
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the dog has been rated for their level
• Going into the kennel while the dog is standing, jumping or barking
• Pushing the dog aside while entering
• Opening the kennel door when another dog is passing by or another kennel door is
being opened
• Turning their back to the dog while inside the kennel
• Getting down on the ground with the dog inside the kennel
• Physically placing the dog into position
• Turning their back while exiting the kennel
• Failure to look and call out before exiting the kennel
Red Flags
• Giving a verbal request for a sit
• Lifting the latch while the dog is standing
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• Putting the dog’s collar on while the dog is standing
• Putting the collar or gentle leader on incorrectly
• Interacting with the dog when it is not seated and calm
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Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 3 Dogs
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the third level, volunteers should understand the basics of lure-reward training and
how it differs from reward training. They should remember to lead the animal through
all of the body positions (sit, down, stand and watch) and should vary those positions.
They should remember to check all areas of the dog’s body when they check for sensitivity
(both ears, muzzle, all 4 paws, hindquarters, collar and tail), and should gradually increase
duration of touch. They should remember to go through all of the training segments with
the dog and cover important steps in each process.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read kennel card to see that dog is rated for their level
• Failure to follow any of the Level 1 or 2 safety procedures
• Dog’s leash not shortened to 12” or less
• Allows dog contact with other kenneled dogs
• Allows dog contact with other dogs or people outside kennel (except if approved by
designated shelter or Open Paw supervisor)
• Failure to follow facility safety rules for Level 3 area
• Failure to call time-out if dog’s teeth touch skin
Red Flags
• Failure to wait for dog to sit before exiting kennel
• Any Level 1 or 2 red flags
• Failure to go to the toilet area
• Pushing dog into position
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• Not backing off when dog shows signs of stress
• Allowing dog to tug anything other than tug toy
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Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 4 Dogs
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the fourth level, volunteers should understand that we are not taking the dogs for a
walk, rather, we are teaching them how to walk on a loose lead so they will present well to
potential adopters, and will be pleasant, controllable companions for their adopters. They
should use and show understanding of the 4 walking techniques, and should remember
to warm the dog up with some off-leash work in the Level 3 area before going outside to
begin walking.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to follow Level 1, 2 or 3 safety procedures
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the dog has been rated for their level
• Taking the dog off leash outside
• Continuing to walk while the dog is pulling on the leash
• Allowing the dog contact with other dogs or people outside the kennel (except if
approved by a designated shelter or Open Paw supervisor)
• Jerking the dog’s leash
Red Flags
• Going around corners with a loose lead or letting the dog precede them around corners
• Failing to use or show general understanding of the techniques
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VOLUNTEER TRAINER GUIDELINES—LEVEL 1 CATS
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 1 Cats
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the first level of training, volunteers must understand the difference between classical
conditioning and reward training, and must demonstrate that they understand why we
do classical conditioning, and why reward training. Classical conditioning makes the cats
more comfortable in their environment and helps them associate people approaching their
kennel with excellent rewards, such as food, play sessions, and praise. Since cats enjoy
these rewards, they come to look forward to having people approach the kennel. Reward
training shapes animals’ behaviors by rewarding the behaviors we like and ignoring the
behaviors we don’t like. The volunteer should demonstrate that she understands at least
the basic behaviors we are trying to reinforce: a friendly approach, meowing or purring,
eye contact, a paw reaching out, head rubbing.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the cat has been rated for their level
• Removing cat from cage rather than waiting for indication that cat wants to exit, if at
all. Picking cat up before proper introduction and allowing get-acquainted time
• General failure to follow directions
Red Flags
• Failure to reward the behaviors we like
• Failure to ignore the behaviors we don’t like
• Requesting a behavior
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Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 2 Cats
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the second level of training, volunteers should understand that their goal is to teach cats
that the presence of people is a good thing, and to desensitize them to things that normally
make them fearful. This level uses a combination of classical conditioning (offering food
and remaining quietly present), reward training (offering food for desirable behaviors,
e.g., shows of bravery), and desensitization/handling (offering food, petting and praise,
or playing using toys, to the extent tolerated).
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the cat has been rated for their level
• Approaching too closely with body or hand; hovering, looming over, or staring at
cat
• Proceeding too quickly
• Failure to follow any of the Level 2 safety procedures
• Failure to wait for cat to make a move(s)
• General failure to follow directions
Red Flags
• Not backing off when cat shows signs of stress
• Not rewarding the slightest shows of desirable behavior
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VOLUNTEER TRAINER GUIDELINES—LEVEL 3 CATS
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 3 Cats
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the third level, volunteers should understand the basics of desensitization and reward
training. They should remember to react immediately to undesirable behavior and show
consistency and patience when increasing the duration of touch.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to read kennel card to see that cat is rated for their level
• Failure to follow any of the Level 1 or 2 safety procedures
• Failure to approach initially with object/toy rather than body (hand or finger)
• Failure to ”play dead mouse” immediately when undesirable behavior begins
• Failure to wait before resuming training after “playing dead mouse”
• Failure to reward desirable behaviors
• General failure to follow directions
Red Flags
• Failure to end session if undesirable behavior is extreme or volunteer has lost patience
• Not backing off when cat shows signs of stress
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CHAPTER 5. VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR GUIDE
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 4 Cats
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the fourth level, volunteers should understand the basics of desensitization and reward training. They should remember to react immediately with rewards for desirable
and extra-charming behavior, and with cessation of rewards for undesirable behavior, and
to show consistency and patience when desensitizing chosen cats to car rides or new locations.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to follow Level 1, 2 or 3 safety procedures
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the cat has been rated for their level
• Hovering or pressuring cat
• Failing to take frequent breaks
• Attempting to handle a cat that is hiding in the back of the kennel, hissing, has flattened ears, or shies away from volunteer; failing to note that behavior and report
it
• Failure to reward desirable behaviors
• General failure to follow directions
Red Flags
• Not backing off when cat shows signs of stress
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VOLUNTEER TRAINER GUIDELINES—LEVEL 5 CATS
Volunteer Trainer Guidelines—Level 5 Cats
We do not expect volunteers to be perfect at each level before they train for the next. The
important thing is that they demonstrate that they understand the underlying ideas at each
level of training and that they follow safety precautions. If the volunteer fails to follow any
of the safety precautions, she should practice more, with the help of an OP Trainer, before
she begins to train at the next level (i.e., she should not graduate). If the volunteer makes a
mistake with regard to the red flags, you can use your judgment about whether or not she
is qualified to go on to the next level of training. Keep in mind that you may prompt her a
few times with regard to those aspects of the training.
At the fifth level, volunteers should understand the basics of classical conditioning and
progressive desensitization.
Immediate Failure for Safety Issues
• Failure to follow Levels 1-4 safety procedures
• Failure to read the kennel card to see that the cat has been rated for their level
• Hovering or pressuring cat
• Failing to take frequent breaks
• Failing to wear gloves
• Attempting to handle a cat that is hiding in the back of the kennel, hissing, has flattened ears, or shies away from volunteer
Red Flags
• Moving forward with training before cat is thoroughly comfortable with the established exercise
• Failing to use or show general understanding of the techniques
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CHAPTER 5. VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR GUIDE
Feedback for Volunteer Proficiency Test
Level
comments for
Here are the things you did particularly well:
Here are some things you should concentrate on when you practice:
You showed proficiency at Level —continue on to level when you feel comfortable
You should continue to practice at Level —contact any of the Open Paw Trainers to help
you and to take the level test again.
Signed:
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Level 4 Training
Level 3 Training
Level 2 Training
Orientation and L1
6:30-7:30 p.m.
6:30-9 p.m.
1st Wednesday
7:30-8:30 p.m.
6:30-7:30 p.m.
3rd Wednesday
12-1 p.m.
10-11 a.m.
10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
1st, 3rd, and 5th Saturday
12-1 p.m.
10-11:30 a.m.
2nd and 4th Saturday
(Requires 2 trainers on first Wednesday evening, and first, third, and fifth Saturday morning of each month)
Sample Orientation and Training Schedule
CHAPTER 5. VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR GUIDE
Training Sign-up Sheet
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FEEDBACK FOR VOLUNTEER PROFICIENCY TEST
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Appendix A
Walk Charts
Place the Walk Chart prominently where both staff and volunteers can consult it easily.
Inform your staff members and volunteers to fill out the charts after each training session,
to keep track of each animal’s walk schedule.
The two following pages are meant to be taped together.
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WALK CHART __/__/20__-__/__/20__
PLEASE MARK WALKS IN APPROPRIATE TIME COLUMNS
(1=pee, 2=poo, 0=no pee/no poo walk)
NAME
SUNDAY
7:30A 11 A
3P
MONDAY
7:30P 7:30A 11 A
3P
TUESDAY
7:30P 7:30A 11 A
3P
7:30P
INSIDE DOGS
OUTSIDE ADOPTIONS
DOGS IN MEDICAL QUARANTINE - VERY CONTAGIOUS, WASH HANDS BETWEEN EACH DOG INTERACTION
STAFF ONLY TO INTERACT WITH (other than level one as specified)
__/__/20__-__/__/20__
WALK CHART __/__/20__ - __/__/20__
APPROPRIATE TIME COLUMNS
PLEASE MARK WALKS IN APPROPRIATE TIME COLUMNS
(1=pee, 2=poo, 0=no pee/no poo walk)
WEDNESDAY
7:30A 11 A
3P
SIDE DOGS
DE ADOPTIONS
IOUS, WASH HANDS BETWEEN EACH DOG INTERACTION
TH (other than level one as specified)
7:30P
NAME
THURSDAY
7:30A 11 A
3P
FRIDAY
7:30P 7:30A 11 A
3P
7:30P
INSIDE DOGS
OUTSIDE ADOPTIONS
DOGS IN MEDICAL QUARANTINE - VERY CONTAGIOUS, WASH HANDS BETWEEN EACH DOG INTERACTION
STAFF ONLY TO INTERACT WITH (other than level one as specified)
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Appendix B
Open Paw Training Chart
Place the Open Paw Training Chart prominently where both staff and volunteers can consult it easily. Inform your staff members and volunteers to fill out the charts after each
training session, to keep track of each animal’s Open Paw training.
The two following pages are meant to be taped together.
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Open Paw Training Chart
Please initial after completing each training.
Mark all walks on Walk Chart as well.
SUNDAY
NAME
NOTES
L1 L2 L3 L4
Riley
Goodie
Maverick
MONDAY
L1 L2 L3
L4
TUESDAY
L1 L2 L3
L4
OK levels 1-4
OK levels 1-4
OK levels 1-4
Dogs in medical quarantine—very contagious—wash hands between each interaction.
Landon
Staff only to interact with.
Sage
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APPENDIX B. OPEN PAW TRAINING CHART
Open Paw Training Chart
Please initial after completing each training.
Mark all walks on Walk Chart as well.
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
L1 L2 L3 L4 L1 L2 L3 L4 L1 L2
L3
L4
SATURDAY
L1 L2 L3
L4
Dogs in medical quarantine—very contagious—wash hands between each interaction.
Staff only to interact with.
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Appendix C
Housetraining Chart
For those dogs who are being crate trained to improve their bladder control, the following
chart helps staff keep track of the dog’s crating and walking schedule.
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1 hour
3 hours
Target
Bladder:
1/0
5:30 p
7:00 p
10:30 a
1/2
1/0
DON'T
11:30 a
(time)
8:00 p
1:30 p
(time)
1/0
1/2
8:00 p
2:30 p
(time)
N
Y
Target
Bladder:
N
Crate
overnight?
Current
Bladder:
Dog:
N
Y
N
Target
Bladder:
Y
Crate
overnight?
Y
Crate
overnight?
Crate
overnight?
Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at:
Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at:
Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at:
4:30 p
8:30 a
7:30 a
1/2
(time)
(time)
(time)
Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at: Walked at: Result: Crate at:
Current
Bladder:
Dog:
Target
Bladder:
Current
Bladder:
Dog:
Violet
Dog:
Current
Bladder:
(EXAMPLE)
date
Appendix D
Dog and Cat Evaluation Charts
The charts on the following pages serve as quick reference guides for adoption counseling.
Keep the charts updated each week with observations from staff and volunteers.
After speaking with the potential adopter and getting a sense for the dog or cat qualities
that would make a good match, refer to the charts to see which dogs or cats have those
qualities. Then you can guide the potential adopter directly to those animals.
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Dog’s
Name
Kennel
Active?
Children?
Men?
Cats?
Potty
Trained?
Bark level
1st time
owner?
Polite?
Pull
on
Leash?
Chew-toy
trained?
Cat’s
Name
Kennel
Active?
Children?
Men?
Cats?
Potty
Trained?
Declawed?
1st time
owner?
Polite?
Scratch
post
trained?
Chew-toy
trained?
APPENDIX D. DOG AND CAT EVALUATION CHARTS
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Appendix E
Behavior Matrix
Our Behavior Matrix and the companion key and definitions are meant to serve as quick
guides to behavior counseling. The matrix on the following page lists the top 14 challenges
faced by owners and refers the counselor to a variety of recommended training processes.
The numbers in each cell represent the order of importance for each recommended training
process. The answer key and definitions give a quick review of what each training process
consists of. These are meant to be used as a reference, in conjunction with the following
books:
BEFORE and AFTER You Get Your Puppy, Dr. Dunbar’s Good Little Dog Book by Dr. Ian
Dunbar, and Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.
Serious behavior modification problems should be immediately referred to a local APDT
dog trainer (see www.apdt.com for a list of trainers in your area).
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if
mouthy
6
2
2
Fighting
Fearfulness
1
3
Remedial
Socialization
Biting
if L3 or
less
6
4
3
5
4
4
4
7
3
5
6
8
No
Recall
3
7
6
3
Extinc.
1
1
Total
Mgt
3
3
4
3
5
if
mouthy
2
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
5
Reward
Cess.
3
if fear motivated
Progres.
Desens.
1
3
Troubleshooting
2
Counter
Condit.
Leash
Pulling
4
5
5
Total
Integr.
1
6
7
6
Shaping
7
5
4
3
Reward
Jumping
Up
5
5
4
LureReward
3
6
4
6
6
Operant
Condit.
Escaping
Digging
Barking
Chewing
if fear motivated
4
New
Adult
Housesoiling
2
New
Puppy
Classical
Condit.
2
2
2
2
3
2
Kong
Stuff.
1
2
2
2
on walk
2
3
Hand
feed
APPENDIX E. BEHAVIOR MATRIX
Behavior Matrix Key and Definitions
Classical Conditioning
Establishing a positive association between two things. Pairing something the animal already enjoys (food, attention, sniffing, playing, access to a favorite toy) with a situation,
person, animal, or object that has either no intrinsic value or an established negative connotation to the animal, in order to establish or improve the emotional response to the latter.
Example: New pup should be hand-fed by children and men to ensure she grows up to
feel comfortable and confident around them. A confident, relaxed dog is less likely to
become reactive and/or bite.
Example: Fido barks and lunges at other dogs when he is on leash. Whenever a dog approaches Fido when he’s on leash, point out the approaching dog and give Fido a high
value treat or a favorite toy, and lots of positive attention. Eventually Fido learns to associate the presence of dogs with “good things for Fido”, and stops reacting negatively.
Operant Conditioning
Providing immediate consequences in order to change behavior. An increase or decrease
in conscious behavior as a result of the consequences that follow the animal’s responses.
Simply put, if a behavior “works” for the animal—that is, if the animal gets something it
likes as a result of its behavior— it will exhibit that behavior more often; if the behavior
does not “work,” it will happen less often and eventually disappear.
Rewards result in an increase in the frequency of behavior. Punishments, or ignoring the
behavior, result in a decrease in the frequency of behavior.
Example: When my owner calls me in the park and I respond by coming, she always either
throws the tennis ball or gives me a piece of freeze-dried liver, and then I almost always
get to go play again immediately. Coming to my owner in the park = a fun game of fetch
or a tasty treat. I’d better get there in a hurry!
Lure-Reward Training
Using a desirable item such as a food treat or toy to coax the animal into a desirable position or location. Used as a way to manipulate an animal’s body without physically touching the animal. Best for initial teaching only, should not become a necessary “crutch”.
Example: To teach the pup “sit” on cue, hold a lure right in front of the dog’s nose and
slowly raise it above her head. Nose goes up, rear goes down, and voila! The dog sits!
Also works very well for heeling or polite leash walking.
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BEHAVIOR MATRIX KEY AND DEFINITIONS
Reward Training
Rewarding behavior you would like to see more of, when it naturally occurs.
Example: Every time your new dog eliminates outside, or in the proper designated area,
reward with a piece of freeze-dried liver. Your dog will soon prefer to eliminate in the spot
where he has previously been rewarded for doing so, and will quickly become housebroken.
Shaping
Rewarding successive approximations of a behavior, increasing the criteria for rewards
regularly, until you shape the animal into a new behavior. In other words, start small and
take what you can get. Reward the best response you see, even if it is not the end behavior
you want to teach the dog. As your dog gets better at 1 level of the desired behavior, begin
to get pickier about the response so that you are gradually getting closer and closer to the
ultimate desired outcome.
Example: The goal is to teach Fido to sit politely when greeting people, but he is so excited
that he jumps up and licks faces instead. He is too excited initially to sit still. Start by
rewarding a simple “4 feet on the floor”, instead of asking for a “sit” right away. When
Fido is no longer jumping up but, perhaps, standing and wiggling happily, then add the
cue for “sit”, and only reward the greetings where Fido sits.
Total Integration
Teaching the relevance of your request. Nothing In Life For Free: utilizing “life rewards”
(that is, using all of the things your dog enjoys as rewards for desirable behavior, rather
than giving them to her for free), using training preludes (short bits of training before
doing something enjoyable with your dog, so the enjoyable thing functions as a reward
for the good behavior) and, frequently, interludes (briefly interrupting enjoyable activities
for bits of training, so that the resumption of the activity functions as a reward for good
behavior).
Example: To increase the value of, and response to, “sit”, always have Fifi sit before throwing the Frisbee for her. Fifi loves to play fetch, and every time you throw the toy you
are unintentionally rewarding whatever she was doing immediately before you threw the
frisbee—it may as well be a behavior you would like to see more of.
Counter Conditioning
“If this is wrong, what is right?” Train in an alternative and, ideally, incompatible behavior.
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APPENDIX E. BEHAVIOR MATRIX
Example: Teach, “sit” for polite greeting, instead of jumping up on people to say hello.
Counter Conditioning (troubleshooting)
Set up a problem-specific training session. Plan a scenario to teach and repeatedly practice
a desirable response.
Example: Teach polite greeting at the door with a “visitor” (a friend who’s willing to
help you out by patiently ringing your doorbell and entering your house multiple times.)
Repeat the “visit”, doorbell and all, several times in a row, until the dog sits voluntarily
when you answer the door.
Progressive Desensitization
Gradually desensitizing the animal to situations, people, or objects with which he is uncomfortable. We do this by rewarding tolerable approximations of a situation that is stressful for the animal, and gradually increasing the criteria (often proximity) as the animal’s
tolerance threshold rises due to continued positive experiences (classical conditioning).
Example: Fido does not like his feet touched. When he is calm and hungry, trade touches
for kibble, starting as far away from his feet as possible. As you gradually move towards
his feet, increase the value of the reward. As you reach his feet, reward each touch with
his favorite food. See The Open Paw Four Levels Training Program Manual for a detailed
protocol.
Reward Cessation
Removing opportunity for rewards as the consequence of an undesirable action. Discontinuing the rewarding factor of an animal’s behavior in order to decrease and, eventually,
extinguish an undesirable behavior. This is usually combined with the introduction of
rewards for desirable behavior.
Example: To stop Fifi from pulling on leash, never move forward while she is pulling. Fifi
pulls on leash because she wants to move forward and, perhaps, even sniff something.
If pulling never helps her reach her goal, she will learn to stop pulling so the walk can
continue.
Extinction
The disappearance of a behavior due to lack of reinforcement. The behavior no longer
“works”, so the animal stops doing it. Remember, if the animal is accustomed to being
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BEHAVIOR MATRIX KEY AND DEFINITIONS
rewarded for a behavior, he won’t give it up right away—he’s going to “up the ante”
several times before he gives up, so the behavior will often get worse before it disappears.
This is called an “extinction burst.”
Example: Never reward or acknowledge a dog that is jumping up to say hello. Wait for a
calm moment to greet him. If jumping up never gets the desired result (friendly greeting
and attention), Fido will stop using jumping as a greeting, because it is a waste of energy.
Total Management
Managing the animal’s entire environment in order to control all of the consequences (rewards and punishments) the animal experiences throughout the day. If you control the
consequences, you control the behavior. Manipulating the environment to assure errorless learning and to develop desirable habits and avoid the unintentional reinforcement of
undesirable behavior.
Example: Providing a long-term confinement area for the dog or cat to establish housetraining. See Dr. Ian Dunbar’s “Before You Get Your Puppy” for the full details on longterm confinement.
Kong Stuffing
Stuffing a portion of the animal’s daily ration into a “Kong”—a virtually indestructible
hollow rubber toy. Kong-stuffing teaches the animal to focus on appropriate chew toys
and provides mental and physical stimulation to pass the time. See the Open Paw Four
Level Training Manual for more details.
Hand-feeding
Example: Feed the animal’s daily ration of food by hand, preferably by many people in
many situations, rather than feeding from a bowl. Hand—feeding allows you to control
one of the most important activities in the animal’s life so that you can use it for training
and rewards. This is a very powerful form of classical conditioning.
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Appendix F
Example Crate Training Sign
Many people misunderstand why we put a dog in a crate, and interpret its use as cruel
punishment. This is a fine opportunity to educate the public about the many benefits of
crate training.
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Appendix G
Example ”Out Training” Sign
So that your dogs don’t miss out on potential matches while they’re out training, we recommend that you make a sign for each dog’s kennel. The sign should feature a picture
of the dog and a brief note to explain that she’s out learning important obedience skills.
We’ve included an example on the following page.
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