One thing that makes dogs at a shelter more adoptable is obedience training. Training is also important for a dog's safety. A dog that won't come when called may end up getting run over, or in a fight with another dog, if off leash. We're lucky enough to have a spot for four dogs at the Best Chance Dog Training Program at the Larned State Prison, giving them a chance to become well-trained, and well-mannered, dogs. Unfortunately, we can't send all our dogs there, and don't have the staff or volunteers to train the dogs at the shelter. Fortunately, there's an easy way to train your newly adopted dog at home - clicker training.
What is clicker training? To start with, it's an easier, and often less time consuming, way of training your dog to perform basic commands and to encourage certain behaviors. Clicker training is also a terrific way to bond with a dog, whether it's newly adopted or been in the family for a while.
Clicker training is simple. To start, you have to “prime” the clicker so your dog associates a click with a treat or praise. It's best to get the dog used to tasty treats, although you should eventually transition to kibble and and praise. Once your dog associates a click with a treat, it's time to begin! Giving a command the dog already knows, like sit, is a great way to start. In time, the dog can learn new commands and behaviors. In addition to giving commands and clicking when the dog performs the commands, you can use clicks and treats when you're dog is doing something that you want him or her to keep doing. For example, if a dog is sitting quietly on the couch, that would be a good time to click and treat, which will encourage it to continue to sit or lie nicely and quietly on the furniture.
PCHS is attempting to use clicker training on the dogs at the shelter to increase their chances of a quicker adoption and to reduce behaviors that may make them seem less adoptable. Although this seems like a time-consuming endeavor, and it certainly can be, clicking when the shelter dogs are behaving in certain ways can take just a few minutes a day. The way we use it most at the shelter is when they are quiet in their kennels. To encourage dogs to sit nicely and quietly (because who likes a loud, rambunctious dog?), just walk by, click, and treat when the dogs are being quiet. Hopefully, this will encourage the dogs to bark less when they see new people. Although barking at visitors is not an inherently bad trait, most people struggle to understand the plight of a shelter dog and the barking and excessive energy can come across negatively to a lot of people who don't fully understand dog behavior, especially the frustration they experience in confined spaces.
Clicker training should be consistent but it doesn't have to take too much time. If you miss a few days of clicking, the dog won't necessarily go back to doing those unwanted behaviors. Most clickers have a rubber band attached so it can be easily and comfortably worn around the wrist, making it convenient to click when a dog is behaving they way you want it to. The timing of the click is vital; as soon as a dog makes any motion towards doing the desired behavior, that's the time to click! The timing of the treat, praise, or kibble as a reward is less important. Clicker training is easy once you know how it works. It not only saves time and money, but also increases the bond between human and dog. Additionally, clicker training provides mental stimulation for dogs, which is extremely important for their mental health. While it’s true that a happy dog is a tired dog, ideally from getting an appropriate amount of exercise, mental exercise is also vital. A dog without proper mental stimulation can become anxious, destructive, and depressed. Clicker training isn’t perfect but it can be a valuable tool for those without the time or resources to provide more intense training for their four-legged pal(s).
To encourage adopters to train their new dogs, PCHS is now including a clicker, information about clicker training, and a bag of treats in the adoption packet.
Last month was a good month in that almost as many dogs and cats went out the door as came in. We even had more dogs that were lost and returned to their owners than were adopted. The reunions of lost pets and their owners are nice to watch and I appreciate that we are able to be a part of that. The lost pet is so happy to see their family, tails wagging or lots of meowing going on, and no idea that someone had to pay for their miserable time spent at the shelter. No yard to run around in or couch to lay on, and the noise, good grief, the noise is terrifying! Yes, please – take me home!
I really enjoy the different breeds that show up here. Last month, we had everything from A to Z, big to small come in the front door. Several small breeds showed up, a silky terrier and two adorable but loud beagle puppies included. The extra-large breeds included a St. Bernard and a Great Dane mix who came in needing a place to go. What is really sad to see though, is an animal that comes from a not so good place. We had one such dog come in this month, absolutely terrified of everyone and everything. After almost five weeks of socializing and working with her, we have finally been able to put a harness on and take her for a walk. One small step at a time and she is getting better. I’m thankful that we are here and can provide a safe place while she learns it’s not such a bad world after all.
Please help support our work providing shelter and care for the lost and homeless animals in Pawnee County. We are dependent on and thankful for your kindness and generosity.
Chase your dreams not your tail,
Reva Preeo, President & Shelter Manager
When our shelter manager told us several months ago he was moving, the opportunity of a lifetime opened up for me. I took a deep breath and asked the board if I could have the job. Having been involved with PCHS since 2005, all I really needed to learn was the day-to-day management and animal care. That wouldn’t be too bad, I thought. Ha. I’ve found out during the last two months, managing a small shelter is work, a lot of work. We had 57 animals come in during August & September, so yes, I’ve been busy. One week, we were bottle feeding 11 kittens. 11 kittens! When I came out to do late night feedings, I got to know a few state employees who apparently use our parking lot for their 11pm smoke break. Hi guys. I hope I don’t get the chance to visit with you again anytime soon. J Thank you kitten foster homes who don’t mind crawling out of bed in the middle of the night to bottle feed hungry little babies!
We had 27 adoptions during August and September. I’m amazed at how often the families wanting to take home their new best friend seem like they’re the perfect fit. Everyone is just waiting (sometimes not so) patiently for the right application to come in. We frequently get animals here that seem like there’s no way anyone would want them. But guess what… someone does and out the door they all go just as happy as can be. How could I not love what I do. I get to see miracles happen almost every day.
We have two fund raisers going on right now, so please participate in one or the other, or both. Our calendar contest at www.gogophotocontest.com/pchs is almost over, so don’t wait any longer to enter. We need more pictures and tell all your friends and family members to vote! Our gun raffle will continue through the month and tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50. We’re giving away a Browning BLR 243 hunting rifle just in time for the hunting season. Visit our fundraising page for all the details on both events.
We rely on your donations to keep our doors open for all these lost and unwanted pets needing a place to stay. We rely on your donations to provide the necessary vet care, food, litter and supplies to keep our animals healthy and our shelter clean.
Chase your dreams not your tail,
Reva Preeo, Board President & Shelter Manager