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Animal Shelter Etiquette 101
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Animal Shelter Etiquette 101

In this article, Animal Shelter Etiquette 101, we will be talking about proper leash protocol. Undoubtedly if you have volunteered at an animal shelter you went through an orientation where the volunteer coordinator walked you through the kennels, and demonstrated how to take a dog out. What you need to realize, is that these staff members are very busy with many responsibilities, and while they care greatly for their animals, sometimes they give an abbreviated, don't let the dog escape demonstration, consisting of, 'open the door a crack and loop the leash over the dogs head.'

While that does indeed work, its not exactly the way it should be done. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Approach kennel calmly
  2. Wait until the dog is no longer jumping at the gate to open it
  3. Step inside the kennel and latch the gate
  4. Stand at the back of the kennel and wait for the dogs full attention
  5. Hand the dog a cookie, stand relaxed
  6. Leash the dog and move towards the gate

If you're wondering why I don't recommend leashing the dog and leaving the kennel right away, think of what the dog might be thinking about...

WALK WALK WALK!

That's about it. What he needs to be focused on is you. If you leash him and open the door he's going to bolt and start dragging you down the slippery walkway. Now think about the people who come to see that dog for adoption, if they see staff take him out for them to walk, they aren't going to be thinking, 'wow that dog is great for the kids' its going to be more along the lines of 'Oh my word that dog is crazy! Matt can't handle that kind of dog!'

So that's why I suggest hanging out away from the gate for a few minutes until the dog is calm and focused on you.

Now that we're at the gate though, don't just open it. Say 'wait' in a firm tone, open the gate just a crack, and as soon as the dog starts to lunge past you say 'wait' once more and close the gap forcefully, (and I say forcefully because unless its a small dog, -which honestly we aren't too worried about pulling anyone's kids down- he's going to be too excited to stop and listen he's going to bull through that gate.)

So repeat this process of opening the gate, saying wait, and shutting the door as you do until he stops at your 'wait' command. Trust me he'll learn it quick with repetition. Even if you can tell he's only going to wait a few seconds that's still progress, release him with an 'okay' before he breaks the stay to reinforce the fact he gets out quicker when he obeys the 'stay' command.

Keep doing this every time you take the dog out and soon he will be much calmer on his walks, and look more appealing to the public who is looking to adopt a well mannered dog from the animal shelter.


Street Talk

Thanks for the insight! I love dogs Dachshunds, in particular. They all really learn the same though don't they? Repetition, repetition,repetition.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
KLRrider  

What type of leash do you recommend and how long should it be?

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Any type will do really. But as to length, something that will leave the dogs heels relatively close your own heels. Sometimes a longer leash helps to hold the slack in your left hand (no not to beat the dog when he pulls!) but to flick in front of him when he pulls to distract him.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
momar55  

Hey those are some great tips for those of us who work at shelters! Thanks alot! -deb

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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