This Article is About
animal shelter
shelter dogs
time and patience
rescue dogs
good citizen
co worker
good reason
paperwork
heck
butt
Intro To Animal Shelter Etiquette
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Intro to Animal Shelter Etiquette

What this article is for, is to help educate people on animal shelter etiquette. Working at an Animal Shelter opened my eyes to just how many people don’t understand, or take the time to understand our canine companions God gave us. That’s where fear comes in, if you don’t understand the dog, you cant trust him, and if you don’t trust him there’s no way in heck he’s going to trust you. Which means he’s going to be leery, and no one trusts a leery dog. But I want to show people how to effectively communicate with scared shelter dogs, or rescue dogs, safely, by using proper animal shelter etiquette.

First though, you’ve gotta have the desire, which, if you didn’t, I guess you wouldn’t be here. So that covers that. You have to be motivated, helping a dog to become a good citizen is definitely not something that will happen overnight. And every case you take will be different. You will have to safely navigate every individual canine you come into contact with. If you’re not safe, the shelter where you work or volunteer will kick your butt outside, with good reason. No one wants that kind of paperwork, and the dog you were supposed to be helping will probably end up euthanized. There is nothing worse or more exhausting than dealing with a good hearted but foolish volunteer/employee. Don’t be that person.

Be slow, and be safe. Its hard work, don’t think anything else. But its also very rewarding when all works out for both people and animal.

Now what’s really important, is understanding what safety is. I could be in a kennel where my co-worker just got snapped at and be perfectly safe. Whereas in another instance, I could be being unsafe by holding out my hand for a dog to sniff whose on the confining side of a chain link fence. You have to learn to read the dog. And that takes time and patience. Safety is reading the dog, and accurately interpreting its signals, and responding to them. There’s a certain passiveness that you must maintain while you do so however.

Back to what I said at the top, I was startled to see so many people interacting with dogs in an unsafe manner at the shelter. I remember one day my coworker stepping into a kennel to scan a dog for a microchip, I saw the warning signs while she was woefully unaware, as I was about to urge her out of the kennel the dog grabbed her arm with a quick nip. While she was filing out paperwork I was sighing as I stepped into the kennel and finished her job. You might think that’s unsafe, after the dog just nipped my coworker, but the dog had warned her, and she had not responded to the dogs warning. I see the dogs warning, I react and calm it, and scan the dog. If I didn’t, what could happen to the dog? The owners wouldn’t get contacted if it actually did have a microchip, in the meantime, the dog grows more stressed as the days pass with no one to calm its fears. It gets marked an unsafe/ un-adoptable dog. Possibly euthanized because the owners didn’t check at the local shelter and its time was up. All because the kennel worker who was supposed to scan the dog, didn’t care to look for warning signs and use proper animal shelter etiquette.

So that’s my goal. To help you, who cares and has a little extra time on their hands to help one of the shelter dogs in your care. Canine kennel behavior modification is possible, but remember, not all dogs can be saved, shelters have to abide by certain rules and that’s for a good reason. But, in general, I like to think, they’re willing to stretch a little from time to time, you just have to be prepared not to screw it up.


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