Dog TLC Training

Welcome!  This website is a resource for all volunteers participating in Dog TLC.  You can read through all the information or choose the specific topics you are interested in learning more about.  If you have any questions, please contact the Volunteer Manager at volunteer@whatcomhumane.org.

Dog TLC Basics

As Dog TLC volunteers, it is critical to be aware of your limitations and always stay within your comfort zone.  If you have questions or feel you would benefit from additional training, please contact the Volunteer Manager.  We want you (and the dogs) to be safe!

Dog TLC – What You Need to Know!
Tips & Tricks ~ for volunteers by volunteers!
Dogs:  Positive Reinforcement Training (HSUS)
Dog Harness Guide

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Dog Color Designations

Green: The easiest dogs to handle. Any volunteer who has completed their initial two training sessions and received clearance from the Volunteer Manager may work with Green dogs.

Purple: Dogs with some behavior issues. Experienced volunteers who have completed 25 hours of Dog TLC and passed the TLC Skills Class may work with Purple dogs. Must have approval from the Volunteer Manager.

Red: Dogs with more challenging issues such as jumping, mounting, biting or extreme fear. Very experienced volunteers who have completed 45 hours of Dog TLC and completed the Pack Leader training may work with Red dogs. Must have approval from the Volunteer Manager.

As you volunteer, you can track your total hours on the volunteer website. The Volunteer Manager will invite you to classes as you complete your hours, but feel free to monitor your own progress and ask about additional training as you get close!

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Volunteer Visit Forms & Training Plans

You will find a green Volunteer Visit Form for each available dog. These are located in binders in the TLC volunteer area.

Green Dogs: Volunteer Visit Forms for the green dogs are being kept in the green binder, along with a dog body language handout & the TLC class notes for reference. You will notice that the dog’s name is written in green on the whiteboard. There is also a green paw print sticker on the dog’s paperwork located on his/her kennel. If you see any discrepancies, please check with staff before entering the kennel.

Purple & Red Dogs: Volunteer Visit Forms for the purple & red dogs are being kept in the red binder, along with a dog body language handout, glossary of training terms & Pack Leader class notes for reference. All red dogs (and some purple) will have a training plan in the binder as well. These are long, simple check lists completed by our volunteer dog trainers. You will learn all you need to know about these plans in the advanced training, but please note that it is critical that volunteers follow all training plans provided. It is the best way to ensure the dogs behavior continues to improve during their stay with us!

On the wall opposite the available kennels you will find posters defining our color code system. These are in place to help potential adopters understand what to expect from any dog they may be interested in. If members of the public approach you with questions, you can refer the to this information. If they have further questions or are interested in meeting an animal, please send the to the front desk. A staff member will be happy to help them!

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Stress & Canine Body Language

Body Language of Fear in Dogs (Dr. Sophia Yin)
Canine Body Posture (ASPCA)

We have placed a poster above the volunteer area that outlines severe stress signs to watch for in the dogs. This includes any repetitive behavior such as spinning, tail chasing, hopping, licking the glass on the front of the kennel, etc. If you see any of these repetitive behaviors, report them to the animal care staff or to Kerry/Angi.

Dogs who have been in the shelter for three weeks or longer or who have been exhibiting severe stress signs will be placed on a “Special Needs Plan” and have a red star placed beside their name on the TLC white board. There is a description of this plan in the front of both binders and under the poster that outlines severe stress signs in the volunteer area. This plan includes things like extra walks, designated “do-nothing-time”, socialization time in the Get Acquainted room after walks, office time with staff who can manage it, and time at Tails or in the Multipurpose room with Kerry or Angi.

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Puppies!

It is essential that puppies be socialized to humans and other dogs by the time they are 12-16 weeks of age. Exposure during this period is critical for them. If they don’t get the social skills they need, they may have behavior issues to some degree for the rest of their lives. By interacting with puppies each time you visit the shelter, even for just a few minutes, you can greatly increase their chances of becoming well socialized dogs and having a normal life.

Below are the videos from our last Puppies 101 class.  Angi Lenz & Kerry Mitchell discuss the importance of proper socialization and demonstrate important skills to use when working with puppies.

Puppies 101 Part 1
Puppies 101 Part 2
Puppies 101 Part 3
Puppies 101 Part 4

Puppy Training Handout (from Puppies 101 Class)

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Video Links

Sit – Down – Release
Loose Leash Walking
Watch Me
Recall
Take It – Leave It
Choose to Heel *
Sit-Stay
Down-Stay **
Find It

*With the “Choose to Heel” exercise, once the dog is staying with you consistently while on leash in the play yard (not pulling AT ALL), you can take the dog out of the play yard WITH another volunteer and continue the exercise. You would continue to mark/treat heel position (the dog being beside you) with “yes” or the clicker every couple of seconds. It may be helpful to have the second volunteer mark/treat the dog’s position, or, if the dog pulls and you can’t get him back under control, to attach a second leash. If this is the case, you’d want to return to the play yard and continue the exercise in the video.

**With sit-stay and down stay, increase distance from the dog GRADUALLY. If the dog gets up, you’ve asked for too much too quickly. Calmly take the dog back to the spot where he was in the stay and ask him to sit (or down). You would back up in your training to a point where he was being successful. Be sure to frequently reward the stay and to release him when he is allowed to get up.

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