Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seminar: Behavior in a Shelter Environment

The morning was about stress and then behavior assessments.  The afternoon was on learning theory, resource guarding, and training with specific types of problems.   Attendees were from surrounding states and a lot of local people.  It was great to see so many students/friends/people I know (a 4-H camper parent came!).  It's -so- different than even 3+ years ago when I went to events and knew absolutely no one there.

What I got out of this:
1) It's really, really hard to keep a low-stress kennel environment, as well as to maintain behavior/prevent behavior decline over time.
2) It's important to have management support (not just tolerance) to have a good program.
3) Some types of behavior assessments are better than others.  Often, something is better than nothing. If potential problem areas are known, more assessment can be done and-or treatment/training can happen.
4) Many problem areas can be addressed, even in the shelter environment.  But someone has to have the knowledge and make that effort.
5) We need to be realistic about how much stress the animals are facing in a shelter environment and do the best we can to help the animals.
6) Train and utilize volunteers.
7) Facilities who have the luxury of not taking in all animals should think twice about which animals to take in. There are only so many resources.   What is the quality of life for long-term residents (....depends on the dog personality, some thrive, some don't).
8) Some problems/challenges are more easily addressed than others.  But only if you have someone to actually do the the work.

The seminar is prompting me to make changes to how I spend my volunteer hours and what I'm doing.  I have  management tolerance for the behavior/enrichment things during my shift, but that's only 1/14 of the shifts out of the week.

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