Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where We Are, Part 1

Update by Dulce Garcia

It has been a little over a month since we initiated the Barrio Dogs “A Home for All” program for the purpose of finding homes for our rescues. Thank you to our wonderful volunteers who take the time to visit the kenneled dogs!

Together we have accomplished more than we thought possible in a short amount of time. Since the program began there have been a total of nine (9) Barrio Dogs in boarding, four (4) have since been fostered and one (1) has been adopted. There are four (4) other dogs in the program that are not Barrio Dogs but belong to independent rescuers. They are also participating and have come a long way; some have even been given the green light to attend adoption events.

The goal of A Home for All is to help the kenneled dogs gain the appropriate life skills to help them become more adoptable through training and enrichment. Working closely with a certified experienced trainer and behavior consultant, the program has been carefully put into action. We began with Phase 1, which focused primarily on establishing a routine for the dogs that includes potty breaks, play time, exercise, grooming and social time (approved people or dog time). Besides creating enrichment, the routine provides dogs with the necessary health and mental stimulation.

For now, volunteers are encouraged to do hand feeding any time they approach the dogs’ kennels. This allows for dogs to create positive associations with a stranger’s presence. Now that dogs know that they obtain treats when volunteers approach their kennels, they are more likely to stop barking out of fear. In the future we plan to teach the dogs to sit quietly for treats in their kennels before they are let out for a walk.

Phase 1 has gone smoothly; with the help of volunteers, these dogs have gotten more positive life experiences than they ever had being confined in kennels. They have also been exposed to each other by having arranged dog socialization play time. Knowing each other outside of the kennel (and not just behind the kennel) discourages  reactivity when they see each other walk past their kennels. We are very careful with dog/dog play times and make notes as to which dogs are good with each other and which dogs are better off doing solo play time.

Phase 2 will be very interesting and exciting as the dogs begin taking private basic manners lessons. We hope to film this process so that potential adopters can get to know them better. After the dogs have completed Phase 2, they will begin going out on field trips to practice and show off their “good manners”.

All these dogs would have been labeled unadoptable at most local shelters/animal control for reasons such as breed, behavior concerns, skin conditions and medical necessities. This program aims to rehabilitate these dogs whether their needs are medical or behavior factors. We are working hard to increase the chances of these dogs being adopted and becoming part of a loving and happy home.

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