Dog behavior workshop for animal shelters and rescues in Louisiana

Best Friends holds workshop focused on dog behavior for Louisiana shelters and rescue groups.
By  Denise LeBeau

Sandi, a beautiful husky mix with a golden coat and stunning blue eyes, was rescued from a hoarding situation by Lafayette Animal Aid (LAA) in Louisiana. Luckily for Sandi and many other dogs who need a bit more understanding and training, several Louisiana animal rescue organizations recently benefited from something that would go a long way toward getting Sandi and many more animals into homes. Best Friends Animal Society staff spent four days in Lafayette giving an animal behavior workshop to provide shelter staff and volunteers with hands-on training to help some of their most needy pets get ready for homes.

Dog behavior workshop for rescue organizations and shelters

Sherry Woodard at the dog behavior workshop interacting with a dogLafayette Animal Aid is part of the Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network, a group of rescue organizations and municipal shelters across the country working together to end the killing of animals in our nation’s shelters. LAA contacted Best Friends for help because for some time the group had been caring for several dogs with behavior challenges that were keeping the animals from being adopted.

LAA hosted the workshop, led by Sherry Woodard, Best Friends animal behavior consultant. Staff and volunteers from various shelters and rescue organizations in the area were invited, so they, too, could learn new techniques and tips for helping dogs with behavior challenges. More than 20 people from eight organizations attended the free workshop.

Life-changing lessons

Dr. Carley Faughn, director of LAA, says the training was exactly what her organization needed to help pets like shy Sandi. “The workshop shed light on how to handle shy and fearful dogs. Our staff and volunteers learned more about when to push a dog and how to read body language so we don’t go too far and accidentally cause the dog to regress,” says Carley. The new training tips immediately helped Sandi in a big way.

Sandi’s unwillingness to accept a leash to go on walks was a big barrier to her being adopted.

“Sandi used to fight the leash around her neck, bite the leash and buck backwards trying to get away,” says Carley. “We learned about using the front-clip harness for several different undesired behaviors, and realized it is a useful tool for our fearful girls like Sandi.”

LAA folks began using the front-clip harness on Sandi, and after just two days of training with it, she was able to happily stroll around on leash for the first time in her life.

A happy ending, and hope

The new training techniques helped change husky mix Sandi's lifeWorkshop participants also learned how to teach dogs basic manners that would help them show better to potential adopters. Learning something even as simple as sitting politely rather than jumping up on people can be the difference between a dog finding a home, or not.

It was a busy few days for all the groups involved, but by all accounts, it was worth the extra effort. The new training techniques soon helped LAA change Sandi’s life. She found a great home where she’s continuing to blossom. Workshop attendee Michelle Abraham from Animal Rescue New Orleans says, “I think we all walked away with more than we could have ever imagined.”

In animal rescue work, animals sometimes arrive from situations so dire, it may seem that they’ll never be able to find a home. But Sherry’s training gave workshop participants a new perspective. As Michelle says, “One thing I learned is no matter how hard a situation can be, there is always hope.”

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Photos by Shannon Hagan, Melissa Lipani, and Lafayette Animal Aid


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