Shelter dog training workshop

Dog trainer holds special workshop for shelters and rescues in Texas on how to prepare animal shelter dogs for adoption.
By Denise LeBeau

San Antonio shelter dog training groupThat old adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is not only inaccurate, it's doing a disservice to the many dogs waiting for adoption in animal shelters across the country. In fact, according to Lorraine Martinez, Ph.D., dog trainer and animal advocate, "The most important gift I can offer to at-risk dogs and those who care for them is the understanding that dogs are learning from every interaction."

Getting shelter dogs ready for adoption

Lorraine knows quite a lot about proper behavior modification, and not only is she a trainer, one of her specialties is working with shelters and rescues to help get their dogs ready for their new homes. Dori Jeurink, Best Friends No More Homeless Pets Network specialist, who works with 501(c)(3) public charity rescue groups, spay/neuter organizations and shelters to actively support them in their efforts to save lives and reduce shelter deaths locally, was thrilled when Lorraine said "yes" to holding a workshop to help local rescue groups.

"I had been to a training workshop for our Network partners in the Southeast and was impressed by how much it helped the groups," says Dori. "I thought it would be important to offer training to our partners in San Antonio. Lorraine has a perfect combination of science-based ideologies with an easy, approachable teaching style. The workshop was fantastic."

Teaching dog to walk on a Gentle Leader

Titan the dog from Antonio Animal Care ServicesOf the almost dozen groups in attendance, which included local heavy hitters San Antonio Pets Alive and San Antonio Animal Care Services, the San Antonio Humane Society (SAHS) was able to utilize what they learned right away to get one of their most exuberant dogs into a fabulous forever home.

Titan had been relinquished to SAHS by his people because they were moving. He's a big and unruly dog who apparently didn't receive a lot of training from them. Thanks to the workshop, the staff at SAHS learned some techniques they were able to use immediately, including how to properly use the Gentle Leader head collar. According to Michaela Roe, a kennel staffer at SAHS, "Titan was horrible on leash. I don't know how people even walked him without a Gentle Leader head collar. Even in his short time here at the shelter, he has improved a lot."

Titan has improved so much that he was adopted by a loving family who will continue to work with him in the manner they have been instructed by staff. "His nice adopters understood the importance of a large dog like Titan using a Gentle Leader head collar - they picked up on the techniques very quickly," shares Michaela.

Helpful dog workshops

The other groups also found the workshop indispensable. Here's what just a few of them also had to share: "I had such a great time Saturday," says Diann Bowman of the Humane Society of Wichita County. "I learned a lot from Lorraine's presentation. I will work harder to help with the training and management of the dogs in the shelter and foster homes. I know this is something I should do, as many do not have the knowledge of assessing, evaluating and then problem-solving with the dogs."

Laura Langham of Grand Companions Humane Society says, "Wanted to say thanks for such a great learning opportunity. Really enjoyed Saturday's workshop and took lots of good notes."

"I just wanted to tell you what a great morning it was!" enthuses Catherine Stokely of Alamo Area Partners for Animal Welfare. Thank you so much for all your guidance and help."

Get involved helping animals

You can help dogs (and cats) in your area by volunteering for one of our No More Homeless Pets Network partners.

If you're interested in cultivating your own animal skills, Best Friends Animal Society offers workshops for animal lovers of every experience level.

Photos courtesy of the San Antonio Humane Society and Dori Jeurink


Caring for Pets