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Old December 6th, 2011, 04:48 PM
violagirl violagirl is offline
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Volunteering at Local Rescue

I decided instead of going to the gym during my lunch hour, I will walk dogs at the local SPCA. Volunteer orientation was last night and today was my first day!

A couple of things surprised me.

Fortunately, I was dressed in old clothes, but I forgot a dog who is cooped up in a kennel where they poop on the floor will be excited and jumpy...AND poopy. I may go to local thrift store and try to find some scrubs.

Another thing that surprised me was my reaction to the dogs. The reason I haven't volunteered in the past was because I didn't feel like I could be there and not want to take them all home with me.

When I was walking them, I felt oddly dispassionate. There wasn't really a connection. Now the dogs I walked were former strays, so maybe that made a difference, but I am used to my dogs always looking to me for direction, reassurance, treats, pats, waiting on my every word. And these ones were single-mindedly sniffing and walking occasionally when i'd stop because they were pulling they would notice me but it was generally quite businesslike.

It was like I was kind of superfluous to their walk. Which probably was the reason i didn't really feel a big emotional connection to them like I thought I would.

Since I plan to be volunteering 3-4 times a week, should I concentrate on building relationships with a few dogs so that they will learn better and so be better able to score a new home or is it better just to do the dogwalking triage of who has/hasn't been walked yet this week and go from there?

Also any tips and tricks about working with rescue dogs would be good.
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Old December 7th, 2011, 07:24 AM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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I volunteer for rescues and shelters. I cannot imagine being numb or disconnected to these dogs. (and the cats)
I make a connection with all, as if I did not then what good would I be in helping them relax, become more receptive and also how good of a trainer would I be?

In order to get these dogs ready for adoption it is imperative to get them in a personable state. If you are not connecting with these dogs that you are handling...then how is a potential adopter?

I think it is very important to be compassionate about their situation and not distance yourself from forming a connection or bond with the dogs you will be walking. Their lives depend on it actually as it is up to the volunteers to help these poor animals become more socialable and thus more adoptable.
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Old December 7th, 2011, 07:34 AM
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chico2 chico2 is offline
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Very well put BM
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Old December 7th, 2011, 05:01 PM
violagirl violagirl is offline
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I forgot this board is populated by paragons of virtue.

I didn't think I'd be the only person to feel this way.

However, today I walked different dogs and we were a bit more in tune.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get a dog that is not used to having human interaction to be more interested?
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Old December 7th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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Rgeurts Rgeurts is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by violagirl View Post
I forgot this board is populated by paragons of virtue.
violagirl, this board is full of people who love (and live) for animals, which is wonderful in my book. You may not like what BM said, but she's right. Volunteers are an integral part of preparing the animals for adoption.

Show them some affection
If you really aren't "feeling" it, they know.
Some of them have no background history whatsoever, so who knows what they went through. Of course a lot of them are going to be disconnected and distrustful. As a volunteer, it's your job to do whatever you can to help them overcome that. You have to go slow and earn the trust. Unfortunately, there are going to be the occassional ones that you just won't get through to. You need to know how to read the body language so you can respond appropriately. See if some of the more experienced volunteers can help you. It would also be a good idea to talk to the people in the behaviour dept. I'm sure they will be able to give you some really good advice and certain behaviours to watch for. Places to start, anyway


Good luck!!!
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Old December 7th, 2011, 07:50 PM
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Violagirl I just wanted to say kudos to you for volunteering your time.

Perhaps you have taken this on with the thought that you may fall in love with all of them and become emotional about it?? if thats the case then just consider everything you have to offer to them even if you dont take them home?

I agree with what the others mentioned. You do have to show some affection but I think the time should also be appropriate. I think too it takes some time to relax and get to know whats going on and what you yourself are capable of providing to the dogs you walk.

As the others mentioned you and the other volunteers are the only chance the dogs have at a home and some form of rehabilitation so it is important for the dogs to be stimulated and adoptable.

I have always found with dogs that are not keen on approaching you at the beginning that I dont make eye contact with them and sometimes I will drop down maybe on one knee to their level and see if they approach you. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnt.

Good Luck
Cindy
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Old December 8th, 2011, 01:54 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by violagirl View Post
I forgot this board is populated by paragons of virtue.

I didn't think I'd be the only person to feel this way.

However, today I walked different dogs and we were a bit more in tune.

Do you have any suggestions on how to get a dog that is not used to having human interaction to be more interested?
Sorry I did not put it more diplomatically perhaps. I would say I was being honest.
And yes, others feel the way you do. I don't understand it, not because I try to be 'all that' but because I truly don't understand a disconnect when an animal in dire straights, possibly misunderstood.

The best way to get an animal more inclinded to human contact would be to bond with him/her. If an animal is off standish, then I would not impose any training until a bond is established first. Baby steps.
If the dog loves toys, then play. If they respond to food, then feed. If they respond to nothing then just be patient and do not push yourself on the dog. He/she will come around.

We have had some dogs that respond to nothing. What we do (myself and DH) is just make things light. No training, just walking, sitting down in a nice quiet area, and just relax with them. Because we volunteer at a no kill, we have the luxury to take our time until trust is established.

I also network with a kill shelter where this methodology does not work due to time restraints. If that is the case, then a bond must be built quickly in order to get the dog to respond. It is a matter of life and death, and therefore you need to change your mindset and find whatever it is that will enable the dog to respond. Many times, it could be another dog (if dog friendly). If you pay attention to one, the other will follow. Again you need to focus in on what the dog responds to: treats, toys, play, brushing, massage...whatever you can figure out.

Rgeurts brings a very good point...seek advice with other volunteers or the behavioural department. They may provide some insight on the dog and give you the necessary background as well as other helpful hints.

Good luck.
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Old December 8th, 2011, 03:42 PM
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Dog Dancer Dog Dancer is offline
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I think the dogs you walked probably acted exactly as one would expect. They have been abandoned by whomever owned them, dumped and maybe abused. Their life in a kennel is not very stimulating so when they do get outside for a walk I would imagine they are very interested in sniffing and checking things out. The smell of everything outside would be much more interesting than you are unless you put in an effort to make yourself interesting to them. Why should they trust you anymore than the human who put them there?? I think you got good advice already and just need to be patient and give the dogs time to come around to your efforts. Thank you for volunteering.
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