Q: I see a lot of smaller dogs in your video. Can our
shelter do the same thing with bigger dogs?
A: Most definitely! As we write this, SHF has only 12 dogs under 20
pounds at our facility. The rest (Dobermans, an American
Bulldog, and several mixes between 40 and 60 pounds) are all
bigger dogs. It matters not if a dog is a Teacup Chihuahua or a
Great Dane (and we've had a few of those). Our routine, and the
dogs' response, is the same.
Q: You mention treadmilling the dogs. Do they all get
A: Most of them do, because exercise is one of the keys to a dog's
balanced behavior & happiness. The exceptions are older dogs
with very low energy levels. SHF's treadmills are in use 3+ hours
every morning, and most dogs enjoy them for an hour at a time.
The dogs walk at a comfortable natural walking pace as singles or,
in the case of little dogs, in pairs. No cardio, especially right after
breakfast. Our goal is to provide focused, relaxed exercise for the
dogs, not conditioning. Pack-walking dogs together on side-by-
side treadmills also reinforces a pack's closeness & stability.
Q: Are your shelter dogs always this quiet at feeding time?
A: With just their pack leader there, the dogs rarely make a sound -
no little whines and never a bark. Adding a videographer gets
them a little excited, but that provides us with the opportunity to
show how well behaved a shelter dog can be even when his or her
routine gets changed a bit. Dogs at SHF learn quickly that calm
behavior (not boisterous behavior) gets rewarded, so calm
behavior is what they project.
Q: Why is a quiet feeding routine important to shelter
A: Dogs, like little kids, thrive with good routines. When you're in a
strange place, there is a lot of security in knowing what comes
next. Too, it's always easier to shine when you know what is
expected of you. Nobody likes to learn by his or her mistakes.
Dogs enter new locations incredibly observant, and they pick up
routines fast. When a routine is done in a calm, quiet, confident,
positive & authoritative manner, dogs lose their apprehension
about what is coming next and where do they fit in and who will
provide for their needs and are they safe... and their relaxation
spreads to the next dog and to the next dog, and to each
newcomer and so on and so on.
Q: Is it important to walk the dogs together like this?
A: Most definitely. Walking helps to establish pack orientation and
Q: Can anyone do this?
A: Actually, no... no more than anyone can teach a group of 25
kindergarteners. The best people to be working with shelter dogs
on a daily basis have certain personality characteristics. They are
calm, observant, positive, quiet, confident, patient and assertive
when they need to be, and they are responsive but not overly
reactive with the dogs. They have good posture, and they know
how to communicate what they want non-verbally. Dogs are not
little machines; they respond to & reflect the energy around them.
Q: How long does it take a dog to pick up on the routine?
A: Because, at any time, most of the dogs at our shelter are calm &
well-versed at the routine, new dogs reap the benefits
immediately. 95% of them have the routine completely down by
their second or third day, and even the most mistrustful or
unsocialized dog "gets it" by the fifth day.
Q: There has got to be more to keeping shelter dogs happy
in one-to-two-dozen-dog packs than just providing
exercise and a good morning routine. What else does
one need to know?
A: Understanding how a dog thinks involves understanding the
* DEFAULT ENERGY,
* PERSONAL ENERGY,
* FORWARD MOMENTUM,
* POSTURE & POSITION, and
* NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION
It also involves knowing & following three rules:
#1 - Reward what you want.
#2 - Don't reward what you don't want.
#3 - Don't use verbal energy when non-verbal will work.
Q: Where does a person learn more?
A: Call us at 252-422-6770 to be added to our contact list for our
next Learning "DOG" Conference. At our conferences, we cover all
of the above concepts in detail (see those details & comments
from past Conference participants HERE), plus we teach people
how to treadmill their dogs. We discuss de-stressing for dogs &
their handers, alike. We also cover the topic of aggression, which
comes in several forms, none of which are treated the same!