November 10, 2018

START Program Sets Dogs Up for Success

By: The Humane Society of Greater Dayton

We all know and love the animals here at the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. They all manage to steal the hearts of our volunteers and staff! Sadly though, many dogs at our shelter get overlooked when people walk through our shelter, which it turns means they stay at our shelter longer. It leaves us asking, “Why is such a good dog still here?”

Sometimes it can be a dog’s health, size, age, or even appearance that hinders its chance of getting adopted. Additionally, visitors take a quick average of 70 seconds to evaluate whether a dog will be a good fit for their family (Wells & Hepper, 2001). Between kennel presence and first impressions on the leash, that doesn’t give the energetic, untrained dog a great chance of letting their personality shine. In the end, these dogs often become “long-term residents” of the shelter, anxiously waiting for their home while trying not to succumb to shelter stress.

So how can you help? While volunteers that are part of the Canine Crew are essential for maintaining any level of training the dog may have, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton is grateful to work closely with the Dayton Dog Training Club to provide a higher-level program, in turn, making these overlooked dogs more adoptable. The Saved Trained Adopt Remain Together (S.T.A.R.T.) volunteers donate extra blocks of time to work specifically with dogs that are in need of behavior improvement. In addition to Wednesday evening courses, START volunteers practice with their assigned shelter dogs 2 to 3 times per week to continue the progress of a training regime. 

When a dog is brought to a START class for the first time, they are met with all types of treats. The dog gets to pick which treat they fancy, and the trainer will use that for future motivation. The dog then gets to experience playtime with several different toys and choose his favorite style of play to bond with the trainer. The assistant trainers of the club observe and evaluate the dog for any potential issues to be worked with, including marking, guarding, and potential dog fear/ aggression. During the trainer part of the course, the dog/ trainer pairs work on name recognition, focus, and various commands including “sit,” “lie down,” “wait,” “come,” and “leave it.” Darlene, the leader of the START Program creates a training plan for the dog and trainer to work through up until the dog’s adoption.

The trainers and dogs are assigned to each other based on abilities, personalities, and training styles. However, all trainers are taught to use positive reinforcement with the dogs. This style of training eliminates the use of dominance practices and creates a stress-free environment for the dog to learn by redirecting “bad” or “unwanted” behaviors into “good” or “positive” behaviors. 

The result of this training may be a reduction of stress in the dog’s life at the shelter, as well as a shorter stay. The dog learns to sit politely when pet, refrains from being “mouthy” with potential new families and is able to focus on a visiting family—therefore increasing their chance of a connection. All in all, this means a shorter stay for the dog, and lesser chance of a returned adoption. While all adoptions are cheerful, it’s a special event when a START dog gets adopted.

Plus, to ensure the dog stays well-behaved after finding their forever home, the Dayton Dog Training Club generously offers two free training sessions to all people who adopt a dog from the START program. It’s a win-win for the dogs and for the community!


Media Inquiries

For media inquiries, photos or information regarding these stories, contact media@hsdayton.org

You May Also Like
July 2, 2020

Jeff Schmitt Auto Group Donates $10,000 to Help Homeless Animals

Today, Jay Schmitt, President of Jeff Schmitt Auto Group, stopped by the Humane Society of Greater Dayton with a $10,000 donation to support the organization’s efforts in helping the animals […]

September 28, 2020

Vaccination Helps Prevent Spread of Rabies

Today, is World Rabies Day, a day in which we are reminded how to keep our pets safe from this completely treatable disease. World Rabies Day began in 2007 as […]

June 15, 2018

Don’t Leave Pets in Hot Cars

Each year, thousands of family pets suffer from heatstrokes or suffocation after being left in a parked car. Even if you are going into a store for just a second, […]