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The dog team is comprised of over 50 volunteers with new people joining the team every month. Together, they attend the shelter twice a day in shift teams. Every day. Statutory holidays. Rain. Sleet. Snow. Shine. They are there caring for the animals.
Our goal is to have four people on each shift: two shufflers/feeders, and two walkers. Each dog is taken out of their indoor kennels for 20 to 30 minutes per shift. Potentially, each dog would receive up to 2 hours of one-on-one handling time out of their kennel each shift (twice a day they are out for ~2 hours; a total of ~4 hours per dog per day).
The dogs are walked around our 49 acre rural property in all weather. The equipment we use during these walks are martingale collars, 6’ leashes and 30’ long line leashes. The exception to the walks in all weather is when the thermostat reaches -30C or +30C. Then, the walks are shortened to about 5 minutes per dog and the volunteers find indoor activities to entertain.
We have a total of 6 outdoor enclosed areas that we use to play with the dogs, train them and handle them. Sometimes during the shifts, the volunteers will use the enclosures to exercise the dogs rather than walk them outside, as it can be difficult to remain safe whilst walking dogs in some conditions in a rural environment. This is more common in the wintertime when the sun goes down so early.
Each dog receives off leash, outside time twice a day. During that time, the dog is allowed to wander around one of our fenced outside kennels. Half of the time (10-20 minutes) spent outside is alone to defecate and urinate in peace, and the other half (10-20 minutes) is spent with a volunteer doing various things such as fetch or brushing depending on what the dog prefers.
The volunteers on each shift also work with the dogs with the goal of making these dogs more adoptable. They work on different elements of the dogs’ behavior so that they are not doing the same exercises every shift.
Some of the things we work on are: obedience training (sit, down, stay, wait, leave it), sit without being asked for every meal, manners (no jumping, no mouthing, focus, watch me), food aggression, inter-dog aggression, over-stimulation/touching issues, instinctually driven issues without direction (herding objects, biting at peoples’ feet, chasing wild animals, guarding, etc.)