With Our Resident Animal Behaviourist 

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An SPCA supporter wrote in to ask how the dogs in the SPCA’s kennels are trained and socialised before they are homed.

The SPCA’s Animal Behaviourist, Nicole Nel Explains

Dogs undergo a brief assessment, while some require several as they settle in and new behaviours start to show. Those who require more guidance and training will be identified and worked with through positive reinforcement methods. This reward-based training helps the dogs gain confidence as they start to feel more comfortable, learn positive associations and are taught skills.

We teach them to have positive associations with handling, wearing a collar and walking with leads or harnesses, and to have positive associations with the sight of other dogs and engaging with people.

Enrichment is also critical. Kennel enrichment is proven to reduce problem behaviours like boredom barking. Some dogs have suffered prior trauma or lack positive early learning experiences, so will require more in-depth behaviour work.

A lot of the guidance also occurs post-adoption. “This is where I give adopters individual behavioural recommendations for their newly adopted dog, which helps set up the household for success,” says Nicole. 

 

Five points to remember when adopting

  1. Have patience
  2. Help your dog feel safe and comfortable through positive reinforcement
  3. Focus on building a happy relationship between you and your dog
  4. Allow your dog time to adjust and settle
  5. Have realistic expectations. Consider all that your pet has been through and give them time to settle in

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