Despite My Job, I’m No Expert in Animal Training

Often, because of my job, people assume that I am an expert in all things animal, including training. Any of you who have seen my beagle, Doyle, and me on the streets and in the parks of Reno know that we are not dog training honor graduates, despite attending several training programs and owning a number of gentle leaders and humane harnesses.

However, Doyle and I are soon headed back to training because I believe it truly makes a positive difference in the dog-human relationship. There are lots of skilled dog trainers and “behaviorists” in our community who can help dogs and owners live happier lives together. Training techniques vary, so it’s important to do your homework and find a trainer with an approach that feels compatible with you and your dog.

In the animal sheltering world, finding assessment, modification and behavioral interpretation that works for the organization is essential. It’s the key to creating differentiation between animals who are safe to adopt out into our community and those who are not.

At NHS, we take the role of saving animal lives while keeping our community safe incredibly seriously, and approach both responsibilities with equal levels of concern and sobriety. To this end, NHS brings national experts in animal behavior and sheltering to our community every year.

Dr. Kate Hurley, program director of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at University of California, Davis, spoke at NHS in October about an innovative approach to community cat management. Just this past week, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant Kelley Bollen spent four days at NHS educating staff, community members and animal professionals from around the region on animal behavior assessment, enrichment and modification techniques.

I know of nowhere in America where the community’s shelter puts more time, energy and resources into using scientifically substantiated, innovative methods to save animals and protect the public. This commitment to using only predictive and research-based, scientifically supported assessments in a keystone of NHS. So is our nation-leading animal lifesaving rate. We are as proud of our stewardship of homeless, forgotten and abandoned animals as we are of our dedication to the safety of Washoe County. Moreover, I am so proud to part of a community that so values a lifetime approach to learning and continual improvement.

Kevin M. Ryan is chief executive officer of the Nevada Humane Society.

Events That Help Animals:

The Great Cat Snip through April 30: Have your feline friend spay or neutered for $25 at Nevada Humane Society. Appointments are required; call 775-856-2000, ext. 333.

Walk for the Animals, May 24th Join animals lovers from all over Northern Nevada at the Sparks Marina for the 7th annual Walk for the animals. A fun filled day of music, entertainment and walking to save lives. Online registration and other details available at http://www.nevadahumanesociety.org.

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