In October, I began volunteering again (for the second time) at the Austin Humane Society. If I am going to be a dog trainer one day, I have a lot of learning to do and experience to gain. And I get to help out a lot of dogs in need in the process of building some great experiences! The volunteer program at the Austin Humane Society is amazing! They have over 700 volunteers who are responsible for getting the dogs out of their kennels everyday.
The dog volunteers are kindly referred to as BRATTs (Behavior Rehoming Assessment and Training Team). Remember, a lot of dogs that come to a shelter are there because of some past behavior issues (as well as a multitude of others reasons, but this is a big (maybe even the biggest) one). So it is up to the volunteer team to provide a good foundation of basic training so the dogs will be more likely to find homes (and stay in them!).
Every volunteer starts out as a Green Level BRATT. Green Level BRATTs can only handle Green Level dogs (these are the easygoing dogs). This is for safety (of us and the dogs) as well as for reasons of consistency — for example, we need to go through a training program in order to know what hand signals are used for specific commands so as not to confuse the dogs when every volunteer has their own way of doing things, as they surely will.
Volunteers log in hours using myVolunteerPage and then take classes to work with higher level dogs as we gain more experience. I can’t wait to start taking some of the training classes! But there is still so much for me to learn working with the other volunteers at the shelter at the Green level.
I’m going to be keeping track of lots of the lessons I’m learning here.