During their first two weeks at Bellwether, all dogs and cats are placed under quarantine. We receive minimal, if any, documentation on an animal’s health or temperament when they arrive at the shelter. To help us gain a better understanding of their needs and behaviors, we use that time to observe them and document what we’ve learned on our Baseline Assessment form. This allows us to formulate a plan and address any behavior issues as early as possible.

Each dog, when cleared from quarantine, is assigned to a staff member. Whether their stay at Bellwether is short or long, that staff member is responsible for their dog’s training. We work on positive reinforcement obedience training and on our dog’s specific needs. Their abilities are evaluated and they join the appropriate level training class to further their knowledge. From puppy class and beginners, to advanced training and the agility course, our training is fun, fair, and firm. The documented training information helps us place each dog into the appropriate home.

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To allow the human animal bond to develop and grow, both cats and dogs need to feel comfortable and safe when spending time with people. Our volunteers play an important role in socializing the dogs and cats at Bellwether. For more information on how you can help, volunteer.

Socializing and obedience training, done with patience, guidance, positive reinforcement and love work together to improve an animals behavior. This can make a difference in their overall adopt-ability and how they adjust to their new environment after adoption. Use the list of command words in your adoption packet and continue your dog’s obedience training at home.

Everyone in the family should use those words on a daily basis, consistently and accurately. The words “off and “down” are easily confused and are often misused. “Off” should be used to let your dog know not to jump on people, not to be on the furniture or the counters, and “down” should be used when you want your dog to lie down.

Keeping your new dog familiar with the command words plays an important role in their good behavior. Sometimes with the stress of adjusting to their new homes, unwanted behaviors may appear. These behaviors may be old ones that reappear or new ones we weren’t aware of at the time of adoption. We strongly recommend that you call the shelter right away for advice if any problems arise. Help is available by phone concerning either dog and cat issues, or you and your dog can come to the shelter for education or training. In some circumstances we are available for home visits.

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