Residential Training Program (RTP)
Once shelter dogs leave the kennel environment and go to their adoptive homes, it is hoped that a strong bond develops between dog and guardian. However, once in the home and feeling comfortable in their new environment, some dogs can develop undesirable behaviors. The dog has had years of experience, good and perhaps bad, of which the new family may have little or no knowledge. Without training to modify the undesired behavior, the dog might be returned to the shelter and possibly euthanized, depending on the severity of the behavior issue and availability of kennel space. Training within the shelter is highly unlikely, since staff have limited time to spend with each dog in their facility. Also, the shelter environment is stressful for most dogs, and therefore, not conducive to achieving positive behavior outcomes.
The Residential Training Program (RTP) provides positive training opportunities for shelter dogs who are exhibiting “undesired” behaviors. RTP dogs live in the homes of animal trainers where they receive one-on-one behavior training. Once the desired behavior outcome is achieved, the RTP dog enters the home of an RTP “Matchmaker” who continues the training protocol and works with the RTP Adoption Coordinator to find a suitable adoptive home.
RTP Adoption Coordinator
RTP Adoption Coordinator serves as the liaison between shelter staff, RTP Trainers and Matchmaker, and adopters to ensure a positive outcome for each RTP dog. The Adoption Coordinator posts information about each dog on Petfinder, reviews applications and checks references of adopters, schedules adoption meetings and home visits, and follows up with adopters with phone calls and home visits.
RTP Trainers are reward-based training instructors who are familiar with the needs of second-hand dogs, understand the learning principals of operant and classical conditioning, and are experienced with behavior modification using positive reinforcement.
Reward-based training uses praise and positive actions or rewards, rather than aversive actions, to help the RTP dog learn desirable behaviors. The key with this type of training is to determine what it is that motivates the RTP dog and use that motivator as a reward for the desirable performance. In reward-based training, treats, toys, physical affection, verbal praise, or a combination of any of these, are used to reward the RTP dog for its new and acceptable behavior.
RTP Trainer Roles and Responsibilities
RTP Trainers are to:
- Provide a comfortable and safe environment for the RTP dog once he/she arrives in the Trainer’s home and be willing to continue training for 2-3 months, as determined by both the RTP Coordinator and the Trainer. The RTP dog should be kept inside the home and not in an outside kennel.
- Isolate the RTP dog from the Trainer’s own companion animals, if needed, and make sure his/her own animals are vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
- Ensure that the RTP dog remains in the care of the Trainer at all times.
- Feed, socialize, exercise, groom, and medicate (e.g., heartworm preventative and flea preventative, in season) the RTP dog, as needed.
- Submit weekly training reports, as well as immediately report any usual or inappropriate behavior of the RTP dog, to the RTP Adoption Coordiantor.
- Be readily accessible by email and/or telephone to answer questions that the RTP Coordinator might have.
- Be available to attend adoption events to showcase the RTP dog’s learned commands.
RTP Matchmakers are individuals who care for the RTP dog in their home after the RTP Trainer has modified the dog’s behavior. Matchmakers receive instruction from the RTP Trainer to continue the training protocol and assist the RTP Adoption Coordinator in finding a suitable home for the RTP
RTP Matchmaker Roles and Responsibilities
RTP Matchmakers are to:
- Continue the training protocol once the RTP dog arrives in the Matchmaker’s home. Commit to a minimum of 3 months of helping to find the RTP dog a suitable home.
- Provide a comfortable and safe environment for the RTP dog once he/she arrives in the RTP Matchmaker’s home and be willing to continue fostering until an approved adopter is found. If needed, isolate the RTP dog from the Matchmaker’s own companion animals, and make sure that his/her own companion animals are vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
- Once in the RTP Matchmaker’s home, ensure that the RTP dog remains in his/her care at all times. The RTP dog should be kept indoors and not in an outside kennel.
- Feed, socialize, exercise, groom and medicate (e.g., heartworm preventative, flea preventative when in season) the RTP dog, as needed.
- Give weekly updates to the RTP Trainer and RTP Adoption Coordinator and report any usual or inappropriate behaviors when they occur.
- Take RTP dog to regularly scheduled adoption events. Additionally, promote the dog in creative and abundant ways (such as making personal appearances with the RTP dog by walking through town, church events, etc.
- Direct interested adopters to the RTP website and Facebook page to complete and submit the RTP adoption form. Once the adoption is approved by the RTP Adoption Coordinator, a home visit will be scheduled and conducted by the RTP Trainer and/or the RTP Adoption Coordinator, as well as the RTP Matchmaker.
Responsibilities for Sending Shelter:
- Provide a three-month supply of heartworm and flea preventative to the RTP
- Ensure that the dog is up-to-date on immunizations and is in good general health. If medications are required, send a three-month supply.
- Microchip the RTP dog before leaving the shelter.