Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kids Training Dogs in the Kennel

One of the challanges I face with camp each year is trying to find new activities for the kids.  As much as we get very positive  feedback from the parents on our surveys, one of the things that comes up is a request for new things for the kids to do.  This request in itself is actually a compliment, because it tells me that kids enjoy coming to our camps so much they are repeat campers. 

One of the new activities this year for the campers ages 10 and up is training dogs in the kennel.  A problem that just about every animal shelter encounters is dogs who behave poorly when people walk past their kennels.  First impressions are very important, and a dog who is barking and jumping at their kennel door as people walk down the aisle are much less likely to have potential adopters ask to see them.  Sometimes these are extremely nice dogs who are calm in other contexts, but have developed bad habits. 

The training itself is very easy.  The kids walk up and down the kennels and ask a dog to sit -- the kids are instructed on what the visual cue for this behavior looks like.  If the dog sits, the camper throws a treat in the kennel and moves on to the next dog.  Additionally, the kids are told that if a dog doesn't want to approach the kennel door they should toss a treat in without asking for sit because this is most likely a shy dog who needs to learn that people approaching the kennel door aren't scary.

As simple as this exercise is the kids seem to really enjoy it and it gives them a way to help HAWS and the adoptable dogs in our care.  And as you can see in the video below, the dogs really love this activity as well.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summer Camp has Begun!

The end of the school year means a change in my job duties -- namely the beginning of HAWS Kids N Critters Day Camp.  This week we will have 73 kids coming to our camp during three sessions.  Two of the sessions are for 2 days each, Tuesday/Wednesday and also Thursday/Friday.  Typically kids attend those sessions if they aren't sure they'd enjoy our camp, or if they have other activities planned during the week.

We also have a 5 day camp that started on Monday.  The kids have had a chance to walk dogs, play with cats and rabbits, meet Voodoo the snake and do a lot of fun activities. 

One of the activities that all of the campers attending our week-long session are required to do is a little bit of volunteer work.  They spend a half an hour during the week cleaning out a few of the cat cages -- helping to scoop the litter pan, wipe down surfaces, take bedding to the laundry, and provide fresh food and water. 

Suprisingly, many of the kids are eager to help out -- something their parents would be amazed to hear since many of these same kids are reluctant to clean at home.  Some of the kids are disgusted at having to scoop poop, or wipe down messy resting places. 

One of our goals for campers is to show them that having a pet may be very rewarding and a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work, and sometimes is a bit disgusting.

We still have openings for some of the sessions this summer, if you'd like your child to experience fun with animals, while at the same time discovering their responsibility.   Check the HAWS Kids N Critters page for availability.