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.