What do you get when you combine between eight to eighteen excited owners with their canine sidekicks in one classroom? Chaos without the help of our amazing Behavior Class Assistants!
April is Volunteer Month on the blog and today we bring you the inside scoop on volunteering with Calgary Humane Society by profiling a few of our fun, fabulous and unique volunteer roles!
If you have ever been to one of our many CHS training classes (we offer over 20 each week!), you may have met one of our volunteer Behavior Class Assistants! These faithful volunteers can often be found assisting with all aspects of a class. Volunteer Tiffany has been a behavior class assistant for about 7 months and describes her role as including:
“I distract dogs so that owners/clients can focus [on what is being taught], observe clients during activities and reiterate class exercises. I also calm and reassure clients and their dogs, clean up after class and provide water bowls for thirsty pups.”
Calgary Humane Society’s behavior classes are designed to be as interactive as possible. In addition to the responsibilities above, our volunteers can also be found providing visual demonstrations or role-playing training scenarios with our trainers and providing one on one help during practice time. These tasks are essential to creating a calm and structured learning environment during class time. To help reduce distractions, our volunteers are also sometimes tasked to deal with “puppy poop mishaps” or pooch “puddles” that happen during class time.
We know that our Behavior Class Assistants are important, but we wanted to know what they thought… so we asked them!
Two-year behavior class volunteer veteran, Carol, says:
“I believe [my most valuable contribution] is showing people how positive reinforcement works and is the preferred way of training over what they so often see on TV or have learned from ‘old school’ methods. A lot of clients come in not knowing anything about training their new pet, and it’s very satisfying to help them see their dog’s potential and how, in such a short time, they can change their behavior and bond with their pet.”
Volunteering time as a Behavior Class Assistant is a great way to give back, but it’s also a great way for a volunteer to enhance their own skills! Many of our behavior class volunteers are interested in learning more about dog training and animal behavior and view their volunteering as a way to learn in a practical and hands-on way!
“My most valuable experience has been volunteering with some really great trainers and learning from them as well as other volunteers. I have taken many behavior courses and attended numerous lectures and seminars within CHS and elsewhere, and volunteering as helped me further my education and understanding of animal behavior!” says Carol.
Tiffany notes that she has learned a lot about class management during her volunteer time.
“Teaching instructions should be very concise and directly to the point. Rationales, goals and demos should always be provided to help facilitate the client’s understanding of the teachings and reviews should be highlighted at the end of class in order to reinforce the learning.”
Are you over 16 years old and looking for a great volunteer role that can expand your knowledge and experience? Are you passionate about animals and their families? Are you fun, energetic and ready to work on a team of enthusiastic, like-minded people? If so, please keep an eye on our website for opportunities when they pop-up. We promise that, when we have a need for more helping hands, we will post opportunities and applications here.