Behavior Development Program
Pets Return Home helps dog-rescue and animal shelter organizations prevent the needless killing of homeless dogs by providing behavior development, command training and socializing at a safe and stress-free refuge. These dogs are victims of human neglect, abuse, ignorance and animal shelter overpopulation and require help to restore their confidence and ability to be loving family companions. We provide on-going support to sustain a long-term healthy family relationship. Our team has 25 years’ experience searching, training, refining behavior and healing dogs and holds certifications in search, training and medical protocols. We do not provide our expertise for profit. We are committed to enabling a formerly kill-list dog to find a forever home.
Animal control facilities (ACFs), also called shelters or pounds, house homeless dogs in addition to other animals. Many of these dogs are put on a list—often called the “E-List” (euthanasia list)—for various reasons. Some of these dogs are suffering from untreatable medical conditions, and the best path for them is to end their suffering. However, a greater portion of our nation’s homeless dogs are killed because they have demonstrated risky behavior or additional space is needed for a “more desirable” dog.
Animal Rescue Organizations (AROs), also known as rescues, rescue or “pull” homeless dogs from the ACFs with the goal of placing the animals in permanent homes. Sometimes a pull is made because the dog is on the E-List. Sometimes it’s an emotional decision or the dog is highly adoptable.
Occasionally, the ARO rescues a dog that is “unadoptable.” Most likely this is due to behavioral or medical issues. Specialized training or expensive and resource-intensive care may be required, but the animal rescue organization typically does not have the necessary resources. Medical issues can result in depletion of limited funds, foster capacity or both. One of the typical solutions to these problems is long-term boarding at a significant, recurring and possibly never-ending expense. If the dog has behavioral issues, it may spend most of its remaining life in a kennel. This is an unacceptable solution for the dog, not to mention a taxing for the ARO.
One goal of an ARO is to rescue an animal from death or long-term confinement and provide a better home. The boarding and/or fostering of adoption-challenged dogs has emotional and financial costs. But boarding is not a better home, and fostering is designed to be temporary. The rescue organization personnel suffer emotionally from these situations.
In addition, an adoption-challenged dog most likely will prevent the fostering of one or more other dogs. Most foster volunteers keep multiple dogs at one time. If they are fostering an animal that is aggressive to other dogs, they can have only the one. This leads to adoptable dogs being euthanized because foster space is unavailable.
A dog with medical problems will require more attention from a foster parent or, due to contagion, cause a reduction in foster capacity and, again, unnecessary euthanasia of adoptable dogs. The financial cost of boarding an adoption-challenged dog will deplete ARO funds quickly, thus limiting their capacity to fulfill their goals.
While the ARO is paying to board the animal there is no training or behavior modification occurring. At an additional cost, the dog can receive training from a professional canine trainer. Typically however, the dog trainer does not spend enough time with the adoption-challenged dog due to the considerable time and effort required to reshape a dog and/or the training is being done at a discount and the trainer has other higher paying clients.
Our Behavior Development operation provides adoption-challenged dogs with the appropriate training and behavior modification/refining to recover from trauma such as abuse, neglect and long-term confinement. The desired outcome is to bring the dog to an adoptable status so it will live a happy life in a permanent home with an understanding family. Our Convalescence Care program provides the necessary care and training for medically-challenged dogs.
Partnering with AROs enables them to save unadoptable dogs from euthanasia, behavior deteriorating boarding or lifelong boarding and reduces their financial and resource costs. We promote and provide donations and “sponsorship” of adoption-challenged dogs by advocates worldwide.
Our job is to provide the necessary skills and behaviors that will provide the dog with a strong foundation to obtain a lifelong home. This will be done through obedience training, same- and cross-species socialization, human socialization, identification and removal/decrease of anxieties, assessment to determine the best type of home and family for the dog and obedience training.
The boarding facilities are located on a four-acre parcel of land 350 yards from the Verde River and adjacent to National Forest. We limit the number of dogs residing on the property at any one time to ensure proper housing and training requirements are met. The property is completely fenced in and is in a remote desert and riparian canyon location. Dogs are typically in the kennel from sunset to sunrise. Most of their time is spent outside of the kennels in runs, on the 4 acre property or on the national forest area.
Facility Features include:
- Covered 10’ x 10’ eight-gauge wire panel kennel to minimize weather effects and keep the canine guest safe
- Misting and heating systems to provide appropriate comfort
- Insulated and chew-proof dog house
- Chew-proof water and food dishes
- Daily cleaning of the floor, bedding (as needed) and dishes
- High-quality, grain-free and energy-dense food and fresh water. Nutrition is a key aspect of canine health.
- Access to four separate 20’ x 30’ fenced runs
- Access to a four acre parcel (personality dependent)
- Access to river swimming (personality dependent)
- Daily solo and canine group socialization and exercise time
- Daily human and canine socialization activities (personality dependent)
- Twenty-four hour on-site human, camera and internet safety monitoring.
- Continuous assessment to determine behavior modification strategies
- Daily inspection of canine guest’s ears, teeth, coat, pads, eyes and snout
- Cleaning and nail clipping as needed or monthly
Socialization is important to the overall health of a dog. Socializing with humans, same & cross-species animals in varied situations helps the dog develop confidence and resiliency. These abilities enhance a dog’s significance to the family and can reduce stress.
This program exposes the dog to:
- Automobile entry, transport and exit
- Public exposure and interaction
- Dog and cross species (livestock) interactions
- Male and female, adult and child interactivity
Fear and anxiety are a large part of our guests’ makeup. Fortunately, exercise and physical challenges decrease pent-up energy and active humans appreciate a dog capable of enjoying outdoor activities. We help our guests build confidence, develop unique skills and experience outdoor situations via:
- Desert, canyon and mountain terrain hiking, backpacking and camping
- Tethered and untethered mountain bike ride-along trips
- Horse-riding ride-along trips
- Swimming and canoeing outings
A reactive or unsure dog may run away which can lead to injury and even death. This program highlights the rationale behind running and offers ways to overcome the behavior. Desensitization and counter-conditioning methods are used to eliminate or reduce noise phobias, particularly firearms, heavy equipment operation, fireworks and air horns. In addition, as available, we provide rattlesnake aversion training
We measure our success by transforming our canine guests into adoptable dogs with the intent of their living permanently with loving families. As part of the training, each guest will live within a home in a family setting. In addition, foster homes may be used to further test and develop our guests’ behavior and manners.
- Guests will live within the home as part of our seven-member family to further develop appropriate behaviors regarding furniture, begging, crating, trash cans, kitchens, bathrooms, beds, doors, windows, screens, and barking.
Command Vocabulary Program
Following commands consistently is paramount to developing a successful relationship between humans and canines. We ensure consistent compliance with the following commands:
- Dog’s name
- Drop it
- Good dog