Behavior & Training

Behavior & Training Resources

SafeHaven cares for around 2,000 animals each year. As an animal shelter and pet owners ourselves, we recognize that prioritizing an animal’s mental and emotional well-being is just as important as providing food, water, and other basic care. Reward-based training and enrichment are essential for happy and healthy pets. We advocate for positive reinforcement and reward-based training – training should be fun for both you and your pet! Training methods that build a positive relationship with your pet create trust, strengthen your bond, and result in a happier and more well-behaved pet.

We believe in teaching and rewarding your pet for desirable behavior (going potty outside) and redirecting undesirable behaviors to appropriate ones (teaching to sit politely when greeting new people instead of excitedly jumping). Our behavior and training philosophy follows the guidance of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) and does not endorse training that uses dominance theory or the use of punishment to modify behavior. Research has shown that these techniques can cause physical harm, suppress aggression without addressing the underlying cause, and exacerbate the problem by increasing fear and anxiety.

Animals arrive at our shelter from an array of sources and backgrounds and have varying levels of training. Working with a professional trainer, whether in a group class or private consultation, is a great way to create a solid foundation with your newly adopted pet. To help get started, you will find a list of local area trainers here. If you have recently adopted, check your adoption packet for special offers and training discounts.

This list is provided as a convenience, and you should always talk to the trainer(s) personally, observe a class, and then decide if the trainer is one that you are comfortable working with. When choosing a trainer, it is important to ask about years of experience, techniques and methods used, certifications/credentials/professional association memberships, and educational background. Several of the trainers on the list are Certified Professional Dog Trainers-Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) or Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA). Learn more about the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). See more tips on how to choose a trainer.

How to Choose a Trainer (Courtesy of AVSAB)

  1. Reward-based training: Look for a trainer who uses primarily or only reward-based training with treats, toys, and play.
  2. Good teacher: Trainers should explain what and why they are training a behavior and provide ample time in class for practice and individual assistance. They should also be able to adapt their humane training methods to your individual dog.
  3. Continual education: Does your trainer attend seminars, courses, or conferences to keep up with the latest science and training techniques?
  4. Respectful: Avoid trainers who recommend using physical force.
  5. Observe a class: Do the dogs and people look happy?
  6. Do you feel comfortable?
  7. There are no guarantees: Dogs are individuals and behavior is not static, so a reputable trainer will never guarantee results.
  8. Vaccinations should be required.
  9. Problem behaviors: Can your trainer address special issues and collaborate with a veterinarian when necessary?

Find More Trainers and Behavior Consultants

Many trainers and behavior consultants are offering virtual services, which may allow you to widen the scope of your search to outside of the local area.

Online Learning

Behavior Library

Have a question about a specific topic? Check out our behavior library below (articles are borrowed from the reputable sources above).