Austin Pets Alive! | Dog Behavior Program

Dog Behavior Program

The Dog Behavior Program’s mission is to provide the dogs in our care all available resources to enhance their quality of life and prepare them for life outside of APA!.
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The Dog Behavior Program is organized into three parts: dog playgroups, Canine Good Citizen Training and Total Obedience Program training, and adoption follow-ups.

Based on the Dogs Playing for Life model, our dog playgroups are a great way for dogs to socialize with one another and exercise while our APA! staff gets a better idea of their unique traits. This staple of the Dog Behavior Program has made a significant impact on the number of high energy dogs throughout Central Texas that APA! has not only been able to save, but offer a lifestyle improvement while they are in the shelter.

The CGC Ready Program has been a part of APA!’s lifesaving efforts since 2012. It was started with the intention to further enrich the lives of dogs who face societal stereotypes of being behaviorally challenged and show that they can make great additions to a family. The goal was – and is – to lessen these dogs’ length of stay – and it’s been wildly successful. The program teaches eligible dogs the ten tests of the Canine Good Citizen, which equip dogs with the tools and confidence to behave appropriately out in the world.

Parallel to our CGC training is our TOP (Total Obedience Program) Dog program, developed by our Behavior Team, which works on skills similar to the ten real-world scenarios but also on additional skills that each individual dog needs. TOP Dog is volunteer-based and geared towards the dogs in our shelter that might not qualify for CGC, but will benefit from a foundation of individualized obedience training prior to adoption. Check out a video on APA's CGC program, on which the TOP was based: 

The adoption follow-up portion of the program is provided by APA!’s behavior department staff and is a complimentary service for all dogs adopted from APA!.
The follow-up services include phone consultations, private lessons, and, of course, unlimited support for life. The APA! Dog Behavior staff cannot provide basic obedience, but we will provide support for any behavioral issues or concerns.

Behavior Training Resources:

Bringing Home a New Dog

Dog-Dog Introductions

Dog-Cat Introductions

Canine Enrichment

Puppy Basics

Crate Training - Adults

House Training - Adults

Mouthing – Adults

Jumping – Adults

Destructive Chewing – Adults

Curbing Backyard Nuisance Behavior

Tie-Down Exercises

Defensive Dogs: Introduction

Resource Guarding: Introduction

Nothing in Life is Free Protocol

Scared Dog Behavior Handout

Separation Anxiety Baseline Plan

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Program Achievements

We’ve had an AM and PM playgroup every day – rain or shine – since we began the program on June 1, 2012.

More than 100 dogs attend playgroup each day.

In 2019, we had 50 CGC dogs and 148 TOP dogs in training.

There are 60 active trainers, made up of volunteers and staff, in the program through the year and 24 Canine Coaches.

Dogs in the CGC program have experienced an 80% decrease in length of stay and a 30% increase in adoption rates.

Our DBFU team holds between 35-40 training sessions each week.

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