We like to highlight departments in our shelter, as there are so many people that are working “behind the scenes” to make Wayside Waifs what it is today. Previously, we showcased our Vet Clinic, and this time, we would like to showcase our Behavior Team. This small but important section of our organization is responsible for overseeing every dog’s temperament in the shelter. They test them, work with them, and are able to pinpoint certain behaviors to help match an animal with that perfect home.

This picture includes our entire behavior team. Jess is the Behavior Team Manager, and Ben and Brad are our Behavior Evaluators. Here they are meeting in our Admissions Department to go over an appointment. With dog surrenders, we do a behavior exam on intake before they are admitted into our facility. The dog should be able to eventually qualify for adoption, even if they need a little work now. The exams also help to pinpoint certain good and bad behaviors we can continue and change over time.

Brad is seeing if new dog Haley is treat motivated. Brad mentioned he enjoys working with all these dogs to work with different aspects of dog behavior. You see it all in a shelter, and you can see the wonderful turnaround they can make. During these exams, the team tests several different aspects, such as reactivity, motivations, restraint, and touch, to name a few. Haley is nervous as she is in a new place with new people for the first time, so our tests aren’t all that strict as they are more informative. We just want to get an idea of the dog’s personality, both in general and in a new situation.

Something we learned about Haley was that she is not so interested in treats as she is praise and toys. She enjoyed hanging out with all of us, and chasing after a tennis ball or two! You may be thinking that all the BE team does for a living is play with dogs, but that is far from the truth! Besides testing, they answer questions that have been submitted by the public, they oversee our Peace Academy(high-arousal) and Confidence College(shy and fearful) dogs, and they also teach classes that the public can attend!

Ben is having a cute moment with Haley after she got to know everyone. She will not be available yet, but she is well on her way! Ben is the veteran on this team, and is now teaching our classes and answering behavior questions. If you’re interested in either of those, please click here. Ben mentioned the benefits to meeting all of the adult dogs at Wayside. While some of them may not need any extra TLC, some do, and he enjoys seeing their progress to become “a normal dog.”

When asked, the manager of the team, Jess, mentioned her dual position. She is also our Canine Care Manager, so technically she is in charge of two different departments. “In my position, I’m able to communicate with my staff better. I can get our canine care techs involved in behavior, and vice versa. We all can learn about dog behavior that way, and there is never a dull moment!” We’d also like to mention that BE is looking for someone to join their team. If you’re interested, check this link out.

Here Ben is working with Brute, a Peace Academy dog, on ‘look’ and ‘sit.’ At Wayside Waifs, we believe in positive reinforcement training, and we also use whistles. Brute normally fixates on people’s hands, so learning ‘look’ was essential to his well-being. He can learn that he’ll still get a treat, and doesn’t have to necessarily fight for it. Brute has already made some wonderful improvements! He is actually from St. Croix, so he is an island dog at heart!

To sum it up, we wouldn’t be able to adopt out near as many animals as we do if it wasn’t for this behavior team. We can work with animals directly and get to the root of the problems, and we can get a vague idea of what they are like in a home. Thanks to Jess, Ben, and Brad! You make Wayside a better place! Keep up the good work!

You can visit us during our adoption hours!

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: CLOSED
  • Wednesday: 12pm-8pm
  • Thursday: 12pm-8pm
  • Friday: 12pm-8pm
  • Saturday: 10am-6pm
  • Sunday: 1pm-6pm

Written by Teryn J.