Volunteering for Dog School

by Katie // June 2017

Hello! I’m Katie. I’ve been volunteering since February at Dog School Glasgow’s evening puppy and adult classes and it’s been such a brilliant experience so far - I’m learning so much!

I grew up with rescue dogs, as well as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters so have always had a huge passion for animals. Over the years I’ve done quite a bit of dog walking and sitting, and I’ve also fostered with a greyhound rehoming charity. While I’m currently not allowed a dog of my own in my rented flat (argh!), my parents have a beautiful rescue Border Collie called Alfie who I spend as much time as possible with, which normally mostly involves me repetitively throwing his frisbee in a park – a game that would never have an end if it were up to him!

My background is in psychology and I currently work in counseling, so to date I have mostly been working with human rather than animal behavior. However I’ve always been aware that the same underlying learning theories apply and recently it felt time to learn more about dog training, and to start to move towards my lifelong ambition of working with animals. I therefore began a distance learning course in canine psychology and behaviour and was kindly given the opportunity of gaining invaluable practical experience through a voluntary role with the Dog School.

My first impression of the classes was how welcoming the environment is for the dogs and how much the focus is on catering to their needs and wellbeing – e.g. the small class size, individual pods and the ‘hands off’ approach whereby the coaches and volunteers allow the dogs to control whether they want to approach and interact with us. It has been fascinating to observe different dogs’ individual characteristics as well as their reactions to the classes and how this can change as the weeks go on. I’ve found it so rewarding to watch how well the dogs progress with their training and confidence; there have been a few shy puppies who on week one didn’t want to leave their owners’ sides, yet in later weeks happily worked with the coaches during demonstrations and were up for interacting with their canine classmates! The bond between the dogs and their owners can also be so lovely to see and you can tell how motivated the owners are to communicate effectively with their dogs - and vice versa!

It’s a real privilege to be able to volunteer at the classes and I would encourage anybody with a similar interest in dog training and behaviour to consider getting involved.

If you'd be interested in volunteering with Dog School, please email glasgowdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk to register your interest, and we will get back to you when we are next recruiting!