Vitulli, V., Zanin, L., Trentini, R. et al. 2020. Anthrozoology in action: Performing cognitive training paths in a garden shelter to make dogs more suitable as pets. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 23(1), 29-40.
The overpopulation of shelters and the increase of homeless dogs have become serious problems in many countries. One contributor to the number of both sheltered and homeless dogs is the abandonment and relinquishment of pet dogs by their owners for different reasons – in many cases depending on dogs’ undesirable or problematic behaviors. Luckily, the behavioral characteristics of a dog are, to some extent, modifiable parameters. The aim of this study was to train the dogs housed in a garden shelter in Italy to become suitable as pets by becoming familiar to different tools and situations that they could encounter in a domestic setting through a customized educational path based on social and environmental enrichment. Shelters can hardly afford the expenses for administering training to dogs. The problem could be overcome by engaging the best graduating students attending referenced training schools, whose mission is to train professionals with high theoretical and practical skills. Shelters’ administrators should choose referenced schools only, that teach positive training methods respectful of animals and that support the human–animal bond.