Practical Matriculation Examinations

Pupils taking their practical Matriculation Examinations in Dog Rearing complete their first year of studies at the SPCA

The first year of studies in a two-year study program for the practical matriculation examination in dog rearing is presently coming to a close. The participants in the course study in the Eleventh Grade in the Gymnasia Herzliah High School in Tel Aviv. The practical matriculation study unit, according to the program set out by the Ministry of Education, is carried out in cooperation with the Department for Humanistic Education in the SPCA under the professional leadership of dog trainer, Dr. Michal Kirschner. During the course, the pupils study a variety of subjects (Caring for Dogs, Training, Maintaining a Dog Shelter, etc.) in a special classroom in the SPCA, obtaining practical experience in the dog shelter. At the end of next year the pupils will take their examinations under an examiner from the Ministry of Education. In addition, for the first time, the honors students will also get a Trainers’ Certificate, thus acquiring a profession.

According to Yaniv Ovadia, the Director of the SPCA Department of Humanistic Education: “The pupils participating in the study program learn in a special education class. This work with pupils with special needs demands a great deal of sensitivity from the educational staff. It is amazing to observe the progress made on both sides: On one hand, the pupils who become potential dog trainers, and on the other hand, the dogs in the Society who undergo education and training, allowing them a better chance of finding adoptive homes”.

At the approach of the end of the academic year, the matriculation class paid a visit to the military dog unit “Oketz”. During the fascinating visit, the pupils were given explanations about this unique unit and its activities, watched live presentations of dog training and visited the unit’s dog cemetery.

At the close of their first year of studies, we wish the pupils a pleasant vacation.

(Not for) Free Lessons

Adopted a dog? Its behavior is problematic? Don't rush to give it away – invest in training lessons instead

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer 

My name is Johnny and I am a young poodle, less than two years old. I know that I am good looking and attractive, I have a coat that doesn’t shed, am a small breed, am energetic and no one really has to be nervous in my company…so why am I so sad?

When I was two months old a family bought me – a single-parent, pampering and loving mother with two daughters aged 15 and 9. I came into my new home and was very happy. I was petted endlessly, had toys, and what I liked most of all was the bone that they gave me sometimes just because I was a bit of a pest…that was when I was just getting my new teeth and had to have something to chew!

During that time, everything seemed to me to be rosy: walks every few hours, snacks with the girls, leftovers from the meals, and best of all were the nights when, even though they had bought me my own bed, and given me a soft, comfy blanket, I preferred to sleep with Mom in her bed.< br>
But then the problems began. Once, when I jumped on them, they would laugh; when I bit their legs, they were happy; when someone came into the house I defended them with all my soul, scaring the stranger away with my barking. How could I have known that she just wanted to pet me that day, when I was chewing my bone on one of the couches, and I gave her a little bite so that in the future she wouldn’t touch my things…

Then came the muzzle. Suddenly they started to chase me around the house before we went out for a walk and tried to shut my mouth. I, who protect the child outside from any strange man or dog! They took me to be sterilized as a punishment. I didn’t really know what was going on there and it was pretty scary, but I got over that also and they took me home. All I wanted was for them to let me sleep in peace. I don’t like it when they wander around at night in the house, and I don’t want to be moved when I am asleep in bed just because they want to straighten the blanket.

I remember that day in the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals when Mom said that she doesn’t know what to do with me anymore.

I wasn’t really sure if she meant to leave me there or just to get advice from the staff and take a few training lessons.

Johnny’s story is shared by many other dogs, and in my work as a dog trainer and adoption counselor in the SPCA I have come across many instances of people who have adopted dogs, are contending with their pets’ behavior problems and are sometimes even considering giving them away. It is important to understand that most of the problems can be solved with one training lesson (or a short course of lessons) or even by reading on the internet about training and establishing limits for your dog. It is so sad to see those dogs that people buy, sometimes for thousands of shekels, that, when things go wrong, are simply sold or given to the Society instead of their owners investing a little effort to read relevant information or a little money in training lessons (small sums in comparison with the cost of adoption and the ongoing expenses of rearing a dog). And one more point – when there are children involved, the message that they get from such a move is very problematic.

If you have adopted a dog – take responsibility and learn how to educate it and not only how to pamper it.

In the Shadow of the Sirens

Tips for looking after your pet during the sirens

In difficult times such as these, dogs and cats are also having a hard time. The noise of the sirens can cause them stress and anxiety or even behavioral changes. Following are a few tips to help you deal with your pets during the sirens.

1. Firstly, regarding dogs, one must avoid the natural instincts to comfort and stroke them. The dog might interpret this as positive reinforcement for his behavior and repeat his anxiety reactions. Take the dog with you, show him that you are confident and relaxed, don’t be angry with him and don’t punish him.

2. At times such as these, dogs and cats are liable to run away from the house in response to the noise of the bombs and sirens. To look after dogs and cats in high-risk areas, it is recommended to ensure that the house is closed and that our little friends cannot find any ways out. Take dogs out for walks only in the close vicinity of the house and with a leash. It is not recommended to let them run freely, not even for a short time, not even if the dogs asks to be let free. In addition, ensure that the dog has a microchip and that his and your details are up-to-date in the National Microchip Center, so that if he does run away, he can be more easily traced.

3. Try to take your pet to the shelter or protected areas with you. If the protected area nearest to you is a shelter or residential secure space, equip it with a little food and water, and in the case of cats – also a litter tray. Most cats will refuse to go into a cage within a short space of time and that will make it more difficult to take them with you to the shelter in real time. Prepare a comfortable and warm corner where the cat can curl up in a hidden place in the house. Let him hide and don’t call him out of his hiding place.

4. If your pet suffers greatly from anxiety and you have difficulty calming him, we recommend getting veterinary assistance.

In the light of the situation, we invite all residents of the South to bring their pets of every type, to our animal shelter at no charge – till the end of the military operation (on the basis of availability). Telephone for queries: *4553.

Hoping for secure and tranquil days in the very near future.

Thunder on a Cold Winter’s Night

How to diminish the anxiety level of dogs who are afraid of thunder

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer 

Many dog owners are familiar with the phenomenon: Winter approaches and with it thunderstorms, frightening dogs and causing them genuine panic attacks. The source of their fear can be traced to their sense of hearing, which is more highly developed than ours; they can dismantle sounds, hear things that we cannot even detect, or, to put it in general terms – every sound that humans hear, dogs hear with greater impact.

Our natural tendency as people is to stroke and comfort anyone we see in distress. When our dog hears loud thunder he usually comes to us for protection. Our instinct to comfort, to stroke, to say in soft tones that everything will be fine and to give a tasty treat to take his mind off the fear, actually perpetuates the fear. Our behavior constitutes positive reinforcement to the dog’s behavior and causes the dog to repeat this behavior in similar, future situations. When we pet the frightened (from thunder, lightning, Purim firecrackers, or fireworks on Independence Day) dog, we are actually reinforcing his anxious behavior.

How can we lessen the anxiety level of dogs?
Don’t ignore the problem. It is important to work with the dog, even if you feel that it will constitute an emotional burden for him. Exposure to noise will also improve the behavior of a mature dog.

Allow the dog to expend energy. When it rains we have a tendency to allow ourselves and our dogs to waive the normal, routine exercises resulting in all his pent-up energy being directed in other directions such as destruction, aggression, or, in this case – fear.

Try to accustom the dog to loud noises from an early age. In the case of dogs who are just a few months old, we recommended exposing them to loud noises such as thunder, firecrackers, buses, trucks, ambulance sirens and any other noise that we meet up with during the normal course of our lives (these sounds can be downloaded from the internet).

Try to act against your instincts, ignore the situation and allow your dog to get over the obstacle by itself.

After the Holidays – How to get back to your routine with a new dog?

Adopted a dog during the vacation and now that you are getting back to your routine, the problems are beginning to arise? Following are some tips to help your dog and your family to overcome the period of acclimatization

Na’ama Rolnik, SPCA Adoption Counselor and dog trainer 

All year long the kids pressured you into adopting a dog and when summer vacation, or perhaps the holiday season, came – you gave in. The decision to adopt a pet during vacation time is indeed a wise decision both for all members of the family and for the animals: the kids played for hours on end with their pet, willingly took the dog out for walks, played with it, took care to feed it and the enthusiasm for the new member of the family was at its height. But now, with the return to routine, reality changes – the kids are at school in the mornings, afterwards they go to their extracurricular activities and to friends and they have much less free time.

It is important to understand that adapting to a new schedule is difficult for all parties, the children and parents who have to get up early and get ready for school and work and for the dogs who till now had been used to hanging out with his gang at home for hours every day.

So how can this difficult period be survived?
You should talk to the children and explain to them in a logical and mature manner that, though the dog might appear to be independent and not in need of being cared for at any given time, he is actually totally dependent on them. Should they not take him out for walks, he is liable to cause damage from boredom, will have to refrain from relieving himself which may lead to medical complications or alternately, will relieve himself in the house, which will lead to family tensions.

Division of responsibilities: It is advisable for all the family to get together and decide how to share the responsibilities of caring for the dog. It must be understood that a child, even a mature and responsible one, cannot take complete responsibility for the care of a dog. He needs help in taking the dog out for walks on occasion, otherwise things will reach crisis level sooner than expected. In order to make it easier on everyone, it is a good idea to draw up a weekly timetable, which will include the various tasks (three walks each day, feeding, combing, etc.) and to place it in a prominent position.

Gradual process: In order to help the dog to adjust to his new situation, try to do everything gradually. In the first few days, try to get home as early as possible and slowly, slowly to stretch the length of time that he is apart from you.

Some important tips:
1. You should avoid lengthy, heartrending farewells when leaving the house and over-enthusiastic reunions upon your return.,

2. Small routine acts that you are used to doing when leaving the house should be changed. For example, if the dog is used to seeing you put on your shoes when you are getting ready to go out, you could put on your shoes and stay in the house.

3. Try to adhere to a set routine as far as possible and maintain set times for meals and walks.

4. Your dog needs to expend his energy, therefore it is important to take him for a long and tiring outing before leaving him alone at home for hours.

This period of adjustment is an important and critical time for many families. Unfortunately, many do not succeed in getting through it and so they decide to give their dog away, something that affects him dramatically. If you do implement the above tips, consult with a professional dog trainer if necessary, and allow the dog and the children enough time for the necessary adjustment, you will gain another loyal family member.

Have you not yet adopted a friend? Come to our Society to find a dog or cat who will give you unconditional love at 159, Herzl Street, Tel Aviv. For further enquiries, please call: *4553.