We managed to find 2 new volunteers to visit the shelter and walk dogs since the last newsletter, so many thanks to Jacky and Ben for their input and enthusiasm. Even with these new additions, we are still struggling to maintain a regular presence as life and other priorities always get in the way at some point. It is always hard to find time for a regular commitment, but even if a few of us maintain a presence as and when we have time, it can only be good for the dogs.
We are now keeping a diary of all volunteer visits so that we can collect data about the numbers of dogs walked/groomed etc. on a regular basis. If anyone out there is prepared to give up some occasional time or has ideas about how we can increase the number of volunteers visiting the shelter, please contact me.
During the last quarter of the year our fund raising plans moved onto arts and crafts activities as per our plan to try out different fund raising methods this year. We were kindly assisted by the Art Media Hotel in Zanjic who allowed us to take over their outdoor terraces in September for a day long arts and crafts event, which raised over 700 euros in sales and donations. We also had a stall on 2 consecutive Sundays before Christmas at the Regent Hotel’s Christmas Fair, which brought in a total of 350 euros in sales and donations. See page 3 for details. We also received generous donations with thanks from NT Realty and Dragan Mirosavljevic. See page 5 for a full breakdown of our fundraising in 2015.
In December we used the fund raised at the summer craft fair to build corrugated roof shelter all around the end of the outside run area. This will provide much needed rain shelter, and also shade in the hot summer months. Ideally we would also like to put some panels along the back fence, as this will to improve the shelter when wind is blowing, and also increase the shade available. Any contractors out there with any spare panels – please get in touch!
Since we added the various new fences to make more separate runs, it is good to see that many more dogs are now able to spend regular time out of the kennels. Priorities for next year will include improvements to the quarantine area, indoor kenneling, and concreting external floors. Ideally we would also like to create a fenced area on the grass for dog training and socialising activities, which could also be used as an area to allow potential adopters to meet dogs.
TIPS ON DOG TRAINING
Adapted from www.dogstrust.org.uk factsheet
Dogs are basically simple creatures who will respond well to anyone who gives them clear instructions, routine, regular exercise, praise, love and shelter. Training can be started at any age, the sooner the better. Older dogs are also receptive to training, although some may be less keen or less quick to learn than a younger dog. In order to be effective and to gain the best results, all training should be based around positive rewards. Positive reward training works because if you reward your dog with something he wants as soon as he does what you ask, he is far more likely to do it again. Rewards can be anything that your dog or puppy really wants and could include; food treats, a favourite toy, playing a certain game or getting a pat. If you are using food treats, you will need to reduce the size of your dog's normal meals or use his whole meal divided up into smaller portions, to prevent your dog putting on weight. Always combine the giving of a reward with verbal praise such as "Good dog".
When teaching a new command, you will need to reward your dog every time that he does what you ask correctly. Once he has the hang of the command, however, it’s a good idea to change the way you reward by only giving the reward every now and then, because this will make your dog try harder for it. Always verbally praise your dog each time, even if he is not being rewarded with a treat.
Why punishment doesn't work
Punishment should never be used in training.
If you punish your dog, it will only teach himmay break down completely.
Avoid punishment in training (and everyday life) by trying the following – it’ll be far more effective and could improve your relationship with your dog:
Reward all wanted behaviour – so that your dog is likely to repeat it in the future.
Ignore unwanted behaviour – so that your dog is less likely to repeat it.
Avoid triggering the unwanted behaviour – avoidance prevents the unwanted behaviour from happening in the first place!
Where unwanted behaviour cannot be ignored or avoided, train an alternative, acceptable behaviour for your dog to perform instead. It is much easier to train a dog to do something else that you don’t mind, than to train him to completely stop something that you do not like. For example, if your dog jumps up at people, teach him a really good ‘sit’ command and ask for this when meeting others. If he is rewarded with treats and attention every time hesits, he’ll soon automatically be doingthis when he meets people, instead of jumping up!
TRY THIS AT HOME:
Five basic commands that are useful for your dog to know are; sit, down, stay, come and walking nicely on the lead. Here is how you can start by training your dog to sit on command:
Have your dog standing in front of you.
Show him that you have a food treat in your hand.
Slowly move your hand and treat above and over his head towards his tail, as you give the command "sit".
His head should go up as he tries to reach the treat, and his bottom should go down into the 'sit' position. Do not push his bottom down to make him sit, as he is likely to push up against your hand as a result and this may hurt his back – just keep practicing if it takes him a while to understand.
Give him the treat and praise him.
2015 - A QUICK REVIEW
We have achieved many things this year, and continue to raise the profile of the shelter and the needs of stray dogs in many ways. However, direct work with dogs and increasing adoptions is the area in which we have made least progress, and remains priority. There are still too few dogs being adopted from the shelter. I believe that this is partly due to the cultural reluctance to take shelter or mixed breed dogs, but also we could improve our coordinated efforts in partnership with shelter staff to really ”advertise“ and promote dog adoption locally. We also need to try and focus more work on reducing the stray dog population and preventing the abandonment of dogs through more outreach events.
In total we raised 4114.25 euros this year, through a number of different events. A breakdown of how we raised funds is shown in the graph below. This is a brilliant achievement all round, and we have a surplus of 728.88 to carry over into this year. The funds have all been spent on shelter improvements, and dog food, and a full breakdown is available for anyone who is interested in more information. Many thanks to all who have helped during the year, and all who have donated.
What we achieved
Road sign erected on main road
Pub Quizzes x 2
Craft fairs x 3
Set up voluntary organisation (*NGO)
Kept a record of volunteer visits
Provided all new volunteers with copies of volunteers guidelines
Installed heat lamps and encouraged their use as needed
Erected shade in main compound
Added several new fences to separate main outside run into smaller areas to allow more dogs out on a regular basis
Areas where we made progress but could do better!
Volunteer to help with general maintenance
Improved links with Tierhilfe Montenegro
Provided information for people taking dogs from the shelter
Looked at ways to improve how dogs are shown to potential adopters
Improved media links
Increase use of display board
% of Funds Raised by Activity/Type
Made links with schools
Identified corporate donors
What we didn’t achieve
Increase the number of volunteers working with dogs on a regular basis
Improve sleeping platforms/indoor kenneling
Develop long term vision of bigger improvements, and draft a concept design to estimate funds needed
AIMS FOR 2016
One off donations
Misc jam and chutney sales
Misc craft sales
Improve our on-line presence via Facebook and website
Undertake more outreach with our display board
Improve links and outreach into schools
Build on what has worked regarding fund raising events, such as quizzes and craft events, and try some new things such as a photographycompetition/exhibition, raffles, collection boxes and bids to corporate donors
Provide better information for people taking or planning to adopt dogs from the shelter
Improve liaison with shelter vet service
Support initiatives to improve the health of shelter dogs, such as trying to find funding for scalibor collars
Explore ways to increase the number of dogs adopted∙ Increase the number of volunteers working directly with dogs at the shelter
Continue with shelter improvements as possible, especially quarantine area and kenneling.