I'm wondering if anyone has a system created for managing an appropriate staff:dogs ratio to ensure successful behavioural modification outcomes? In other words, applying a "Capacity for Care" concept to canine behaviour programs. How do you strike a balance between staff, number of dogs on behavioural modification programs, and the severity of behavioural issues of dogs in shelter? As there are only so many qualified staff in a behaviour department, how do you determine how many dogs they can work with in a given period, to prevent burnout and promote the best outcomes for Bmod dogs?
I don't have an answer but this is a great question that has not received a lot of attention, I think. But hoping I am wrong!
I imagine that the ratio of behavior specialists to dogs would ideally be the same as number of animal care staff. Depending on the structure and number of behavior staff available, the tougher question might be, which dogs are going receive behavior staff interactions and how to score their severity levels (what is "workable" in the shelter environment). Having a robust foster team that allow sleepovers, field trips, and foster to adopt programs can definitely boost behavior staff morale in my opinion.
Thank you for your reply! Absolutely, having a system that identifies behaviours that can be modified in shelter is a good first step. One idea we had is to breakdown behaviour modification plans by minutes per day; how much time should be dedicated to each dog per day, according to the Bmod program they fall under. And ideally, to have two shorter training sessions per day (vs one longer training session) per dog. When each dog enters the Bmod program, we can allocate mins/day into a spreadsheet. Then, we can cross reference this with mins per day that our behaviour team has. The goal is to not exceed idea mins/day/dog and total staff mins - as our behaviour team also needs to dedicate time each day to completing paperwork, assisting adoptions, etc. Of course, these time allocations are approximate; time per day may differ in reality, but were hoping to use it as a guide.
A robust foster team - that's the plan!
Just wondering if anyone has developed a formal system for this already!
I can put you in touch with our fabulous foster coordinator, Izzy here at Pasadena Humane Society. Izzy introduced foster field trips, sleepovers, and foster to adopt programs after attending a few Maddie's Fund seminars. They have been a total game changer since their implementation. you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I think working with the dogs 2x daily seems feasible and reasonable. We are working on splitting our behavior cases into a few groups - our fearful/retreating/hiding dogs and the mouthy/jumpy/stressed/barking dogs and upfront in kennel growling/lunging/barking/stiff posture dogs. Each of these categories has a person assigned to them and ideally they have a written training protocol and are being worked with 2x daily. I would love to see a spreadsheet that can track this because right now we don't even have training plan spreadsheets! How long are your training sessions in general? I know it depends on the individual animal, but it would be interesting to see how much time other trainers have in the shelter environment.