There are a lot of skills you may have to offer when volunteering to help at an animal rescue shelter. It is a given that you already love animals, want to help alleviate some of the work that understaffed animal rescue workers are forced by economic constraints to work under, and you want to be of service to your community.
There will be a lot expected of you as a volunteer. A love and understanding of animals, for their care and welfare, is a big plus in your favour. A positive can-do attitude with lots of energy is sure to make you a welcome addition to animal rescue shelters:
The three most important skills you can bring with you, or learn on the job are:
- A good understanding of the basics of dog body language, and, also your own body’s responses to the dog. If you like animals, they will sense it. If you fear an animal, they will sense that too. A strange dog, especially in a traumatic rescue situation will need extra special care, but letting the dog know you are there to help them, requires patience. The tone of voice is important too in this situation.
- Communications: If asked to walk a dog, you need to report all findings of the dog’s likes, his behaviour, and if there are any medical concerns you feel might need attending to.
- Knowledge of positive reinforcement training.
These last two are self-explanatory, but communication is vital in any situation. The staff will obviously let you know what you need to, and perhaps there is volunteer training where the skills you need can be learned on the job. Always be honest, as if you don’t ask for help in something you don’t know, you may get into difficulties which affect not only yourself but the animals too.