Behavior & Training Philosophy

Trainer giving dog a treat reward

Building Stronger Relationships through Positive Reinforcement.

The ARL believes in teaching and rewarding your pet for desirable behavior and redirecting undesirable behaviors to appropriate ones. Training should be fun and rewarding for both you and your dog and it's a great way to develop a bond with your dog. The goal of our training program is to keep your dog in a loving home and to help them become a well-behaved companion.

We offer reasonably priced training classes for people and their dogs, with the proceeds directly helping the pets waiting for their forever homes. All of our classes, from puppy basics to specialty classes, are offered on both weeknights and weekends.

Our knowledgeable instructors use positive-reinforcement training methods. All of our classes are taught using the clicker method, the same training method we use with animals at the shelter. Our instructors regularly attend conferences and education programs to ensure that they are providing the most up-to-date and humane training techniques.


These Five Freedoms are globally recognized as the gold standard in animal welfare, encompassing both the mental and physical well-being of animals; not only should we think of this for organizations that house animals but for our family pet as well:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: by access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor
  2. Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area
  3. Freedom from pain, injury, or disease: by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind
  5. Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering

Animal Stress Reduction

Shelter Stress Reduction is a daily requirement of all Staff/Volunteers that care or handle animals at the Animal Rescue League. By reducing the feelings of stress in our animals it will result in a better experience for all involved — animals and people included. For over a decade we have been working on new and exciting stress reduction practices at the ARL, from the design of the building, staying up-to-date with research, training of staff/volunteers, and understanding each animal’s specific needs and wants.

Animal Care is much more than food, water and disease control. We must ensure that those needs are met, but we also go above and beyond to ensure that their mental wellbeing is of the highest priority. Stress is a normal part of life for all of us but it should not be so overbearing that it changes behavior or causes health related issues.

Each day we provide every animal with the ability to express natural behavior and make Positive Associations at Sub-Threshold (P.A.S.T) with any and all situations that they encounter in our care. This creates a positive association/less stressful aspect of shelter life for our animals. The efforts to reduce stress include but are not limited to, daily Enrichment, the Ability to Express Natural Behaviors, Positive Reinforcement Training, minimizing loud noises, reducing barking (Bark-less Kennels), and Quiet Time. We also minimize smells since dogs and cats have a keen sense of smell and keep familiar items with them throughout their stay.

During medical procedure we also use DAP and Feliway, on surfaces, equipment, and ourselves. When you walk through the shelter you will also hear calming music and see TV’s for visual stimulation.. Lights are switched off throughout the day to allow animals to have down time. When moving a pet around in the shelter, whether it be for a walk outside, physical exam, or behavior evaluation/training, this is done slowly and calmly, avoiding any stimuli that can cause fear, anxiety and stress.