USC Aiken students helping you get well trained pets at the Aiken Animal Shelter


AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – It’s not only a way to get pets adopted at the Aiken County Animal Shelter but it’s also a way for psychology students at the University of South Carolina Aiken to put into practice what they’ve learned about behavior.
“This is great I love dogs and love this class and I love my professor and this is the perfect combination,” Third-year student Samantha Dominguez told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Dominguez is one of the students participating in a collaborative effort in service learning. The effort is apart of Assistant professor Meredith Elzy’s Behavior Modification class.
The class “uses a lot of behavioral principles in the class and I found out it was using a lot of examples pertain to animals, dogs in particular,” Elzy said.

She reached out to staff thinking it would be helpful to get the dogs more adoptable through behavioral training.

In its fifth week, students attended an orientation period and have been training the dogs for about four weeks.

“After this, the students will kind of be on their own and work with the dogs on their own time because they have completed the training lessons as of today,” Elzy said.

Classroom principles as taken on the road, trying to change the dog’s behavior by getting them to sit or heel on command.

“A couple of the dogs that have been recently adopted already have successfully learned how to sit and heel and to make eye contact when called and that is a big step for them because a lot of them are very shy,” Dominguez said.

Students were required to journal about the experience. “They are telling me how much they are getting out of the experience. They get really attached to the dogs,” Elzy said.

The program is helping the staff at the animal shelter get pets new fur-ever homes.

“Sometimes they show up and their dog got adopted so I hear a lot of mixed feelings.  They are sad they don’t have their dogs anymore but they are happy their dog got adopted,” Elzy added.

“We work hard at it and the people that are working here with the university group they have gone out of their way for five weeks to put some training on the dog so anybody who comes to adopt one of those dogs is getting really lucky because the dog already has a good foundation training,” Friends of the Animal Shelter President Susi Miller said.

Dominguez is excited she can help in a small way. “When people see people interacting with them in a more friendly and not skittish way, they are more likely to get adopted. I just love these dogs and I hope you guys will come out an get one.”

If you would like to volunteer your time, the folks at the Animal Shelter say come on by.  All you have to do is register to be a volunteer and they’ll help take care of the rest.

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