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Pet Parenting Assistance

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach

Pet parenting assistance is crucial to successful adoptions. Preparing pet owners for a new pet and assisting pet owners with the adjustment and bonding period with their new pet is very important.

Shelter sponsored classes are a blend of education, professional show-and-tell, and G-rated entertainment suitable for the entire family. Pet parenting classes are be offered prior to adoption as a way of helping new owners with what’s to come or after adoption to give new adopters a chance to ask questions and observe successful pet partnerships.

The following handout includes a sample outline for a dog parenting class and tips and advice for any type of pet parenting class. A similar outline with appropriate modifications could also be followed for cat parenting.

Dog Parenting Class
(Suggested Program Length: 1 1/2 to 2 hours)

1. Introduction


Participants – what kind of dog do they own (or hope to own) – how old, what breed type/mix?

2. The New Arrival

Your dog’s personality (breed characteristics)

What to expect

Dog Behavior – pack animals/language

3. Family Responsibilities

Feeding (adults and pups)

House rules


4. Housebreaking Crating

Chewing (toys, bones)


5. Grooming (demonstration)

Grooming tools

Toenail trimming

Ear cleaning

Teeth cleaning

6. Health Care

The role of the veterinarian

Brief descriptions of common diseases (heartworm, parvo)

Importance of preventive veterinary care

Giving pills and liquid medication (demo)

Spaying and neutering

7. Basic Obedience

Training tools – what’s humane and what’s not

Basic obedience – sit, stay, down, come

Tricks for fun

Obedience classes

8. Resources

Free literature available from shelter

Recommended books

9. Questions and Answers


Tips and Advice for Pet Parenting Classes

1. Instructors must be very knowledgeable about their topic and should convey a sense of confidence.

2. Always use a well-trained animal for demos. Remember the instructor and the animals become role models for the attendees.

3. Use a lot of props – brushes, toys, scratching posts, leashes, crates, etc.

4. A flyer promoting the clinic and listing future dates should be given to every adopter.

5. Hold the clinics at the same time every month so that staff can easily inform interested people of upcoming dates.

6. At least one staff member should be adequately trained to instruct each class in the event that a volunteer instructor cancels.

7. The classes are excellent training workshops for new staff and volunteers.

8. It is helpful to have a staff person at each class to answer any shelter-related questions.

9. The classes do not have to be held at the shelter. Any place where animals are permitted and that can accommodate an audience is suitable.

Courtesy of

424 East 92nd St.
New York, NY 10128-6804
(212) 876-7700



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