Animals & Adoption
HHS Thrift Shop
Open Paw Program
Heartland has been an Open Paw shelter since May of 2009. The Open Paw program allows us to utilize volunteers to address our dogs’ emotional and physical well-being. Visiting an Open Paw shelter is a lot different than visiting a regular shelter and we hope you notice the difference when you visit Heartland. The goal of Heartland’s Open Paw program is to decrease stress and increase the adoptability of our dogs so that they get a home more quickly and stays in the home once there.
The Open Paw program requires that we do things differently here; dogs are fed differently and volunteers interact with them differently to maximize the value of their time spent with the dogs.
Commonly Asked Questions about the Open Paw Program:
Why don’t the dogs eat out of bowls?
The dogs here get part of their ration from Kongs and the other part is hand-fed to them throughout the day. This lengthens the amount of time it takes for them to eat their meal, stretching out the pleasurable activity for most of the day. Eating out of Kongs reduces stress by fulfilling a desire to chew, and hand-feeding allows dogs to form positive associations with visitors coming by their kennel, reducing stress-, or fear-related behaviors.
Why can’t I just walk a dog?
Just walking a dog is fine, but training him and working with him while you do it is so much better, both for him and for you! We all have very busy lives, so by training volunteers in the Open Paw methods so they can train the dogs while they spend time with them, we are maximizing the value of volunteer time. A shorter session of training and working on leash manners is much more beneficial to a dog here than running around the block. Dogs that have been run for an hour come back amped up and ready for more, while dogs that have had 15 minutes of Open Paw work are exhausted and content.
How do I get started?
Attend a volunteer orientation to get trained in Open Paw 1, Open Paw 2,3, and 4 trainings are scheduled throughout the month. Volunteers are not required to attain proficiency in all 4 levels to interact with the dogs; you can work with them up through the level you’re trained in!