nav open nav close
Contact Donate
Adopt Donate

Open Paw Program - Training for volunteers working with our dogs

Open Paw dog training is a prerequisite if you would like to work with our canine friends. For volunteers interested in walking a dog (Level 3 training), satisfactory completion of both sessions of the Open Paw training plus two additional evaluation walks with senior volunteers are required. Training sessions begin at 6:00 PM and take about 1.5 hours each.

Open Paw® training is valuable because it provides insights in the proper ways to manage dogs, even for people who have had dogs as pets for years.

To attend Open Paw training, you must first attend a Volunteer Orientation and have a Criminal Record Check on file with us. There is a registration fee of $25 for Open Paw training; it is paid when registering online.

Satisfactory completion of Level 3 training means that a volunteer can walk dogs that have no significant behavioural issues, at any time the centre is open, and in the evenings after the centre is closed to the public. Volunteers completing level 3 training and who wish to be involved with dog training, as well as walking dogs classified as Level 4 or 5, will be required to complete additional training under the supervision of the Project Leader for each of these dogs.

We are only able to work with six participants for the Open Paw sessions. If the Open Paw session is full, you will need to enrol in the available session. Thank you for your understanding!

We teach Open Paw training for dogs about eight times each year. It is a program developed by Dr. Ian Dunbar specifically for shelter dogs and cats. It teaches volunteers how to consistently and safely handle the dogs and cats. It provides the dogs and cats with opportunities to become better behaved and thus more adoptable. It also provides mental stimulation and physical exercise for the dogs (and volunteers).

The manual explaining the techniques is attached. It explains all 4 levels.

If you have questions, please contact us at