Dog Volunteering Opportunities: 10 Ways to Help Dogs in Your Community

Volunteering and helping dogs across the globe is a core part of our DNA. We regularly contribute and commit to our favorite dog charity — Dogs Playing for Life. And, we take care to create high-quality, American-made products that are Prop 65 compliant, vegan, cruelty-free, and organic. In the spirit of this, we want to give everyone a quick guide to helping dogs in your community.

We know our customers love animals. So, here’s a quick guide to help you find amazing volunteer opportunities near you.

1. Training

Animal shelters have dogs in various age ranges. Many need some type of training or behavior modification. You can volunteer to help train puppies and dogs at your local animal shelter. If your shelter has puppies or young dogs, you might help with crate training and teaching pups basic commands, like sit, stay, come, etc. Some older dogs who land in a shelter have behavior struggles or never receive proper training. You can also work with these dogs to help them learn commands and behavior that make them more desirable for adoption.

Often, troubled dogs simply need love and attention. Positive training can help them find fantastic homes. While a quick call to your local shelter or no-kill charity will likely lead to opportunities, charities like Canine Companions have a strong presence across many American communities.

2. Hygiene

Unfortunately, many dogs that come to an animal shelter have been neglected. Some have been abandoned or confiscated by law enforcement. The signs of neglect and sometimes abuse are easily identifiable because the dogs haven't been groomed or bathed. Similarly, some shelters do not have the staff to maintain the cleanliness of dogs. Volunteering to groom and bathe dogs at your local shelter goes a long way to showing love and care to furry friends.

Here is a great account of someone who regularly grooms and bathes rescued or soon-to-be-rescued animals.

3. Activity

Dogs of all ages need regular exercise and playtime to stay healthy. The kennels at most shelters are not large enough to offer adequate room for dogs to run. Plus, they need fresh air too! You can volunteer to go for a run or walk with dogs in your community shelter. Or, you can spend time playing. This helps keep our canine friends healthy and socialized while awaiting placement with their new forever families. This is the charity we donate to (and sit on the board of) specializes in. But there are plenty of other local charities that provide these services. As a side note, if you have a shelter near you that you believe would benefit from Dogs Playing for Life, give the charity a call. Volunteers travel across the country to provide ample playtime and love to unfortunate pups.

4. Adoption Events

Many animal shelters hold adoption events to find homes for the animals they house. Sometimes these events are at the shelter, but shelters often hold these events off-site. Families, couples, and singles alike attend these events to interact with the shelter's animals and find a pet they can adopt. However, interaction needs to be supervised, and shelters need people to handle the dogs and tell people about each dog's history, personality, and special needs, if applicable.

It’s important to remember that there are always ways to help. You can even invent your own. Check out how this class of young students helped adopt out every pup at their local shelter.

5. Outreach

Partnering with a shelter to help with community educational outreach is another way you can help the dogs in your community. Outreach includes information about adoption, pet care, breeds, and more. You help people understand the adoption process and encourage them to consider the available dogs at the shelter. Additionally, you can keep some dogs out of the shelter when you educate pet owners about pet care and different breeds.

6. Cleaning

Shelters are active places, and they need to be kept clean to provide a healthy environment for the animals who live there. You can volunteer to do general cleaning inside the shelter, scooping poop in the outside kennels, and cleaning indoor kennels. While cleaning isn't the most glamorous activity, it's one of the most needed and most helpful for animal shelters. It prevents dogs from suffering illness because of uncleanly conditions.

7. Transportation

Another way to help dogs in your community is to ensure they get the medical treatment they need from their veterinarian, especially in shelters not located at a vet clinic or animal hospital. You can volunteer to transport dogs to and from the vet for check-ups, shots, and treatment when necessary. Additionally, sometimes dogs need transportation to a foster home. Don't worry, though! You don't have to stick your head out the window and stick your tongue out when volunteering for transportation service. You can leave that to your furry friends.

8. Photography

Animal shelters and dog rescue organizations have websites and/or social media accounts. The needs of the animals come first, so sometimes websites and accounts get neglected. You can volunteer to take quality photos of dogs for shelters if you have camera skills. This helps keep everything updated and attracts more people to adopt dogs who need a loving home.

9. Administrative

Work Shelters have loads of paperwork, like any other organization. Administrative work is a catch-all that includes various ways to help a shelter. You can file paperwork, help with data entry, answer the phone, update websites, post about the shelter's dogs on social media, and do other things. If you want to help dogs but don't necessarily want hands-on work, helping with administrative tasks frees up others to engage with a shelter's dogs.

10. Fostering Dogs

Shelters are often full or overcrowded during certain times. Other times, some dogs need individualized attention that they won't get in a shelter. Pet foster parents are a crucial part of adoption and shelters. A dog often behaves differently when they settle in a home compared to a shelter. When you foster dogs, you see their personalities come out and learn their habits, strengths, and weaknesses. You can share what you learn about your foster dog, making finding them a permanent home much easier.

A Final Word

We are very passionate about this subject (we have personally adopted and saved all of our dogs from shelters with kill policies). But it’s important to remember that volunteering with dogs isn’t for everyone. Some of these dogs are aggressive, formerly abused, and emotionally scarred. You need to be careful, loving, and extremely forgiving to work in these environments. If you do not feel comfortable in that type of environment, you can always donate money or use your skillset to provide value to these charities. There are a million ways to help, you just need to find the way that makes the most sense for you.

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