Dog Tags

By isak, March 16, 2009

The Washington Humane Society (WHS) recently launched a brand new program, “Dog Tags,” which provides a very different kind of training to soldiers. Injured soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center come to WHS’s new Behavior and Learning Center, located across the street from the hospital, twice a week to learn and study animal training and behavior. The soldiers in the program work with the homeless animals in the care of WHS. They teach the dogs behaviors that will help them succeed in their new homes, and the soldiers gain new skills, which prepare them for future careers in animal training and behavior.

“The Washington Humane Society is honored to have developed this remarkable relationship with the soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Our training certification program allows the soldiers the opportunity to heal while working with the homeless animals in our care, and when completed, provides the soldiers the certifications necessary to pursue a rewarding career in the animal behavior and training field,” said WHS President and CEO, Lisa LaFontaine. “It is my belief that in addition to adopting animals out and protecting animals from cruelty, it’s important to have programs that bring people and animals together in meaningful ways.”

The program is a 3 tiered, certificate based educational curriculum. Each level of the program is 8 weeks in duration and sequentially builds upon the previous level, giving the soldiers the skill sets that are required to become a professional in the animal training field.

Materials covered in the first 8 week duration include: Philosophies of Training and Learning Theory, Classic & Operant Conditioning Practices, Observation of Canine Body Language, Foundation Obedience Skills, Introduction to Canine Parlor Tricks, and Introduction to Canine Agility Obstacles.

All instruction is based on humane, motivational methods of training. WHS absorbs all related financial costs for this program. Donations can be made in support of this program by visiting

The Washington Humane Society, the only Congressionally-chartered animal welfare agency in the United States, has been the leading voice for animals in the District of Columbia since 1870. As the only open-access shelter in the nation’s capital, no call for help goes unanswered, and no animal is ever turned away. The Washington Humane Society provides comfort and care to more than 20,000 animals each year through its broad range of programs and services including: sheltering, adoption, humane law enforcement, spay and neuter, humane education, human – animal programs, and lost and found services.

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