Canine College Volunteer Job Description

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To become educated in Our Companion’s Canine College dog training program and related positive reinforcement methods. This training will allow volunteers to provide clients with training and resources to further the canine/human relationship and resolve canine behavioral concerns. The program’s goals are to keep dogs in their original homes and help dogs become more adoptable.


Canine College Manager


All volunteers must meet the cognitive and physical requirements to safely perform their tasks, work independently, follow verbal and written instructions, and effectively communicate with staff, other volunteers, and the public. Volunteers must be punctual.

There are various volunteer opportunities within Canine College. Each has different classrooms and hands-on training requirements. The participation in a particular job requires the approval of the Canine College Manager.

Volunteers under the age of 13 are not permitted to volunteer in this program. Volunteers ages 13-17 may participate with the active and constant involvement of an adult parent/guardian. One guardian per child is required. Specific activities and allowances for minor volunteers will be determined for a guardian/minor team by staff.

Physical requirements:

  • Ability to tolerate dog fur, dander, scratches, bites
  • Ability to be exposed to possible zoonotic diseases
  • Ability to effectively communicate
  • Ability to control a 60-pound dog
  • Ability to stand for a two hour period
  • Ability to quickly respond and react to a dog’s unpredictable actions
  • Ability to withstand seasonal weather variations while teaching dogs outside year ‘round.

Training requirements:

  • Must attend the program’s required classroom training sessions
  • Must be able to read and fully understand instructions and follow directions at all times
  • Must be able to work as a member of a team
  • Must have the ability to work with clients with all types of personalities
  • Must be comfortable being in a room with reactive dogs, some of whom may have a bite history.
  • Ability to follow and respect safety protocols
  • Ability to communicate with the volunteer manager via email/phone when necessary
  • Must have access to email—all volunteer communications are via email.

Duties and responsibilities:

Prior to interacting with dogs or clients all Canine College Volunteers must complete the required Trainer Stage 1 requirements and be actively involved in completing Trainer Stage 2 requirements.

Different positions are available and the responsibilities of each are listed below:

Assistant Trainers

  • Responsible for the Physical set up, and clean-up of the Classroom
  • Follow direction of Head Trainer(s) with respect to Safety concerns and Client advice given
  • Teach Class Segments
  • Give One on one skill assistance
  • Work with clients during class to improve dog attention skills
  • Communicate client concerns to the Head Trainer
  • Attend at least one behavioral evaluation
  • Participate in monthly Canine College Meetings

Head Trainers

  • Oversee, prepare for and manage a complete multi-week class series at least 3 times a year.
  • Prior to the class meeting, develop a lesson plan for each class, and notify the Assistants of their assignments and teaching instructions.
  • Teach class segments
  • Mentor Assistant Trainers & Observers
  • Provide feedback on Observers and Assistants
  • Teach classroom sessions for Observers and Assistants
  • Respond to Client Questions/ Concerns
  • Conduct Private training sessions at the Program Center and/or off-site locations on an as-needed basis
  • Recommend improvements to training methods, and curriculum
  • Open and Close the Building
  • Communicate updates as needed to the Canine College Manager and Canine Operations Director
  • Participate in Monthly Head Trainer and Canine College Meetings

Adopt a Shelter Volunteer

  • One on One teaching of skills to Animal Control Officers
  • Work directly with Impounded dogs to increase adoptability
  • Develop training plans for dogs in local animal control facilities
  • Communicate concerns and progress to ACO’s and the Canine College Manager
  • Participate in Monthly Canine College Meetings

Adoption Showcasing / Meet and Greet Events

  • Show a dog in the rehoming program to potential adopters
  • Communicate with the public at the Meet and Greet Events
  • Maintain the safety of the dog and limit the dog’s stress level

Location of the job:

The main location is the Our Companions Valerie Friedman Program Center. For some classes, there can be local travel.

Time commitment required:

minimum of 8 hours of volunteer time monthly and two hours of education time.

Dress code required:

It is important to look professional to our clients and students while allowing you to be comfortable and protected from the dogs that we interact with. Consider these guidelines when you select your clothes before volunteering:

  • Be aware that any clothes you wear run the risk of being snagged or ripped by a dog. Do not wear your best clothes for training; instead, choose serviceable and durable ones.
  • No open-toed shoes or sandals. Shoes should be sturdy and not easily removed from your feet. The tread should be non-slip.
  • No high heels.
  • No shorts or capris—long pants only. Leggings should be avoided, and more durable and loose fitting pants chosen instead.
  • No dangling jewelry
  • If you have long hair, pin it back or secure it so that your face is visible to the dog.
  • Be aware that if you are wearing sunglasses or a hat of any kind that you may make a dog uncomfortable. Be prepared to remove them so that you can work through the issue. If you are working with a dog with a known bite history, do not wear a hat that obscures your face unless it is part of a behavioral treatment plan.
  • Shirts and pants should be comfortable and non-restraining. When the weather permits, chose a long-sleeved shirt or sweatshirt, and durable pants. The more layers you wear, the more your skin is protected.

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