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Shelter Dog Behavior Programs

Shelter Dog Behavior Programs

The SPCA Behavior Department does much more than just offer group class instruction and private behavioral services. Every day we receive dogs in the shelter that need extra care, and that’s where these two programs help. Our behavior staff are highly trained, compassionate individuals who are passionate about helping shelter pets find new homes.

Ruff Start:

Ruff Start is a resident program for dogs needing time away from the shelter, extra training, or medical recovery. Dogs stay for up to two months with inmates at Salinas Valley State Prison who are trained to work with these dogs. Dogs that we send to Ruff Start can be shy or fearful, overly rambunctious, or just simply need a break from being in the shelter. We also send medical recovery cases down to the prison where our inmate trainers care for the physical needs of these dogs. Read more about this program here.


TLC in our shelter stands for Treatment, Learning, and Compassion. TLC dogs are those that need behavioral training and rehabilitation, as well as medical treatment to become adoptable pets. Most of our TLC dogs are behavior cases, and have entered the shelter as strays or surrenders. These dogs can be fearful, shut down, anxious, reactive, jumpy, or just untrained. TLC behavior specialists assess each dog, create individual behavioral training plans, and help give these dogs the skills and confidence they need to be adopted. Read more about this program here.


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