Intro To Dog Training, The Positive Way!

Intro To Dog Training, The Positive Way!

By Lauren Rubin, KPA CTP, CPDT-KA

You CAN teach old dog new tricks! In fact, you can teach any dog any behavior they are physically capable of doing with positive reinforcement training. Everything from shake to rehabilitating aggressive dogs is possible. Positive reinforcement lets you take something your dog loves and use it to build strong behaviors while changing old habits.

The first step is finding what reinforces your dog’s behavior. A reinforcer is anything (toys, food, petting) that increases your dog’s desire to repeat a behavior. If you give your dog a treat for sitting, and your dog starts to sit more, then that treat is reinforcing. If your dog gets on the counter and finds a turkey sandwich, then starts counter surfing, that sandwich is reinforcing. If you ask your dog to lie down, and then say “good boy!” but your dog does not start laying down more, then praise is likely not reinforcing to that dog. Finding your dog’s favorite items is the first step to successfully training behaviors.

Once you find out what your dog loves, you can begin the training process. Positive reinforcement training is typically divided into two parts: management and training. When you are changing old habits, it’s important to note the training will only be effective with management in place.


Dogs do what works. It’s really that simple. If your dog has an undesirable habit (such as counter surfing), ask yourself “what does my dog get out of this situation?” With counter surfing, it’s food. With barking at the door, it may be getting the scary person who rang the bell to go away. With peeing in the house, it’s the relief that comes with urinating. All of these things are reinforcing your dog for the wrong behaviors. In order to change these habits, you need to remove the reinforcement that goes with them.

It’s incorrect to say that positive trainers ignore bad behavior. This style of training isn’t permissive – it’s smart! Rather than setting your dog up for failure and then scaring or harming them to stop behavior, try preventing your dog from making the wrong choices. Then you can teach them an incompatible behavior. Once your dog understand what you want them to do, the management can go away because your dog no longer needs the old behavior to get what they want. Here are some examples:

  1. Your dog pees in the house: keep your dog tethered to you so you can supervise them, and set an alarm to take them outside every hour.
  2. Your dog barks at the doorbell: ask visitors to text you instead of ringing the bell to prevent your dog from barking.
  3. Your dog jumps on visitors: keep your dog behind a gate or door so they can’t reach guests.

Management is all about preventing the wrong behaviors. Think about what you want to change, and ask yourself “What could I put in place to stop my dog from being able to do this behavior?” Once you can stop the incorrect behavior, you can begin to train the right one.


With management in place, you can begin training! Positive reinforcement means rewarding behavior that you like and want to see more of. The first step is to use something your dog loves (food, toys, physical affection) and give it to your dog immediately after you get the behavior you like. For example:

  1. Your dog pees outside: say “good dog!” and immediately give them a delicious treat.
  2. Ring your doorbell: before your dog can start barking, say “good dog!” and bounce a tennis ball for them.
  3. Visitors come over: keep your dog on leash and have guests drop treats at their feet as your dog approaches them. They can begin petting while your dog is eating the food with four feet on the floor.

The most important part of positive reinforcement is to notice the behavior you want to see again (sitting calmly, laying calmly, walking nicely) and reward it with something they love. Remember, if you don’t start to see your dog doing the behavior more often, then whatever you are using is not reinforcing enough. Some behaviors will require more nuanced and complex styles of training – cases of aggression, anxiety, and fearfulness should be reviewed by a certified trainer or veterinary behaviorist.  If you need additional help, see Greenhill’s trainer referral list for great resources in the area!

Greenhill Humane Society Reunites Lost Pig With Her Family

Eugene, OR – (December 27, 2019) –Greenhill Humane Society

On Monday, December 24th a Good Samaritan in the Thurston area called Greenhill Humane Society to report a large, stray pig found on their property.  Greenhill staff assisted the family and by Monday evening the pig was resting comfortably in Greenhill’s animal care facility located in West Eugene. 

It took 4 days for Suzie’s owner to connect with Greenhill because in their words, “why would a dog and cat shelter have our pig?”  Greenhill notes that in addition to caring for thousands of lost or homeless dogs and cats each year, they also care for a variety of other species. 

“So far in 2019 we have cared for 18 different species and reunited over 850 companion animals* with their families, including cats, dogs, birds, chickens, goats, rabbits, tortoises, and now a pig,” says Cary Lieberman, Greenhill’s Executive Director.  “We’re pleased to work with local animal welfare officers, law enforcement officers and Good Samaritans who bring us lost animals every day of the year.  For the health of our community, it’s crucial that Greenhill is here to provide a safety net for these vulnerable animals, including secure shelter, healthy food and when necessary, medical care.”

Suzie’s family members were thrilled to be reunited with her earlier today.  They were first notified Friday morning that she was being cared for by Greenhill thanks to a comment from a Greenhill staff member on their “lost pig” Facebook post.  “Pigs are not generally microchipped,” notes Lieberman, “which can make locating their owner a little more difficult.”

Tonight Suzie is safe at home with her loving family who says they will keep a closer eye on her in the future.

To reunite lost animals faster, Greenhill recommends that your companion animal should always wear current and accurate identification, including a tag with a working phone number and a microchip in case their identification comes off. If your pet is microchipped, confirm that the contact information is up to date.

If you have lost or found a pet, immediately contact your local animal welfare office.

• Cottage Grove – Humane Society of Cottage Grove: 541.942.3130
• Eugene – Eugene Animal Services: 541.687.4060
• Unincorporated Lane County – Lane County Animal Services: 541.682.3645
• Springfield – Springfield Animal Control/Police Dept.: 344 A Street: 541.726.3634
• Veneta – Veneta Animal Control/City Hall: 88184 8th street: 541.935.2191

Learn more at
To learn more about Greenhill or to see the animals in their care, visit

Greenhill Humane Society: Greenhill Humane Society has been caring for animals in Lane County since 1944.  It is a private, non-profit organization that relies on charitable donations.  Greenhill operates two shelters in Eugene, Oregon, 88530 Green Hill Road and 3970 West 1st Avenue.  We envision a community in which all companion animals have loving homes and are treated with compassion and respect.

Achieve your New Year’s Resolutions with animals!

As 2020 approaches consider adding a furry friend to your family, volunteering with homeless animals or fostering kittens or puppies as they prepare for their forever home. Having animals in your life can be a great way to help achieve your New Year’s Resolutions while helping the animals in our community.

Reduce stress – Had a bad day at work or school? Imagine coming home to your adorable best friend who can’t wait to see you! Your pet promises to love you unconditionally, plus, cuddling with an animal can have a calming effect, reducing blood pressure and relieving stress.

Weight loss – Together, you and your pet can improve your health by increasing physical activity all while strengthening your bond. Regular exercise burns more calories, reduces appetite, changes body composition and will increase your resting metabolic rate. Great benefits for you and your pet!

Sleep better – Having a pet in your home can provide a sense of security and reduce feelings of stress, allowing better rest.

Socialize more – Take your pet on an adventure by going to a local dog park, out on a hike or to a community pet-friendly event. Or consider volunteering at Greenhill where you can cuddle with cute animals and meet like-minded people.

Get crafty – Try making your pet some delicious, healthy homemade treats or collect household items to make the perfect new toy or bedding.

Having a four-legged animal in your life can bring so much joy and help create new healthy habits!

Holiday Survival 101: Pets and the Holidays

Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer

The most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching, and both the fun and the responsibility are doubled when you have pets. Whether your holidays will be spent traveling, cooking, decorating, or gift-giving, follow these tips to make sure you and your pets have a safe and happy holiday season.

Safe Travels

If you’re traveling during the holidays to visit family and friends, you may wonder whether your pet would prefer to come along or stay home. Much of this depends on your pet’s personality. Dogs sometimes enjoy traveling, but generally, most pets prefer to stay in their familiar environment. If you’ll be gone for less than a week, or will be flying, the best solution may be to hire a pet sitter who can stay at your home or check in regularly to make sure your animals are comfortable.

If you decide to travel with your pet, remember that you’ll need to bring all the comforts of home, including food, bedding, toys, dishes, a leash, etc. Depending on your pet’s breed and personality, you may also need a carrier or crate to transport them and to be their home away from home. If you’re driving a long distance, stop regularly for water and/or potty breaks.

Make sure that whoever you’re visiting is comfortable with the extra guest you’ll be bringing. If you’re staying in a hotel or AirBnB, check ahead to ensure that they’re pet-friendly and can accommodate your furry family member.

Toxic Holiday Foods

Humans enjoy lots of yummy treats during the holidays. There’s no reason your pets can’t too but make sure they’re animal-safe. Common holiday goodies like chocolates, fruitcake and alcohol are toxic to pets, so pick up a box of dog biscuits when you’re at the store if you feel like Fido needs a treat.

People treats aren’t the only thing you need to keep away from animals. As you celebrate, make sure that things like bread dough, raw meat, onions and garlic are out of your pet’s reach.

Other Holiday Toxins

Medications that you or your guests use should also be safely locked away. All medicines, including pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, NSAIDS, ibuprofen, antibiotics, cough drops and eye drops may help you feel better, but they won’t do the same for your pets.


Holiday plants like poinsettias, Christmas cactus, mistletoe and holly are pretty, but dangerous to pets. Keep them out of reach and be vigilant about picking up fallen leaves or petals. Or purchase an imitation plant at the store and save yourself the bother of watering!

Avoid tree preservatives and keep your pet away from the Christmas tree stand so they can’t drink the water or tip the tree. To make your Christmas tree extra safe, get covers for the Christmas light wires, or tuck them away where they won’t be accessible for curious kitties to play with. Tinsel is another hazard that can be very tempting to cats, but dangerous if ingested.

Make sure that breakable or salt dough ornaments are high enough that your pets can’t get at them, and position candles out of reach of wagging tails.

Safe Gifts for Pets

It’s natural to want your pets to join in the festivities too. If you decide your pet would appreciate a gift, make sure it’s something safe and enjoyable for them. A cozy bed, scratching post, ball thrower, chew toy, or tasty treat can help your pet enjoy the special day along with the rest of the family. Before giving your pet a gift, inspect it to make sure there are no loose threads, broken pieces or sharp edges that could hurt them. Not all toys designed for animals are truly safe, so use good judgment when deciding on pet presents.

Wish list

You and your pet are lucky to have each other, but not everyone is so fortunate. One great way to spread holiday cheer is to help animals who are still waiting for their home for the holidays. If you’d like to help Greenhill Humane Society keep homeless animals safe and cozy this holiday season, please check out our wish list at

From our family to yours, we hope your holiday season is safe, merry and bright!


Santa Paws at 5th Street Public Market

*Calendar Alert*

Santa Paws at 5th Street Public Market

‘Tis the Season for pet photos with Santa

What: Santa Paws

Who: Greenhill Humane Society & 5th Street Public Market

When: Sunday, December 1, 2019, 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: 5th Street Public Market

Details: This holiday season, get your pet portrait with Old St. Nick on Sunday, December 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 5th Street Public Market. There will be a pet costume contest with prizes for best pet-human costume and best pet costume. 

Along with pet portraits with Santa, Sweet Cheeks Winery will be offering tastings of their “Winery Dog” art series label 2016 Pinot Noir and 2016 Pinot Gris which will be available for purchase. 50% of proceeds benefit Greenhill Humane Society’s Capital Campaign to upgrade the facility and continued efforts in finding loving homes for amazing animals!

5th Street Public Market is home to one of Greenhill’s Holiday Giving Trees with ornaments of animals and their wish list item. Visitors are invited to grab an ornament and return to the Market to donate the desired item in the gift bin.

Only dogs and cats are allowed at this event and must be on a leash at all times.

For more information about Santa Paws or Greenhill, please visit

About Greenhill Humane Society

Greenhill Humane Society has been caring for animals in Lane County since 1944.  It is a private, non-profit organization that relies on charitable donations.  Greenhill is located at 88530 Green Hill Road in Eugene.  We envision a community in which all companion animals have loving homes and are treated with compassion and respect.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

7 Great Reasons to Adopt a Senior Pet

Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer

Adopters often come to a shelter wanting to take home a kitten or puppy, but before you set your heart on that tiny, fluffy bundle, you might want to consider adopting a senior pet. Older animals have lots of advantages and there are tons of great reasons to adopt them. Here are just a few:

Good Manners

Many senior pets already have experience living with people, so they’ve learned good manners, mastered basic training like how to use a litterbox, and often know some commands like “sit” and “settle.”

“Chews” Wisely

Older pets tend to be easier on your home and belongings. Younger animals haven’t learned to distinguish what’s okay to destroy and what isn’t. A mature dog is likely to know the difference between a chew toy and your slippers, and an older cat is used to the idea that there’s a designated spot for her to sharpen her claws.

Let’s Relax

Young animals often have boundless energy—which is fun to watch, but can be hard to keep up with. Senior pets are usually more relaxed and have discovered the joys of cuddling together on the couch. And just because an animal is older doesn’t mean they don’t still have plenty of energy to play around with!

Getting to Know You

It can be difficult to tell personality in a puppy or kitten. With an older pet, what you see is what you get. This makes it easier to find the perfect pet for your home and lifestyle, whether you’re looking for a lap cat that will binge-watch Netflix shows with you, or a laid-back dog who will still encourage you to get a daily walk in. 

Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

The saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks simply isn’t true. More mature pets often have the ability to focus better on what they’re being taught, and are especially eager to please their people. They also have plenty of life experience that helps them to be adaptable and settle into the routine of a new household.

Wallet Worries?

Some people worry that their senior pet will come with steep medical expenses. While you should always be financially prepared to take on the responsibility of a new pet, many senior pet owners find that older animals cost less in the long run. They’ve had all their basic shots and vaccinations and have already been spayed or neutered, plus the adoption fee for seniors is often lower than for younger animals.

Attitude of Gratitude

All else aside, there’s something special about senior pets. Many people who’ve adopted older animals comment that these senior souls seem to realize they’ve been given another chance, and are especially grateful and affectionate toward their new family.

Senior pets are wonderful companions who have plenty of love to give. When you’re thinking about adding a new four-legged friend to the family, consider adopting a senior pet. There are plenty of great reasons to do so, not least of which is that you’re giving an animal a new lease on life, providing them with love and comfort during their golden years. Trust us: if you give a senior pet a chance, they’ll find a special place in your heart.

Meet Jack, an 11 year old cat who LOVES to cuddle and be on your lap!

Sources: and

Greenhill to host an animal adoption event as part of the ASPCA® & Subaru Grant Program


October 17, 2019

*Media Advisory*

Greenhill to host an animal adoption event as part of the ASPCA® & Subaru Grant Program

WHO: Greenhill Humane Society and Kendall Subaru of Eugene

WHAT: ASPCA® Subaru Loves Pets Event & promotion: Meet adoptable animals at the shelter that will have reduced adoption fees sponsored by Subaru during the promotion.

WHERE: Greenhill Humane Society at 88530 Green Hill Rd. Eugene, OR 97402

WHEN: ASPCA® Subaru Loves Pets adoption promotion: daily starting Saturday, October 19 through Friday, October 25 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

DETAILS: Greenhill is partnering with Kendall Subaru after receiving a generous grant from the ASPCA, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and Subaru to host the adoption event. Thanks to the generosity of the grant, every adoptable animal will have their adoption fees reduced by a Subaru sponsorship from Saturday, October 19 through Friday, October 25.

Kendall Subaru will participate onsite at Greenhill with giveaways.

To see the selected animals who are participating in the ASPCA® Subaru Loves Pets promotion, look for the special “Sponsored” logo on the pet profiles at Continue to check the Greenhill website as more animals will be selected throughout the week.

To learn more about the ASPCA® Subaru Loves Pets adoption promotion, visit

About Greenhill Humane Society

Greenhill Humane Society has been caring for animals in Lane County since 1944.  It is a private, non-profit organization that relies on charitable donations.  Greenhill is located at 88530 Green Hill Road in Eugene.  We envision a community in which all companion animals have loving homes and are treated with compassion and respect.


The Myth on Black Cats and Halloween

Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer

Black cats have played a starring role in myths and superstitions for centuries—and they still get a lot of attention come October. But what’s the truth about black cats and Halloween?

Is Halloween especially dangerous for black cats?

Although myths of Halloween-related mistreatment of animals abound, they are exactly that—myths. According to the ASPCA, HSUS, and many others, black cats are in no more danger in October than at any other time of year—nor are they more likely to be mistreated than other animals.

Does Greenhill adopt out black cats on and around Halloween?

Absolutely! Black is one of the most common cat colors, so Greenhill almost always has black kitties staying at the shelter. Because of their common coloring, black cats often spend about three times longer at the shelter than other cats, so we don’t want to delay their adoption even further by limiting black cat adoptions in October. If a qualified adopter is interested in adding a dark-furred family member, they are welcome to do so at any time of year!

How do you know black cats adopted during the Halloween season will be safe?

Members of Greenhill’s staff provide extensive counseling to prospective pet parents to make sure the animals in our care go to safe and loving homes where they will be cared for year-round. If problems come up, we are always here to answer questions and provide support, and we offer a guarantee of taking back any of our animals if things don’t work out.

So, if you’re looking for a great way to celebrate Halloween this year, come out to the shelter and meet some of our feline friends. You never know what color kitty will cast a spell on you!

Bonus: Tips for keeping your pets safe this Halloween

Whether you’re bringing a new pet into your home this Halloween or spending the holiday with some familiar furry friends, here are a few tips for keeping them safe and comfortable:

Keep your Halloween candy away from pets. Candy isn’t good for animals, and chocolate can be especially dangerous. If you’d like your pet to enjoy some seasonal treats, pick up some yummies that are specifically designed for animals so you can be sure they’re safe.

Halloween can be hectic, with costumed strangers knocking on the door all evening. Be aware that some costumes can scare your pet, and use caution when answering the door.

Keep your pet in a safe place so they can’t escape through that door you just opened to trick-or-treaters. Making sure your pet’s environment is as familiar and calm as possible will help them to enjoy the holiday and feel safe and cozy this Halloween.

National Preparedness Month: How to Create a Pet Safety Kit

Blog post created by Sam Cryer, Greenhill Humane Society volunteer

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your pet in an emergency? In almost every situation, keeping your pet with you is the best idea. Fortunately, it just takes a little preparation and a basic collection of items to make sure your pet’s needs are met, even if a disaster forces you to evacuate. Learn how to create a pet safety kit that has all the essentials in case you and your pet have to leave home.

Pet Safety Kit Basics

  • Water – Make sure your pet safety kit is stocked with the most basic requirement of all: seven days’ worth of clean drinking water. As well as the water itself, pack a bowl or bottle for your pet to drink from.
  • Food – Your pet safety kit should include enough food to last your pet three to seven days. Food needs to be rotated regularly, so each time you take a trip to stock up on pet food, replace any unused food in your pet safety kit with a new supply.
  • Medicine – If your pet takes medication, be sure to keep extras in your pet safety kit. Ask your vet about buying a small emergency supply, and check with them to see how often you should rotate out medications to make sure they’re still effective.
  • First Aid – Big disasters often come with smaller emergencies. Make sure you have animal-safe first aid supplies on hand to deal with injuries and treat potential problems like shock, poisoning and diarrhea. If you’re not sure what a pet first aid kit should include, check out the ASPCA’s recommendations here.
  • Medical Records – A vet who’s unfamiliar with your pets can give them better care if they have a record of their medical history. Ask your vet for a copy of your pet’s records, so you have them on hand in case your pet needs medical attention.
  • Crates or Carriers – You’ll need to have some way to transport your pets if you have to evacuate. Make sure each of your pets has a travel-safe carrier that can serve as a means of transport and their home away from home.

Pet-Specific Items for Your Pet Safety Kit

In addition to the basics, there are special considerations to keep in mind for specific types of pets:

Dogs: Pack an extra collar or harness and leash, liners for their crate, small garbage bags for picking up poop, and toys to keep them occupied.

Cats: Include a litter box, litter, and a scoop and garbage bag to keep things tidy. Cats can also benefit from toys, and many owners find a pillowcase helpful for transporting a feline companion.

Small Animals: Have enough clean bedding to last a week, and make sure to store an extra water bottle in their carrier so you don’t have to worry about grabbing the one from their cage in an emergency. Include a hide and/or snuggle safe to help them stay safe and warm. 

Birds: Put a blanket or towel in your preparedness kit so you can throw it over their cage to reduce stress from outside stimulation. They will also need clean bedding to line the bottom of their cage.

Reptiles: Be sure you pack a heating device, such as a battery-operated heat pad or hot water bottle, to keep your pet warm. A large enough bowl for soaking is also important to keep your pet hydrated.


Creating a pet safety kit can be done in a day, and is well worth the time and effort. Once you’ve created a pet safety kit, you no longer need to wonder about what will happen to your pet in an emergency. You can rest easy, knowing that you and your pets are prepared for whatever comes your way.


Microchipping and why it’s important

By Katie Barnett, Canine Program Manager

Has your animal ever slipped past you out the front door? Have you let the dog in the backyard only to realize the gate was open? Have you been out of town and your pet sitter called to say your indoor cat had escaped? Like many owners, you may have experienced a similar situation. We all know how heartbreaking it is to have our furry family members lost.

Fortunately, there are many people out there trying to help lost animals find their way home! It’s for this very reason it’s important to have ID on your pets. Dogs should be wearing a name tag with owner information, a license tag and a rabies tag- but we all know that sometimes collars come off and cats can be hard to keep ID on. So what should you do to ensure your information is with your animal? Let me tell you about microchipping!

A microchip is a small, electronic chip (about the size of a grain of rice) that’s implanted in your animal between their shoulder blades. The chip is small and does not affect the animal’s health or movement. They don’t even know it’s there! All microchips have individual numbers that lead back to a company where your personal information is stored. Veterinary offices and your local shelter have a special scanner that can read this number, giving them the information for the company to contact to get you information and return your animal to you.

You might be asking yourself if this is really that important. Well, let me tell you about one of my favorite return-to-owner stories.  Henry the cat was brought into Greenhill Humane Society on Monday, October 22, 2018. He had been hanging around a neighborhood when someone picked him up and brought him to the shelter as a stray. Shelter staff scanned him for a microchip as soon as he arrived. Two seconds into scanning and there it was! We got the number, called the microchip company and were able to get his owners information.

According to the microchip, Henry was missing from Portland! We immediately called the owner and learned that Henry had escaped when they were in Eugene about 1 ½ years ago! The owner rushed in to get him and both Henry and his mom were incredibly excited to see each other again after so long! Henry didn’t have any other form of identification, so without the microchip he may have never made it back to his family.

Henry is only one of hundreds of cases where Greenhill has been able to reunite an animal with its owner because of a microchip. Greenhill Humane Society highly encourages all pet owners to get their animal’s microchipped and make sure to keep your current information updated with the company. You can talk to your veterinarian about microchipping. All animals at Greenhill get microchipped before being adopted. This small thing can make a HUGE difference!