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Bright Idea: How One Shelter Used Virtual Dog Training to Reduce Adoption Returns

March 22, 2023, The Association

Today, most animal shelters typically see between 7 and 20 percent of pets returned to the organization within the first 6 months of adoption. While we in the profession know that some adoptions are truly not a good fit, we also know that in many cases adopters simply need more support and resources to be successful.

The Center For Animal Rescue & Enrichment of St. Louis (CARE STL) recently teamed up with Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation (RARF) and GoodPup, a positive reinforcement virtual dog-training company, to measure the impact of dog training on their adoption return rate. The results? Encourage and eye-opening…

What: Study on the Impact of GoodPup Dog Training on Adoption Return Rate
When: The study covered a 1 ½ month period from January 14, 2022, through February 27, 2022
Where: CARE STL Adoption Center, St. Louis, MO
How it rolled out: All who adopted at CARE STL during the study period were offered a four-week scholarship package to GoodPup virtual dog training. The scholarship included working one-on-one with top trainers via live chats, and focused on housetraining, essential cues, behavior and socialization.

The results: Before the study, CARE STL averaged a 13% return rate.
After the study:

  • Total Adopters Between 1/14/22-2/27/22: 106
  • Total Clients who did a GoodPup Session: 32
  • Percentage of Clients who Enrolled in Training: 30% 
  • Total Returns: 10.5
  • Return Rate: 9.9%
  • Total Return Rate for Clients who did a GoodPup Session: .5
  • Return Rate after Enrollment in Training: 1.56%

“We were pleased to partner with GoodPup on this initial study for our adopters,” says Weng Horak, Founder and CEO of CARE STL. “Those who participated had a higher rate of staying in the home.” Horak explains that they did not select specific adopters or dogs for the study. “GoodPup gave us 40 vouchers for training scholarships, and everyone was offered a four-week scholarship package for free during the assigned period. We discussed the promotion with them at the time of adoption, and marketed it on social media as an incentive for adoption.”

Post-study, CARE STL continues to offer adopters GoodPup vouchers for one free class, and have received great feedback. The adopter of Loki (top photo), for example, successfully introduced her new dog to her two resident canines, thanks to GoodPup’s program. “Loki and her boxer brothers are finding their groove,” shared Loki’s new mom. “Training has been a tremendous help, and we have been good about sticking to 3 daily training sessions with all 3 dogs. Our hearts are so full, and we are so grateful.”

Do you offer training resources to your adopters? If so, has it impacted your return rates? Find out more about GoodPup’s shelter program here.

About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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