Issue 122 – Trainers’ Diaries

The trainer’s job is so much more than teaching animals ‘how to be obedient’. It requires a lot of patience, heart and problem-solving to nurture, rehabilitate and socialise the rescue animals that arrive at our centres to get them ready for adoption.

Here’s what the average day looks like for our trainers at the SPCA.


Dog Trainer


Today I worked on socialising and conditioning Apollo (PN 557872). Apollo was previously in our hospital with tick fever after he was found as a stray with 200 ticks on his body. Upon our initial meeting, he was trembling with fear, and I just stayed by his side quietly doing nothing. I let him sniff me and get used to my presence and he slowly began to trust me. Taking him down to our adoption centre from our hospital was not easy as he was too scared to leave. We had to carry him down.


After a few mornings working on socialisation and getting Apollo familiar with his new living space, I took him around our new Tsing Yi Centre to explore, and did some training exercises with him on the rooftop. We explored different areas of our Tsing Yi Centre, and I will work on eventually extending our radius to the car park of our Centre.


Today, I took Apollo back to our office to get him familiar with different people and noises.


Today he finally lay down to rest and became ‘calm relax’, which is a great sign as it shows he has become more comfortable with his surroundings.
After today, I am confident with Apollo’s progress and will work on exploring further beyond our Centre next week.


Behaviour & Training Assistant


Pei Pei (PN 550718) required physiotherapy for his hind leg after recovering from surgery for a broken femur.
He suffered a significant loss in muscle mass and was not comfortable letting people put on his harness – occasionally snapping and growling. Upon his arrival at the Wan Chai Centre, he was not brave enough to leave the confines of our parking lot or walk up or down stairs, often growling and clawing the floor.


Today at physio, we are working on building up the muscle in Pei Pei’s hind leg. He was too afraid to climb up to the water treadmill, so the physiotherapist and I worked together to develop some other exercises he could do to build up the strength in his back leg. We laid out Cavaletti poles and made him walk over these repeatedly until he no longer needed to use his strong leg to compensate, and then would raise the poles a little bit higher.


In between physio sessions, I will use a peanut ball and guide him to step across a few short jumping fences to exercise his hind leg muscle. I will practise with him for half an hour each day.


It’s been a few weeks now and we have completed Pei Pei’s physio sessions. I have started to take him to explore the outside world.
At first, he was hesitant but eventually he realised he could go to the dog park and walking him became easier. Although he does not play with other dogs, he is very happy to be amongst his friends and even sat outdoors with me today, which is a good sign as it shows he is able to relax. Although we still have some work to do, I am so pleased with Pei Pei’s progress, and it’s very rewarding to see all this hard work pay off.

To learn more about Pei Pei’s story, click here.


Behaviour & Training Trainee


Today I assessed two new puppies Bob (PN 560951) and Sau Sau who have just arrived at the SPCA. Before they can go to our adoption centre for rehoming, we use the ASPCA Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming (or ‘SAFER’).

This test helps us to identify risks and needs for individual behavioural support before an animal is homed. It assesses the dog’s comfort level ranging from 0-5 (with 5 being the best) on areas such as restraint and touch, eye contact, behaviour around food and toys, and arousal level toward other dogs. Sometimes restraint can be difficult for young, energetic puppies who just want to play and explore, but both Bob and Sau Sau have performed well.

They also showed no signs of resource guarding when I took away their toys and treats and passed their assessment with flying colours. They can now go up to our adoption centre to wait for their new homes.


Good news! Sau Sau has been adopted. Both are sweet dogs and should transition well to their new future homes. I hope someone will adopt Bob soon.

Did you know that the SPCA offers group and private behavioural and training classes? Once you have adopted a dog from us, we provide one free consultation to help you successfully transition your rescue dog to your home.

Get in touch and book a session at 2232 5567 or email

The daily care, medical and training needs of these animals would not be possible without our Animal Sponsorship Programme. We rely on your continued support to provide training and rehabilitation to our rescue animals.

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Issue 122 – 2024 MAR – AUG