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Behavior & Enrichment Academy and Resources (BEAR)

At the end of this rigorous multi-phase, year-long educational program, participants will be prepared to perform the key tasks of a shelter behavior professional. Consisting of approximately 200 hours of hybrid learning, participants will learn about the key aspects of:

·       Training and behavior modification for multiple species.

·       Creating behavior-related programs, including for multi-species enrichment.

·       Incorporating behavior and training into all aspects of sheltering.


The BEAR program incorporates significant coaching and feedback on training, behavior modification and behavioral observations, so we recommend that participants are prepared to spend several hours per week on the program for successful completion.

This program is suited for private trainers looking to transition into sheltering, and individuals who currently work or volunteer in a shelter and want to transition to a behavior role. This program is also beneficial for individuals who want to incorporate behavior-related tasks into their existing role, including veterinary staff who want to include low stress and/or fear free handling into their practice.   


The BEAR program is divided into three distinct phases. Successful completion of each phase is required to move on to the next phase.

The program will be delivered via online modules completed through a learning management system, live  Zoom sessions, and live week-long workshops at San Diego Humane Society in San Diego, California.

Phase one

BEAR Necessities (Online): In this initial phase of the program, we will be exploring the necessary and foundational concepts for your journey to becoming a shelter behavior professional.... the BEAR Necessities! This set of online courses will cover key concepts that include how animals learn and communicate, positive reinforcement-based training and behavior modification, ethics related to sheltering and animal training, and enrichment in the shelter environment, including the implementation of playgroups. ($500/person)

BEAR Necessities Workshop (In-person): The prerequisite for the first workshop is successful completion of the BEAR Necessities modules. This hands-on workshop will build on the content in the BEAR Necessities modules and consists of five consecutive days during which participants will demonstrate safe handling, defensive handling, behavior modification for cats and dogs, low stress handling for cats and dogs, and manage safe inter-dog interactions. ($1,200/person)

Phase two

BEAR Fundamentals (Online): The second phase of the BEAR program explores the differences between evaluations and assessments, types of evaluations, risk assessment, gathering and documenting objective behavioral information, identifying manageable behavioral concerns, prioritizing interventions to focus on behaviors that may limit opportunities for placement, and engaging with community members in a variety of situations. ($500/person)

BEAR Fundamentals Workshop (In person): The prerequisite for the first workshop is successful completion of the BEAR Necessities modules and hands-on workshop as well as the BEAR Fundamentals modules. This hand-on workshop will build on all of the previous content and consists of five consecutive days during which participants will engage in conducting evaluations, identifying and problem-solving behavior concerns, conducting risk assessments, creating behavior modification plans for multiple species, and working with the public. ($1,200/person)

Phase three

Advanced BEAR Concepts (Online): The third phase of the BEAR program explores how shelter behavior professionals work across the organization and the community to improve animal welfare. ($500/person)


Leading with BEAR (In person): The final phase of the BEAR program will explore the influence and leadership skills required of a shelter behavior professional to improve animal welfare through activating others for positive change. This phase will include theories of leadership, coaching, mentoring, leading without authority, and organizational savvy. ($1,500/person)

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