Diane Przygocki: Changing Behaviors to Improve Dogs’ Lives

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It was a failure that got her started.  After successfully adopting 2 cats and 1 dog from the Longmont Humane Society, Diane Przygocki adopted a second dog, but this relationship didn’t work out.  It was then that she thought, “I need to learn more about dogs.”  

So she began volunteering at the Humane Society around Thanksgiving of 2012 and has since clocked over 1000 hours.  She became a Canine Coach, working with dogs in the Training and Behavior Department to overcome bad habits and socialization issues that could keep them from being adopted. She is gratified to see the progress the dogs make week by week—even the most troubled ones, dogs that have never been socialized with humans or other dogs, improve. No matter what, the dogs are always happy to see her and she them.

She also works on human behaviors.  At LHS, new volunteers are always coming through the doors.  Przygocki teaches a monthly class to up to 120 new volunteers every year on how to walk and interact with dogs.  She says, “I love teaching the classes.”  After instruction and hands-on experiences, “I get to see the light bulb go off in them—it changes the way they interact with dogs.”     

Patience, she says, is her greatest asset.  “If you react, the dog will react.  You need to be calm.” She has learned an amazing amount about dog behavior without realizing it, because for her, it’s just fun.  She is full of enthusiasm for her work and jokes that her (adult) children complain that she talks more about “her” dogs than her children.  
Przygocki raves about the Longmont Humane Society and its top-notch Training and Behavior department, which works up protocols for each dog according to its needs.  She also applies this in her work with volunteers, helping those who find dog-walking not quite a good fit to find other ways to volunteer and support the organization.  She has found that volunteering has given her a new view of the wider community—from the people who stop by on a whim and want to adopt a pet (bad idea!) to those who contribute, volunteer, and support animal welfare across sectors.  

Because of that initial failed relationship, Przygocki has not only learned how to communicate effectively with dogs, her volunteering has touched hundreds of human and canine lives.  And she has shown great restraint: she has only adopted 1 additional dog into her family in that time!