Job Post

Behavior & Training Counselor

Company Name: Foothills Animal Shelter
Company Website:
Location: Golden, CO
Job Type: Full Time
Job Category: Operations


Foothills Animal Shelter’s mission is: Providing support to our surrounding community through education, services that strengthen the human-pet bond, and humane care for the animals we serve.


All employees and volunteers are expected to embody the Shelter’s values which are to have honesty and integrity in all that we do, with the following values as our guide:

  • Stewardship: Assume responsibility and ownership for our actions within our shelter and our community.
  • Positive Culture: Create a safe, supportive environment for the health, wellbeing, and development of staff and volunteers.
  • Openness: Nurture an innovative, inclusive, and creative environment that cultivates conversations and relationships that actively work towards the future.
  • Team Oriented: Build relationships, embrace teamwork, and foster collaboration in pursuit of our Mission.


The behavior & training counselor conducts pre-adoption behavior support sessions with shelter dogs and cats. This position supports the development of a post-adoption behavior resource program and conducts follow-up calls for all animals participating in behavior support services. The training & behavior counselor supports staff and volunteers in understanding complex animal behaviors in order to provide appropriate adoption counseling to clients; maintains organized and concise documentation pertaining to program sessions and counseling conversations; and supports the behavior coordinators in the accomplishment of daily tasks including assessments, enrichment, and animal introductions.


  • Creates and implements behavior modification and/or management strategies for shelter dogs, including fearful or anxious behavior, dog/dog interactions and/or reactivity, resource guarding, and impulse control.
  • Alerts the department manager or director of concerns or changes in animal behavior that may preclude their continued participation in a behavior program. Actively participates in daily rounds and case studies, provides recommendations and timely updates.
  • Administers medication to animals on behavioral pharmaceuticals. Acts as primary observer of impact of medication on animal’s behavior and performance and provides timely feedback to veterinary team and the director of animal behavior & sheltering to support appropriate dosage and maximized benefit.
  • Strives to minimize length of stay of shelter animals and works creatively to match shelter animals with special needs to appropriate homes.
  • Identifies and coordinates enrichment opportunities for long-term residents including court hold and protective custody animals, animals under bite quarantine, and those housed in administrative offices. Works closely with behavior coordinators to accomplish daily goals.
  • Facilitates adoption counseling for shelter animals with an emphasis on behavior support enrollees and animals with behavior waivers. Provides professional, thoughtful, and necessary conversation to ensure each animal’s needs are understood and strategized.
  • Models and fosters a supportive, inclusive, and judgement-free environment within the shelter’s adoption and behavior programs.
  • Conducts post-adoption follow up calls as needed; provides counseling support to adopters for known and emergent behavior concerns.
  • Works closely with evaluations team to assess incoming dogs as needed and identify and mitigate behavior concerns immediately.
  • Participates in and supports behavior coordinators in conducting behavior assessments for the shelter’s dogs and cats and provides recommendations for placement. Acts as a mentor for the behavior team offering training and guidance to all team members.
  • Supports special projects as requested including data collection, photography, adoption descriptions, and other efforts to promote Foothills Animal Shelter.
  • Provides training and support to Shelter staff and volunteers in safe dog and cat handling, dog and cat behavior, and enrichment.
  • Works closely with advanced volunteer dog and cat handlers by offering daily guidance and support.
  • Supports the foster department by providing behavior training to foster families and troubleshooting behavior concerns as they arise in the foster home.
  • Coordinates and supervises dog/dog interactions for assessment, enrichment, behavior change and/or adoption counseling.
  • Using the Shelter’s animal management database, creates animal profiles, documents behavior progress and evaluations, and documents pre- and post- adoption counseling support.
  • Assists and supports the Shelter’s transfer program.
  • Responds to both individual and shared behavior team email and voicemail in a timely manner.
  • Triages urgent behavior concerns in the absence of department leadership to the ensure the emotional wellbeing of the animal as well as staff and volunteer safety.
  • Supports the shelter services team with animal intake and animal behavior as needed.
  • Supports the animal care team with daily feeding and cleaning of the animals in our care as needed.
  • Maintains good working relationships with and support other Shelter departments.
  • Supports the Shelter’s animal control partners by maintaining good communication with officers and providing support with animal handling and training as needed.
  • Adheres to, and supports compliance with, the Shelter’s procedures, policies and standard operating procedures.
  • Serves as a positive role model to staff and volunteers.
  • Performs the duties of a behavior coordinator as needed.

Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to multi-task and maintain composure in a fast paced, environment while providing courteous service to potentially difficult, emotional, or frustrated clients.
  • Actively contributes to a supportive team and environment by demonstrating resilience and optimism while undertaking challenging tasks to accomplish our mission.
  • Ability to maintain the highest levels of confidentiality when dealing with proprietary information and sensitive situations.
  • Computer proficiency in Microsoft Office including word processing, spreadsheets, meeting software, and email; proficient with animal management software and shelter data bases.
  • Working knowledge of animal sheltering practices; highly supportive of open admissions practices.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively with volunteers within an animal care environment and communicate in a respectful, appreciative manner.
  • Advanced understanding of animal learning theory with emphasis on positive reinforcement and force-free training.

Required Education and Experience

  • Professional and educational expertise in animal learning theory, animal behavior scientific behavior modification strategies, and positive-based, force-free animal training, including strong clicker skills.
  • Minimum of one year experience conducting one-on-one behavior consultations with written follow-up to clients.
  • Experience observing, assessing, and/or modifying animal behavior in shelter settings preferred.
  • One or more of the following certifications in animal training and behavior counseling is required: Certified Trainer and Behavior Counseling through Jean Donaldson’s Academy of Dog Trainers (CTC); Karen Pryor’s Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA-CTP); or Certified Animal Behavior & Training Counselor Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA).
    Fear Free Shelter certified or ability to become Fear Free Shelter certified within 60 days of employment.
  • Euthanasia certified or capable of certifying within six months of start date.
  • Valid driver license.
  • Current rabies vaccination or ability to obtain one.

Working Conditions

  • Ability to work 8 to 10-hour shifts spent standing, walking, bending, twisting, kneeling, squatting, and lifting.
  • Noise, odors, chemical fumes, animal hair/dander are encountered due to equipment and animals.
  • Subject to animal bites and scratches.
  • Occasional lifting of up to 50 lbs.
  • Frequent standing on hard floors, bending, and stooping.
  • Ability to be outdoors in all weather conditions year-round.

Equipment Used

  • Animal handling equipment and assessment tools: slip leads, catch poles, etc.
    Animal and shelter management software.
  • Vehicle use (company provided and personal).
  • Chemicals and cleaning tools to provide care for the animals.

About Foothills Animal Shelter: As an open admission shelter, our doors are always open to pets in Jefferson County, and we are committed to serving our community as a socially conscious shelter. We care for more than 7,000 dogs, cats, and small animals every year with a compassionate team of staff and volunteers. We are a community resource and offer a variety of services including pet adoption, Jefferson County pet licensing, vaccinations, microchipping, and lost and found pets. The Shelter is established under an intergovernmental agreement between Jefferson County, the City of Arvada, the City of Lakewood, the City of Wheat Ridge, the City of Golden, the City of Westminster and the City of Edgewater.

Compensation: $22.00 – $25.00 per hour

Benefits: Foothills Animal Shelter offers a competitive total compensation package. Employees become eligible for medical, dental, vision, life insurance, long term disability, and an array of supplemental benefits after 60 days of employment. Foothills offers coverage of the premiums for medical plans, dental, vision, life insurance ($10,000) and long-term disability. Employees earn sick and vacation time each pay period, plus six recognized holidays. After six months of employment, employees are eligible for a 401K retirement plan that we will match up to 3%.