Bernard – Best Student in the Class

Bernard - Best Student in Class

 Bernard arrived at PHS/SPCA in December 2020. When staff first approached him, he sat nicely at the front of his kennel for treats and was eager for some play time. Once in the yard, it was immediately evident that he had tons of energy to spare and he thought toys were the best thing since sliced bread! Bernard was evaluated as a very sporty, high-energy dog with lots of toy drive and treat motivations. He would need an adopter who would give him lots of exercise, both physical and mental.

Dog Playing in the Yard

Playing in the Yard

When Bernard first became available for adoption, he was always eager to go to the yard and play. Usually after 10 mins of playing with toys, he would start to settle down and would become more affectionate with staff or volunteers. On walks he was very excitable and would sometimes pull hard on the leash.

Bernard settling down after some play time

Settling down after some play time

Bernard was reactive to other dogs, which means he would bark or jump when he saw other dogs. Our behavior staff wanted to help Bernard overcome his reactivity, so they created a training plan specific to his needs.

Bernard was very receptive to training and was easily able to focus on his handler practicing basic obedience skills. He quickly learned sit, stay, down, watch me, and catch (a tossed treat). In addition to basic obedience training while at PHS/SPCA, Bernard also graduated from our Bark & Lunge dog class where he made significant strides in decreasing his reactivity and barking around other dogs. When he started the class, he became too vocal and had to leave. However, by the time he graduated, he made it through the entire class and completed activities while surrounded by barking dogs!

Youth Artwork of Bernard

Youth Artwork of Bernard

Behavior staff and volunteers continued regular training with Bernard in the hopes that he would be able to eventually take part in doggie play groups. Bernard craved structure and routine, so his training plan reflected that. Bernard received positive reinforcement (treats!) when performing desired behaviors, such as sitting calmly while putting on collar/leash/harness, sit and stay at each door on the way out for a walk, responding to his name on walks, and most importantly when noticing other dogs, not reacting.

Relaxing car ride

Relaxing car ride

Bernard went on a few off-site adventures with a Behavior staff member. They took walks at Oyster Point and Bernard accompanied her while she was working from home. On every outing, Bernard loved the car rides and exercised both his mind and body on their walks. While walking, Bernard was excited, eager, and listened well. They practiced a variety of commands such as sit, watch me, stay, and place (targeting command for a dog to go to certain places). Offsite walks gave additional opportunities to positively reinforce Bernard’s reactivity training in a different environment. He saw a few small dogs from about 50 feet away, didn’t bark, and wagged his tail.

“Bernard is super smart! He can do 5-6 commands for one treat, which shows how focused and hard-working he is. Many dogs are not able to do that many commands without treats for each one.” ~ Mary-Ann, Behavior staff

While Mary-Ann was working from home, Bernard was happy to spend his time chewing on a dental bone or toy and relaxing. He was not destructive or hyperactive in the house. Eventually he even took a nap!

All the time, training, dedication, and patience paid off! After months and months of hard work, Bernard overcame his reactivity and became a regular member of shelter play groups.

Bernard Noseworks Certificate

One of our regular shelter enrichment programs is the K9 Nose Work Shelter Project, where dogs receive mental stimulation and exercise by learning how to search in boxes and around various objects for tasty treats and eventually small tins containing birch scent.


“Bernard was rough around the edges when he first came to PHS/SPCA and as time passed he became one of the best Nose Work dogs we have worked with at the shelter.  He learned quickly, enjoyed hunting for odor and never gave up!”

~ Laura C., Nose Work trainer and dog volunteer

After just over a year at PHS/SPCA, Bernard went to a foster home with one of the volunteers who regularly worked with him at the shelter and wanted to help give him a change of scenery.

Laura and her husband opened up their home and hearts to Bernard. After two short weeks, they made it official and adopted him!

On Bernard’s adoption day, he couldn’t go home without first getting a photo with one of some of the many people who love him at PHS/SPCA. Bernard had a transformative journey during his 412 days in the care of PHS/SPCA, which wouldn’t have been possible without dedicated staff, volunteers, and supporters of the Hope Program.

Bernard with Adoptions and Behavior staff

Bernard with Adoptions and Behavior staff

“Bernard was a real success! All in all, Bernard is the perfect dog, he loves people and makes human friends quickly. I want to thank all the staff and volunteers at PHS/SPCA for spending so much time and energy molding him into the wonderful dog he is. With their hard work, Bernard loves playing with other doggie buddies. It took a village!” ~ Laura W., dog volunteer and Bernard’s dog mom.

Adoption Update: June 2022

Bernard is loving life with his new parents! He gets walks every day, where he constantly earns an A+, makes new doggie friends at the park, and is having all kinds of new experiences. Bernard still loves to ride in the car and will happily jump into any vehicle for a ride. He even went to the ocean for the first time and loved it!

Bernard’s parents have continued Bernard’s enrichment by teaching him new commands and tricks. He still knows all the basic obedience commands and since being adopted he has learned crawl, high five, and wave.

Bernard continues to do Nose Work training classes, where he is learning to solve more complex puzzles in many different locations, communicate with his handler, and handle environmental situations (sounds, dogs, people, weather, etc.). Hopefully he will compete in Nose Work trials soon!

“He continues to impress us!” ~ Laura C., Nose Work trainer

Bernard and his family just set out for a summer adventure! They are driving their motor home on a trip throughout the U.S., and Bernard looks like he has settled into life on the road quickly. We can’t wait to hear about their adventure when they return!