Dogs Trust

Specialist dog facility celebrates a year of providing even more dogs with the chance to find their happy ending

Dogs Trust Salisbury is celebrating a ‘yappy’ first birthday of its specialist training and behaviour facility, Stepping Stones, which has found homes for 20 dogs since it opened. 

Stepping Stones offers an alternative to traditional kennel life where dedicated staff help to equip dogs who need extra TLC and more bespoke training and behaviour sessions with invaluable skills that help them to find a forever home. The dogs live in a stimulating, minimal-stress environment where specialist staff cater to their individual needs and give them the support they require to be rehabilitated and rehomed. 

Giving dogs second chances  

Since opening, the team have found loving forever homes for 20 dogs who have needed extra support to land their paws in a new home. One dog these dogs was Fudge who was an incredibly nervous Collie and was avoidant of any interaction with people. After being placed in the Stepping Stones facility and allowed to have people and dog interactions at his own pace, his confidence improved significantly and with time and patience, the team slowly gained his trust. Fudge was happily rehomed in December 2018 and now lives with a four-legged friend called Hendy and they enjoy spending their days playing with each other. He also happily joins his new owners on the sofa for a snuggle – something he would not have done prior to his time in Stepping Stones. 

Tommy the German Shepherd Rottweiler cross will be the next four-legged friend to start his new life with a new family. Tommy arrived in January 2017 and was very under socialised meaning he was worried by new people and other dogs. He found walking in large open spaces a struggle so the team placed him in Stepping Stones to give him the one-to-one training he needed to help him learn that the world was not a scary place. They quickly saw how intelligent he was and how rapidly he improved. He is now enjoying meeting new people and is regularly walking with other dogs on and off lead. He’ll soon be heading off to him new home in the coming weeks. 

Gemma Smith, Training and Behaviour Advisor for Stepping Stones, said:

“Stepping Stones is vital for the dogs in our care who really need that extra support with their training and behaviour. Many of the dogs in Stepping Stones have not had the best start in life and can find new people in particularly very worrying, which is a barrier to finding them a new home. The facility gives them freedom and choice to take things at their own pace which, for a scared dog, is such a powerful thing. With the likes of Tommy, he is a different dog from the one that first arrived and that’s all down to the environment that Stepping Stones provides. He’s super affectionate and clever, I would go as far as saying he is one of the highest achievers in terms of progression and makes me very proud to do my job!” 

Stepping Stones key features include: 

  • The capacity to care for up to 34 dogs at one time
  • Two blocks which are designed for group living with a third block housing four spacious kennels which each have their own exercise paddock attached to them
  • Underground tunnels which provides stimulation for the dogs and promotes natural behaviours such as digging and scent tracking
  • A training hall which provides a quiet space for staff to work with the dogs
  • A viewing platform so the dogs can be seen in their environment without disturbing them.
  • CCTV inside the kennels so the dogs can be monitored from a distance if needed

Gemma adds:

“Because Dogs Trust never puts a healthy dog to sleep, some of the dogs with additional needs can be with us for a while, so it’s crucial for us that they are safe, comfortable and stimulated during their time with us. Stepping Stones we can cater to the specific needs of more than 30 dogs with the ultimate end goal of finding them their perfect forever home. It is such a great asset to our rehoming centre and we’re so pleased that the first year has enabled us to give even more dogs a happy ending.” 

If you’d like to adopt a four-legged friend from the centre, please call 01980 880891.