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About       Urban Solutions      Lug-Nuts       Certification


  • It brings trainers and shelter staff directly to the community in a positive way

  • Pet owners see the shelter as a resource for helping them keep their pets rather than as a last resort for surrendering their pets when all else fails

  • It unites shelter personnel, dog trainers, and pet owners in a common goal

  • It prevents overpopulation by making sterilization possible in neighborhoods in which spaying/neutering is not accessible

  • It focuses on treating people and pets with respect and kindness by sharing advice and information in a compassionate way

  • It works under the premise that it is the role of the shelter to help achieve a more humane community, and sometimes that means offering neighbors financial assistance during hard times or for unexpected veterinary expenses

  • It maintains as its goal, assisting community members in any way to help them keep their pets and not reach the point where relinquishment becomes necessary

Training Wheels® volunteers go into the community, making friends with pet owners and offering help in a compassionate, non-judgmental way. A van is loaded up with supplies--leashes, collars, treats, toys, scratching posts. These gifts are offered as a way of breaking the ice with people in the community. Training Wheels® staff helps with common problems such as housebreaking, not using the litterbox, sitting, coming when called. User-friendly, easy, positive training methods are used. The goal is to partner with, rather than police, members of the community.

Through various humane education programs, Training Wheels® fosters humane communities and public safety by teaching safe and humane interactions between people and animals.

We also offer one and two day workshops for shelters and trainers who would like to set up a Training Wheels Program in their community.


Paws 2 Help

Animals for Adoption's Paws 2 Help Fund is dedicated to helping local families with food and low-cost spay/neuter and veterinary care for their pets, so that no one is forced to give up a cherished family member for financial reasons. Our goal is to keep pets in their homes with the families who love them.

The Paws 2 Help fund will provide assistance to local families with the following:

  • Food for dogs and cats

  • Financial assistance for veterinary care

  • Low cost (or free when necessary) spay/neuter


Real Life Training Wheels® Encounters

 For some examples of what a real Training Wheels® outing is like, please visit the following links

Urban Solutions Adolescent Alternatives Program


The Adolescent Alternatives Program was created by Jane Kopelman in November of 2001 to involve at-risk teens in the Training Wheels® program as an adjunct to alternative to incarceration programs. The goal is to give these teens the opportunity to learn animal handling, dog training skills, and basic, humane care, allowing them to go back into their neighborhoods helping both people and pets work towards a more humane community.

Participants in the program are given the opportunity to learn reward-based training methods by pairing them with shelter dogs. They learn how to achieve desired results without the use of force or intimidation. The kids can learn how to develop empathy with people by building patient and compassionate relationships with dogs. By learning to work with dogs using positive reinforcement, they also learn to communicate with people in positive, non-judgmental ways.

The program offers short term residential stays upstate in which participants will spend time living in the dormitory/guest area of the Rondout Valley Animals for Adoption shelter. Each day, under supervision, they feed, bathe, exercise and train shelter dogs. They get immersed in the daily life of the animal shelter, experience it first hand, and join in on special programs and various dog-sport workshops.

Regular Training Wheels® trips into the community are made and participants get hands-on experience working with people and pets helping the community. These kids take the skills they have learned training dogs and can share them with pet owners in need of help.

The program also sends participants to workshops on all aspects of dog training, including tricks, musical freestyle, Frisbee, agility, and shelter dog training.

It is the goal of these programs to instill compassion, commitment and confidence in the youths who participate, offer them skills and knowledge they can use forever and inspire other kids in their neighborhood.



Lug Nuts™ is a program that organizes and hosts informal weight pulling contests. It was created in response to the increasing problems communities are encountering with dangerous dogs. In many areas, the predominant breed types are Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and their mixes. Sparring on street corners and casual dog fighting erupt in alleys and basements at any given time. These dogs are being bred in proliferation. Shelters are filled with these unwanted dogs. Most dog fights are not organized by professional dog fighters, but rather by kids spontaneously sparring their own pet dogs. Breeding their dogs and selling puppies, along with winning casual corner fights, can be profitable and compelling for teens.

Many young people have few role models for positive, healthy, constructive interactions with dogs. Often, the only "sport" these kids see is dog fighting or sparring. Weight pulling has all the elements of dog fighting - the excitement, the competitiveness, the machismo, the thrill - but none of the violence, blood shed or cruelty. The Lug Nuts program is an antidote to dog fighting.

Plastic children's snow sleds are loaded up with bags of food. These have known weights and also make great prizes afterwards. Dogs are hooked up to the sled with a dog-sled gang line and wear padded pulling harnesses. The most gifted dogs at weight-pulling are the "muscle" and "bull" breeds and their mixes. There are no age limitations and no prior training is needed. A dog cannot be forced to pull. A good relationship, a strong bond, and a strong dog are often all that is required. Hot dogs are offered as lures for owners to encourage the dog to move forward.

Cash prizes (and pet supplies) are offered for first, second, third and sometimes fourth place. Cash prizes are doubled if the winner is sterilized, and access to free spaying and neutering is offered.




Lug-Nuts™ was first introduced in New Haven, CT in the summer of 2002, and has been started on a regular basis in New York City. There has been interest from shelters and dog trainers in every part of the country to implement this program.

These are just a sample of small miracles that have occurred:

1. Alberto Bolinas, the owner of a young red Doberman, seen in a video tape of the New Haven weight pull, has since attended, with his entire family, a dog training course offered free to the community by one of the volunteer Lug-Nuts™trainers. On the day of the weight pull he was adamant about using his dog for stud. After the course, he was "considering" neutering.

2. We met the winner of the first New York City weight pull when we pulled up to the park and he was in the background, smacking and yelling at this pit bull puppy. We ignored his actions and focused on helping another owner train his older pit bull. We used reward based training techniques, and gradually the young man previously seen yelling and hitting his puppy moved closer to the training session. After working his puppy and instantaneously getting a "sit" and a "lie down" on nothing but hand signals, the owner asked how we did it. We shared the secret of good, positive dog training: treats. We didn't see him again until a few months later for the weight pull. While trying to convince him to enter his pit bull, the owner casually reached into his pocket, which was filled with jerky treats, and lured and rewarded his dog to pay attention and stop barking at another dog.

3. After a cancellation in the series due to a missing park's permit, the winner of the last weight pull a young guy with a huge, black and white, fighting-cropped, intact male pit bull contacted our shelter (a long-distance call) to inquire when the next time the shelter was coming down to do another weight pull.

Each miracle speaks to the success of Lug-Nuts™and its ability to make a connection between the community and the animal shelter, to provide motivation and a model for humane care, spaying and neutering, and having a positive, fun and lasting relationship between people and their dogs.




"Training Wheels® puts such a new light on matters. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make that change." Jane Holt, Quincy, Ill.

"Training Wheels® is still the best thing I do all week." Ulli Mattern, North Carolina

View and print out all forms involved with the application process (requires free Adobe Reader)

Training Wheels® certification is available to individuals and to shelters. Shelters which implement Training Wheels® earn the status of a Shelter-on-Wheels.


The benefits of being a Shelter-on-Wheels are:


  • Permission to use the Training Wheels® logo

  • Magnetic banners for the shelter vehicle that goes on Training Wheels® outings

  • Portfolio with Training Wheels® manual and forms for collecting statistics

  • All of the above PLUS

  • Press release to draw the community's attention to the good work the shelter does

  • Brochure for fundraising activities

  • The chance to make the shelter central to creating a humane community for people and pets


become a Shelter-on-Wheel requirements:

  1. Maintain on staff two individuals certified in Training Wheels®. These may be volunteers or staff persons at the shelter, or a combination of one volunteer and one staff person.

  2. Apply to re-qualify each year to maintain Shelter-on-Wheels status, and

  3. Link the shelter's website to Animals for Adoption's website


become certified in Training Wheels®

One of the most unique and powerful aspects of Training Wheels® is that each individual who certifies must partner, or jigsaw, with a shelter worker or dog trainer. That way the completed pair of two individuals always contains the expertise and moral support needed to be effective in preventing pet relinquishment.


The ideal candidate for Training Wheels® certification has basic, demonstrable knowledge of and experience in (for dogs and cats):

  • Issues and current trends in the field of animal sheltering (overpopulation, spay-neuter, role of the shelter, reasons for pet relinquishment, etc.)

  • Health care issues (common ailments, parasites, diseases, recognizing signs of disease and stress)

  • Behavior of animals, safe and humane handling techniques, behavior of the chained or penned dog

  • Humane, reward-based training methods and

  • Must like people and have non-confrontational communication skills.


This experience, skill and knowledge is ascertained through:

  1. Completing an application form (which includes identifying the individual with whom the candidate will jigsaw on Training Wheels® outings),

  2. Completing an official Training Wheels® course (which includes a practicum), and

  3. Passing a written test


Please note: In some cases, those completing a course will need to acquire additional expertise in one or more areas to earn certified status. Candidates in this situation who are other otherwise qualified will earn a "Learner's Permit." This means that for 6 months they will accompany the individual with whom they intend to jigsaw. At the end of this period they submit video footage of a few Training Wheels® outings for evaluation in order to earn full fledged Training Wheels® certification. Occasionally it will be helpful for such individuals to "shadow" a vet tech, shelter worker or dog trainer for a limited, reasonable number of hours as part of the Learner's Permit.

At least one person in the pair must be associated with an animal shelter (either as a volunteer or as a staff or board member). If both individuals in a Training Wheels® pair are affiliated with the same shelter, that shelter is eligible for affiliation as a Shelter on Wheels.

Re-certification is required annually. It includes:

  • submission of video footage,

  • statistical information,

  • two letters from community members (pet owner, veterinarian, etc.), documentation of twice-monthly visits.


Benefits to individuals certifying in Training Wheels®

  • Acknowledgement of a certain level of knowledge, experience, expertise and humane approach to helping people and animals.

  • Certificate for display at your shelter or dog training business

  • Increased positive exposure for your shelter or dog training business

  • Continuing Education and support through newsletter and special online discussion group for those certified in Training Wheels®

  • Permission to use the Training Wheels® logo

  • Magnetic banners for the vehicle that goes on Training Wheels® outings

  • Portfolio with Training Wheels® manual and forms for collecting statistics

  • Collaboration with a partner to share knowledge, ideas and experiences

  • The chance to help create a humane community for people and pets

  • Discount on RVAA apparel and educational materials


For more information contact


Jane Kopelman
Training Wheels® Director
4628 Route 209
Accord, NY 12404
(845) 687-4406



Make a donation in any amount directly to Animals for Adoption using any major

credit card!

Using ICA

Animals for Adoption is a member of Independent Charities of America (ICA), and many employers will match your charitable donation.

By Mail

To doanten by check, please mail it to:


4628 Route 209

Accord, NY 12404

For Volunteers

We need volunteers to:

  • take dogs to the vet

  • sozialize puppies

  • take dogs to training classes

  • walk & play with shelter dogs


Training Wheels®

is a national mobile outreach program that takes shelter services to the people instead of waiting for the people to come to the shelter.

Instead of waiting for people to need the shelter, often at the end of the relationship with their pet, Training Wheels® takes pet care services out into the community to respond to the needs of the pet owners. 

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