RuffTail Runners forms and waivers
Sign in to access the forms and waivers you’ll need before attending a training session. The password will be provided to you through the Meetup group prior to your training session.
Austin Pets Alive! volunteer portal
Log your RuffTail Runner hours here and search and sign up for other volunteer opportunities.
Rules and procedures
- When you arrive, check in at the front desk.
- Give the front desk staff your photo ID. You’ll get it back once you return the dog and equipment.
- Look at the daily kennel list next to the front desk to see which dogs are approved for that day. This can change daily, so check it every time you visit. Check notes regarding special diet or behavior issues.
- Know what collar colors you are eligible to take out and make sure you know whether your dog is a Runner or a Walker.
- Grab a running leash and an “adopt me” vest from the front desk staff.
- Next, consult the white boards next to the kennels. You want to look for a dog from the front desk’s list that hasn’t been run, yet. If you see a “time out” with an “RTR” next to it, that means the dog has already been run or walked, so try to find one that hasn’t.
- Once you pick a dog, fill in the time out and write “RTR” next to it. Do not forget to do this or the shelter staff will go on high alert, thinking the dog is missing.
- Grab 3 things before you go: a leash, some treats, and 2-3 poop bags.
- You must keep your cell phone on you at all times. Have the APA! clinic number (512-466-0720) programmed in your phone.
- Enter the dog’s kennel, give it a treat, and put its equipment on.
- Try to get the dog to sit, and wait for your command (“Free!”) to leave the kennel.
- Keep the dog at least 10 feet from other dogs. No exceptions!
- On the trail: Run/walk on the right, with the dog on your right.
- One the road: Run/walk on the left, with the dog on your left.
- Return the dog to its kennel, take its equipment off, and give it a treat.
- Mark “time in” on the RTR log.
- Return the leash and “Adopt Me” vest to the front desk in exchange for your ID.
- Give yourself a pat on the back! You just made a shelter dog’s day a little brighter!
NEVER do these things:
- Leave your dog, even for a minute (dogs have been stolen)
- Let your dog off-leash
- Go to Auditorium Shores
- Meet other dogs
- Run or walk to exhaustion
There are three whiteboards (each between Strays 1, 2, and 3). Using your RTR dog’s name and/or kennel number, locate the dog on the whiteboard. Be sure to double check their collar color, training equipment, and any special notes. Once you’ve done that, sign out under the column that says “Time Out.” You only need to write down the time and the initials “RTR to indicate that the dog is on the trail (for example, “2:30 RTR”). You do NOT have to record your “time in” on the whiteboard.
The dog may not be in their kennel if they are in playgroup (referred to as “PG” on the whiteboard). If you are just taking a dog to a play pen and you are NOT leaving APA! grounds, then you can just sign out with the time on the whiteboard with the initials “PP” for play pen (ex. “2:30 PP”). You do not have to write anything in the RTR Log if you do not take a dog outside of APA! grounds.
Below 33℉: No dogs leave APA! grounds!
33℉-39℉: All dogs are closed in to the back of their kennels. When on the trail, dogs must wear jackets and should not play in the water. Use discretion with vulnerable dogs listed in 'Below 40℉.'
Below 40℉: All puppies, mangy dogs, older dogs, etc. need to wear sweaters when possible.
80℉-84℉: Walks (60 min or less) or runs (30 min or less). Trails only; no street running or walking. Frequent water breaks and soakings.
85℉-89℉: Walks only (30 min or less). Trails only; no street walking. Frequent water breaks and soakings. No dogs older than 6 years. No short nose dogs. No long-hair dogs.
90℉-94℉: Only walks to the water (by the gazebo near TLAC). Trail only; no street walking. Frequent water breaks and soakings. No dogs older than 6 years. No short nose dogs. No long-hair dogs.
95℉+: No dogs leave APA! grounds!
RTR/Mentor: Have attended either a 2-hour RuffTail Runners training session or a 1-hour APA! mentor session.
BOO!: They wear orange bracelets and have attended an invite-only 2-hour class.
Level 1: They wear purple bracelets and have attended an invite-only 5-week class.
Blues JAM: They wear blue bracelets and have attended an additional 1-hour class after Level 1 training.
Level 2: They wear silver bracelets and have attended an invite-only 4-week class.
RTR/Mentor: Take green and pink RTR dogs on the trail
BOO!: Take green, pink, and orange RTR dogs on the trail or to the play yard.
Level 1: Take green, pink, and orange RTR dogs on the trail, play yard, or ball fields.
Blues JAM: Take green, pink, orange, and blue RTR dogs on the trail, play yard, or ball fields.
Level 2: Take all dogs to the trail, play yard, or ball fields. Must get approval to take silver dogs on the trail.
How to remove a dog from her kennel (demo)
Watch this 3-minute video to watch Mike, APA’s animal behaviorist, remove a dog from her kennel while teaching her good behaviors. Amazing!
How to remove a dog from her kennel (explanation)
Watch this 3-minute video to hear Mike break down exactly what he did, and why. Fascinating!
How to put on a Gentle Leader harness
Watch this 2-minute video to learn how to place a gentle leader and leash on a dog.
How to put on an Easy Walk harness
Watch this 3-minute video to learn how to place an Easy Walk harness and leash on a dog.
How to return a dog to her kennel
Watch this 2-minute video to see Mike return a dog to her kennel, and then explain what he did. As usual, there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye!
How to get a dog to obey by using reminders
Watch this 2-minute video with Mike to learn why reminding a dog to maintain a behavior is more effective than simply repeating commands.
Download the PowerPoint deck that was used in your RuffTail Runners training session.
Download this first aid PowerPoint deck for some helpful tips on how to stay safe on the trail.
To see a complete list of today’s available dogs, visit the links below. Rufftail Runner dogs are divided into four groups:
Town Lake Animal Center maps
TLAC’s proximity to the hike and bike trail makes it easy to get out and explore. Here are some suggested routes. Remember that you are not permitted to go to Auditorium Shores, where dogs are off-leash.
Doggie Dip, 0.4 miles
This easy, 0.4 mile trip down to the gazebo near the water is great for hot days or tired pups. In fact, this is as far as you can go on days above 90 degrees. It’s okay to let your dog jump in and go for a swim!
Boat Ramp Boogie, 1.2 miles
Go check out the kayakers and stand-up paddlers at the boat ramp (or let your dog go for a swim) on this 1.2-mile out-and-back.
Bat Patrol, 2.4 miles
Say hi to the bats on this 2.4-mile out-and-back to the Congress Avenue Bridge. Enjoy the panoramic vistas on the way there!
The RuffTail Loop, 3.5 miles
Between the water views, Zilker Park, and three bridges, this scenic 3.5-mile route will give you and your pup plenty to look at and explore!