Saving Lives

Dog Enrichment Resources

Shelter enrichment programs help reduce the stress and boredom of kennel life. All shelter animals benefit from enrichment programs, but they can be especially valuable for long-term residents and "bully-breed" dogs who tend to deteriorate quickly in kennels.

With shelter animals, behaviors such as hyper-arousal, depression, and obsessive/compulsive behaviors are not uncommon when enrichment is not present.

Dogs and puppies may display behaviors that make adoptions more challenging simply because they are not given the opportunity to chew, be mentally engaged, or interact calmly with humans. This is especially true for canines who arrive at the shelter with behavior challenges.

General, overall enrichment should include:

  • Daily walks (controlled and monitored)
  • Social interaction
  • Food games (using toys such as KONG™, Tug-a-Jug™, etc.)
  • Opportunities for sensory stimulation such as sound (classical music), odor (lavender, spices, and even a bit of bedding from the cat area), and tactile stimulation (brushes to rub against, bedding, and large Boomer Balls)

In addition, you can implement enrichment programs, such as those described below, that are targeted toward specific animal needs.

Mighty Mouths Program for Heavy Chewers

Shelters occasionally encounter dogs who are heavy chewers, or who chew and swallow inedible items in their kennels. The Mighty Mouths enrichment program provides these heavy chewers with appropriate alternatives that satisfy their need to chew and help reduce the stress of kennel life.

Download the Mighty Mouths program (.pdf)

Read & Relax Program for In-Kennel Enrichment

Does your shelter have dogs who need to learn how to chill out, or who would benefit from calm human company in their kennel? The Read and Relax (R&R) Volunteer Program helps decrease the arousal and stress levels of your dogs on the adoption floor as adopters pass through, and helps increase the dogs' success in their new home.

Download the R&R program (.pdf)