As you might have read recently, we’ve had 36 dogs in protective custody for well over six months now. Their owner has been charged with animal cruelty and according to state law the animals are considered “live evidence” and need to be held as such until the case is resolved. That means that it is against the law for us to place them into homes, so they must be held in our shelter under our protection until the court decides their outcome. While cases involving live animals are supposed to be expedited, this hearing has been delayed and the animals have been waiting months for a resolution, with no end in sight. While a shelter is not a home, we do our very best to make sure each animal is happy and healthy while they stay with us. Kennel enrichment practices are critical to help reduce kennel stress. We are always looking for new materials/toys/games/scents for our enrichment programs. If you’d like to help please visit our Amazon wish list for a list of items we are always in need of! Thank You!
Reducing Kennel Stress – It’s All About Enrichment!
If you’ve visited the dogs at the NHSPCA recently, you may have noticed the sweet smell of coconut, the sounds of the Caribbean and well…the atmosphere of an island getaway! As strange as it may seem, we here at the NHSPCA are not trying to create our own vacation spot, it’s really all about the dogs! You may ask yourself, what would the sounds of steel drum bands have to do with the happiness of our canine companions? The answer is…a lot! You see it’s all about our Kennel Enrichment Program.
This program is designed to stimulate the dogs’ senses and natural instincts while in the shelter environment. Similar programs have been used all over the world to make shelter life for dogs more comfortable and aid in their speedy adoptions. The kennel walls are sprayed with a different scent each day to stimulate their olfactory senses. Each day a different sound will be played in the CD player to stimulate their auditory senses. Sometimes it will be the sound of rain falling in the forest, birds calling, or even some classical Mozart! Dog toys are rotated each day as well so that each dog will experiences something new to interact with, at least on a daily basis. This is an effort to introduce novelty into their environment and keep them thinking. After all, you can only get excited about a slobber filled tennis ball so long. In addition; for one meal each day the dogs will be fed out of different feeding dispensers in order to trigger their natural scavenger instincts, to work for food. Food dispensers can range from a rubber KONG toy, doggie TV dinners (their normal meal frozen in a cube of ice along with treats and toys), or even kibble in a crumpled up paper bag or cereal box with holes. The dogs use their natural instincts to toss, turn, shred, or paw at the food inside the dispensers helping them satisfy their natural drive. They are, in essence, hunting! Meal times become an opportunity for mental exercise as well as satisfying an appetite.
Each of these seemingly simple changes to their daily routine will have a tremendous impact on their quality of life while in our care. We see immediate results as multiple staff, volunteers, and visitors have commented on quieter kennels and happier dogs! We pride ourselves on the mental and physical well being of all that are in our care. We’ve even developed an enrichment program for the felines at our shelter as well! Anything we can do to help improve their lives, no matter how small, is well worth the work when you see smiling faces and wagging tails and purrs!
We are always looking for new materials/toys/games/scents for our enrichment programs. If you’d like to help please visit our Amazon wish list for a list of items we are always in need of! Thank You!