For those who work in pound/shelter environments, it is up to us to ensure our impounded animals are kept healthy, happy, and sound until they are adopted. Through a pound enrichment program like our own, staff and community volunteers can work together to keep animals both physically and mentally well. Enrichment is crucial in achieving No Kill statistics and are not only beneficial for the animals but for the staff and visitors too. Many pounds and councils have long believed enrichment is expensive but this doesn’t have to be the case and especially not when a facility engages the community for help. Below, we will summarise some of the key components to our Pound Enrichment Program, which is basic, inexpensive, and easy to adapt to any impounding facility.
Installing treat buckets like the ones pictured that can be utilised by visitors help not only to reinforce the behaviours you want to see from the animals in your care but also increase interaction between potential adopters and all animals in your facility.
Buckets can be filled with kibble and the amount given contributes towards a dog’s daily feed. For those dogs who don’t show much interest in kibble, higher value rewards can be swapped in from time to time.
When used in conjunction with the clicker training (clickers will be available for visitors too), these are powerful tools in improving a pet’s time in the shelter, encouraging not only good manners but engagement with people too.
Clicker training the pets in your care, so that they remain quiet and calm when people are coming in and out of the shelter, provides a multitude of benefits for all. This not only ensures a stress-free environment but also boosts the animals’ chance of being adopted, because they are happier and better behaved as a result.
Constant barking in a kennel environment is stressful for everyone; owners, potential adopters, staff, and the animals themselves. By introducing clicker training, you can change this completely, and ensure that everyone has more of a peaceful time while at your facility.
By getting visitors involved, you provide consistency (a clicker makes the same sound every single time) and invite people to get more involved with the pets you have available for adoption.
Feeding the senses is an important aspect of enrichment in any environment and especially for those who are limited to kennels for a large portion of the day.
Providing spray bottles full of interesting scents that can be distributed throughout the kennels and rotating these smells can give the animals another level of stimulation each time. Some of the favourites among shelter workers are lavender, almond, coconut, and vanilla.
Don’t stop with just the inside of your kennels – lavender plants for outside not only smell great, they look inviting for visitors too. And when dogs are getting exercise, they have more of an experience. We often suggest staff encourage the community to bring a plant or seeds each time they visit.
Puzzle toys like Kongs are brilliant at mentally stimulating pets but can be expensive for a pound to purchase and especially with dogs that might like their toys a little too much.
While you can again engage the community to donate toys, we also have some great budget solutions for you. Plastic bottles can make great treat dispensers to throw around when kibble is added and the cap is on, while empty peanut butter/yoghurt tubs are like heaven for a dog to lick clean. The toy to the right was made for just a couple of bucks with PVC pipes and fittings. Check out this video on how to make yours.
By thinking outside the box (and the pet store), there’s dozens of different budget solutions for interactive toys that can keep dogs and cats mentally stimulated while in the pound environment.
Studies have shown that dogs in animal shelters are less likely to bark and more likely to sleep to classical music than heavy metal, music specifically formulated for pets, or no music.
What this means, basically, is that playing classical music throughout your kennels will have a calming effect on your impounded animals – more so than any other music selections or no music at all. Knowing that dogs in pounds can be impacted by the music played throughout the facility gives us a way to create a more positive environment for them at a minimal cost and effort. It is also a much more pleasant atmosphere for potential adopters who are walking through the kennels and spending time with the animals.
Always be considerate of the music you’re playing – it can make or break adoptions.
These are just the very basics of our Pound Enrichment program and when these are put into place, there are many more things a facility can do to further enrich their impounded animals’ stay, including playgroups as seen with Playing For Life. If you’d like to learn more or want some help getting this program into your pound or shelter, please holler at us.