Dog adoption happens on an uncertain timeline, and pups need to be made comfortable at their temporary animal shelter so they can be at their best when families come in looking to bring home a new furry family member. While shelters do their best to make life stress-free, some shelter pups need extra TLC to feel safe and comfortable. In their never-ending quest to provide the best conditions, some shelters owners are adopting these strategies to reduce stress to the adoptable animals.
Dogs are often stressed out by a lack of structure and social time, so some shelters are addressing this with training. While children may not always enjoy going to school, dogs tend to love the experience of using their brains to problem solve new skills and be rewarded with treats and affection. This experience not only helps them relax and feel more loved but also gets them ready for life with a new family. In some cases, pups will leave the shelter with a whole bag of tricks they can use to impress their new human parents and siblings.
Source: Toledo Area Humane Society
Animal shelters are also reducing dog stress by giving pups some time in an environment that feels more like a home. Living room setups with chairs, couches, rugs, and plenty of space to stretch out and relax are becoming increasingly popular. While most shelters still have kennels, some are introducing these mock living rooms so adoptable dogs can take time each day to socialize with volunteers and staff. Time in these comfortable rooms helps them feel more at home and less confined, which is a huge benefit for shelter pups that aren't accustomed to life in a kennel. Again, this is a solution that both benefits the pooches in real time and prepares them for life with their forever families after adoption, making it a fantastic way to address stress in both the short and long term.
Music can reduce stress in humans and dogs alike, so some shelters are opting to play relaxing music in kennel rooms and other spaces where the pups might need some help calming down and settling in. Animal shelter music programs typically focus on songs that are proven to be relaxing and soothing, so the song selection usually includes classical orchestral music, smooth jazz, and soft guitar jams rather than top 40 pop hits. Shelters on a limited budget can take advantage of this stress reduction technique, so if your local shelter is short on funds, you can help out by purchasing a Bluetooth speaker for them to use in serenading the animal' stress away.
If you're a volunteer or employee at an animal shelter, you may want to incorporate some of these techniques into your organization's official protocol. There's evidence to support the idea that each of these approaches has definite merit when it comes to making dogs feel more comfortable in a potentially scary place.