Group Housing: Part Two

In Part One of this series, we discussed guidelines for group housing of dogs. In Part Two, we will discuss research findings and recommendations for group housing. Group housing dogs; it can be inhumane to group house dogs unless they have been matched for compatibility and appropriately introduced to each other.

A recent study (Santos O, Polo G, et al. Grouping Protocol in Shelters; Journal of Veterinary Behavior 2013, vol 8, 3-8.) in Brazil evaluated a protocol for introducing dogs to each other for the purposes of group housing. The protocol utilized 21 dogs and required 2 handlers, 2 ropes, an outdoor area, and an indoor area. Dogs wore head collars (made out of ropes) during steps 1 and 2, described below. Desensitization and counter conditioning were used to introduce one dog to another dog. The goal was to house the two dogs together.
Read more…

Can Stress and Fear Affect the Lifespan of Dogs? What About Humans?

“An abnormal and persistent fear of men, sufferers experience anxiety even though they face no real threat.  It may be related to traumatic events in the sufferer’s past.  It may also be due to an anxiety disorder.”  Do dogs in your shelter experience this?

Many of you will probably say “yes”. However, this was a definition of a human androphobia- fear of men. Not only do dogs and people experience the same phobias, the results of being stressed may lead to the same negative outcomes for both animals and humans. In humans, chronic stress has been related to: obesity, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, immune disturbances, altered endocrine responses and nervous system disorders. In a recent study, accomplished by Nancy A. Dreschel from Pennsylvania State University, fear and anxiety in dogs were linked to decreased lifespan and some poor health conditions in dogs.
Read more…

Group Housing: Part One

Co-housing dogs with other dogs must be a consideration for shelters that house dogs long-term, meaning longer than two weeks. Providing dogs (who enjoy the company of other dogs) with a ‘roommate’ provides them with social enrichment which may alleviate boredom and stress, and increase happiness. Happiness is difficult to measure, but must not be underestimated. Group housing is usually NOT enriching when it isn’t carefully considered and planned.
Read more…

Tips and Tricks: City Walks

A long walk through the neighborhood is great enrichment for our shelter dogs. Walks are a great way to provide needed exercise and a flavor of life. It’s also an excellent way to advertise these dogs for adoption.

Here are some tips and tricks for a city walk or run…
Read more…

The Chase Game – A Dog’s Perspective

The Chase Game is a great activity to play with your dogs because it incorporates fun into training and exercise. All you need is a lunge whip or tether with a stuffed toy on the end.

The Chase Game is also a rewarding energy outlet for your dog that can help reduce stress in the shelter. By channeling your shelter dogs’ energy into fun and constructive activities, you’re helping them release some of the stressful energy they may be feeling!
Read more…

Confront Your Stereotypes

When we think about other cultures or groups of people or a certain way of doing something, without realizing it, we encounter many stereotypes. It would be ideal if we were born in society without stereotypes, however, the far from reality.
Read more…

Pebble’s Story

A few months ago the Animal Rescue League of Boston was looking for homes for some Labrador Retrievers that were surrendered to the shelter.  The dogs ranged in age from puppies to seniors, but two chocolate Lab girls especially caught my eye.

They were two years old and their names were Pebbles and Godiva.  The two girls were housed together in the same run and competed with each other to say hello first and give kisses.
Read more…

An Inside Look at Food Dispensing Toys for Dogs

Many dogs in the wild spend a lot of  their time looking for food. Evolutionarily speaking, a dog is prepared to devote a great deal of physical and intellectual energy toward finding food. When a dog is in a shelter, we like to recommend using food puzzles to help mentally stimulate dogs, alleviate boredom, and reduce stress.

If you have a dog, you may already be familiar with one of the most common food dispensing toys, Kongs. Kongs can be filled with food (kibble, wet food, peanut butter, bananas, etc.) and even frozen treats to help keep your dog busy, active, and focused.
Read more…

Objective Behavioral Observations

The words we use are important. Whether performing a behavior evaluation, training a dog, or reporting our experiences with a dog in the shelter, our words are valuable and have power.

Our experiences with pets and the observations that occur help us to gain more information about their behavior which helps us to choose a good match for a home.  The words we choose to use, directly influence the value of the information we provide.
Read more…

Tips and Tricks to Collecting Accurate Intake Information

Relinquishing owners are an important source of information about a dog’s behavioral history.  In fact, a survey conducted by the Center for Shelter Dogs with 1,300 respondents from sheltering organizations found that 60% of them collected information about relinquished dogs from surrendering owners using a formal questionnaire or “intake form.”

However, as we have all experienced, the information provided by surrendering owners is not always accurate, especially if owners worry that every unfavorable behavior may cause the dog to be rejected from admission or lead to euthanasia.
Read more…