A New Direction for the Center for Shelter Dogs

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) and the Shelter Medicine Program and Center for Animals and Public Policy at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University are pleased to announce the next phase of growth and development for the Center for Shelter Dogs (CSD).
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What Our Favorite Dogs Teach Us About Working at CSD

For the past few months, the Center for Shelter Dogs has been under a period of transition. While our work with shelters and the community continues on, we’ve also had some opportunity to reflect back on what we’ve accomplished so far – our work, our achievements, and most especially the many, many dogs whose lives we have touched. So we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to talk about a few of these dogs, and why we do what we do, not just for our own shelter but for many all around the world.
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The Mod Squad: Our Advanced Dog Training and Enrichment Volunteers

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Here at the Center for Shelter Dogs at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, we have a group of volunteers with advanced training we call “The Mod Squad”. Most of these volunteers are not dog trainers by trade, but they have gone through basic dog volunteer training and more importantly have shown a strong commitment to regularly helping at the shelter and a dedication to helping our shelter dogs.
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What’s So Special About Special Adoptions?

How do dogs become part of our Special Adoption program at the Animal Rescue League of Boston? Let me share an example. Spike was a 2 year, old, 18-pound terrier-type mixed breed dog. He came to the Animal Rescue League’s Boston shelter from an urban shelter. The staff at that shelter had seen Spike growl at people when he was bothered while eating, and “head whip ” – a quick turning of the head toward provocation without a snap or bite – during his veterinary exam. Other than those two potentially problematic behaviors, he was pretty perfect: he interacted with people, was very friendly, and playful to boot!
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Training for Positive Cage Behaviors and Enrichment Toys

You know all those wonderful enrichment toys you provide to your shelter dogs to keep them behaviorally happy and healthy?  Many of you may wonder what effect they really have on the dog’s behavior.   A recent study by Dr. Meghan Herron, Taylor Kirby-Madden, and Dr. Linda Lord looks at exactly this – does training for positive cage behaviors, combined with enrichment toys, make a difference in the behavior of dogs in their kennels?
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Implementing a Volunteer-Run Behavior Helpline

A solid volunteer-run behavior helpline can be a valuable addition to any shelter.  Having a call-in number that adopters, owners and members of the public can turn to for questions about behavior and best practices for their pets can help in reducing the relinquishment of animals (for which behavioral problems are a major contributor), and also provides a first line of service for families which have adopted pets through the shelter. Setting up your own helpline service may at first be a daunting task, but with enthusiastic people and the right know-how, you may find that it will pay off in the long run.
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The First Eight Weeks: Socializing Puppy Litters in a Shelter or Foster Home

The first few weeks of a puppy’s life are critical to its mental and social development. A puppy isolated from the world during this time may develop a fear of social contact and may have poor learning and problem-solving abilities. Insufficient socialization can lead to hyperactivity, over-reactivity, emotional rigidity, anxiety, fear, and aggression.
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The Ins and Outs of Intake

Giving up a pet is often one of the hardest decisions a person might ever have to make.  As Intake Liaison at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, I receive calls every day from clients who have come to the unfortunate decision that they must surrender their dog.  Approaching these phone calls with a sense of compassion and understanding is of utmost importance. At the Animal Rescue League of Boston, if someone is surrendering a pet, we want that person to feel like they can talk to us and be honest about the dog’s behavior and health.  Oftentimes, the pet owner has done quite a bit of research to determine to which shelter to surrender their pet and this can be largely dependent on whom the owner feels comfortable speaking to.
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Length of Stay Webinar This Week!

In a perfect world, each animal who comes into a shelter would be cared for, restored to full health, and adopted into a forever home in as short a time as possible. And yet for a lot of shelters, the everyday reality is that many animals end up staying for longer than that ideal, resulting in challenges both for the shelter and the animals themselves. In our own shelter here at the Animal Rescue League of Boston, as I’m sure it is for many of you, managing the amount of time that each animal spends in the shelter environment is a juggling act between shelter resources and the needs of each individual animal. Dr. Erin Doyle, one of our veterinarians in the shelter, is presenting a webinar this week to discuss this very important topic, and how to deliver a better quality of care through managing the population as a whole. You can join us this Thursday, March 6th at 2pm EST (Boston, GMT -5). Sign up now through our webinars page!