Shelter Dogs Blog

Volunteers and Match-Up II

Pat wakes up every Tuesday and Friday morning and takes a bus, then another bus, a subway ride, and then walks ½ mile to the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Once there, Pat helps perform Match-Up II Behavior Evaluations on 3-10 dogs depending on the day. Pat is not an employee; she is a volunteer. Having your volunteers help with the Match-Up II Behavior Evaluation can have a huge positive effect on your shelter or rescue. Many shelters do not have the resources, enough employees, or a behavior department to perform behavior evaluations in a timely manner or at all. Utilizing volunteers can help offset such limitations, and can ultimately result in higher adoption rates for dogs. They can provide support throughout the evaluation process in many ways. For example, they can be trained to actually perform and record evaluations, to video tape them, or to run dogs back and forth from kennels to the evaluation room with supplies at the ready, which makes evaluations go faster.
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Wondering about food aggression?

Food aggression in dogs has always been an enigma to me.  In my private practice, I hardly ever saw dogs who were brought to me for food aggression as their primary problem.  In fact, many dogs were brought in by their owners for other problems, and I only later found out that these dogs were aggressive over food when I took detailed behavior histories.   When I first started working with shelters, I then learned that dogs who were food aggressive were regularly being put to sleep.  I knew that food aggression could be associated with other types of aggression, but I also knew that quite often it wasn’t.
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Every Interaction Counts

For most dogs, being relinquished to an animal shelter is a drastic change and a stressful experience. Even though the shelter may make every effort possible to make the dog’s temporary home feel welcoming, it is still a place where dogs will be confined, separated from their previous families and routines, and live in close proximity to unfamiliar dogs. These environmental changes and abundance of sensory stimuli are very stressful for most dogs.
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – but a picture is worth a thousand words!

Who among us hasn’t had the experience of seeing a photograph of a pet and sighed with pleasure, amazed at the adorable sweetness of that animal? Even folks not in animal welfare are bombarded daily with cute pictures of pets, through email, Facebook, and Twitter. For those of us in animal welfare, make that hourly! Yet, just what makes us sigh and want to reach through the virtual airwaves and snuggle with that pet? Some photos are universally acclaimed to be chock full of that “sweet” factor, while others are more to an individual taste. Certainly the animal pictured is part of it – but how much is the animal and how much the photo? And how important are photos to the adoption process?
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CSD Programs Help Save Lives in the ASPCA® Rachel Ray™ $100K Challenge


The Animal Rescue League of Boston is one of just 50 shelters across the country participating in the ASPCA® Rachel Ray™ $100K Challenge. Through this program the League and other participating shelters help find forever homes for puppies, dogs, kittens and cats, and have the opportunity to earn critical grant money to fund future life-saving efforts. The League’s goal of saving 1,200 lives in 12 weeks is aided by the Center for Shelter Dogs’ research-based initiatives in canine behavior evaluation and enrichment.
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Dog Parks and the Adopted Dog

Many adopters want to be able to enjoy dog parks with their new companion. Dog parks can be a great opportunity for dogs to play off leash (especially in a city environment) and to enjoy some social time with their own species. Dog parks can also help high energy dogs to burn off some energy so they can be more relaxed in the home.
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Office Fostering: Tips & Tricks

Office fostering is a great way to learn more about the dogs in your shelter. Not all of our dogs come from the quintessential “home” environment, therefore it is difficult to tell potential adopters how they’ll do in a home when we’ve only seen them in the kennels. In one day (sometimes only an hour or so), you can learn a lot about your shelter dogs with an office foster program.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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