Animal Welfare Professionals

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  • 1.  Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-16-2022 01:03 PM
    Good Afternoon Everyone, 

    I am looking at starting a volunteer enrichement team to focus on our lond term dogs and cats.  Does anyone have ideas for enrichement for long term dogs that are starting to go kennel crazy.  We are doing enrichement but since we are short staffed we are looking at volunteers to take the lead.  I am also looking for a manual/SOP for volunteers to use as a reference.  Anything would help!  Thanks in advance!

    Thank you, 

    amber francisco

  • 2.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 04-18-2022 09:08 AM
    Added some resources for you below! I would feel remiss if I didn't preface this by saying that the best way to help long-term dogs who are beginning to deteriorate from stress is moving to a foster home. Ideally longer-term foster, but short-term foster can also be really helpful. 

    Boredom Buster program
    How-to's from Charleston Humane Society
    Google Drive with enrichment how-to's

    Kelly Duer
    Maddie's Fund

  • 3.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-18-2022 09:59 AM
    Thank you!  We use fosters for them when we have them.


    amber francisco

  • 4.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-19-2022 11:26 AM
    These resources are INCREDIBLE! Thank you so so much, Kelly. Very excited to incorporate these :)

    Roxanne Conowitch
    Best Friends Animal Society

  • 5.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-19-2022 08:56 AM
    Hi Amber, 
    We have been in the same boat. We recently just expanded our volunteer and foster options to include taking a dog out of the shelter for a field trip and hosting an overnight slumber party. Giving them even a small break helps them. We also set up the funniest agility course you'd ever see- two boxes with a broom laid across it for them to jump over, PVC pipes with orange cones to weave around, a child's picnic table to jump and wait on.  The dogs LOVE it! It really gives them a chance to use their brains and we've noticed a huge difference. Good luck!

    Marcy Anagnostou
    Director of Development & Training Coordinator
    Warrior Dog Rescue

  • 6.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-25-2022 05:48 PM

    I am a very big advocate of the "doggie day out" concept--also be called short term foster.
    I have volunteered at 2 different shelters and found this (as a volunteer) to be the most rewarding of all things I have done.
    I am blessed in that both shelters were relatively close to a park with trails.  After I have established a relationship with the animal we take a truck ride to the park,  go for a hike or walk and then get plain cheese burgers--ALL these activities help with the things a pet would normally is secretly training him/her all along. I usually have them wear an "adopt me" harness and take photos to help with future "marketing"--showing the dog as a pet helps prospective adopters "see" them as a pet.
    Although I cannot provide you specific data I believe the majority of these dogs benefitted  by reducing stress.
    I ultimately adopted a dog who was in the shelter almost THREE years!! I believe I was integral in his survival as we took "doggie day outs" every Saturday!!  I believe a volunteer's connection to a particular animals in being their advocate/promoter/supporter throughout the shelter stay is the most powerful thing each volunteer can offer. The positives cannot even be measured!!

    susan murphy

  • 7.  RE: Dog Enrichment

    Posted 04-26-2022 12:27 PM
    Marcy said, "We also set up the funniest agility course you'd ever see- two boxes with a broom laid across it for them to jump over, PVC pipes with orange cones to weave around, a child's picnic table to jump and wait on. The dogs LOVE it! It really gives them a chance to use their brains and we've noticed a huge difference." To which I say AWESOME! Dogs need to move, and they need to exercise their brains as well as their bodies. They need jobs to do and lots of opportunities to show off. Good job, Marcy!

    At our facility, we've utilized eight treadmills for many years, set up side-by-side in two sets of four, every day in soooo many ways. Walking (no jogging) on treadmills helps our dogs drain their extra energy, regardless of the hot/cold/rainy/humid weather outside. It helps less-secure dogs build confidence and dogs who aren't comfortable with other dogs begin to see them as potential walking partners as opposed to rivals. And it makes our dogs so much happier and more adoptable. We use donated human treadmills - nothing fancy - and the dogs LOVE them! Let inside (after their AM trip to the "poop pen") to treadmill every morning, the dogs jump on their favorite one, ready to go.

    Here are some hints regarding treadmills:
    (1) Treadmills should be positioned side-by-side in an area where the dogs can be monitored while other work gets done. We do laundry, make phone calls, clean up and prepare meds (all tasks that have to be done anyway) while watching our dogs treadmill 45 minutes-1 hour at a time in two groups (ave. population 20-25 dogs).
    (2) Treadmill, don't DREADmill. The difference is extremely important, so see hint (8).
    (3) Vary speed at least every 10 minutes by 0.1 - 0.2 mph.
    (4) Know that you have one and only one time to introduce a dog to a treadmill, so it is vital to do things right the first time so the experience is a positive one.
    (5) We introduce dogs to treadmills in one of three different ways depending upon a dog's natural confidence and willingness to move forward. The approach taken with insecure puppymill dogs is naturally different than that taken with your average adolescent & underexercised pitbull.
    (6) Treadmilling staff and volunteers should be carefully chosen for a particular skillset (empathetic awareness, good timing and good leash hands are required).
    (7) Small dogs can treadmill in pairs. We've even had four small dogs share a larger treadmill like a little team of Clydesdales, two in the front and two in the back.
    (8) An excellent (and quite practical) resource to read in this regard is Chapter 17 of the book, "SMILE! and other practical life lessons your dogs can teach you (while you are training them)." I recommend all people just learning to treadmill read this chapter three times to be set up for success. For more info on the book (and to start reading the first 2 chapters), see


    Lynne Swanson
    Safe Harbor Farm K9