Enrichment in the Shelter
ENRICHMENT IS THE KEY. This observation is especially true of the way our country treats its beloved companion animals, dogs and cats, and it strikes at the very heart of why Lesley Sinclair created Animal Care Sanctuary nearly half a century ago.
Enrichment is the key in making the lives of our animals more fulfilling and enjoyable. We spend time with our dogs at home: walking them, brushing them, training them, and, overall, just spending one on one time with them. Shelter animals need the human touch and care as well. They need daily physical and emotional stimulation to deal with the stresses of kennel life. Stresses include loud noises and lack of sleep, all of which affect their behavior and adoptability. While we strive to provide each animal with love and care, shelter life is not an ideal living condition for any animal. Providing toys, treats, exercise, and love, our staff and volunteers provide toys, treats, exercise and love to make the temporary stay at the shelter less stressful.
What we do at our shelter:
Daily 20 minute walks and/or playgroups
Staff responsibility includes walking and training the dogs every day. There is rarely a day that every dog does not get out of the run and head off to enjoy a dip in the pond, a car ride, a long walk in the woods, or a chance to run in the yard with his/her companions. This is one of our basic fundamental goals every day. Dogs need to get out of the shelter to keep them from deteriorating mentally and physically.
Dogs in homes can also deteriorate to lack of physical and mental stimulation. Ensuring that each dog has enough exercise, attention, sleep, and care, is important to maintain their behavioral wellbeing.
Daily Positive Reinforcement Training
Every single employee goes through a training course that equals a 30 week schooling period. It teaches the employee the basics of canine body language, the laws of learning, and proper stress-free handling. We practice positive reinforcement training to ensure to create a lasting bond between a dog and his owner.
Animal Car Sanctuary believes in making each dog’s stay as comfortable as possible and supply each dog with a comfy Kuranda bed and a warm blanket on a daily basis.
Toys are handed out daily giving the dogs something to entertain their physical and emotional needs while providing entertainment and comfort.
Daily scents are sprayed on dogs’ blankets; a different scent every day. This gives the sense of smell something different to focus on rather the same smells of other dogs and hundreds of scents picked up daily.
Scent sticks are PVC sticks with holes filled with grass, hay, and any other natural elements that the dogs can spend time thinking about and playing with instead of focusing on stressful stimulants. These pipes can be hung from the ceiling which provides the challenge of trying to reach the stick; this challenges the dogs’ mental wellbeing.
Frozen Kongs are given to each dog once a day. This provides something to challenge the minds of the animals and encourage the mental stimulation while giving the animals something to look forward to when re-entering the runs after a walk. This breaks the routine of the day and gives the animals a way to settle down.
Lights Out and Classical Music
In the kennel, lights are turned off and classical music is played from the hours of 12-2pm. This gives the dogs time to settle down and relax. Most shelter dogs never get enough sleep in a 24-hour period which can lead to mental deterioration, emotional and physical health problems, and behavior problems. The calming low lights and soft music encourage peace and rest for the dogs.
Food Dispensing Toys and Dog Puzzles
When we feel a dog is stressed and needs extra enrichment, staff provides the dog with food dispensing toys and/or puzzles that make reaching the treats difficult for the dog. This provides long periods of mental stimulation and enhances problem solving skills.
Click for Calm
Whether walking down the aisle or cleaning out the next-door run, staff will click for calm behaviors for any dog sitting quietly or just hanging out. This rewards dogs for behaviors of which we want to see more. By rewarding behaviors that we want, we will see an increase in the behaviors and ultimately increase the chances of that animal being adopted.