Image Source: Wikimedia.org
The majority of dogs that get placed in a shelter find it stressful even if the shelter is welcoming. They would have gotten separated from their previous families, they have to live in confined spaces, and more importantly, have to deal with other dogs in close proximity. These changes can severely affect dogs and reduce their chances of getting adopted if steps aren’t taken to alleviate stress. Dogs under stress will become destructive and start to defecate or urinate in their kennel. Some dogs might become inactive and go to the hide in the back of the kennel or they will stop eating. Others might get aggressive and bark with increased frequency. Increased stress levels will make dogs more susceptible to diseases. They will also take longer to recover if they fall sick. To reduce stress in shelter dogs, take the following steps:
- Dog Appeasing Pheromone (DAP) CollarThere are synthetic canine pheromones available that are proven to reduce stress in dogs. There are diffusers available but they only remain effective in small shelters. The best option is to use DAP collars which remain effective, irrespective of the size of the shelter.
- Soothing musicStudies have shown that dogs respond to music and stress levels reduce when classical or ambient music is played. The atmosphere inside the kennel will become calm and the barking will reduce significantly. Avoid using other genres as it might increase stress levels rather than reducing them. Observe the dogs for a while to see if they like the music you are playing.
- Social contactDogs are extremely social and love getting attention. Talking to dogs, petting them, and giving them a gentle massage goes a long way in reducing stress. Dogs need to know that they will be loved even when they are in a shelter.
- Regular exerciseShelter dogs tend to get stressed out as they have to live in restricted or caged environments. They love running around, going for walks, and playing with their toys. It’s important to encourage dogs to play and run as much as possible. Exercises are a good way to get stress out of their system.
- Minimum noise levelIt’s vital that you maintain the noise level as low as possible in a shelter as dogs are sensitive to noise and high noise levels can increase stress exponentially. Teach the dogs to remain quiet by giving them treats. If the dog barks when you get close to the door, walk away from the dog. By rewarding good behavior, dogs will understand that they shouldn’t unnecessarily bark.
It’s important that you keep dogs stress-free as much as possible. It will keep them physically and mentally healthy while they stay in a shelter.