I went into a local Miami humane society to have a talk with the director and shelter managers about brining training, enrichment and making the dog shelter a more bark free, less stressful environment for the dogs and cats in their care.
The building had been around for decades and it would be costly to build another one, so there was no tearing it down to reconstruct a more hospitable, social, quiet, green, suitable environment for the dog and cat inhabitants. Given that, we could still work with the yard or outside area and could change how the staff and volunteers interact with the dogs in the shelter.
One feature that is highly overlooked when dealing with dog stressors are the smells and noise levels of homes and animal shelters. Dogs sense the world primarily through their nose. Because of their large olfactory glands and their incredible sense of smell, it would make sense that odors affect them greatly.
What cleaning solutions do you use on your floors, in your kitchen or to disinfect the bathroom? These odors and smells get magnified by the harsh chemicals shelters use to disinfect and clean overly crowded small spaces with many dogs and cats. The smell of urine and feces as well as these chemicals makes these environments inherently more stressful than being in a home or a large open area. The more people take into consideration the chemicals, ventilation and how cleaning supplies affect their pets the more it will help relax and distress their pets.
Noise is another stress factor for dogs in shelters and homes. Primarily, shelters tend to be loud and overcrowded. People walk in and out at all times, peering through cages and through glass windows, trying to engage the dogs by knocking on the doors or windows. All of these actions are very stressful to a dog. This is not a calm soothing environment. When you mix in noxious fumes and chemicals with a dog’s sensitive nose and loud barking and chronic noise to their sensitive ears, you have a very stressful outcome.
Stress not only causes illnesses in humans but in dogs as well. It also causes reactive and intolerable behaviors and it goes without saying that stress is one of the reasons dogs don’t show well or portray who they truly are as they would in a calm peaceful setting. Understanding why your dog is stressed can lead to a happy and loving environment for both you and your dog.
Russ Hartstein is the owner and operator of Fun Paw Care and has over 25 years of experience in the dog training and pet care services in miami and canine good citizen. Fun Paw Care works with all levels of dog training and behavior issues. If you are interested in our dog training services, please visit us online today!