Inexpensive and Easy DIY Enrichment Ideas for Animal Shelters


As animal care providers, you realize the welfare of shelter animals is more than just meeting the basic needs of food and shelter.  Providing shelter animals with environmental stimuli helps reduces boredom, stress and undesired behaviors which improves their adoptability.  It can also make the shelter a more pleasant environment to workers and potential adopters to be in.

Here’s a list of inexpensive ideas that will engage all the senses.

  • Bubbles – Yep, that’s right.  This classic childhood favorite is also great for visual stimulation for animals.  As part of your enrichment program it can help to reduce barking and anxiety.
  • Perpetual Motion Toys and Bird Feeders – set up outside areas with windows are also great visual stimulation for cats.
  • Small Amount of Dried Herb/Spices Sprinkled on Bedding – Dried herbs such as oregano and rosemary are not harmful to animals and provides something interesting to smell.
  • Soothing Music – A radio tuned to a classical radio station in the kennel area can also help improve anxiety.  Through A Dog’s Ear supplies CDs to shelters for the cost of shipping.   Their website provides lots of great information on the effects of music therapy on our four-legged friends: http://throughadogsear.com/shelter-program/
  • “Click for Quiet” Game – This game can be played by volunteers and shelter workers as they are walking through kennel areas.  Barking dogs are to be ignored.  Calm, quiet dogs can be praised with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and given a small treat as reward.  Over time this encourages calm and quiet behavior.
  • KONG Toys Stuffed with Food or Treats – These are also a great way to slow down those dogs seem to inhale their food.  Through their KONG Cares program, the KONG Company donates KONG toys that come through the manufacturing process with minor aesthetic imperfections to shelter.  You can register for their program here:  http://www.kongcompany.com/pet-partner-programs/shelter-registration/
  • Rags and Tug Toys Soaked in Broth and Frozen – These are special soothing treats for teething puppies.
  • Plastic Water Bottles Wrapped in Old T-Shirt or Rags – This can provide that great crunchy sounds dogs seem to not get enough of.

PetFirst is proud to partner with thousands of shelters across the U.S. To learn more about out 30-Day Pet Insurance program for animal welfare organizations, visit https://www.petfirst.com/Partners/Shelters-Rescues.aspx



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