Helping Create Happy, Well-Balanced Dogs at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County
The HSSLC Enrichment program is designed to improve and enhance the mental lives of the dogs in our care. Many times dogs come into a shelter and become anxious or depressed. There is such a high energy level in the kennels that stresses some dogs out. Certain dog breeds also require a lot more exercise and attention than other breeds. If they aren’t able to get the needed exercise, this can lead to anxiousness or lashing out. This is why the Humane Society of St. Lucie County has decided to launch our NEW Enrichment Program.
Types of Enrichment:
We are improving the mental state of our dog’s by using a range of activities designed to challenge and exercise their brains. Enrichment can come from various activities including food puzzles, licking mats, jolly balls, and play groups. Both physical and mental states need to be taken into consideration when enriching a dog.
1. Food Puzzles/ Slow Feeders/ Food Games
These puzzles benefit dogs in more ways than one. Some dogs can chow down their entire bowl almost instantaneously. Food puzzles will help slow them down and avoid unwanted consequences such as vomiting and indigestions. They also mentally stimulate the dog, providing exercise for their mind and body. A major problem that shelter dogs face is boredom, these puzzles can help alleviate some of that boredom. By doing so, you can possibly avoid any behavior issues that could come from this boredom.
2. Play Groups
An incredible enrichment for dogs are play groups. They lower isolation and stress in the kennels. Play groups allow dogs to interact and bond with each other as packs are designed to do. Social time minimizes behavioral deterioration, speeds up behavior modification and creates more peaceful kennels by facilitating a more natural situation. Play groups can support better behavior in and out of the kennels. Allowing our dogs to participate in group play can lead to higher receptivity during standard obedience training. Less pent up energy helps our dogs accept what we are teaching them.
3. Group Training
We use group training specifically for the dogs who can sometimes be dog reactive or dog selective. This type of training allows them to interact and bond with each other, as packs are designed to do, at a safe distance. Socializing in a group minimizes behavioral deterioration, speeds up behavior modification and creates more peaceful kennels.
4. Individual Enrichment
Some of our dogs have different needs. Some breeds require more work and attention than others. Certain dogs who are in need of more time out of their kennel due to their pent-up energy especially benefit from this. Individual enrichment gives these dogs extra time out of their kennels away from all of the barking. This is also a prime time for our staff to work on basic obedience training with them. Some of our other dogs struggle in different ways, such as being nervous to trust new humans.
One of the dogs living at the shelter, Symba, is an amazing dog. He is a sweetheart to the staff that he knows. However, he is nervous around strangers. He benefits tremendously from individual enrichment. He is socialized with new people. New staff will come up and greet him and give him treats, reinforcing that he can trust them.