By Lisa Boland, Behavior and Enrichment Manager
Enrichment is an important component of the care we provide to Brother Wolf animals while they wait for their forever families. It comes in many forms, such as puzzle toys, fun feeders, positive training, sniffy walks, hikes, classes, and playgroups — to name a few!
Our dogs enjoy many enrichment activities on a daily basis. Inside the adoption center, each dog eats meals from puzzle bowls or toys, which gives them constructive outlets to expend mental energy. Staff members also routinely work with dogs to lower arousal levels when entering runs, delivering food, and preparing them for walks.
Outside, dogs enjoy playgroups — one of the most exciting activities for the social ones! The social and interactive cues that the dogs learn from each other are invaluable, and it’s such a heart-warming experience to see the dogs playing and having fun. Playgroups are also often been a bridge for the Behavior Team to connect with shy, undersocialized, or fearful dogs. The innate enthusiasm and interpersonal interactions give the Behavior and Enrichment team an opportunity to closely observe how each dog builds confidence. Playgroups happen five days a week, and we can always use more volunteers to assist with this essential enrichment program!
Volunteers also help us with our popular nosework classes. It is fantastic to see the dogs use both their noses and their brains as they search! We keep close records of each dog’s nosework participation and methodically increasing the difficulty as they expand their skills in the class.
Dogs new to nosework start on concrete or artificial turf because it doesn’t hold old scents (making it easier to find the prize). But Ambrosia (pictured left) is a pro! She has graduated to the most difficult environment.
We are also currently developing an agility foundations class to add to the weekly fun. Agility will offer the dogs confidence, body-awareness, and general skill building. It will be exciting to see them conquer obstacles and put together complex behavior chains!
Away from the Adoption Center, we have an amazing group of Outward Hounds volunteers who take the dogs on hikes three days a week. What a unique opportunity for the dogs! These hikes also allow us to learn valuable information about how the dogs explore their environment!
Finally, our Behavior and Enrichment team partners with a talented group of volunteers called “Manners Patrol”, who utilize clicker training to employ behavior modification and trick training. These exercises help give the dogs adoptable skills to take home to their new families — and they often gather a repertoire of adorable tricks!
Our cats receive enrichment too! We ensure that each cat has scratchers, different textiles, a “hidey hole”, and toys available to them at all times. These enriching tools help the cats explore their environment with confidence, and are excellent for providing mental and physical stimulation. The Behavior and Enrichment team also does behavior modification and training with the cats.
We love working with the dogs and cats, and it is a constant thrill to see each animal enjoy their various enrichment opportunities! As you can imagine, we are always in need of training treats and enrichment toys to continue our valuable work with the animals.
Please consider making a donation from our Behavior and Enrichment Amazon wishlist, or use the button below to make a monetary donation to our Help Me Learn fund.