Our Story What We're Up To Open Paw in Your Shelter
Education Modeling
 

 

What We're Up To

The most important thing we can do for sheltered animals is to help the animals to form positive associations to all kinds of people. This will help make them more calm, quiet and friendly when people approach the kennel, which will help them to get adopted, and will make them better socialized to people once they're out in the "real world," which will help keep them adopted.

Many animals have behavioral baggage when they come to the shelter, and, sadly, many animals rapidly deteriorate after only a short time in the shelter environment. Shelter animals often become de-housetrained, hyperactive, noisy, anxious, and lonely. If they do not become intimidated when strangers walk up to their kennels, their delight and excitement at seeing people is expressed as uncontrollable exuberance. Unless a vigorous socialization and training program is in effect, the animals, particularly puppies and kittens, become less and less adoptable with each day that they stay.

Open Paw has created a set of Minimum Mental Health Requirements to provide for the essential needs of sheltered animals, specifically regarding their adoptability and comfort, and their needs for companionship, entertainment, and education.

Not only do the Minimum Mental Health Requirements help existing sheltered animals, they can help keep other animals from ever entering a shelter. The calm, quiet, friendly, happily occupied dogs and cats in an Open Paw shelter generate amazement and curiosity in shelter visitors. This creates the perfect opportunity for the staff, volunteers, and shelter animals to help educate the public about pet education!

Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Dogs

  • A comfortable bed or den.
  • At least three daily opportunities to use a dog toilet area (outside of their kennel) and be rewarded for using it.
  • Sufficient entertainment (environmental enrichment, or occupational therapy) - stuffed chew toys such as Kongs, or Big Kahunas.
  • Hand fed, with remainder of food stuffed in chewtoys, i.e., no feeding from bowls.
  • Interaction with at least 20 people each day, including at least five unfamiliar people.
  • Handling and grooming by at least three people a day, including one unfamiliar person.
  • Daily education (basic manners training) and mental stimulation (walk).
  • Quiet kennel "down time" each day, a scheduled break from the public.
  • At least 20 minutes out of their kennel run each day, used either for training, socialization, playtime, exercise, or "down time" in somebody's office.
  • Canine companionship - either housed with other dogs, or daily 20 minute play/training sessions.

Puppies under 4 months must be housed together in a self-training, long-term confinement area, with constant access to a puppy toilet area, and fed only by hand (during conditioning and training) or from stuffed chewtoys, (i.e., no feeding from bowls). Puppies require daily handling, grooming, and manners training by at least five unfamiliar people. Puppies should be fostered whenever possible.

Minimal Mental Health Requirements for Cats

  • A warm clean environment with comfortable hiding place.
  • A separate litterbox area.
  • Litterbox should be cleaned regularly (feces removed immediately when noticed).
  • A convenient scratching post with suspended toys.
  • Interaction with at least 20 people daily, including at least five unfamiliar people.
  • Daily handling, gentling, and grooming by at least three people, including one unfamiliar person.
  • Feline companionship for social cats (group housing).

Kittens under 4 months should be housed together in a self-training, long-term confinement area, with constant access to a scratching surface with suspended toys, and a separate litterbox area. Kittens require daily handling, gentling, and grooming by at least five unfamiliar people.

Barney

 


 

 

 

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