Making an enrichment calendar and tracking results

by Sharon Kutsop


With so many options for easy, simple ways to enrich the lives of your shelter’s pets, it’s easy to get excited and want to try them all at once. But depending on your organization (the number of animals, the layout of the building, your location, the amount of staff and volunteers you have available) it likely makes sense to pace yourself and create a calendar and collect data to see what works best for your organization and animals.

Elsa is available from Crossed Paws Rescue

Elsa enjoys her toy very much! Elsa is available for adoption from Crossed Paws Rescue in NJ.

Over the course of a couple of months, you may want to rotate through steps and record the findings. Perhaps choose the most appealing enrichment techniques first, then create a schedule like this one:

Monday: Scent of the day

Tuesday: CD of classical music

Wednesday: Frozen Kongs

Thursday: Play groups

Friday: Quiet time in the afternoon (shut down kennel and lights off for an hour)

Of course there are many other options for enrichment you can choose from, but these are a few examples. As the weeks pass, you may see a pattern of some techniques working better than others. Perhaps the olfactory stimulation through different scents is not showing a measurable difference in the kennel or cattery, but the classical music is showing to have a distinct calming effect. Make specific notes every day and at the end of the trial you can choose which options will not work for your kennel and which ones you would like to stick with. When you scratch an idea off the list because it is not working for you, start the process over with new ideas and track them the same way. You can also try the ideas individually for a week at a time. So, your schedule would look like this:

Week One: Scent of the day

Week Two: CD of classical music

And so on. For some more ideas, check out this article.