K9 Advocate: A new way to speak for the dogs

Bridgett is one of many dogs benefitting from our K9 Enrichment program

Bridgett is one of many dogs benefiting from our K9 Enrichment program

There are a lot of things that make Wayside amazing, one of my favorite things is walking out on the dog adoption floor at that “perfect” time when all the dogs are napping or just hanging out quietly.  You can hear a pin drop.  Ok, this doesn’t happen a lot but at least once a shift I notice a quiet lull and the look on our customer’s faces is awesome.  “How do you keep the dogs so quiet,” they ask.  Well, we have our dedicated staff and volunteers who walk our dogs to keep them sane.  Another way we work with our dogs is keeping them busy with something stimulating.  Wayside now has a new team of K9 advocates looking for ways to enrich the lives of the dogs while they are staying in our shelter.  

What does a K9 advocate do?  Well like everyone at Wayside, we try to speak for the animals.  They need us to help them with their stress and overstimulation here at the shelter.  During open hours, our floor is very busy.  For some dogs this gets them aroused and barky.  Through enrichment we can help get their mind off of the stress and focused on other things.  We use Auditory, Mental, Olfactory, Oral, Social, Tactile and Visual enrichment.  

The most popular and well know enrichment activity is the frozen peanut butter Kong.  This is oral stimulation.  The dog will be so involved with licking and chewing of the Kong that they will relax and focus on the toy.  We also make ice cube treats out of broth along with soaking rope toys in broth and then freezing them.  

Kong wobblers are a food dispensing toy that makes dogs work to get the food.  They have to knock around the toy until it wobbles and dispenses the kibble.  This is mental stimulation for the dog making them learn and problem solve.  You may also see Gatorade bottles being used for this too. 

For the auditory (hearing) sense, Wayside plays classical or calming music for our pooches.  Tactile sensory works with the animal’s stimulation to touch.  Grooming our dogs or doing T-touch type massages are great for this. 

The olfactory sense deals with smell.  We have spray bottles with different scents such as vanilla, berry, almond, banana, caramel, peppermint and cinnamon.  This helps give dogs new smells other than the norm while relaxing them and stimulating there brains.

Comfort Crew and volunteer dog walkers help us with the social enrichment part of the plan.  Play groups, walking, positive reinforcement and in kennel reading time give our dogs the doggy and human interaction they need. 

The last sensory area is visual and right now we are brainstorming ideas for this.  If you have any suggestions please email spugh@waysidewaifs.org

Wayside needs your help getting the enrichment program going.  So what do you say?  Want to help the Waifs?  Here are the items we are looking for:

  • Empty Gatorade bottles
  • Easy Cheese
  • Hot dogs
  • Ice cube trays
  • Sugar free Kool-aid
  • Broths of all flavors
  • Extracts or spices for scent enrichment
  • Kongs
  • Kong Wobblers
  • Spray Bottles
  • Peanut Butter
  • Rubber dog brushes (found in the grooming isle) 

These are the items we need most for the enrichment program.  You can drop off your donations at Wayside Waifs Mon & Tues 8am – 5pm, Wed-Fri 8am – 8am, Sat & Sun Noon – 6pm.  Please mark them as donations for the enrichment program. 

Help us, help the dogs to be the best pets they can be and together we are making a big difference. 

Written by Stephanie Pugh and Kathi Bassett
Wayside K9 Advocates

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