How To Help Shelter Dogs

How to support the animal shelters and rescues that do so much for the welfare of animals, people, and your community

Shelters and rescues for animals are wonderful! They typically aid countless numbers of animals and people while having very little publicity and low resources. Give back by deciding on one or more of the following methods to express your gratitude for the organizations that do so much for people, animals, and your neighborhood.

Adopt a pet

If you’ve been considering adding a pet to your family, think about adopting from a nearby shelter or rescue organization. The Shelter Pet Project allows you to search for available dogs and cats in your area. Make sure to inquire about the adoption procedure from the organization you are thinking about adopting from, and if it doesn’t feel right to you, move on to another local organization.


Every animal shelter and rescue organization needs to pay their bills, therefore your kind financial contribution would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be utilized to assist with funding daily operations, supplies, staff training, improvements to animal housing, community outreach initiatives, enrichment for animals, and much more.


Even if you are currently unable to acquire a pet, you may improve the lives of animals in your neighborhood by volunteering at a shelter or animal rescue group. Have you ever worked as an electrician or a carpenter? Do you excel at marketing or walking dogs? These abilities are all highly valuable. Or be willing to learn a new skill that is required, like trap-neuter-return for feral cats.

Say thanks

Spend a moment thanking the staff at your neighborhood shelter or animal rescue organizations. Did one of them adopt you a pet? Do they offer inexpensive spay/neuter procedures? They might have assisted in your pet’s reunion with you or given you behavioral guidance that allowed your pet to remain in your home. Give them a social media shout-out, provide lunch or cookies for the employees, and/or tell the local leadership how valuable they are to the neighborhood.

Become a fan

Invite your friends and family to “like” and “follow” your neighborhood animal shelters and rescue organizations on Facebook. Like and follow the Shelter Pet Project as well, which points individuals to their neighborhood shelters and rescues when they want to adopt a cat or dog. Share and comment on posts to participate.

Get crafty

Bring much-needed pleasure into the lives of neighborhood shelter and rescue pets by combining fabric, recycling, and creativity. Create eye-catching “Adopt-Me” jackets to highlight available dogs at adoption events hosted by shelters and rescues, or play matchmaker by making cage curtains to give shelter cats some solitude (and help them stay healthy).

Make wishes come true

Towels, toys, and other goods are always needed by shelters and rescue organizations. If they don’t have a wishlist, call them to ask what’s in short supply and offer to make one for them. Check their websites for wishlists.

Become a foster

Foster care has undeniable value. They can rescue the lives of animals that cannot adapt to shelter life, those that require medical attention, and orphaned kittens that require a caregiver to replace their mother (or whose needs are beyond what busy shelter staff can often provide).

Numerous rescue organizations rely heavily on foster homes.

Rescue organizations simply could not take in as many animals without a solid network of foster caregivers. Foster homes can promote adoption to friends, family, and coworkers who might not otherwise go to the shelter. Fostering can be a lot of fun for the resident pet if you already have pets.

Help at your own home

simplify the work of shelters and rescue organizations: Give your dogs and cats collars and appropriate identification (a microchip and ID tags) at all times. You should spay or neuter all of your pets as soon as you bring them into your family. Keep your dogs on leashes when they are outside your property and keep your cats indoors where you can keep them secure (though it’s nice to take them for walks if they are comfortable with a harness and leash or give them a catio for safe outdoor enrichment).

Help your shelter make positive changes

An out-of-date animal control ordinance or, for municipal shelters, a lack of funding may make it more difficult for your neighborhood shelter to fulfill its job. You may contribute by enlisting the aid of your elected authorities and working with leaders of shelters and rescue organizations to implement the required adjustments. Follow these recommendations for the most productive ways to express any concerns you may have if you see or hear something at your neighborhood shelter that worries you.

Do dogs experience stress in shelters?

Many animal shelters and veterinary clinics operate at a rapid pace. I was instructed to “simply get things done as rapidly as possible” when I was a rookie veterinarian. When the workload was heavy, holding down an animal for a vaccination, scratching a cat, or snatching a dog by the collar and yanking him out of a cage were occasionally necessary in order to do everything quickly. In the course of a hectic day of dealing with animals, many of us are taught to do things in this manner.

I saw the necessity of getting things done, but I preferred a more considerate approach. Soon after, I began bringing goodies with me to the clinic and the animal shelter, and I experimented with various methods to calm frightened animals. In fact, the veterinary students frequently referred to me as “Doctor Cookie,” and many of them believed I was slightly insane for being so concerned about treating animals gently.

It turns out that the Fear Free initiative’s founder, veterinarian Marty Becker, shared my worries and requested that I lead the initiative’s shelter training after learning that we shared similar issues. I leaped at the opportunity to take part.

With the goal of preventing and reducing fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by energizing and teaching those who look for them, Fear Free was established in 2016. We may lessen anxiety and frustration in both people and animals by empowering staff members at shelters and rescue organizations to use broad concepts, strategies, and techniques.

Fear Free is founded on the understanding that using a soft approach not only makes people feel better, but it also improves their health. Stress, anxiety, and frustration can affect an animal’s wellbeing and immune system, raise their risk of contracting infectious diseases, and cause behavioral disorders.

Fear Free is founded on the understanding that using a soft approach not only makes people feel better, but it also improves their health.

We are all aware of the anxiety dogs and cats experience when entering an animal shelter. Due to entering and being confined in such a strange setting, they frequently feel sentiments of dread, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. They aren’t intentionally being tough or acting inappropriately out of spite.

We are also aware of how stressful shelter work can be for individuals. Seeing animals who are frightened, uncomfortable, or scared out is disturbing. Other animals and humans are both impacted by one animal’s stress. And these unfavorable feelings influence how we feel as well as how we act.

The Fear Free Shelter Program is focused on teaching participants how to better identify the symptoms of fear, anxiety, tension, and annoyance as well as how to use straightforward, doable strategies to prevent and lessen them.

Thankfully, cats and dogs make this simple for us. They constantly communicate their feelings to us through a flood of signals. The most noticeable ones entail alterations in their vocalizations and body language. For instance, if they are scared, they could cower, shake, snarl, or try to flee. They can also quietly express their emotions by refraining from engaging in routine activities like eating and grooming. Animals who are happy exhibit a range of typical actions, such as eating, playing, exercising, being social, and soundly sleeping.

The first crucial step in assisting animals in the shelter to feel better is to identify and comprehend the symptoms of fear, worry, tension, and frustration. Effective communication with everyone—those who bring animals to the shelter, prospective adopters, and the entire sheltering staff—is the second crucial step.

In order to improve human communication, Fear Free emphasizes four key skills: employing positive nonverbal cues, posing open-ended questions, engaging in reflective listening, and demonstrating empathy and understanding.

We must comprehend and consider how animals would likely interpret our behaviors and their surroundings if we are to treat them with consideration.

Are there sad dogs in shelters?

Dogs do experience a variety of emotions, as the majority of dog owners will attest. According to the article, “Do Dogs Feel Sadness? by Kate Hughes, dogs may not experience sadness quite the same as humans do because dogs lack self-consciousness, but they can experience anxiety and depression. This is according to Dr. Carlo Siracusa at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

According to studies, the emotional development of dogs is comparable to that of a child that is two or two and a half years old. As a result, their melancholy is simpler than that of an adult human. Adult humans, for instance, may experience sadness or depression as a result of obsessing over their flaws, mistakes, or actions or inactions. Dogs don’t feel this kind of melancholy because, like very young toddlers, they don’t have a sense of self. Dogs can, however, become depressed or unhappy for a number of other causes.

Dogs are social creatures, so being ignored or left alone for extended periods of time can have an impact on their mental health. Long-term confinement in a crate or lavatory for dogs might make them depressed. Give your dog as much time as you can with your loved ones.

In a similar vein, depression can result from inactivity. For pets who are kept in crates or are confined to small spaces for long periods of time, this can be very problematic. Although housebreaking puppies can benefit from crate training, they should never be confined for longer than 4 hours without a long break.

Once your puppy is potty trained, a crate can give your dog a comfortable place to sleep with the door left open. As dogs mature, restrict confinement and, ideally, move to a larger space when necessary since dogs need company, exercise, and stimulation, which they cannot get in a crate.

Additionally, research the sorts and amounts of exercise that are suitable for your dog’s breed and age to ensure that it receives the frequent activity it need.

When a family member is depressed, dogs may also get depressed. According to recent studies, dogs can detect human emotions. In May 2012, a study that indicated dogs responded more strongly to crying than to talking or humming was published in the Animal Cognition journal. The best course of action in this situation might be therapy for you or the depressive family member, which would cheer up your dog.

When a family member dies, whether it be a human companion or another pet, dogs too go through depression. Dogs occasionally do better when a new pet is introduced, but not usually. It can be very painful for a dog to lose its owner.

In the article “Study: Dogs bond with owners similarly to infants with parents” from 2013, CBS News reported on an intriguing study. Researchers found that canines too suffer the “secure base effect phenomenon” that affects babies. Similar to infants, dogs are more willing to connect with objects and people when they sense their carers’ secure presence. Those who are closest to your dog should step in and show it extra care and affection if it has lost a cherished family member or carer.

Punishment is another factor in dog depression. Animal behaviorists claim that when dogs are physically punished frequently, such as with shock collars or other devices, they begin to feel helpless. Dogs may become more reclusive in addition to becoming aggressive. Rewarding good behavior in dogs is the most effective training strategy. This is more efficient and is also healthier for their emotional well-being.

Finally, some medical ailments, such thyroid issues, might contribute to depression. Have your dog examined by your veterinarian if they feel depressed, especially if there isn’t a clear cause.

The most typical signs of canine depression are comparable to those of human depression. These consist of:

First, if you believe any of the aforementioned causes of your dog’s depression, try to fix the problem. This frequently makes your dog’s melancholy disappear. However, if your dog doesn’t get better, an antidepressant may assist, especially in dogs who are worried. Many of the same antidepressants given to people are also prescribed for dogs. Before administering one to your dog, always consult your vet.

How should a homeless dog be cared for?

You might have a lot to offer your neighborhood shelter whether you’re updating the pet carrier you use for your dog or simply realize you’re recycling a lot of old newspaper.

Older crates, pet supplies, toys, worn-out towels, chew toys, even old newspapers, may be a terrific way to help. Call the shelter in your area and find out what items they require.

How does the 333 rule apply to dogs?

Your entire family can benefit from and enjoy rescuing a new puppy. They advise you to be aware of the 3-3-3 rule before adopting a dog from a shelter. Three days, three weeks, and three months after being adopted from a shelter, your new dog or puppy will go through the 3-3-3 rule’s phases, which symbolize common milestones. Your new puppy will acclimatize to his new surroundings and go through a transitional period upon moving into your home. After you bring your dog home, give him time and room to grow.

How can you tell if a dog in rescue is content?

A dog’s tail wagging as you walk through the door is the most obvious indication that they adore you. If your dog wags its tail when it sees you, whether you’ve been gone all day or just a short while, they’ve probably developed a bond with you.

“Tail wagging represents a dog’s eagerness, with more forceful wagging relating to more excitement,” claims LiveScience.