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Enriched dogs. Enriched shelters.

Founded in 1999 by Corinne Dowling, Give a Dog a Bone (GADAB) pioneered the practice of providing enrichment services for shelter dogs. Give a Dog a Bone’s original goal was simply to relieve the isolation, boredom, stress and suffering of dogs in enforced custody and medical isolation at a local Bay Area open admissions municipal shelter. GADAB’s mission has since evolved to improving the lives of all shelter dogs, everywhere, through model enrichment programming.

The time dogs spend in a kenneled environment can vary widely from shelter to shelter – from days to weeks to potentially months, depending on the temperament, breed, age and/or health of a dog as well as the individual philosophy and practice of the shelter or rescue group. And what we know is that long-term shelter dogs rapidly deteriorate over time, resulting in loss of appetite, poor hygiene, diminished motivation, depression, aggression, and in some cases, self-mutilation.

But GADAB is making a big difference in the lives of shelter dogs! Using our shelter-tested practices, shelter workers can learn to enrich the daily lives of all dogs in their care through:

— Specialized training and companionship activities tailored to specific canine temperaments, physical abilities, health status and more
— Toys and activities aimed at providing outlets for natural canine behaviors such as sniffing, running, playing, retrieving, and canine “puzzle solving”

All of these activities help keep shelter dogs mentally, physically and emotionally healthy – and that means happier and more adoptable dogs. With the proper training, GADAB enrichment practices can also be adapted for use with kennel-confined dogs (such as dogs identified as “vicious and dangerous” or dogs that are medically isolated due to health problems or contagious conditions).

Shelter enrichment not only provides a better and more humane quality of life for dogs – a worthy goal in its own right – but also maintains and enhances a dog’s adoptability over the time they are in the shelter. And that means better odds for more happy endings.