Celia Haddon - Cat Expert

Understanding animals through their behaviour


  1. Feed your dogs not just in bowls but also in stuffed Kongs or in hollow huge bones, so as to make meals last longer. Your dogs will also have more to do. If you feed dry food, scatter some round the enclosure rather than just in one bowl. Make meals more like foraging.
  2. Give dogs something to chew – large raw marrow bones. Chewing is an important stress reliever for dogs and most dogs find kennels very stressful indeed. If there’s nothing to chew they may even chew the bars.
  3. Put some dry food or treats in a pouch where adopters walk past, so that they can give this to the dog. This will help dogs feel positive about the people walking by and will also help adopters notice the dogs. Or put a toy for them to play with the dog through the bars.  Good rescue organisations often don’t let people just wander past but bring out the dogs they think are suitable to be introduced in an introduction room.
  4. Tie a tug toy on the side of the pen so that the dog can take out its frustration on the toy. This is particularly good for terriers that like shaking toys.
  5. House dogs together not alone, if you can find a compatible pair. You need to choose your dogs carefully otherwise you can find a dead dog in the enclosure. If you aren’t dogwise don’t do it or stick to dogs that come in as a pair. Remember two bitches together are most likely to fight. Don’t put a problem-free dog with a problem dog. Sod’s law says that you will soon have TWO problem dogs, since the new dog will quickly imitate the problem behaviour.
  6. Have a chill-out area for overstressed dogs to get some rest and quiet. This could be a store room, an office where they cannot see the passersby, or even time in somebody’s car.
  7. Encourage dog walker volunteers to spend time inside the kennel as well as on walks with a dog. Time in the kennel with a dog keeps up the dogs’ skills with people.
  8. Give toys. Change these regularly. An appeal for unwanted dog toys would probably get into the local paper so it need not cost too much. The local pet shop might put out a dump bin for them too. People are more likely to adopt a dog if they see a toy in its pen even if the dog doesn’t play with it – odd but true.
  9. Put a brightly coloured bandana on a dog that is being overlooked by adopters. Those nice little black and tan mongrels often need help to sell themselves. Make it a pink bow for a Staffie. Teach the dog to do a little trick and put a label saying he will do this. This will make him more appealing.
  10. Names are important. Give savage looking Staffies a nice name like Bubbles or Poochy or Tippytoes, not Tyson! Give overlooked dogs a really eye catching name like Prince Henry, Maximilian Dupont or Lady Gaga!
  11. Add some kind of platform in the pen so that a dog can sit on top of it. If it is hollow he will also be able to sit underneath it.
  12. Keep to a regular routine for meals and cleaning.
  13. Minimize the noise as much as possible. Soothing music like Mozart or Canine Lullabies (google it) may help dogs chill out.
  14. Download this document and use it to audit your rescue.


These notes are my copyright. I am also usually happy to have the exact words reproduced on websites, in return for a link, my name, and if permission is asked beforehand. I like to check the websites where it might be used. Email me via this website for permission which will usually be given. Organisations wishing to use them in print should contact me via this website. Copyright © 2007 Celia Haddon. All Rights Reserved.

Safety notice.

All normal safety precautions should be taken when dealing with animals. The advice in this section should be taken only at the owner’s own risk. All sick animals should be seen by a vet.

General advice of the kind found in this website is no substitute for an individual consultation with a vet or qualified behaviourist working on a vet’s referral.

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