Goals of the Angels of Assisi Enrichment Program

  • Improving the quality of life for the dogs and cats
  • Helping each animal show their best selves when potential adopters visit the kennels
  • Making efficient use of the our staff, volunteer pool, and budget 


Dogs in a shelter environment can not say that they're bored or stressed, but they may express it through inappropriate behaviors.shelter_enrichment.jpg

  • Barking
  • Jumping
  • Spinning
  • Chewing
  • Snapping
  • Resource Guarding
  • Withdrawing

Enrichment programs can help to relieve this boredom and stress and reduce these behaviors—and thus make a major difference in a shelter dog's daily life.

Play Groups

Angels of Assisi staff and volunteers give dogs time outside the kennels, with and without human interaction. This play time offers some of the best opportunities for canine enrichment:

  • The dogs get much needed exercise, which helps tire them out so that they are more relaxed in their kennels.
  • Social dogs enjoy the company of other dogs.
  • Dogs have the opportunity to exhibit natural behaviors, such as running, digging, following scents, and playing. They invent their own ‘dog games’ and interact in important social time. Being outdoors stimulates all of the dogs’ keen senses, which is naturally satisfying to them.
  • All dogs benefit from play time, but it is especially valuable for high-energy dogs, such as working and bully breeds, who are particularly challenged by confinement in a kennel.


Training is key to reducing stress. Keeping a dog challenged and his mind busy can make all the difference in his ability to deal with a noisy, over stimulated environment. Keeping his mind challenged is an important part of his behavioral development and stress reduction.

Choices for Chewing

Almost every meal is served to the dogs in Kong toys; this gives the dogs some extra mental stimulation as they enjoy digging through the peanut butter to get to their main entrée.

As necessary, dogs are also given appropriate alternatives that satisfy their need to chew and help reduce the stress of kennel life.


Angels of Assisi staff and volunteers encourage shy kitties to the front of their kennels with treats and everyday movements that invoke their curiosity. Often a shy cat comes out of its shell because it just can’t stand to be left out of the fun. They may not like to be held or cuddled but they do love to play.

  • Hiding Places
  • Scratching Posts
  • Social Contact
  • Visual Stimulation
  • Height Perches
  • Exercise

Our extra colony housing gives kitties a chance to play and climb. Staff and volunteers brush the cats, inspect them for illness or stress that precludes their good health and interact with them on many different levels