The Stories Behind The Need

July 15th, 2020 | Posted by site42* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Stories Behind The Need)

Humane Pennsylvania’s community outreach team is all about helping people in our community take better care of their pets. We start from a baseline of no judgment – our mission is not to shame people for what they can’t provide but to step in and fill gaps where needed, whether that’s offering free food, hosting vaccine/microchip clinics, or providing other essential services. In many instances, to describe these services are “lifesaving” is not an exaggeration.

Very often, though, we hear people say “if people can’t afford to care for their pets they shouldn’t have them”.  That sentiment is of course rooted in good intentions – after all, without proper care the animals suffer. But it misses the larger point — pets aren’t luxury items reserved for the privileged few.  And many times the people who wind up needing our lifesaving support are truly lifesavers for their pets. Here are just a few examples:

One of our Spike’s Pet Pantry clients currently has 6 cats and 3 dogs. That would be a lot of pets for someone who has a considerable amount of disposable income, let alone someone who barely scrapes by, so it would be easy to say “what a foolish, uncaring woman she must be to have taken on that many animals!” But if you were to dig deeper and actually ask about her story you’d find that she never set out to acquire any of those pets — each one was either abandoned or needed a new home because their existing owner found themselves in an even worse financial position than hers. Taking those animals into her home was an act of kindness.

A recent addition to Spike’s Pet Pantry’s client list is a young couple who had no intention of taking on the expense of an animal but heard a tiny kitten struggling to escape from a storm drain and just couldn’t leave him behind. The free services we’ve been able to provide allowed them to save that kitten and ensure he has a permanent loving home.

Then there’s the road crew worker who comes to Spike’s Pet Pantry still in uniform to get free pet food.  She was able to make ends meet with her 2 dogs and 2 cats, but now that her son and daughter-in-law have had to move in with their own 3 pets because they lost their jobs, money is just too tight. Without our help, their family would have lost something even more precious than just their income – they would have lost their beloved family members.

It’s easy to judge from the outside – it’s a lot harder once you start learning peoples’ stories.  Every day we meet exceptional people who are going to great lengths to ensure the best possible care for their animals.  We are grateful that we can be their safety net.  And we are grateful to each and every one of you who has donated your time, money and contributions of food and supplies to allow us to continue serving others.


Sharing a Humane Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update: Green Phase

July 8th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Sharing a Humane Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update: Green Phase)

We appreciate everyone’s continued support in allowing us to modify procedures to best accommodate our clients, supporters, volunteers, and staff as we acclimate to this new normal.

We are thrilled to announce that our Danielle Ruiz-Murphy Dog Park in Birdsboro has officially reopened! If you are using our free dog park, please keep social distancing in mind, and keep yourself and others safe and healthy.

Also starting July 6th The Humane League of Lancaster County will be accepting appointments for those wishing to visit our shelter. If you are interested in making an appointment to come to our shelter, please call our front desk at 717-393-6551.

Our Spike’s Pet Pantry program in Berks and Lancaster Counties remains open and available to meet your needs. If you, or someone you know needs pet food assistance in Berks County, please visit our Community Resource Center every Tuesday and Thursday from 2 PM – 6 PM. If you are able, please consider donating to help feed pets in need by dropping donations in the blue bins outside of The Humane League of Lancaster County or Humane Veterinary Hospital, Reading.  If you, or someone you know needs pet food assistance in Lancaster County, please contact The Humane League of Lancaster County at 717-393-6551.

We are sorry to inform you that low-cost spay/neuter surgeries are not yet available. Regular price surgery appointments may be scheduled through our Humane Veterinary Hospitals; if you are in need of low-cost services, we recommend you call No Nonsense Neutering at 1-866-820-2510.

Upcoming pay-what-you-can vaccine and microchip clinics will be scheduled from time to time over the course of the summer, please watch our Humane Pennsylvania Facebook and website for announcements. We appreciate your understanding as we all navigate through this difficult time together, and we look forward to adding additional services as circumstances allow.

Humane Veterinary Hospitals are increasing their services offered. Clients are welcome, and encouraged to schedule their wellness visits, and continue providing routine care for their pets. Please contact Humane Veterinary Hospital, Lancaster at 717-393-6551 or Humane Veterinary Hospital, Reading at 610-921-2348 to schedule an appointment.

In accordance with the Pennsylvania Business Safety Order, all visitors to Humane Pennsylvania locations are asked to wear a mask.

Thank you for your patience as we continue to work to keep you and your pets safe and healthy.


Walking for the Animals is Lifesaving

July 8th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Walking for the Animals is Lifesaving)
By: Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations for Humane Pennsylvania

When we first kicked around the idea of hosting this year’s Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest virtually, I wasn’t sure how that would shape out. Our annual Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest has been built to be an in-person event. The vendors, the dogs, the packs, the live music; every detail has been thoroughly figured out to make sure the in-person Walk is enjoyed by all. But how does it work when the in-person Walk becomes virtual?

On June 2nd we officially announced this year’s 43rd Annual Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest, Virtually, and it was so well received and supported, that not one day has passed without a registration, sponsorship, raffle ticket purchase, or donation. It’s quite literally amazing to see in the midst of a pandemic.

The support was so incredible, we extended the original virtual Walk dates to ensure everyone who wanted to support had the opportunity to do so. It is now set for July 24th – July 26th, which means if you haven’t yet registered there’s still time!

This year’s Walk will no doubt look, and feel different. But over the course of those 3 days we encourage you to take your canine companion out on a stroll, proudly wear your virtual Walk t-shirt, and let every know you’re walking for the animals! We’ll share photos and videos of other walkers doing the same thing. Together we can still accomplish what our in-person Walk sets out to do every year. Visit our virtual vendor websites and support their services. Thank our sponsors for their unwavering support, especially this year. If you haven’t already, join our virtual Walk Facebook event, and join a group of people walking for the animals.

The lifesaving funds raised through this year’s virtual Walk are critical. Please register. Purchase some raffle tickets. Tell a friend. Ask a relative or friend from out of state to donate and help us complete our 50 State Challenge. Please donate.


Summer Snackin’

June 22nd, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Summer Snackin’)
By Madisyn Marker, Animal Care Technician for the Humane League of Lancaster County

With summer coming up, there’s no better time to learn new ways to keep your pups cool in the heat. First, let’s talk about why it’s so important to keep dogs cool when it’s hot out. For starters, dogs don’t sweat like humans can so they rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and nose to regulate their body temperature. Overheated dogs can suffer heat exhaustion, heat stroke or sudden death from cardiac arrhythmia. While these are all serious issues people run into, there are plenty of ways to help prevent it.

Frozen dog snacks are a great way to help keep your forever friend cool in the summer. Not only is it tasty and refreshing but they can make great enrichment too! Frozen snacks can vary from ingredients to size to complexity. What’s your dog’s favorite snack? Is it something you can incorporate into a frozen treat? The answer is likely yes and here’s how.

Frozen water bowls are fun and enriching for the brain. They are super easy to make too. All you need is a container that will fit in your freezer. Your container can be a dog bowl, an old box laying around or Tupperware. Your container of choosing has to be able to hold water without leaks. You can fill the whole container up, freeze it and serve as is or you can make it a fun game. If you want to add a little pizzazz to it there are different routes you can go. If you’re uninterested in making layers all you have to do is fill your container, drop some of your dog’s favorite snacks (fruit, veggies, etc.) freeze it up and serve. If you want to go all out, you can freeze different layers with different snacks. Example: Fill the container just a little bit, drop some cut carrots in and freeze. Next fill the container up a little more, drop in some chopped watermelon and freeze. Lastly fill the rest of the way, drop in some chopped banana and freeze. Viola! Now you have a complex, layered treat and awesome enrichment for your dog. This will not only help keep your dog cool on those hot days but it’ll give them something to work for as they try to lick their way each frozen treat.

If you are looking for a special frozen goodie for your dog, don’t worry I have just the thing. Now, my dogs love watermelon but that’s not the same for every dog so this recipe will vary depending on what fruit your dog likes. All you need is fruit, molds for fun shapes (cupcake tins will also work) and plain Greek yogurt (optional). Of course, yogurt and other snacks should be given in moderation but every good boy and girl deserves to be a little spoiled from time to time. First, you’ll start by placing a little Greek yogurt in the bottom of your tin or mold. You can surpass this step if your dog is lactose intolerant or if you don’t want your dog to have yogurt. Next, blend your fruit until liquid and pour into tin or molds. Lastly, place your work of art in the freezer and once frozen, serve. These treats are sweet and satisfying.

Even though frozen treats will help cool your dog down, please remember that if your dog is outside they should have access to fresh water, shade and the option to go inside if they choose. These are a couple frozen choices but the possibilities are endless! Now that you’re a pro at making some pawsome frozen fun, get creative and explore new ideas! Don’t be afraid to get your paws a little dirty and have a blast while bonding with your furry friend over ice cold snacks.


Keeping Our Commitment, Safely.

June 15th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Keeping Our Commitment, Safely.)
Written By: Dr. Alicia Simoneau, Chief Veterinary Officer, Humane Pennsylvania

The Humane Veterinary Hospitals are still here for you and your pets. Access to affordable veterinary care is paramount in our mission as an organization. During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic in Pennsylvania we have commenced a partial shutdown of both our hospitals. Services we regularly offered are being altered at this time. The whole veterinary community nationwide has had to adapt. Our main goal is to do our part to help keep you, our staff and our community safe. We are doing this by maintaining social distancing, decreasing public access into our facilities and implementing stringent cleaning protocols.

To this end, we have moved to a curbside concierge service to bring your pet into our hospital when an appointment to see a doctor is needed. You speak to a doctor via a phone call during the appointment as if you were in an exam room. We are prioritizing sick pet visits and postponing elective procedures at this time. Elective surgeries such as sterilization have been suspended by the veterinary community locally and nationally mainly to conserve the use of personal protective equipment such as disposable gowns and gloves. This also allows us to utilize time to serve a greater number sick pets. Lifesaving surgeries will continue to be offered on an as needed basis. These measures are consistent with what all healthcare workers have been asked to do by the state government.

By concentrating our efforts in this way we are helping the community by offering advice to clients’ pets over the phone, utilizing telemedicine as much as possible and continuing hospital appointments as needed to avoid a trip to the emergency vet. Medication pick-ups have continued to be available with a parking lot pick up by calling ahead. Of course, end of life services are still available as needed. Previously postponed vaccination appointments for puppies and kittens will be able to be scheduled starting in mid-April. Our adapted protocols are expected to continue into summer. Our staff is prepared to meet the challenges of our current national situation while maintaining our AAHA standards and our community’s needs. Updates will be provided regularly via our Facebook pages and website.

Thinking of us? As we our part as an essential business in your community continued donations of cleaning supplies like Clorox wipes, bleach, laundry detergent, washable triple layer cloth facemasks, hand sanitizer and hand soap would be appreciated.


Finding Our Stride Again

June 8th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Finding Our Stride Again)
By: Inga Fricke, Director of Community Initiatives of Humane Pennsylvania

At the beginning of this year, Humane Pennsylvania’s (HPA) Healthy Pets Initiative was truly hitting its stride. We were holding mass vaccination/microchip clinics for dogs every week and for cats every other week, creating a consistency of service that pet owners in our community could rely on. Spike’s Pet Pantry was serving a steady flow of clients, establishing personal connections with people who love their pets but just needed a little extra support. Our subsidized spay/neuter surgeries were booked out months in advance as people took advantage of our low-cost pricing.  And we were just days away from launching our brand new initiative, a targeted wellness program aimed at bringing veterinary care directly to those who needed it most: the homeless, at-risk veterans and victims of domestic violence.  We were proud of the help we had already been able to provide and were looking forward to doing even more.

Then our world went sideways, just as it did for the rest of you, and it felt like all of our planning and momentum went right along with it. In the blink of an eye we could no longer invite people into our pantry and chat with them about their pets’ needs. We couldn’t perform spay/neuter surgeries anymore, low-cost or otherwise, even though to most animal welfare professionals they are absolutely essential for healthy communities. And we certainly couldn’t invite hundreds of people into a community center to perform mass pet vaccinations. It would have been completely understandable for us to feel helpless and defeated.  But at HPA we look for opportunities to serve no matter the challenge before us, so instead of simply waiting for “normal” to return, we looked for new ways to help, and boy did we find them!

Our first challenge was to completely revamp our in-house Spike’s Pet Pantry to ensure we could continue providing pet food to residents without compromising safety. That meant figuring out a system for communicating with clients without actually coming face-to-face with them. We purchased a video doorbell to facilitate conversations, and figured out a system whereby we hold up signs at our door to ask questions like “How many dogs do you have?” and “Do you need more cat food or dog food today?” While it sounds very impersonal, I can honestly say a highlight of my day is hearing my colleague laughing with Spike’s patrons about the challenges of through-the-glass-door communication, making the very best of a completely unnatural situation. And our numbers tell the story of how critical our service has become – since March 15, more than 13,000 lbs of pet food have passed out the doors of Spike’s Pet Pantry, a more than 200% increase over the same period last year. Perhaps more telling is the fact that over 55% percent of those receiving that food had never had to use our services before this pandemic hit.

Next, we saw an opportunity to leverage the unique relationships we have cultivated with national organizations like Greater Good to allow us to serve as the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team’s official pet food distribution hub for Eastern Pennsylvania.  Within a week we had secured donated warehouse space (our thanks to NAI Keystone) and begun accepting, inventorying and tracking truckloads of donated pet food. To date, we have fielded more than a dozen deliveries to that warehouse and have distributed over 75,000 lbs. of pet food to dozens of groups from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, including schools, community organizations and food pantries.

While that effort alone would have been enough for most organizations, HPA continued looking for opportunities to serve. We began providing pet food delivery to individuals who found themselves unable to reach our pantry, and we arranged multiple drive-thru pet food giveaways in communities across our region. Almost 13,000 lbs. of pet food has been distributed through these efforts, enough to keep more than 1,300 pets fed for a full month, and more of food giveaway events are planned.

Most recently we asked ourselves “How can we restart our mass pet vaccine clinics safely?” We’ve found a way, holding our first ever drive-in pet vaccination clinic at the end of last month. By adapting our service delivery in this creative manner, we are able to ensure that we can continue providing critical, lifesaving, preventative vaccinations and microchips to pet owners in our community without compromising safety, and we are in the process of adding more drive-in clinics to our calendar.

Are we 100% back to normal? Certainly not. Spay/neuter services are still largely on hold due to state and national veterinary restrictions, and despite our best efforts, our drive-in vaccine clinics will likely not serve every pet owner the way our prior walk-in clinics did. But HPA will continue stretching, adapting and innovating to keep meeting the challenge of helping as many pet owners in need as possible. It’s what we do, and it’s all part of our commitment to make this the best community anywhere to be an animal.


Sharing a Humane Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update

June 8th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Sharing a Humane Pennsylvania COVID-19 Update)

As we work to fully reopen our facilities, we are following State mandates and CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of our staff, clients, volunteers, and supporters.

  • Upon entering any of our facilities, we ask that everyone complies with the CDC guidance and has on a face mask. We ask that you keep this face mask on during the entire length of stay at our facilities. If you do not have one, one will be provided to you.
  • Humane Pennsylvania Lancaster adoption center continues to take great care of the animals in our shelter! Over the last two and a half months, we have adapted some of our policies and started doing adoptions by delivery, which allowed many animals to find their forever homes. If you are interested in adopting an animal, please visit We have also resumed animal intake appointments.
  • Humane Veterinary Hospitals Reading and Lancaster, in response to revised State mandates, have started expanding services offered and are now accepting appointments for wellness visits, surgeries, and sick visits. At this time, we are still asking all clients to wait in their vehicle outside and call us when they arrive, and we will come out to get their pet. Please call to schedule an appointment, Reading 610-921-8387 and Lancaster 717-826-9762. Our televet services and curbside medication pick ups are still available. Please refer to for continuing updates and information.
  • Healthy Pets Initiative continues to operate our Spike’s Pet Pantry. We have seen a 575% increase of clients served. We have also started to resume our vaccine and microchip clinics. Please visit for continued updates and information.
  • We have contacted all Humane Pennsylvania volunteers, and have remained in weekly communication with them. At this time, we are approaching the subject of returning to assist in our shelter, vet hospitals, and events, as a decision for each volunteer based on their comfort level. We have plans in place to ensure their volunteering is done in a safe space, and also provides us with critical support.
  • Most events that were scheduled over the last two and a half months have been canceled or postponed. We are starting to see an increase in events being hosted in June, July, etc., and are eager to participate in a safe way. Check our social media pages for updates on events and how you can support us!
  • One of our biggest events, Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest has gone virtual this year! Click here for more information on how you can get involved! 2020 Mega Pints for Pups has been canceled, and will now take place in the summer of 2021. The Art for Arf’s Sake Auction is still scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14th.
  • While we understand and want everyone to focus on their own safety and the safety of their family first, Humane Pennsylvania is still in need of lifesaving monetary donations. If you wish to help us when we need it most, we would welcome it. Consider setting up monthly giving, then you won’t even need to think about it! Click here for more information.

Humane Pennsylvania has remained well suited to handle this situation. We deal with illness and disease routinely, from kennel cough to parvo to ringworm. We know that thoughtful, consistent, decisive action is the key to saving lives and keeping a bad situation from getting worse. In this case, we are continuing to do this for our human friends and family.

We will continue social distancing, wearing masks, and frequently changing gloves, as long as public health directives require it, as it is our responsibility to protect our animals, staff, volunteers, and the public.

Thank you to everyone for their continued support, understanding, and service to our mission. We can’t do our work without you and we truly wish you and your family safety and good health.



June 3rd, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Virtual)
By: Lauren Henderson, Director of Events & Corporate Relations of Humane Pennsylvania

Virtual. A word I’ve never used so much in my life, than I have these last two months. I think I’ve developed a love hate relationship with it. On one hand I’m thrilled to have the technology and virtual world to still be able to do my job, communicate with donors, adaptive ways of fundraising, and getting our message out through social media. And on the other hand, I’m missing the in person interaction all of our events and fundraisers have to offer. Our annual Art for Arf’s Sake Auction had to be rescheduled from May 16th to November 14th. Our mega 2020 Pints for Pups event had to canceled and rescheduled for next summer. And now our 43rd Annual Walk for the Animals & Walktoberfest has gone, you guessed it, virtual!

Because of the uncertainty surrounding the safety of gathering together 1,000+ people and their pups, we made the decision to move up our Walk to take place now in the spring, June 19th – 21st, to help us raise some critically needed funds for our organization. Last year, our Walk raised over $125,000 for our organization, which was the most its raised in many years. We were hoping to take that momentum into 2020, but COVID-19 had other plans. Now we’re in full swing of promotion for this year’s virtual Walk, with the hopes that supporters from all over the country will support our efforts!

With each event that is canceled, postponed, or paused, it hurts our overall fundraising efforts. So I am looking to each donor and supporter to help us fill this gap and support our virtual Walk. It’s not the same and it definitely feels different, but it’s the funds raised that make the biggest impact.

Let’s embrace the virtual, and register to walk virtually, form a pack virtually, become a virtual sponsor or vendor, make a virtual donation, and/or purchase virtual raffle tickets! The event might be virtual, but the funds raised are real, and they’re lifesaving.


Breaking the Rules

May 27th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Breaking the Rules)
By: Karel Minor, Chief Executive Offer/President

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Humane Pennsylvania has been breaking all the rules.  And we intend to continue to do so.

I don’t mean breaking rules like the dummies at the bars and pool parties.  We were following the quarantine rules before they were even officially “the rules” because disease prevention is kind of our thing.  Plus, we don’t want to kill anyone’s granny.  I mean the rules for what is possible for an animal welfare organization, whether it’s in a pandemic or not.

We kept our hospitals open and serving the community.  We kept adopting animals out and we’ve been taking them in.  We kept all our staff working.  We expanded our services and coordinated over 120,000 pounds of pet food distribution in the past two months.  All safely, all within the Governor’s orders and health protocols.

If we had played by the standard rules as they applied to so many other organizations, we’d have cut staff, cut services, and helped fewer animals and people.  Instead we reached out to more people and we changed how we operated so we could operate safely.  Screw the rules, we have pets and people to help.

It has not been without cost.  We had several staff down and out from confirmed or likely COVID-19.  We are front-line workers.  Our work continued but our revenue has not.  Our biggest spring fundraiser, the Art for Arf’s Sake Auction which raises $100,000 each year had to be postponed until November.  Our operating revenue has declined up to 80%.  We have been aided by the generosity of our donors (thank you!) but it’s not enough to offset long term losses if things continue on much longer.  We were fortunate to be in a position to take advantage of the Federal emergency funding, but that’s only an eight week salvation.

How will we continue on?  By breaking the rules some more, of course!  And this time we need you to help.  We will be making a change to one of our major fundraisers this year- I can’t say what or how yet because our Director of Events, Lauren Henderson, will kill me if I spill the beans- which you’ll hear more about soon.  The capital campaign to raise the last half of the funds needed for our new Reading Animal Shelter and Community Hospital, came to a screeching halt, but is going to take an approach that is definitely breaking the rules.  And believe me, the words “ninety-two cents a day” will be coming your way soon.  They will haunt you in your sleep.  Ninety-two cents a day….

We are breaking new ground in tele-vet medicine.  We are finding new ways to deliver critical vaccines and services to larger numbers of people.  We will be finding creative ways around the vague prohibitions against so-called “elective” treatments.  We call them life-saving.  We are pioneering video adoption screening and counseling and direct adoption delivery.  Corona has killed enough people, we aren’t going to allow it to result in needless animal death, too.

Humane Pennsylvania has always been of the mindset that barriers are merely challenges.  Rules can be changed.  We’ve lived that belief and it’s why we succeed when times are great, and we succeed when times aren’t so great.  We don’t know how things will work out but as an organization we have always prepared for the worst while we were planning for the best.

We are going to come out of this smarter, stronger, and surer of ourselves.  We hope you are going to be sticking by us (“ninety-two cents a day”…).  I hope you are able to keep optimistic, too, because we are going to be here standing by for you, whether you and your pets need it or just to work on your behalf for those who do need our help right now.

Thanks for being there for us so we can keep being there for them.

Oh, what the heck, I’ll break one more rule and just flat out ask you to make a donation right here at the end.  Go ahead, live dangerously.  Give like you’re at an Ozarks pool party.  YOLO!


Preventing Separation Anxiety after COVID-19

May 19th, 2020 | Posted by CCadmin1* in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Preventing Separation Anxiety after COVID-19)
 Written By: Ellie Scheurich, Animal Care Technician, Humane League of Lancaster County

Separation anxiety in dogs is a very common issue brought up by pet owners. A lot of us have been working from home during this pandemic which has allowed for more walks, fetch, and treat giving to our four legged companions. As most would see this as “living their best lives” it can also be described as a blessing in disguise. Being home 24/7 with our dogs can cause issues down the road when things go back to “normal.” Meaning we will have to go back to saying goodbye to our four legged love bugs as we run out the door, racing the clock, to punch in on time.

As we slowly start making our way back into the normal routine, here are some behaviors to look for when departing and leaving your dog at home:

  • Pacing around different areas.
  • Barking, howling or whimpering upon departure.
  • Urinating/defecating when left alone.
  • Destroying objects in the home, or exit points such as doors, crates, etc.

Keep in mind, while these are possible signs of separation anxiety, they are also signs of boredom. They’re currently used to us being at home entertaining them, going for extra walks, and receiving chin scratches under the desk while we work. Even the thought of going back to work makes some people feel guilty about not being at home with their dog(s) BUT there are so many different ways to keep them occupied that will also help adjust them back to their, and our, normal routine.

While some dogs may still chew up our favorite pair of sneakers when left alone, we can help set them up for success by putting them away where they can’t chew them and provide constructive “busy” work for all of us feel good about. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go back to our original routine before the stay at home order. Wake up at your normal time, get dressed, and have your favorite cup of cold brew. Then prepare them as you normally would for your departure. Whether that be putting them in their crate or putting them in their safe space. After they are in their normal area, give them a busy toy to keep them occupied (such as a frozen peanut butter Kong). Then grab your keys and head out the door. Now, it sounds crazy, but hang outside for a little while. Enjoy the fresh air, maybe even take a walk around the neighborhood. This exercise helps prepare your animal for your normal departure in the morning, but also gets them back in the routine of having alone time during the day. You can do this routine throughout the day to give them alone time and help them practice your departure and arrival. Remember when you are leaving or coming home to stay calm and relaxed. You don’t want to get them excited. Instead, you want to act like it’s completely okay and not unusual for you to leave the house.
  • Enrichment. Enrichment. Do you know how important enrichment is? Sure exercise really helps get a dog’s energy out, but the key to a healthy dog is offering them the opportunity to use their brain. Imagine your day consisting of just a walk, being fed twice a day, then sleeping on the couch all day. Followed by the occasional keep tabs on your human around the house for some extra love routine. That’s going to get boring and believe it or not your dog will appreciate the extra mental stimulation.
    • Frozen peanut butter Kong’s are a wonderful way to keep your pet busy AND it requires them to think about how to get the peanut butter out.
    • Food bowls are overrated, seriously throw out your food bowl already and start making your pet work for their food. You can use slow feeding bowls or that cereal box you were going to throw out last night after your midnight snack. Fill that sucker up with their food and some treats and let them destroy the box to work for their food. You can also feed them by doing a training session and work on their basic obedience commands. Also, have I told you one of my favorite ways to feed dogs? No? Well get ready. Fasten your seat belt. The best way to feed your pet is to do a treasure hunt for them. Hide their food throughout the house but remember where you hid the different kibbles so you don’t step on them late at night when you are trying to sneak a snack. Not only do they get to use their nose to find their food, but it also keeps them busy and isn’t as boring as eating out of the same bowl every single day.
    • Slow feeding bowl resources through DoggieDesigner-
  • Remember those walks you’ve been taking them on multiple times a day? Well you need to start cutting them back if its not your normal routine. Instead, walk them the same amount of times your normal routine allows you to BUT make the walks more engaging. Work on their basic obedience throughout the walk. Have you ever seen parkour? Where people jump off stuff and do cool tricks? Well don’t have your dog jump off high areas, but practice urban agility on normal everyday objects. Let them jump up on picnic tables and ask them for a sit. Allow them to walk across park benches as if they’re walking the plank. Enjoy your time with them and get creative. Urban agility is so much fun and your dogs will appreciate the extra fun during the walk.

As difficult as it will be for all of us to adjust back to our normal routine, it will also be difficult for our pets to adjust too. Now is the time to work on their training and prepare them for your return to work. You will appreciate it in the long run if you prepare your dog now. No one enjoys coming home to a destroyed couch and chewed up slippers.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and most importantly stay positive.