By Volunteer Coordinator Nicolle Taylor
Did you know that keeping your dog or cat’s mind active ultimately makes them happier and healthier? At the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, we have volunteers that are devoted to keeping our pets’ minds active each day. Our Kennel Coaches, as we call them, donate their time to complete enrichment projects and spend one-on-one time with our animals. And don’t think we’re talking just about dogs; our cats get plenty of engaging activities as well!
On this delightful morning, we had the experience of Kitty Kennel Coaching at its finest: the smell of tuna meatballs (not a pleasant smell for vegetarians!) filled the Volunteer Den, freshly cut wheat grass flooded the cat room, and one very lucky cat, Onyx, was given a puzzle toy (to share with the rest of the cats in the Free Roam Room, of course).
Diane, our Animal Behaviorist, has pinpointed enrichment activities for the cats that not only stimulate their mind, but also simulate prey play, including clicker training the cats to come when called, and introducing yummy items that make their belly smile, like fish tacos. So if you’ve adopted a cat from us, try taking out a clicker and a can of wet food or tuna and ask them to come to you by clicking the clicker and rewarding with the food. Some of our Kitty Kennel Coaches have even been successful getting cats to sit and give paw!
We were also lucky enough to have two regularly devoted Dog Kennel Coaches helping our pooches out today. Though the dog food enrichment snacks aren’t as smelly, the dogs enjoyed frozen cupcakes made with peanut butter, banana, and cheerios.
The Kennel Coaches were able to work wonders with one of our recently-adopted residents, Kane, who loves the hose, a little too much! He focuses all of his attention on it whether it’s on or off. Kennel Coaches worked diligently with him to teach him “leave it” and “watch me” getting his focus off of the hose and on to them and a treat or toy. Wonder Boy Kane, has been doing much better with the one-on-one attention and I can assure you, his adopters are benefiting from the hard work of our Kennel Coaches.
To become a Kennel Coach with us, you don’t need any prior behavior experience (we’ll teach you everything you need to know), but you do have to go through Bark Buddy or Kitty Cuddler training prior joining our astute team of Kennel Coach volunteers. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities.
Interested in seeing how your pet would like our enrichment snacks? Check out the recipes below:
Frozen Cupcake Recipe
You need: muffin tin, paper liners, sweet potato or pumpkin, dash of honey (peanut butter and cheerios can also be mixed in for a tastier treat)
Fill each liner with a mixture of the sweet potato, pumpkin, honey, and peanut butter/cheerios (optional). Place in the freezer for about an hour, and voila!
Tuna Meatball Recipe
You need: 1 can of tuna (drained), 1 can of chicken, 1 cup of dry cat food (crushed)
Mix all ingredients together. Roll into small “meatballs”. Freeze in baggies for use later, or refrigerate for a treat in about an hour. For added excitement, sprinkle cat nip on top of each meatball!