Behavior is an integral part of Shelter Medicine because behavior problems are the number one reason for owner relinquishment of pets to the shelter and behavior problems often develop in the stressful shelter environment. It is imperative that shelters consider the behavioral health of the animals in their care to be just as important as the physical health to ensure overall wellness.
Complete behavioral care of shelter animals includes stress recognition and reduction procedures, environmental and behavioral enrichment, training, and proper behavioral evaluation of the animal’s basic personality and temperament to ensure the best possible match with an adopter. Adoption counseling should include information about the behavior of the individual animal as well as some behavioral guidelines to improve retention. Additionally, shelters should have enough knowledge about common behavior problems in cats and dogs to help troubled pet owners in order to prevent relinquishment.