Kennel Behaviors: Don’t Judge a Dog by First Impressions

Living in a Shelter Kennel isn’t an Ideal Environment

Don’t allow the first impression of a shelter dog be the last. Occasionally, a dog is charming or even behaves cute inside their kennel. But after they’ve been locked up for days, weeks, or months, it’s unusual to find one so accommodating. Truthfully, encountering a “normal, well behaved” shelter dog is not a realistic expectation.

If shelter dogs only realized that their taxing behavior is a major factor when being picked as the “one”, or if shelter dogs could recognized that sometimes their hectic actions decides between living and dying, they’d respond differently. Unfortunately, shelter dogs do not understand the effects of their conduct.

So, is there hope for these animals or should the public abandon adopting dogs from the shelter?2017-07-12 (26)

Yes there is  so much hope and the pubic should consider adding a shelter dog to their family.

Dogs may not comprehend their behaviors, but humans can!

Most shelter dogs experience kennel stress. What’s kennel stress? It’s a nice way of saying pups are miserable inside shelters and they want out. Wouldn’t you?

They’re forced into a stressful environment where they have no choice. They react erratically because they’re suffering from the anxiety over their current situation. They know what happens in shelters, and they want to escape that fate.

Their circumstances can lead to mental anguish, which usually goes unresolved. Because of these unsolved issues, these sweet babies don’t find homes, and the unthinkable occurs.

Realities Concerning Shelter Dogs: Specifics that cause them stress and incite unappealing kennel behaviors.

Dogs love humans. Everyone knows this. They’re social creatures, and they need to bond with people. They’ve been wired through evolution, and they desire to be with their human all the time. They depend on us. Not just for food, shelter, and safety, but for companionship.


Dogs also require time outside their kennels. They must be socialized to become a good companion. Sadly, erratic behaviors can escalate as their shelter stay lengthens. Isolation, with little human connection affects their reactions. Those limitations causes mental distress.

Dogs enjoy surveying their surroundings. Kennels are restrictive. Their view is narrow, and they can’t see what’s happening around them. People and other dogs randomly appear and disappear. This is confusing and traumatic.

HSCT is a nicer facility, but it’s noisy with tons of different scents floating in the air. Surfaces are hard and cold. Dogs possess keen hearing, and even a stronger sense of smell. Inside kennels can trigger a sensory overload, especially when other dogs are barking, howling, or crying.

Like us, Dogs prefer not to eat and sleep near where they relieve themselves. But they’re stuck in a kennel, and can’t avoid eliminating. They’re forced to lay near their mess until someone comes to clean up.

Barriers and confinement, such as kennel walls create more stress. Restricted dogs often fixate on those barriers. Add to the mix the presence of unknown dogs who are also upset, and their misery becomes more distinct.

Dogs are equipped to move. Exercise provides physical and mental stimulation. Obviously, kennels restrict movement. Since they don’t receive adequate exercise or mental stimulation on a daily basis, the excess energy coupled with boredom creates extra trauma.

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Most dogs sleep a lot, but noise and strangers marching in and out prevent them from resting. So shelter dogs are sleep-deprived. As in humans, sleep deprivation causes these poor animals major stress.

Sadly, a lot of shelters dogs were once someone’s pet. Some, but not all, existed in a comfortable indoor environment. They were used to daily affection and fun. They were beloved family members. It’s tormenting to a dog to go from a loving, caring home to a clinical environment.

Kennel stress symptoms

Now that kennel stress has been explained and why it exists, the public can better appreciate how dogs behave when they’re tense: The following are behaviors of overwrought canines.

They fixate on their kennel doors, ready to charge at a moment’s notice.

They’re overly energetic. They wiggle, they pant, they paw at the door so they’ll be noticed.  2017-07-16 (4)

They bark incessantly and jump, begging and pleading to be let out. It may seem offensive to humans, but to a dog, it seems like a very reasonable way to communicate frustration. 2017-07-16 (2)


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Some are amazing acerbates and can do back flips in their small kennels.









They retreat to the rear. They’d rather no one notice them or they “shut down” uninterested in their surroundings. They don’t move when approached. They’ve withdrawn into their own little world.

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Does it mean if that dog will behave the same in a home? No, it doesn’t.

The good news: when a dog is removed from the stress, most negative behaviors will vanish almost at once.

Outside the kennel, when walking to the playpen, a dog may pull on his leash, jump up to greet people, or act overexcited. On the other hand, they might also avoid interacting with humans, at first. In other words, they don’t trust or are overly try to please. These behaviors work themselves out with exercise, love, and building trust. Once a dog is securely in a home, and boundaries are set, they will calm down.

As a foster, I can attest to this. I’ve fostered wild ones and those who avoid me as if I’m Godzilla about to attack. After a few days, they realize they’re safe and behavior improves. After several weeks, they usually make great progress as their confidence grows.

When considering adoption, never reject a dog based solely on kennel behavior. Spend some time with them. Ask a staff member or volunteer to take them into the playpen. Give them time to adjust outside the kennels. Due to short staffing, they do not get out as much as they need, it may take a while for them to calm down or approach. Offer treats, toss the ball, and most of all, be ready to cuddle!

Allow them to show their true personalities and those diamonds in the rough will shine bright!

 What to bring with you to the shelter for your visit:

–your adoption application

–an open mind

–a willing heart

–a bit of patience

–a baggy full of chicken or jerky to speed up the bonding process

Thanks to for providing information.

Hopefully this article will give a better understanding of shelter dogs behavior and the community will become more willing to adopt the not so perfect pup, especially consider the urgents.

While thankful many who’s lives were on the line made it into forever homes over the past two weeks, some of our beloved urgent friends did not make it out and are no longer with us due to huge intake numbers. How can we prevent this in the future?

Be a hero.

Open your heart, your mind, and your home to one of the dogs below. They’re great partners and all display stress…

 Newest Urgents and those who are still waiting for you…

Adorable Bailey

My name is Bailey. I need a best friend. I’m having trouble finding that one person who gets me and who I can chill with. I’ve searched for a long time for my perfect person, I’ve been here since 5/16/17, and they’ve yet to come for me.

You see,  I got a bad rap when first entering the shelter and things reported about me weren’t so positive, which may be why no one has chosen me as a forever partner.

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Thankfully, I’m getting a chance to set the record straight. First, I’m a total sweetheart, and I put the A in adorable! I am a bit busy when I leave the kennel, but after I check out my surroundings, I settle down, and become quite docile. I adore sitting still and having my back scratched or belly rubbed.

My shelter friends agree, I probably wasn’t socialized much before I arrived at HSCT, so I will require training, but all pups need direction, therefore, I’m no different. I just want someone to be patient with me, and I’ll make an amazing companion.

My former owners said children scare me and I’m not a fan of cats. As far as getting along with other dogs, I ignored the others around me, so if you have a potential pup sibling, bring them along so we can meet. I’d love to go home with you.

Will you be my new best friend? I’m Bailey. I’m female, two and half year old, pittie mix. I’m also sprayed, so I’m ready to go home with you. Find me in kennel Y012 and my ID# is (A074582)2017-07-12 (26)

Cheerful Cheeko

Hi Friends! This is Cheeko. I’m not sure why I’m still at the shelter! I’ve been here quite a while, since 5/11/17, and I don’t understand.

I mean, how can anyone not want me? I have the greatest smile, I’m incredibly cute, and I’m happy all the time.  I adore people! I love to play, I’m always up for a game of ball. I’m also quite affectionate and am ready to sweep by and give a quick kiss or two while having fun.

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Cheeko the Great!

Even though I enjoy life, once I’m out of the kennels, I’m a pretty calm guy! I’m also a smart one. I obey basic commands, and I won’t tug on the leash, which works great if you’re a walker. I’m a bit on the stocky side from not getting as much exercise as I need, so If you enjoy a morning or evening stroll, I’d be a great partner. Overall, I’m about as perfect as they come!

Are you wondering why no one has picked me either? Maybe it’s because I’m waiting for you to come take me home. My adoption is sponsored, so I’m FREE to an approved adopter. I’m Cheeko, a male, two-year-old pittie mix, and I’m already neutered! You can find me in D048 and ID number is (A076869)

Sweet Guy Connor

Good day everyone! I’m Connor. I’m a handsome, gentle boy and I’m very shy. I’m not a fan of all the noise and ruckus around me, and I tend to want to hide in the back of my kennel. But the good news is, lately I’ve been emerging out of my shell.

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Because I’m reserved, it’s been hard for anyone to get to know me. I’ve been keeping to myself since 4/16/17 and I think it’s time for the world to meet me. While I’m not leash trained, the HSCT staff believe I’ll easily learn, once I know you and relax.

Outside the kennel, I am interested in my surroundings. I inspected the grounds and thought they were okay. I let the nice people pet me, and I really liked that. Although I’m quiet, I have a sweetness about me that will melt my new family’s heart.

Honestly, I will do so much better in a home of my own where I can gain confidence and bloom. Are you that special person who’ll give me an opportunity to grow into the fantastic dog I know I can be?

My name is Connor. A year-and-a-half-old male Labrador Retriever Mix. You can find me in kennel Y008 and my ID# is (A076412) My adoption fee is sponsored, so I’m FREE to adopt to an approved adopter.

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Charming Big Red

Hello! Big Red here! As you can see, I’m appropriately named because I’m big and I’m red. Even though I’m a larger boy, you will notice how stunning I am once I’m out of the kennel, which is something I would like to make permanent. While everyone here is kind to me, I’m past ready to find my forever home. I’ve been here since 5/15/17.

I’m a bit wary in an initial meeting, but once I’m comfortable, which takes about a half a second, I’m ready to become your best bud. I’m a lot of fun to hang out with, I have a personality that is as big as the rest of me. I’m pretty smart, too. I can obey basic commands, although I do need some leash work and a bit of help with manners. I get so excited once I’m secure, I tend to be a little overenthusiastic, but that’s not uncommon for younger dogs like myself.

After we get to know each other, you’ll find I am a big bundle of love. I’ll gladly be your lap dog. I like kids, cats, and other dogs, in other words, I like everything and everybody. So how about coming over to the shelter and let’s discuss making me a part of your family.2017-07-12 (58)

I’m Big Red. Male, Labrador Retriever Mix. I’m a year and a half and I’m already neutered. You can find me waiting in kennel Y034 and my ID# (A076918)
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Enchanting Carmela

If you’re looking for a gentle, subdued chum, then look no further than me, Carmela. I may be standoffish when we’re first introduced, because I do have some trust issues. But a kind touch and soft words will change all that quickly, and after I begin to feel safe, I’ll stick to you like glue.

I’m a lovely girl, with a sweet personality, but I’m not fanatic about being left alone in these noisy kennels, and I’ve been in them since 4/19/17. Once outside, I enjoy petting, belly rubs, and just the simple act of someone loving me.

I do have a bit of separation anxiety, probably because I once had a family, and now I don’t, and that makes me sad. Unfortunately, I was left on my own for a long time before my arrival at HSCT, and I will require extra training, but the staff has been working with me and they are pleased at how fast I learn.

Because of my shyness, I probably would adapt better to a family with no other pets or children.  Truly, I just want a quiet home of my own. Can you help me? If you’re patient and love the idea of a diamond in the rough, then I’m your girl.

I’m Carmela. I’m a female, two-year-old, Labrador Retriever Mix and I have been sprayed. You can find me in kennel R082, and my ID# is (A076482). My adoption fee has been sponsored, which means I’m FREE to adopt to an approved adopter.

New photos coming for Floyd and Siva–but don’t let these intake pics stop you from meeting these two great dogs.

  • 2017-06-30 (104)
    Adoption Fee is Sponsored! Tammy is still on the urgent list and this youngster is waiting for her hero to come rescue her. Are you her hero? Tammy: Kennel # Y031 Came in on 4/10/17 (A075044) Labrador Retriever mix Female, 7 months

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    Lovely Aspen says come cool off with me! Who will be this girl’s swim buddy? Kennel # Y030 Came in on 4/20/17 Aspen (A076513) Labrador Retriever Mix Female, 2 yrs
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Adoption Fee is Sponsored Adorable guy, Gifford hasn’t found a home? This is a puzzle. Ignore his kennel behavior and take him outside and you’ll find a well-mannered pup. Kennel # D062 Came in on 4/2/17 Gifford (A076247) American Bulldog Mix Male, 4 yrs
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Adoption fee is sponsored! Our sweet, playful Wednesday is still topping the urgent list. This girl will make a wonderful companion for the right person. Go meet her and you’ll fall in love with this fantastic girl! Kennel # Y019 Came in on 2/17/17 Wednesday (A000096) Pittie Mix Female/SPAYED, 3 yrs








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Adoption Fee is Sponsored. Tango is still looking for his dancing partner? Will you two step with him? Kennel #D071 Came in on 4/1/17 Tango A076239 American Staff Mix Male, 2 yrs
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Adoption Fee is Sponsored. Kuna is a perfect dog outside the kennels. She’s gentle, calm. and has amazing manners, but she’s still waiting for a home. Why hasn’t anyone adopted this beautiful girl? Kennel # Y005 Came in on 4/9/17 Kuma (A076330) Pittie Mix Female,


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Adoption Fee is Sponsored. Satchmo is a super guy with a big heart and he’s looking for his own family to share it with.Kennel # Y023 Came in on 5/3/17 Satchmo (A076690) Labrador Retriever Mix Male, 2 yrs

Look who was adopted!

They’re off the urgent list and in their forever homes!

Harper, Miley, Cassie, Naymond, Natalie, and Kaydo!

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Cyndi and I went in to meet Kaydo and get better photos, and write his bio only to find out he’d been adopted! He was waiting to go to the vet, then off to a better life!
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Someone spotted this special girl, Natalie and made her a part of their family! Love these happily ever afters!
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Exquisite Cassie has been swooped up and now thriving with her new family!
Miley is no longer urgent and is happily thriving in her new home. She has two new human brothers, Brennan and Grayson, and a human sister, Ali. Her mom Stephanie is a repeat HSCT adopter, she adopted Miley’s fur-sister, Jasmine last November.


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We were super excited that one of the big guys found his home! Naymond family hit the lucky, puppy jack pot!


















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A lucky family couldn’t resist this beautiful face, and they came to the shelter and adopted sweet Harper!
















Sweet Lucy sunk into a depression after her owner surrendered her. Ashley’s love for shepherd’s and Lucy’s pleading eyes grabbed her heart, and now Lucy will be happily spoiled in her new home. Congratulations Ashley and Lucy!

Cassandra and Chip2017-07-06 (39).png

Cassandra was kind enough to share her very heartfelt reason why she wanted to adopt sweet Chip.

When Cassandra went to the shelter, she had some specifics in mind. She preferred an adult dog, who was calmer, but one who would enjoy going for walks each day to help improve her physical health.

A year ago, Cassandra was in a bad car accident and was forced to move back home to recover. Like so many people who’ve been severely injured in mishaps, she became depressed over the slow healing process, and her need for painkillers to function.

She became anxious as she gradually put her life back together, and at times felt like giving up. Thankfully she didn’t. She continued her fight to get well, but sometimes it was still difficult for her to focus.

She felt a companion would help her concentrate and inspire her to regain interest in her hobbies. Perhaps a pet would also be encouragement when she returned to school, and assist her keeping her attention centered when doing homework or reading activities.

When touring the HSCT kennels, Cassandra spied Chip. Unlike the other dogs, who were loud and barking for her to notice them, he sat quiet and timid. He looked at her with his big, soulful eyes and lifted his paw for her to grasp.

That’s all the persuasion she needed. She knew Chip was the one, and she couldn’t wait to take him home, and give him the life he deserved.

Thank you, Cassandra for telling your moving story. Here’s wishing you and Chip have many, many happy years together.


 A Special Adoption – Given the time, all dogs will find their forever family. Consider fostering.

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Meet Bree. She was my first foster. She was extremely shy, fearful, and she topped the urgent list.
When we met, she cowered in the back of her kennel, and she refused to look at me. I knew I was in for a challenge, but I agreed to take her home.
The first few months were rough and it took a while for her to relax and trust me. But she did. She went from a nervous, scared girl and blossomed into a beautiful, confidant-dare I say, diva? But such a sweetheart.

I kept her for a year and during that time, she had a few inquiries, and only one serious, but she wasn’t a good fit. I began to worry no one wanted her, and I didn’t understand why. On July 5th,  that all changed.

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Tracy had seen this gorgeous girl’s photo and wanted to make her a part of her family. They met and the match was perfect. Now she’s getting tons of love and is being spoiled like she deserves . Happy life, you two!    Debra Jupe



Blog Contributors:

Author, Debra Jupe, Content Editor, Daniela Ranzinger, Photographer, Cynthia Favreau

Debra Jupe writes romance/suspense.  Her favorite authors are Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Lisa Jackson. Find her books at or






Author: waggintalesdot

I'm a romance/suspense author, a volunteer, and a foster for the Humane Society of Central Texas

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