woman holding guinea pig

The following material has been adapted from the ASPCApro website.

Reading Program

Although most reading programs focus on dogs and cats, reading is also beneficial for small animals and birds. A reading program can provide some well-needed company, and does not require physical activity to enjoy time together. Most animals usually enjoy spending time with you and welcome the opportunity to curl up on a warm lap. This is easier done in a playroom or communal space, but a chair can still be pulled up beside an individual cage. Sit quietly in a chair or on the floor, start reading and let the animal choose to come to you. While you read aloud, the animal will find the sound of your voice comforting and will learn social skills that will help them get adopted. The key is your presence, quiet interaction with occasional petting, and a possible treat.

Tools needed: A good book, and a person to read it (a treat pouch can also offer a few surprises throughout the visit).

Music and White Noise

Sound has a profound effect on health and behaviour. Sounds can have a calming effect and promote relaxation, or contribute to stress and poor acclimation, so options must be considered carefully for individual species.

For small animals, a white noise machine placed in the room can help decrease the sounds heard from other species, such as barking dogs, and cancels out some of the surrounding shelter noise. Small animals should always be housed in a quiet space away from the noise of predatory species.

Some classical music, audiobooks and even some Reggae music has been proven to be beneficial for a wide range of animals. There are also audio programs online that are designed for various species of animals. Check that the provider of your information comes from a reputable source. Sheltering organizations around the country have embraced the concept and have implemented music into enrichment programs for all animals. Audio devices such as mp3 players, CD players, or radios can be placed in animal areas. You want to share this music with your companion animal for shorter periods of time (about 2 hours long) to prevent them from becoming habituated to it or tuning it out.

Section Feature