Video on Demand by Karen Pryor Clicker Training |

Choice, Control & Empowerment for Shelter Animals

Empowering animals by providing opportunities for choices within their daily lives is a popular topic and an important welfare strategy in zoos, aquaria, and, more recently, professional dog-training settings. But in animal shelters, a focus on choice and environmental control is only gaining momentum slowly. Yet, it is in this environment that behavioral-welfare strategies are most essential; shelter animals lose control over their environment and experience significant reduction in choice from the moment they enter the shelter until the time they leave. Empowerment strategies can and should be in practice throughout an animal’s length of stay. However, it simply isn’t enough to say that we provide the opportunities; we need to also acknowledge and respond when an animal makes a choice.

Let’s explore how we can support behavioral welfare from shelter admission to exit through the provision of daily choices and attention to responses. How can we give some control back to the animals in our care? How can we do so in a manner that is both practical to the setting and beneficial for the individual?

Please note: This Session was recorded in 2018; content presented in 2020 may vary slightly. 

Lindsay Wood Brown

Lindsay Wood Brown is a board-certified applied animal behaviorist (ACAAB) with a master's degree in animal behavior. Lindsay is a Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) course developer and has served as a KPA faculty member since 2012. Lindsay’s goal is to help behavior consultants and shelter professionals apply behavior-change science to their everyday professional lives. Her focus is on stripping labels, flipping prevailing ideas on their sides for a better view, and honing in on systematic ways to advance strategies.

Lindsay consults for animal shelters across the country and provides 1:1 mentorship opportunities for behavior consultants. She previously served as the Director of Operations for Lynchburg Humane Society in Virginia and as the Director of Animal Training and Behavior for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley in Boulder, Colorado.