Skip to the content Skip to the menu

"Please don't go!"

You can prevent separation anxiety in your dogs

By Steve Farley

CEO, Humane Society of Southern Arizona

This past spring, as we all hunkered down in our homes, many of us rightly felt it was a great time to bring a new, forever friend into their lives. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA) saw an increase in adoptions of dogs, cats, and pocket pets.

Our new pets loved our companionship, and we loved the relief from social isolation and the time to bond with our new animal friends while we worked from home.

Now that the stay-home requirements have been lifted and many are returning to the office, some people are thinking about surrendering their dogs, often due to the effects of “separation anxiety”. HSSA was prepared for this possibility and is ready to help dedicated owners and deserving pets keep their families together through education and guidance to turn this stressful situation back into a loving companionship.

Many owners may have inadvertently accustomed their pets to a routine that disappeared overnight. Pets had been comforted and delighted to see their favorite people working in their home offices or snuggled up on the couch with their laptops at all hours of the day. There was more time for playtime and head scratches. The sudden transition to spending hours each day alone has left many pets distraught.

The HSSA Behavior Team has put together a list of helpful tips for dogs that can help ease this transition and correct the unwanted behaviors.


First off make sure your pets basic needs are being met each day BEFORE you leave them for hours on end. These include mealtimes, snuggling and playtime as well as exercise, leashed walks, training and enrichment. This can be a brisk walk around the park and a 15-minute snuggle on the couch each morning before starting your off to work. Any amount of dedicated engagement to your pet before asking them to take an emotional hit will be helpful in growing their self-esteem and reducing their anxieties.

Dogs love routine and are creatures of habit. Make their daily routine predictable. If your pet knows that each morning they will spend uninterrupted time with you before taking a long, lazy snooze by themselves they will become happy with their independence.


To increase your pets' sense of security while youre away from home we recommend crate training. Crate training is a beautiful thing but often gets a bad rap. Once your pet is comfortably enjoying the crate they will happily relax there while waiting for their favorite people to return. For details on how to crate train please visit our website at

Step up the training and canine enrichment to see a decrease in anxiety and destructive behavior. Dogs love to learn and they love to please you. Teaching your dog new tricks and skills are a great way to expend that mental energy they have stored up while strengthening their bond with you. Invest in some durable dog puzzle toys that encourage independent play time as well. If you have questions on which toys our Behavior Team likes best, email us at

Gradually prepare for the upcoming transition. Spend time away from your pet each day — even just a short errand. Putting your one-on-one time and exit routine in place now will help them gain independence in the upcoming weeks. Start with short intervals of only a few minutes and increase until you are confident they can handle the time you’ll need to spend apart in the future.


HSSA’s goal is to support pets and people who love them for a lifetime. Our Behavior Team of Danielle Hagedorn and Stephen Szostek goes above and beyond to spend individual time with each dog who comes to our shelter and the results are astonishing. The more training and individual attention we offer, the better chance they find a forever family.

This is just part of our larger goal to end pet homelessness. If you would like to support the Humane Society of Southern Arizona in our efforts to find loving homes for our pets and keep them there, please visit us online at

Nova is reunited with her family!

Nova was in the car with her family when the pulled over to the side of the road to safely adjust cargo. In that moment Nova jumped out of the car and ran down I10 and out of sight. That was 6 weeks ago. Just yesterday Nova was found by a Marana Animal Control officer and brought to the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.

Giving Tuesday Now email 2 nova reunion

She was scared and untrusting but she sure was hungry! She ate up the bowls of food and finished her water bowls as she waited for her family to retrieve her. Nova's family had given up hope of finding their sweet pup and were elated to receive the happy call from HSSA's lost and found department. Click below to see the full video of their reunion!

Nova reunited 2 without play

Remember HSSA can only offer these services to pets and the people who love them with your help. We have a match going on RIGHT NOW that will turn $6,000 into $12,000 for our pets in need. Please give now so we can continue this important work during this pandemic and beyond.

Holiday Pet Safety

The holidays are right around the corner!

While most of us anxiously await this time of the year, our furry friends may not be as excited. Many of the traditional decorations we enjoy are dangerous to our pets. Enjoy this holiday season with your favorite people and pets without an unexpected visit to the emergency veterinary clinic.


If this is the first Christmas you will spend with your cat, you need to know this! Cats love to climb Christmas trees—and can easily knock them over. This can put your cat at risk of becoming tangled in the tinsel or lights. Have a spray bottle with water ready to catch your cat before they try to climb it—or restrict your cat’s access to the tree, if possible. Many cats and dogs like to play with the ornaments on the bottom of the tree; we recommend replacing them with plastic or shatter proof tree ornaments to prevent potential injury from traditional glass ornaments.


Holiday food is irresistible. This is the time of year most people fail on their diets—but don’t let your pet do the same! That leftover piece of turkey, mashed potato, or apple sauce can be harmful for your pet. Any human food given to your pet has the risk of causing stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhea. For more information on what holiday food is harmful to pets visit:


We understand that it can get a bit crazy and stressful when having guests over and that can be very stressful for some pets too! When you are greeting your guests, remember to close doors or try to keep your pets in a comfortable room away from all the festivities. If your pets are comfortable around people, remind your guests to not share food with them.

With all the precautions and the good holiday spirit, this season promises to be a remarkable one with your favorite people and pets, but not all pets are this lucky. Learn more about how you can give the gift of a forever home to a homeless pet at

5 friends to add to your SWEAT team #ASKHSSA

So you’re headed to SWEAT for Pets this year. That’s great!

Of course, it’s a ton of fun, but the fun isn’t just happening on the day of SWEAT for Pets. The fun really begins with fundraising for SWEAT! We’ve discussed the general steps to fundraising for our popular dog walking event. Check it out here. Armed with this knowledge we’ve been asked about which friends to enlist in your fundraising efforts for SWEAT for Pets. It’s a good question. And while we’re certain that ALL of your terrific friends will want to join you in helping raise money for homeless pets, we’ve put together the short list of 5 friends to add to your SWEAT team.

The Health Nut

An obvious choice to join you on the day is your friend who wakes up at 5 a.m. every morning for yoga, before jogging five miles to the gym. They wash down their rice cake lunch with a kale juice smoothie. They do that thing where they take their pulse while drinking water and staring at their digital stopwatch randomly during conversation. They love exercise and live a very active lifestyle. In fact, they’re probably powerwalking over to your place right now to ask YOU to join THEM at SWEAT! They’re great inspiration and will keep you and your dog motivated during the walk.

The Health Nut
The Animal Lover
The Animal Lover

Wait, isn’t that you?!? Sure, it’s not hard to find friends who love animals, but we’re talking about your friend who isn’t just fond of their goldfish, but is truly passionate about animal welfare and animal rights. Their vanity plate reads ‘ANMLVR’ and their ringtone is just a recording of their cat purring. Perhaps they’re already a volunteer or a foster to animals in need. They’re another obvious candidate as a walking companion for you and your dog at SWEAT.

The All-Star

In school, this friend was on the track team, the debate team, the student council, and graduated top of the class. They don’t want to just go with you to SWEAT, but they want to fundraise with you, too! Maybe you refer to them as an “over-achiever”, but in reality you admire their abilities and enthusiasm. This friend makes a great addition to your team and having them by your side ensures you’ll be well on your way to achieving success with your fundraising efforts. While walking, they’ll be the cheerleader rooting everyone else on to victory. SWEAT for Pets is non-competitive, but the All-Star will still want to cross the finish line first.

Artboard 1
The Banker
The Big Money Backer

This is your friend whose ship has come in. They might own their own business, or might have won big on ‘Jeopardy’, but they have the means to support your fundraising in a big way. They’re too busy to come on the walk, but they believe in the cause of helping save homeless pets – because you believe in it and they believe in you. They want to help and they’ll want to see pictures and hear about how much fun you had at SWEAT. They might even be interested in becoming a sponsor for SWEAT for Pets!

The Social Networker

This is your friend who is ready with a funny cat video, Instagrams their lunch, thumbs ups every Facebook post, and seemingly knows everyone. They are the perfect choice for you to ask to join you in fundraising for SWEAT for Pets, but even more importantly, they won’t just stop at supporting your team, they will want to reach out and recruit as many of their friends to help, too. They’ll round-up a gaggle of like-minded and fun-loving friends who will donate and participate on the day. They are also absolute pros at getting word out for you and your team on social media!

The Social Networker

Now that you know which friends to join your SWEAT for Pets team, you’re equipped to make this year the biggest and best SWEAT for Pets ever! Along with all the fun and cool sponsors and activities at SWEAT, the new event venue at the Kino Sports Complex, and having the event a little later in the year, recruiting your friends will make your SWEAT fundraising adventure a huge success. The 5th Annual SWEAT for Pets is November 16th, 2019 at North Kino Sports Complex, 2805 E Ajo Way.

How To Fund-Raise for Sweat for Pets? #ASKHSSA

Familiarize yourself with the simple steps to fundraising for HSSA.

Our popular dog walking event, SWEAT for Pets, brings together dogs and animal lovers for a fun, non-competitive bit of exercise! There's the actual path for everyone to walk, run and roll through, hydration stations for your dogs, prizes, and many people and their dogs participate in the doggie costume contest. It's fun for the whole family including your furry canine family.

Sweat for Pets is your dog’s favorite walk of the year.

This marks the event's fifth year and brings with it a new event venue at Kino Sports Complex. SWEAT for Pets is schedule for November this year (2019), however, now's the time to start fundraising for 'SWEAT'! With that in mind, we wanted to take a moment and familiarize everyone with the simple steps on fundraising for SWEAT for Pets.

So, exactly how does one go about raising funds for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona at SWEAT? That’s part of the fun! If you’ve never participated in a fundraiser before, it’s simple! Start with your own dedication to helping save the lives of homeless pets. Your registration begins your step towards SWEAT for Pets but it doesn’t end there! Your passion spills over into the lives of the people in your life. Your family and your friends all can share in that passion! Ask them to support your cause and contribute $20 or $25 to your fund.

Offer a car wash or maybe a few household chores to convince your friends and family to support you.

As you enlist others to support you at SWEAT for Pets, you start to gain momentum and next thing you know you’ve got yourself several sponsors. Don’t stop there, though! Keep the excitement (and sponsorships) growing and share your enthusiasm for what we do with your coworkers and even your boss. Helping the lives of shelter pets is something everyone can support! Got a favorite coffee shop, barber, church group, or diner? Get them involved, too!

Just because they never get your name right on the cup doesn’t mean your local coffee shop won’t help.

Lastly, you don’t have to do it alone! Make it a team effort and make SWEAT for Pets even better by getting your whole office, softball team, or pottery class involved in fundraising! It’s an incredible feeling when you see so many people in your personal life stand beside you in a cause that you (and they) believe in.

Tons of businesses and organizations come to SWEAT each year!

So, ready to do some fundraising? Great! Build YOUR team to help save the lives of shelter pets at SWEAT! And, to make things even easier to get you started, take this handy Sweat for Pets fundraising road map as a resource for your fundraising adventure!

Can my dog choke on food? #ASKHSSA

HSSA's Pet Safety and First Aid Classes can help you prevent medical emergencies like these.

What to watch out for and how to prevent it from happening.

Dogs love to eat, who doesn’t? The glee that most dogs exhibit as they gallop headlong towards a bowl of chow makes this fact evident. Some dogs seem to go into an almost trance-like state as they eat their dinner. It can be enough to make one wonder “can my dog choke while eating?”

The danger is real.

For most dogs, choking on food is unlikely, though our Animal Services Veterinarian, Dr. Overton, was quick to point out a few important exceptions. There are medical issues that can make swallowing food difficult for some dogs, but generally, in these cases, the pet owner is aware of the condition and can take measures to reduce the likelihood that choking will occur.

Pump the brakes.

Another group of dogs who are more susceptible to choking are those dogs that don’t just woof down their dinner with abandon, but literally inhale it. Dogs that eat too quickly do have the potential to choke on their food.  Luckily, there’s a simple and inexpensive solution to correct this behavior. Specialized dog food bowls known as ‘slow feed’ or ‘puzzle feed’ dog bowls help dogs that eat too fast slow down and take smaller bites.

Hot dogs not for dogs.

There is also the potential with dogs to choke on food when that food is not appropriate for your pooch. Table scraps and human foods, bones (cooked or raw), gristle, and fat are all dangerous as they are potential choking hazards for dogs. Not to mention the many human foods that are poisonous to dogs or that can cause an allergic reaction as these can also lead to choking.  Always feed your dog approved and age-appropriate dog food!

Chew on this.

Dog treats are a point of contention among many dog owners and there are many commercially available dog treats on the market. In general, most of these are not ideal – especially treats designed to be chewed and gnawed on by dogs. These can break apart or can be small enough for a dog to attempt to swallow but by their very nature, chews are tough and can be difficult to dislodge if stuck in a dog’s throat. Aside from the choking risk, many chews are actually too hard for dogs and can damage their teeth! As with the food you select for your pup, ensure that the treats you provide for you dog are a safe, healthy option.

Prevention is key.

We always recommend speaking with a veterinarian when deciding on your pet’s diet and health. We also recommend being well-equipped to handle a pet’s medical emergencies, if and when the need arises. The Humane Society of Southern Arizona offers Pet Safety and First Aid classes to help ensure pet owners are ready in the case of a pet emergency and to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Learn more about HSSA Pet Safety and First Aid Classes, available classes, and to sign-up, click here.


If I adopt a senior dog, will it have bad habits? #ASKHSSA

Old dog; new tricks.

Adopting an older dog or cat can be incredibly rewarding. Puppies and kittens are always a popular choice and are usually adopted very quickly. Older animals, on the other hand, have a harder time finding a family for several reasons. One reservation many people voice is that they want a dog that can be trained and the assumption is an older dog cannot be trained.

The old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” has had a damning effect on the way many households view older pets; especially dogs. It’s a question we hear frequently when potential adopters are considering an older dog: “If I adopt a senior dog, will it have bad habits?”

While it must be said that it depends on the dog, it is also necessary to point out that many dogs in our care have troubled pasts. Strays have to learn quickly how to survive on the streets and in the desert, while other dogs have suffered neglect or abuse. Behavioral consequences can occur in these cases and it takes a lot of time and love for these dogs to overcome those challenges.

With all that being said, you absolutely CAN teach an old dog new tricks (or, break their bad habits)! Our Behavior Programs Supervisor, Bailey Heater says teaching a senior dog is no different than teaching any other dog.

It depends on the dog and it depends on the person. Bailey pointed out that many of the reasons someone might dismiss a dog for being “too old”, are the same reasons another person might prefer to adopt a senior pet. Lower energy levels might be preferable to someone who just wants a dog that enjoys cuddling, whereas an adopter who wants a little ball of energy is better suited to the puppy life.

Older dogs tend to be much better at adjusting to a new home, too. They also tend to demonstrate their gratitude to their new forever family for getting them out of the shelter environment. It is not uncommon to see an older dog, who while in a kennel appears bored and uninterested transform into an enthusiastic, smiling, tail-wagging friend for life.

It’s also about managing your own expectations. An older dog may be set in its ways, so expecting them to behave exactly as you want them to without any guidance is an unrealistic expectation.

You can meet some of our favorite senior pets at our upcoming Family Fun Adoption Night on Friday, August 2nd, 2019.


Why are two kittens better than one? #ASKHSSA

Adopting a kitten is a big decision

The time and care to raise a kitten is a lot of work! So, why would adopting two kittens be better than adopting just one? That’s a reasonable question and one we’re happy to answer.


For starters, and this might seem obvious but shouldn’t be understated, adopting two kittens means they’ll never be lonely. Kittens rely on each other in many ways. Providing one another comfort, safety, and warmth; having a buddy helps young kittens grow into well-adjusted, happy, and healthy cats.


It’s easier than just one kitten. Believe it or not, having a second kitten can make caring for them easier! Ask anyone who has owned just one kitten how many times they’ve had trouble finding a hidden kitten in their house. Having two means it’s actually easier to keep track of the little furballs.

Plus, raising two kittens helps reinforce the positive behaviors in both when they play together, eat together, sleep together, etc.


Kittens that grow up together for the above reasons also have fewer behavioral problems. Learning how to be a cat is tricky but having a pal to help learn those behaviors makes it much easier. Cats that are confidant and trusting simply make better pets.

Cats who are left to their own to figure out what is and isn’t good behavior have a harder time building confidence and trust.

Wait, there's more!

A few other great reasons include cuter photos, twice the cuddles and double the love – all of which are important but the most important reason of all is that when you adopt two kittens you will be saving two lives instead of one!

Now that you see why two kittens are better than one, it’s time to visit the many available cats and kittens in our care and take advantage of our many adoption specials!

Will he be a good 'Dog Dad'? #ASKHSSA

He’s a great guy. He just might even be ‘The One’, but how do you know if the love of your life will be the dog dad that your pooch needs and deserves?

Being in a relationship is a wonderful and, sometimes wonderfully complicated, affair – especially when pets are involved. In many relationships, long before the thought of having a child with someone arises, the question “How do you know if your boyfriend will be a good father to your beloved dog?” gets asked. After all, your dog is a part of your life; a part of your family. It’s only natural to want to know if the man in your life is a responsible pet owner, too.

1. For starters, we’ll take it as read that you’re a great judge of character.

Not everybody is, but hopefully, we’re talking about generally decent human beings to begin with. Likewise, let’s assume that you yourself are a terrific and responsible pet owner. You ensure your dog’s health and happiness and do the things every day that are needed to adequately provide your dog with great care. That’s a great starting point in determining if your man will be a good dog dad.

2. Does he concern himself with your (or his own) dog’s health?

Does he actively participate and provide physical exercise and mental stimulation for an active and healthy dog? Does he know your dog’s nutritional needs? Ask yourself, if you sent him to the store for dog food, would he know which kind your dog eats? If he noticed your dog was acting ill, would he attentively listen to the vet at pooch’s veterinary visit?

3. Is spending time with - not just you - but your dog an important activity for him?

We’re not saying your clingy, but relationships are a time commitment. Spending time with a dog is one of the ways a deep bond is created between a dog and a human. Playing and exercising is one thing, cuddling on the couch, talking to your dog, and even napping are excellent signs your boyfriend is being a good dog dad.

4. Does your boyfriend have the patience needed to be a good dog dad?

Fathers are often thought of as disciplinarians, and that is true, too, with dog dads. Does your guy know when a firm “No” is called for and when to reward good behavior? Dogs that know and trust their master’s expectations are happier and feel more secure in their roles within the household dynamic. Providing guidance to a dog means more than just scolding a dog.

5. Lastly, boyfriends, like dogs, can be trained!

Not everyone has experience with being a dog owner and that doesn’t mean your partner can’t become a great dog dad. Sometimes a little practice and a little demonstrative dog ownership is all that’s needed for your dreamboat to become your dreamy dog dad, too.

If you know you've got the guy, and now that you're certain he'd make a great dog dad, take advantage of our Paws for Pops Father's Day adoption prices!

Can my dog learn to read? #ASKHSSA

You might think the answer is a short and sweet “nope”, but your four-legged fur baby could also end up surprising you with their ability to seemingly comprehend the written word.

While we’re not suggesting you dust off your college copy of Ana Karenina and chuck it to your dog, there have been cases where certain dogs have exhibited behavior that would indicate they can understand some printed words.

Cognition, or the ability to think and understand the world through sensory perception, is a complicated enough topic when discussing human intelligence. Animals, as they say, are an entirely different kettle of fish.

Dogs who demonstrate the ability to read and comprehend specific words are probably not “reading” in the way that we think of reading. Instead, it is likely these dogs are picking up on subtle cues to determine what behavior is expected of them. Just because the dog knows to sit when he is shown the word “sit”, doesn’t mean the dog has read the word and understands it.

Sorry, Fido probably won’t be reading bedtime stories to the kiddos anytime soon.  The opposite, however, is a very beneficial activity! Our Paws and Pages Literacy Program gives children the opportunity to improve their reading skills while giving shelter pets a non-challenging way to socialize and interact with people. Reading to shelter pets decreases their stress levels and improves their interactions with people. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Check out our Paws and Pages Literacy Program here.

This year, as part of our celebration of our 75th Anniversary, the Paws and Pages Literacy Program is hosting a very special 4th of July Patriots, Paws and Pages event. Veterans and active-duty personnel can read to shelter pets to help soothe them during a night that is difficult for many shelter dogs.

Learn more about Patriots, Paws and Pages, and all of our 75th Anniversary festivities, here.

Should I adopt a bunny? #ASKHSSA

It’s hard to deny how incredibly adorable bunnies are.

Aside from dogs and cats, rabbits are one of the most popular family pets. Sadly, many people who buy a rabbit on impulse are not prepared to take care of it long-term. Easter time is an especially popular time for impulse bunny buying and consequently results in a large number of bunnies and rabbits being abandoned shortly after Easter weekend.


So, should you adopt a bunny? Like any pet, rabbits are a commitment. They require specific foods, bedding, and daily care in order to remain happy and healthy. Before hopping down the ol’ bunny trail, give this simple pet rabbit checklist to see if you are truly ready to add one of the little floppy furballs to your family:


  1. Time Commitment. Perhaps the most important aspect to keeping a pet rabbit is the time commitment. It is a common belief that rabbits are short-lived. Nothing could be further from the truth! Domestic rabbit breeds can easily live to be ten years old or older.


  1. Time Commitment Part 2. Not only are pet rabbits a long-term commitment, they also have daily needs that should be considered. While daily maintenance might only take up a few minutes, it’s still worth noting when considering keeping a bunny as a pet.


  1. Habitat. Providing a rabbit with indoor areas to run and play is a must, as is providing a hutch or other “house” with rabbit-safe bedding. Rabbits make great indoor pets. It may surprise some to learn that rabbits can be litterbox trained! If you train your pet rabbit, be sure to keep the litterbox clean. Make sure any areas you allow your pet bunny to roam has been “bunny-proofed”. Secure and protect any electrical wires and outlets and remove any items your rabbit might chew or damage.


  1. Food and water. While we’re just discussing indoor pet rabbits, all rabbits require lots of water! Making sure your pet rabbit has fresh water at all times of the day; every day, is essential. Provide your rabbit with a high-quality rabbit feed and fresh hay. Despite Bugs Bunny, rabbits should not regularly eat carrots. Learning what foods your rabbit can, should, and will eat will help you keep your pet bunny diet a healthy one.


  1. Playtime! One of the best reasons to own a pet rabbit is enjoying their playfulness. Bunnies love to play with toys. You can find a variety of cute and rabbit-safe toys at most pet stores, but bunnies aren’t picky! Cardboard tubes, like those used for paper towels, make great toys (as long as they are just cardboard and do not have inks or dyes printed on them). Giving your bunny time and space to run, play, hide and jump about is also essential to keep your curious and fun-loving pet rabbit from getting bored (which can lead to destructive behavior).


These are just the basics of what is involved in having a pet rabbit. As with any animal you are considering as a pet, do you research and ask yourself if you really are ready to care for this pet. If you understand and are ready to care for a fluffy little bunny furball, then by all means, you should adopt a bunny!

Why do you play music in the catios? #ASKHSSA

Catio = Cat Patio (just in case your didn't know!)

One cool feature of our shelter is the indoor/outdoor spaces we provide for cats. These ‘catios’ also feature a sound system so our lounging cats can enjoy some tunes! Since classical music has shown to be the favored musical genre for both cats and dogs, we play a selection of soothing and beautiful classical pieces for our feline guests.

However, that may change in the near future. Recent research into what kinds of music cats prefer has indicated that music specifically created for cats may be even more effective than human music. The research indicates that cats prefer music composed in frequencies and patterns representative of natural feline communication. The music isn’t necessarily pleasing to human ears but in the studies note that cats respond favorably to this new type of music.

So who knows? Maybe in the not-too-distant future we will see bands that perform exclusively for cats!

In fact, classical music, as a genre, is what is recommended for pets. Though, consider that a Straussian waltz would be ideal, whereas Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, with its bombastic and brash sound, could be stressful to your pet. In other words, selection is key when choosing music for your pets.

Bring your pet to a concert that supports homeless pets on March 9th! Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones and Rocking Originals is a day long concert featuring local bands and vendors. Don't forget dogs are invited to enjoy the grass and the rocking tunes! Learn more about this great event here. We hope to see you there!

Does my pet like music? #ASKHSSA

For humans, music is an essential part of our lives.

We listen, we dance, we sing. The human heart beat was the first drum. Animals, on the other hand, have widely different reactions to music depending on the species.  According to research conducted in the field of zoomusicology (the study of animal responses to music), cats and dogs do enjoy music.

Many pet owners leave music playing at home for their pet while at work for the day. The idea being that it provides company and comfort to what would otherwise be a quiet, uneventful day for their pets.

So, what kinds of music should you play for your pets? Interestingly, or maybe obviously for you music lovers out there, but pets prefer certain genres of music more than others. Perhaps no explanation is needed as to why loud, aggressive, high-beat music doesn’t do much to de-stress our pets while, slower-paced, symphonic classical music results in napping dogs and lounging cats.

In fact, classical music, as a genre, is what is recommended for pets. Though, consider that a Straussian waltz would be ideal, whereas Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, with its bombastic and brash sound, could be stressful to your pet. In other words, selection is key when choosing music for your pets.

Bring your pet to a concert that supports homeless pets on March 9th! Gimme Shelter Rolling Stones and Rocking Originals is a day long concert featuring local bands and vendors. Don't forget dogs are invited to enjoy the grass and the rocking tunes! Learn more about this great event here. We hope to see you there!

What if my partner is allergic to my pets? #ASKHSSA

Sorry to hear that!

Being diagnosed with an allergy to pets can be frustrating, especially for loving pet owners, or in this case, those who are looking at the possibility of living with a pet. Aside from the severe cases, many pet allergy sufferers have options and strategies to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of pet allergies. Allergies can affect everyone differently. Some allergy sufferers see success with some, or a combination, of the following practices. Please, consult a physician before employing any of these methods.

For many, using medication to combat the symptoms of pet allergies is the best solution. There are immunotherapy injections, nasal sprays, and topical applications that have proven to be effective. Again, consult with your doctor if this approach would be best for you or your partner.

Establish an area of your home that can be free of the pet (and pet dander). Bedrooms are a popular choice for this. It can be reasonably easy to restrict a pet’s access to a bedroom and is an area where the person with pet allergies can sleep comfortably.

Lastly, because of the nature of pet allergies, maintaining air quality can be a huge help. HEPA filters are a proven weapon against pet dander. Replacing the air filtration in your home with HEPA filters is a cost-effective measure; though using HEPA filters alongside an ionizer is even more effective.

How much exercise does my pet need? #ASKHSSA

The short answer, it varies.

While there’s merit to the old adage “If your dog is overweight, you’re not getting enough exercise”, determining what is an appropriate amount of exercise for your pet depends more on your specific pet’s needs rather than your own BMI.

Different types of dogs require different amounts of exercise. Knowing your dog’s physical activity requirements is essential. Naturally, a Greyhound needs to expend more energy everyday than a Yorkshire terrier would require.  ‘Work’ dogs such as cattle dogs and shepherds have been bred to chase and corral livestock. Many dogs need daily exercise and mental stimulation, while a ‘lap dog’ might not be an Olympic hopeful, they still benefit from physical activities.

Age is also an important factor to consider when it comes to pet exercise. Young cats and kittens use exercise to stimulate their senses and reflexes. It is play, but it’s also how cats exercise. As your cat matures into adulthood, their playfulness and physical activity wanes, but both adult and even elderly cats and dogs should receive physical and mental exercise.

Confer with your Veterinarian to determine the exact amount and level of exercise that is appropriate for your pet, then create a workout regimen and stick to it!

Does my pet love me? #ASKHSSA

Totally! Who wouldn't love you.

If you are curious about your pet’s true feelings for you, there are ways to tell! Learn to read these body language and behavioral cues and you’ll know that your fur babies really do love you!

For dogs, leaning into someone is basically a dog’s hug. Cats like to do this too, usually by pressing their forehead into your hand, or twisting between your legs. This is known as ‘distance-closing’ behavior and hey, if they didn’t love you, they’d be as far away from you as possible, right?

Eye contact is another big one. Dogs will hold your eye contact to indicate a level of trust. Return their gaze naturally, and the bond between the two of you deepens. Cats engage in something known as ‘slow blinking’. These long, slow, almost sleepy blinks are a cat’s way of displaying trust in their human. What’s even better, you can return the gesture! Next time you catch your cat slow blinking at you, reply with your own deliberate slow blinks and your cat will notice!

There’s also purring from cats and wagging tails from dogs, and don’t forget, both dogs and cats are fully capable of smiling!

Have a happy Valentine's Day from HSSA!

Will our pets get along? #ASKHSSA

My girlfriend is moving in… will our dogs get along?

First of all, congrats. Sharing toothbrush space with another human being is a big step! Asking your pets to get along is a different matter. Dogs and cats, like people, have personalities. Consider moving in with a complete stranger simply because your dog and the stranger’s dog are happy together. That’s basically what we ask of our pets when our relationships go to the next level.

Ideally, if you’re moving in together, there’s a good chance that the pets are already a little familiar with each other. Socializing pets prior to moving in together is a good idea. The more comfortable the pets are around each other, the easier the actual transition will be later.

Go slow. Allow the animals to interact gradually. Give each animal a separate room. As they become more acquainted with the new situation, allow the animals more access but always ensure each pet has a separate, safe space away from the other. Over time, most pets become accepting, or at the very least – tolerant, of one another.

It is a good idea to also monitor eating habits. Some animals can become possessive or aggressive while feeding if new animals are introduced to this activity. Separate bowls, or even separate rooms for feeding can correct this behavior.

Learn more tips and tricks of pet behavior by visiting our resources page.

Pet Photography Tips

Say cheese...

Tips for taking the best photos of your forever friends.

  1. Sit boy. Your dog will always look better in a photo if they are sitting still. Master this trick with these tips and proceed to step two.
  2. Tempt with delicious treats! After photographing hundreds of shelter pets we can tell you that almost all dogs will take pause when a treat is involved. We found that most dogs prefer smelly, jerky-like treats over biscuits.
  3. Lighting is KEY! Taking photos indoors is always going to be trickier than using natural, outdoor light. Try to take photos of your pet away from harsh shadows. The “golden hours” around dusk and dawn have proven best for us! Want a portrait of your forever friend but don’t trust your skills? Join us at Cover Dog 2019 and we will take one for you! Learn more here.

Is it safe to take my dog hiking? #ASKHSSA

Yes, but be on guard!

Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the Tucson area. However, there are some safety precautions to consider. You wouldn’t go hiking in the hottest parts of the year without ample hydration. If you’re taking your dog with you, you’re going to need to bring more water. Simply sharing the amount of water you would take for just yourself won’t cut it.

You don’t hike barefoot; neither should your dog. It’s one thing if you’re going out for a casual stroll on a shady stretch of The Loop, but if you and your dog are headed out into the desert, your dog is going to really need some footwear. Jagged rocks, cactus spines, goat heads, stinging insects – even broken glass – are all environmental hazards that can be easily avoided by protecting your pooch’s paws.

Not all hiking trails are created equal. Always check before hitting the trail head that dogs are permitted in the area. Some trails prohibit dogs and all hiking trails that do allow dogs require the dog to be leashed at all times.

Also, familiarize yourself with the types of wildlife in the area. We offer rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs! You can learn about this vital program here.

Lastly, always keep your dog’s abilities in mind. DON’T take your Chihuahua hiking through miles of the Chiricahua National Monument in 120-degree heat. DO take your Saint Bernard to Summer Haven to enjoy the snow. It all depends on your specific dog!

Did you know? HSSA’s volunteers can participate in our FAST Program allows volunteers to give selected dogs time away from the shelter for activities like jogging, hiking, or even just relaxation and socialization. Learn more at

Can my pet be a therapy pet? #ASKHSSA

Good question.

Before we can answer this question, it is important to know that not every pet is suited to being a therapy pet. Therapy pets are introduced to new people and new environments constantly. They must possess a high degree of socialization towards strangers – especially young children. A dog that distrusts new people or is not comfortable being pet, poked, hugged, and played with by children would not make a good therapy pet.

Therapy pets are certified. Some of the requirements for this certification require potential therapy dogs to complete obedience training. Dogs must be comfortable obeying verbal commands and must be curbed of unwanted behaviors like jumping on people or pulling while leashed. Animals that have exhibited aggression towards people or other animals should never be considered for the duties of a therapy pet. Not meeting these criteria doesn’t mean your pet isn’t great, it just means they might not be suitable as a therapy pet.

HSSA’s Pet VIP Program provides all the necessary information and classes to get your pet ready for their lives as therapy pets. Want to learn more about therapy pets and our Pet VIP program? Contact our Pet VIP Coordinator at (520) 327-6088 ext. 153.