Search Results for: pet behavior


Pet Behavior

Pet Behavior

The Animal Rescue League of Boston is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy in habitats and homes.

FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

ARL is committed to being a reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions about your pet – well after they have been introduced to their new home! Learn more.

Dog Training

We offer a variety of dog training courses as part of our commitment to supporting positive relationships between people and their pets. View class descriptions and book an appointment.

Match-Up II Training & Resources

ARL is very proud to offer Match-Up II, an evaluation and rehoming tool to all animal shelters in order to assist them in rehoming dogs in their care. Register today.


FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

While bringing home a pet comes along with a great deal of excitement, it can also come along with a lot of questions!

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is committed to being a reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions about your pet – well after they have been introduced to their new home!

If you have basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, etc., call our FREE Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.

Looking for basic training for your dog? ARL offers a variety of dog training courses as part of our commitment to supporting positive relationships between people and their pets. Learn more.

Responsible Pet Ownership

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) believes that responsible pet owners should protect the well-being of any animals in their care, whether the animal is a companion or working animal.

The ARL defines a responsible pet owner as one who:

  • Provides humane care; species-appropriate food, water, shelter, exercise, preventative and emergency veterinary care and behavioral enrichment;
  • Complies with the animal control laws for the town and state in which they live, including but not limited to, pet licensing and immunization requirements; and
  • Provides a humane and appropriate alternative for a pet if for any reason he or she can no longer keep the animal.

Therefore, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will:

  1. Promote responsible pet ownership through all adoptions.
  2. Be a resource for connecting community members and adopters needing assistance in pet care with appropriate programs, whether external or through ARL programs, such as Boston Veterinary Care, Dog Training Classes, and Spay Waggin’ low cost spay/neuter.
  3. Be a resource for pet owners who can no longer keep their pet.
  4. Seek to inform community members on responsible pet ownership through the ARL’s Behavior Helpline and outreach activities.

Click here to read more ARL Policy and Position Statements.

Pets in Housing

The Animal Rescue League of Boston believes that the lack of accessibility to affordable pet-friendly housing contributes to the surrender and/or abandonment of companion animals.

Financial burdens pose barriers to finding appropriate housing.  Massachusetts law prohibits landlords from collecting funds beyond the first and last month’s rent with a security deposit of up to one month’s rent and costs for the purchase and installation of locks and keys. Under existing law, any additional deposit is prohibited. However, the housing market is tight, particularly in the Boston area and, therefore, landlords and others require “pet fees” and/or pet deposits.  The need to find pet-friendly housing often causes tenants to accept additional costs without complaint.

Specific breed restrictions limit housing accessibility. Massachusetts law prohibits cities and towns from enforcing specific breed restrictions. However, the law does not prevent insurance companies, private housing owners, public housing authorities, landlords, property agents and property managers from imposing such restrictions.  Additionally, there are often characteristics such as the number ofanimals, height, size, and weight, which limit availability. Those factors often act as de facto breed restrictions.

Families who wish to foster or adopt children from the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families cannot own certain breeds of dogs. Dogs of certain breeds can become homeless when families wish to foster or adopt a child, but have a dog that conflicts with this policy.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston believes that the best and most objective measure of pets in housing involves an individual assessment of the animal or animals in question.  Additionally, the Animal Rescue League of Boston believes that imposition of deposits or fees should only be for situations where the pet and owner actually receive additional services; or where monies are held in case of actual damage and where, if the funds remain unused, the fees and deposits are refunded.

The Animal Rescue League of Boston understands that pet owners must be responsible, caring owners, thoughtful in their choice of housing, and considerate of others in any housing situation.

Therefore, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will:

  1. Support establishment of services such as behavior training to prevent surrender or abandonment due to housing issues;
  1. Support measures that both ease landlord concerns and financial burdens on pet owners by permitting refundable pet deposits held in interest-bearing accounts;
  1. Support measures which explicitly prohibit fees and/or deposits unrelated to services actually received or repairs for actual damage;
  1. Support education and legislation to develop more pet-friendly housing;
  1. Encourage housing owners, managers and agents to remove breed, height and weight restrictions;
  1. Encourage responsible pet ownership through spaying, neutering and vaccination.


Click here to read more ARL Policy and Position Statements.

Pets and Insurance

Massachusetts does not permit cities or towns to regulate ownership and residence of dogs by breed nor does state law permit the determination of a dangerous/nuisance dog based solely upon breed.

However, insurance companies, private companies, and publically-owned and subsidized housing authorities can refuse to offer insurance coverage, renew insurance policies, and can impose restrictions as a requisite to obtain housing which may require an owner to surrender a pet. These restrictions severely limit the options of pet owners seekinghousingand oftentimes result in an owner having to move, re-home, or surrender ananimal even if they have lived with the pet for some time without incident.

Insurance company restrictions can affect the landlord and/or property owner as well as the pet owner. Neither the landlord/owner nor pet owner maybeable to obtain or retain insuranceif the insuring company imposes breed restrictions and if they do not abide by those conditions. The landlord facing a loss of coverage due to breed restrictions may have very little recourse but to impose the restrictions. Those restrictions, in turn, may mean, for example, that a tenant may lose housing upon renewal of the lease and may, in turn, be forced to give up the pet in question. Loss of housing remains the single most common reason for surrender of animals.

Currently, there is no law or regulation in Massachusetts which prohibit an insurance company from imposing breed restrictions as a requisite to obtaining or renewing insurance coverage.   As a result, many companies do, in fact, impose restrictions or, may add an additional premium, there by effectively pricing the landlord or the pet owner out of the market.

Just as with the issue of breed specific legislation [See BSL position statement], the Animal Rescue League of Boston believes that insurance restrictions based solely upon a breed determination are ineffective and unfair.  The Animal Rescue League is aware that State Farm, which does not currently operate in Massachusetts, is the largest home insurer in theUnited States.  It follows the policy of “it’s not the breed, it’s the bite.” The policy is grounded in the belief that, depending on circumstances, anydogmightbite.Insurance is not based on the breed of the dog, rather, every dog and situation is evaluated individually and the primary focus is on the importance of responsible pet ownership. An insurance company following this model in Massachusetts would likely expand pet friendly housing.


Therefore, the Animal Rescue League will:

  1. Support legislation which prohibits insurance companies from refusing to issue or renew, cancel, or charge an increased premium rate of any insurance policy based upon the breed of dog to reside in the property;
  1. Oppose continued use of breed identification by any insurance company as the basis for denial, cancellation, failure to renew and increased premiums for insurance coverage based upon breed identification;
  1. Encourage education of insurers related to unreliability of breed identification and  ineffectiveness of breed as predicator of behavior;
  1. Promote responsible pet ownership for tenants and other individuals seeking insurance coverage.


Click here to read more ARL Policy and Position Statements.

Let’s Talk Pets Workshop

Let’s Talk Pets is a series of FREE workshops hosted by the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) for pet owners in the Codman Square neighborhood and beyond. Workshops will focus on subjects, such as basic animal care and hygiene, living with pets and children, winter pet safety, behavior and enrichment exercises, and more!


Saturday, April 29 at 10:00AM

Basic Care for Birds, Rabbits, Cats, and Dogs

  • Light refreshments and ARL tote for attendees (limited to 1 per family).
  • Topics covered: Cage set up for birds and small animals; basic care and hygiene; importance of physical exercise; behavior myth

To reserve your spot for this workshop, call (617) 426-9170. 

Please note: workshops are by reservation only and are first come, first serve.


Pet Me, I’m Irish!

Find your lucky charm at an ARL Shelter today

All the animals at ARL shelters in Boston, Brewster and Dedham are getting into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit!

If you’re looking to add a furry addition to your family, visit our adoptable pets at our shelters from 1 pm – 6:30 pm, Tuesdays – Sundays and find your lucky charm today. (Green top hat not included.)

Search adoptables

When you adopt, you give an animal a chance at a better life.  All adoptable animals at the ARL also receive:

  • Spay or neuter services
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior screening and evaluations
  • Vaccinations and flea/tick/mite treatment
  • Microchip identification and registration
  • And much more!

Speaking of pet-friendly holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is most definitely a festive celebration of Irish culture, music, and the opportunity to dress up in bright green and shamrock prints. (Read: fun!) As with any holiday however, remember to take precautions with food and libations which may not be safe for pets to ingest.

If you plan to celebrate the holiday in a home where a pet resides, keep in mind three safety guidelines to ensure that everyone has a good time:

  1. Keep the leash.  If your dog is a genuinely friendly, relaxed, confident and calm dog with familiar and unfamiliar people, things and dogs, maybe he could be included in St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Still, it’s best to keep your dog leash. The smell of food, a large group of people, and other excited pets can easily overstimulate a dog, increasing the potential for poor behavior and bites.
  2. Watch the secret sippers.  Alcohol is poisonous to cats, dogs, and other animals and can lead to severe illness or death.  Do not leave alcoholic bottles, cans, etc. on the floor or in reach of a pet. Although the container may seem empty, even ingesting trace amounts can cause illness in animals.  If you suspect that a pet may have ingested alcohol, look for the following symptoms and seek emergency medical treatment: excessive drooling, retching, vomiting, stomach distension, elevated heart rate, weakness, low blood pressure, hypothermia, or coma.
  3. Beware the sneaky eaters.  We’ve all had it happen—turn your back for just a second and your pet starts to eat the food right off your plate!  Keep food and snacks out of paws reach because many party foods can be hazardous to cats and dogs.  Though you might be tempted to share your St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage with your furry friend, keep in mind corned beef contains a high amount of sodium, which isn’t good for cats or dogs.  Onions—a frequent ingredient in many corned beef and cabbage recipes—can also damage a cat’s red blood cells, restricting their capacity to carry oxygen effectively.

Find your lucky charm today! Search adoptables


New Pet Owner Resources

New Pet Owner Resources

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is a leader in animal health and safety, keeping animals out of shelters and in the habitats and homes where they belong. As part of our commitment to supporting positive relationships between people and animals, ARL offers the following resources to adopters and members of our community:


Schedule a Wellness Visit for Your Pet
Make an appointment at Boston Veterinary Care – a clinic with a mission, all proceeds benefit shelter animals at ARL!


Enroll Your Pet in Dog Training
Learn more about ARL’s dog training courses.

Contact ARL’s FREE Pet Behavior Helpline
Contact an ARL representative at (617) 226-5666 regarding basic behavioral questions about your pet.

Surrender an Animal
Contact the Intake Office at the ARL shelter location closest to you to speak with a representative.


Report Animal Cruelty & Neglect
Call ARL’s Law Enforcement Department at (617) 226-5610.

Help Your Pet in Distress
Call ARL’s Rescue Services at (617) 426-9170; then press “1″.


Adopt a Pet

Adopt a Pet

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has animals of many types, breeds, sizes and ages. Search available pets now by selecting the type of pet you are interested in below.

Search adoptable dogs search adoptable cats Search adoptable small animals and birds




Under 6 months: $450
6 months – 7 years: $300
Over 8 years: $200
Under 6 months: $200
6 months – 3 years: $150
4 – 7 years: $125
Over 8 years: $100
Small animals/Other: $25
Other species: Fees Vary, Please Call

Adopt a Pet from ARL

At the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL), our goal is for animals to be safe and healthy where they belong, in homes and out of shelters.

No matter how they came to the shelter – through a law enforcement case such as a hoarding situation, as a stray brought in by a kind citizen or an animal control officer, or when an owner passes away – cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, and even pot-bellied pigs are treated with kindness and compassion.

Every animal that comes through our doors is immediately provided with extraordinary medical care by our Shelter Veterinary Medicine team.

While most shelters put an emphasis on physical care, we at the ARL know that an animal’s mental and emotional well-being is equally as important. Each animal participates in our unique Shelter Behavior and Enrichment program to not only make them happy and comfortable while they’re in our shelter, but also prepare them for life in their future home.

When you adopt a pet from one of our shelters in Boston, Brewster, or Dedham, you not only give a homeless animal a safe and loving place to live, but also save two lives: the animal you adopt and the animal who can take its place.

Cat at ARL's Boston adoption center

Another great perk? All of this is included in your new pet’s adoption fee:

  • Spay or neuter services (excluding some small animals)
  • Health screening and veterinary examination
  • Behavior evaluations & enrichment
  • Vaccinations
  • Microchip identification and registration
  • Heartworm test and preventative medication for dogs
  • Feline Leukemia test for cats
  • Flea, tick, and mite treatment
  • Deworming for intestinal parasites
  • Tag, collar, and leash or carrier
  • A starter bag of Hill’s Science Diet food for cats and dogs
  • And more!

Adoption Process and Requirements

ARL’s priority is to connect an animal in need with a loving family. Everything we know about the animal’s behavior and health status will be disclosed and discussed with potential adopters to ensure he/she is the right fit for your home.

We require the following as part of the adoption process:

  • Adopter must be 18 years of age or older
  • A current government-issued ID (no student IDs)
  • Have a conversation with an ARL adoption counselor
  • A photo of the cage your pet will live in, if adopting a small animal or bird

Learn more about ARL’s adoption fees and search adoptables.

Please contact your local ARL adoption center for more details.

Shelter Behavior & Enrichment Program

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is an unwavering champion for animals in need, committed to keeping them safe and healthy… before, during, and after they leave our shelters. Most other animal shelters put an emphasis on the medical and physical aspects of animal care. At ARL, we know that an animal’s mental and emotional well-being is equally as important. ARL’s staff and volunteers, including the MOD Squad (Behavior Modification Squad), go the extra mile to determine the best methods to help each animal adapt to their new environment and get them ready to find a new home through behavior evaluation and modification, and enrichment. ARL MOD Squad

Behavior Evaluation & Modification

ARL’s behavior evaluation process takes in all the information available to us for each animal. When possible, we start with a profile when an owner relinquishes a pet to us. If the animal comes in as a stray, we do everything that we can to gather as much information about an animal’s behavior.

Our shelter dogs go through a systematic behavior evaluation in which they are screened for friendliness to humans, excitement levels, fear, aggression, and how well they know cues.

For all animals, we gather and report behavior observed in the shelter and compile this information to determine each individual animal’s enrichment needs:

Customized Enrichment Plan

Each animal participates in ARL’s unique Shelter Behavior and Enrichment program to not only make them happy and comfortable while they’re in our shelter, but also prepare them for life in their future home.

ARL uses holistic methods to enrich their daily experience through a combination of proper socialization, playtime, and relaxation.

Shelter Veterinary Services

ARL’s Shelter Veterinary Medicine Team provides comprehensive veterinary services for all three of the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s (ARL) shelters in Boston, Brewster, and Dedham.

Every animal that comes to an ARL shelter receives a medical evaluation from one of our highly-qualified, caring shelter veterinarians. Our team members continuously train and work to expand skills to meet the needs of a diverse range of species including dogs, cats, rabbits, small animal, bird, and livestock, coming from a variety of living situations and conditions.

In 2016, our team:

  • Completed over 4,000 exams on our shelter pets
  • Performed over 1,500 surgeries for our shelter pets

Want to learn from our team? View our student opportunities:

Veterinary Student Externship Program
Veterinary Technician Student Internship Program


February 14 is Pet Theft Awareness Day

5 tips to protect your pet from theft… and what to do if you’re a victim

We do it all the time: We let our cat out in the backyard on a sunny day. We tether our dog to the street lamp to run a quick errand. We live in a safe neighborhood, so what could possibly happen?

Due to the ever-changing economy and the pet business becoming increasingly more lucrative, the scary truth is that pet theft is on the rise. Just as you wouldn’t leave a young child outside unsupervised, the same should go for your pet.With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, don’t forget to show your furry companion how much you love them by keeping them out of harm’s way.

If your pet goes missing, immediately contact your local animal control and shelters.

If your pet goes missing, immediately contact your local animal control and shelters.

Follow these 5 important tips to protect your pet from theft:

  1. At home, keep your pets supervised at all times. Think twice before letting your cat roam freely around the neighborhood or tying your pup to the tree in your front yard.
  2. Running an errand? Leave your pet at home. Although walking your dog while tackling your daily chores may seem like you’re accomplishing double-duty, the reality is that it only takes a few seconds for a dog-napper to take off with your pet.
  3. Follow the same rules for pets of all breeds and sizes. Although purebreds and small dogs are the most desirable to a thief for obvious reasons, big friendly dogs or mixed breeds can be just as easily lured into a get-away car waiting nearby.
  4. Spay or neuter your pet. February is National Spay and Neuter Awareness Month and the ARL has been sharing the many health and behavioral benefits of the low-risk procedure. Another perk? Spayed or neutered pets are much less desirable to thieves, since they can’t be bred.
  5. Microchip your pet. It only takes a second for a thief to remove your pet’s collar, making them very difficult to identify should they turn up at an animal shelter or hospital. Quick and painless, microchipping your pet is extremely important to ensure that you and your pet are reunited.

If you find yourself in a situation where you think your pet was stolen:

  • Immediately file a report with your local police department and animal control.
  • Contact your pet’s microchip company, as well as local animal shelters and hospitals to see if your pet has turned up.
  • Post fliers around your neighborhood, especially in public spaces and businesses, with your pet’s photo, name, breed, color, weight and any distinguishing characteristics.
  • If you offer a reward, ask for a very detailed description of your pet and how they came into that person’s possession. If you suspect that you are being scammed, call the police.
  • Monitor newspaper ads and online postings to look for any that might fit your pet’s description.

PREVENT PET THEFT BEFORE IT HAPPENS!  Report any suspicious activity, or animal cruelty and neglect to your local police department and animal control office.