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Alive & Thriving

Creating behaviorally healthy pets in shelters, clinics, and homes

About Alive & Thriving 

Alive & Thriving is a specially designed training program for shelter and clinic staff. It aims to improve the welfare of the dogs and cats living in animal shelters and receiving care in nonprofit clinics by providing valuable training for the wonderful people who care for them.

Why Alive & Thriving Is Needed

Animal shelters are very stressful and scary places for animals because of the loss of a familiar environment and all of the strange new people, scents, and sounds. When shelter staff and volunteers gain an understanding of how and why the shelter experience is so emotionally taxing for animals and learn how to implement programs to reduce their fear and stress, the results are dramatic.

Stress has been shown to deplete the immune system increasing the odds of physical illness. Reducing stress and anxiety helps to prevent illness and reduces the cost of veterinary care. Emotionally healthy animals are happier and get adopted more quickly.

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Training for Your Team

The Alive & Thriving program includes a seminar designed specifically for shelter staff and volunteers. Your team will learn:

  • How to read dog and cat body language.

  • How to handle animals safely and humanely.

  • How to recognize and reduce stress in shelter animals.

  • How to provide daily enrichment to animals in a shelter setting.

  • How to use training and behavior modification techniques to improve animals' emotions and behavior in the shelter.

  • How to provide advice and support to pet adopters and foster caregivers to help them successfully address common animal behavior concerns.

How Alive & Thriving Will Help You

  • Implement Shelter Best Practices: Providing stress reduction and enrichment is considered to be a sheltering best practice, and it will help your shelter achieve the goal of meeting the Five Freedoms

  • Keep Pets in Homes: Training staff and volunteers about the most common behavior problems in dogs and cats that can break the human-animal bond resulting in relinquishment to the shelter. Having the knowledge to assist pet owners with problematic behaviors in their pets helps keep the animals where they belong – in their home.

  • Provide Effective Adoption Counseling: Training shelter staff and volunteers in the most effective ways to discuss normal dog and cat behavior with adopters and explaining how to integrate their new pet into their home successfully. This knowledge helps to ensure a successful transition for both humans and animals leading to a wonderful new relationship.

Program Components
  • Supporting behavioral health in the shelter 

    • Stress recognition and reduction

    • Environmental and behavioral enrichment

    • Training and behavior modification                           

  • Supporting staff safety 

    • Reading cat and dog body language

    • Safe and humane handling                                        

  • Supporting adopters 

    • Pet retention

    • Adoption counseling

Alive & Thriving Seminars

One-Day Seminar  

  • Intake and Adoptions – A Behavior Perspective

  • Reading Dog and Cat Body Language and Safe Humane Handling

  • Stress Recognition and Reduction for Cats and Dogs

  • Enrichment for Shelter Animals

Two-Day Seminar

  • Includes same elements as the One-Day Seminar, plus:

  • How Animals Learn, and Training Animals in the Shelter

  • Behavior Modification in the Shelter

  • Addressing Common Behavior Problems in Dogs and Cats to Keep Pets in Homes

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About the Director of Alive & Thriving

Kelley Bollen, MS, CABC is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant with a Master’s degree in Animal Behavior who has worked in the field of companion animal behavior for over 20 years.


As a shelter behavior specialist, Kelley consults with animal shelters in the design and implementation of comprehensive behavior programs to address the behavioral health of the shelter animals. Kelley offers educational seminars and workshops to animal welfare organizations, rescue partners, and the pet-owning public geared toward improving the care and welfare of the animals.


Kelley is a nationally recognized expert in the field of shelter behavioral care and is an invited speaker at animal welfare conferences across the country. Read more.

Bring Alive & Thriving to Your Organization

Interested in bringing an Alive & Thriving seminar to your organization or community? Email Kelley at

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How You Can Help Provide Training to Shelters in Need 

Our goal is to be able to provide Alive & Thriving Seminars free of charge to nonprofit organizations and animal services agencies. In order to achieve this goal, we are seeking donations from individuals and foundations that understand the value of training to shelter and clinic staff.

To donate to bring Alive & Thriving to a particular community or organization, or for more information, please reach out to Kelley by emailing

If you wish to make a donation toward any community in need, visit our Donate page and be sure to select the Alive & Thriving when you link to the PayPal form.

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Alive & Thriving swag - wear your support!

The Alive & Thriving Animal Behavior Program now has fun swag. There are shirts, hats, tote bags, face masks, coffee mugs, and more! All purchases help us bring Alive & Thriving's program to more shelters, rescue groups, and animal services agencies.

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